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The Ecommerce Marketing Blog

The #1 resource for small and growing ecommerce brands

Today's approach to ecommerce cart abandonment is broken. Introducing the abandoned cart popup

By Ben Jabbawy
4 minute read

As an ecommerce business owner, or marketer, you know that roughly 60% of carts will be abandoned. That's the truth. Don't believe me? Check out the data from Baymard Institute.

To combat abandonment, here's what the ecommerce industry has been doing for the last 5-10 years.

1. Set up abandoned cart emails that get sent to a visitor after they abandon cart.

2. Include a coupon code in abandoned cart emails to incentivize purchase completion.

That’s what most ecommerce brands try to do - win potential customers back through an email, AFTER they've already left your site.

Don't get me wrong. There's a reason SO many brands run this playbook. It works well enough. And it's actually not that difficult to accomplish. 


How to trigger a cart abandonment email

Let's distinguish between two types of abandonment:

  1. Cart abandonment - user adds something to cart, and then leaves before completing checkout.

  2. Checkout abandonment - user adds something to cart, begins checkout process and enters email address, but leaves before purchase is complete.

Most modern day ecommerce platforms like Shopify provide "abandoned cart" emails for the checkout abandonment scenario only.

In order to send true cart abandonment emails, there are great services like Privy's Automate plan,  Klaviyo, Omnisend and bizzy, that will recognize a user's cookie while they browse your site, and if they abandon a cart, even before entering their email, trigger an abandoned cart email to try and win them back. 

But there's several assumptions and limitations with this current process. 


Limitations with today's abandoned cart marketing efforts

Sending abandoned cart emails assumes that you have that customers email address on file.

According to Bigcommerce, the average ecommerce conversion rate is 2-3%. That means that of all the visitors to your site every month, you only actually have 2% or 3% of those visitors in your email database. Of course this will vary based on the average number of purchases a customer will make per month, per year, etc. But you get the idea.

OK OK, you may be saying, "but I use a great popup tool to convert more visitors into email subscribers. Fine. According to our cross user data set, the best email capture marketers will convert 15% of site traffic into subscribers. But the average popup will convert 1% - 5% of traffic into subscribers.

Bring it all together now. If you qualify as one of the absolute best ecommerce marketers out there, you might actually have 18% of your site traffic in your email database. But, if you're reading this, chances are you're here to become a better marketer yourself. So it may be a bit more realistic to assume you only have 3% - 5% of traffic as known, subscribed members of your email database.

Regardless, you're realistically talking about at least 82% - 97% of site visitors who are COMPLETELY unknown. So, even if those people add products to cart, and abandon cart or checkout, you're $h!t out of luck trying to win them back through the recovery email tactic.


We believe the industry can do better. Introducing the Abandoned cart popup from Privy.

There is a ton of new technology available at your fingertips. The type of stuff that can help you use browser behavior to target users, even if you do not know who they are or do not have their emails on file.

Cookie based retargeting can be quite powerful. In scenarios where you do not have the users email, you can present users who abandon cart with display ads on other sites. This is based on the cookie of the user. As an example, you could target a pool of cookies who have viewed your cart page, and never reached a purchase confirmation page. Maybe when they're next on facebook, they're presented with an add reminding them to complete their purchase on your site, with a small coupon code for doing so.

This process is documented at length, and fantastic providers like Adroll, can simplify this process for you.

Consider cart abandonment popups as well. You should do EVERYTHING you can to keep the user on your site before resorting to other abandonment methods. 

You've probably heard of "exit targeting" as a trigger for popups. And that's great, but you can take things a step further. You can even use URL targeting, in combination with triggers like exit intent, to present a popup ONLY to a customer who has added products to a cart, and is about to leave the site, and abandon the cart, before reaching a purchase confirmation page. This should be separate than any other popup you have, targeted only to this subset of users who meet the abandoned cart conditions. This abandoned cart popup can recover up to 15% of abandoned carts, encouraging the visitor to finish the current purchase process with a coupon code valid for THIS purchase.

Here's a case study on how Project Repat uses abandoned cart popups to save 5% of transactions, and built an $8 million dollar business along the way.


What should you do?

Draw a flow diagram of your abandoned cart "stack". Does it include the following?

  1. Abandoned cart popup to keep the visitor on-site
  2. Cookie based retargeting ads to drive visitors back through display ads
  3. Lastly, abandoned cart and abandoned checkout emails

If so, you're WAY ahead of the curve. Keep it up. If not, you should strongly consider building out your abandoned cart recovery stack to include these initiatives.

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