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How To Send Cart Abandonment Emails For Shopify: The 4-Email Playbook You’ve Gotta Nail

By Rachel Waldmann
7 minute read

Abandoned Cart Email Playbook

**This post was originally published February 20, 2020. But we added WAY more information to help you crush abandoned cart emails for your brand.

What was the last thing you added to your cart but didn’t actually buy?

For me, it was a set of fancy stir fry sauces similar to ones I probably could have found cheaper at my local grocery store. Or was it more stretchy pants for my work-from-home wardrobe, and I was put off by the shipping costs? Or perhaps it was yet another throw pillow I reluctantly reassured myself that I don’t actually need…

My point is, we’ve all been there. In fact, 70% of shopping carts are abandoned.

So if you’re not sending anything to follow up, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for your business.

Chances are, if I had received an email, any email, discount or not, I would have made at least one of those purchases. That’s why abandoned cart email series can have a significant ROI, and the odds are in your favor when it comes to recovering otherwise lost revenue.

If you’re going to do it, you should do it right. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated either. With these four simple emails, you’ll have your abandoned cart email series doing most of the work for you:

The 4 Abandoned Cart Emails You Need (with examples)

Here are the key elements you should try to incorporate into your abandoned cart emails:

1. Urgency
2. Scarcity
3. Your brand or products’ value proposition
4. Discounts

If all goes according to plan, the first email in your series will be the most profitable:

Abandoned Cart Email #1:

Name: The Primer

⏰ When To Send: 1 Hour After Abandoning Cart

Goal: Close the sale by communicating urgency.

Your first email should go out 1 hour after they ditched their cart. You’ve probably seen this email 1,000 times. The one that usually has a subject line similar to, “Did you forget something?” (but honestly, you can do better).

Largely, these emails feel really impersonal. They usually have an image of the item you added to your cart and a button with a link back to the item or a way to easily complete the purchase.

This is an opportunity for you to stand out. Make people like you and your brand by being authentic and focusing on customer service or your brand’s mission in this email. Like this one from Clare:

Subject Line: Psst. You left something behind!

Clare Abandoned Cart Email

Notice how this email doesn’t include a coupon or feel overly salesy. It feels personal and supportive. They could have added in a product image, or a photo of their team, for some added visual oomph.

Ultimately, the goal is to generate a response by sending a gentle reminder; wait until later to play the discount card. Remember, this is just a primer. By the time you send them a coupon, they’ll already be thinking, “Just take my money.”

These emails typically imply urgency or product scarcity, by saying something along the lines of, “It’s selling out fast,” or “Your cart will expire soon!” While the example above took a more customer experience-focused approach, this one from Yellow Leaf Hammocks upped the ante with their “Time is Running Out” headline copy:

Subject Line: Don’t Leave Us Hangin’!

Yellow Leaf Abandoned Cart Email

They also do a great job with their use of images, by showing a picture of the product that was abandoned. Sometimes this visual is just what the customer needs to make them fall in love all over again. Just remember to always make your images clickable and leverage another opportunity to bring readers back to your site.

Abandoned Cart Email #2:

Name: The Primer Follow-Up

⏰ When To Send: 24 Hours After Abandoning Cart

Goal: Close the sale by communicating urgency.

These emails will typically have very similar content to the first email in your series (and have the same goal). You’re saying, “Hey, we’ve saved your cart for the last 24 hours, but it’s expiring soon, so you better complete your purchase!”

Keep holding back on your discount. The added pressure of their cart expiring or items selling out might just be enough to seal the deal.

Here, you might choose to add social proof, educate the shopper about your brand, or offer credibility, like Oui the People does with the email below. It’s time to leverage the benefits of your brand, your products’ value proposition, and start addressing any potential objections.

Subject Line: THAT WAS CLOSE

Oui the People Abandoned Cart Email

Abandoned Cart Email #3:

Name: The Hook

⏰ When To Send: 2 Days After Abandoning Cart.

Goal: Convert non-buyers by offering a discount.

Maybe the power of suggestion didn’t close the deal this time. Time to pull out the big guns, in the form of a discount. This is your hook to turn a browser into a full-fledged customer.

Subject Line: Zee.Dog - Did you forget something?

Zee.Dog Abandoned Cart Email

Notice how this example from Zee.Dog doesn’t just provide an offer. It provides an offer with urgency, since the discount expires after 48 hours. Setting a deadline is a known method to combat procrastination, so this ultimatum may be just what they need to make a decision and complete their purchase.

Another smart choice from Zee.Dog was their choice of coupon code. Each code is unique, as opposed to something generic like ZEEDOG10, which most savvy shoppers would know does not actually expire. This unique code does, which means they better act fast if they want to use it.

To make this campaign even stronger, we’d recommend moving the product image and CTA button up, so they’re the first thing the reader sees. They could even change the CTA to read “Use my Discount,” so it’s clear that there’s a coupon included.

Abandoned Cart Email #4:

Name: The Last Call

⏰ When To Send: 3-4 Days After Abandoning Cart.

Goal: Convert non-buyers by offering a discount.

Ok, so maybe this person is a harder sell than you had originally thought. If days have gone by and they haven’t bought yet, send something like this one from The MUNIO:

Subject Line: 💡 Last chance to use your 10% off code

the MUNIO Abandoned Cart Email

It’s that straightforward. A reminder that their coupon code is expiring with that continued hint of customer service (“Got questions? Reply to this email or contact us at elina@themunio.com”). And I love that visual reminder of what the customer left behind.

Another unique approach is using that last-ditch effort to understand why consumers aren’t buying, so you can improve for the future. This short survey from Hungryroot accompanied by a discount is tempting for a customer who loves a deal, and they get helpful feedback as they build their business:

Subject Line: Want 30% off your first 2 deliveries?

Hungryroot Abandoned Cart Email

If this all seems simple, it’s because it is. But the reality is that a lot of brands aren’t sending these emails. Any they’re missing out.

The truth is, anything is better than nothing.

Maybe this feels like too much. And you know what? That’s totally fine. You don’t have to start off with a series. Start with one email. Keep it really simple and once you’re more comfortable you can get more advanced with it. Check out our Masterclass sessions with marketing experts Paul Ledoux and Ezra Firestone to start small and work your way up.

People are leaving items in their carts all the time. And if you’re not doing anything to try to get them back, you’re leaving the ball in their court. And they’re probably not coming back.

The truth is though, you have the power to give people that brand experience from the very beginning. Tell them your story. Give them a reason to want to choose you over the competition. Send emails that keep them thinking about you.

If you don’t, someone else will. And by then, they’ve forgotten about you entirely.

Topics: Cart Abandonment Email Marketing

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