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The Abandoned Cart Email Report

Trends & Strategy from 1,000 Top D2C Brands

INTRODUCTION

Why we researched this

It’s no secret that abandoned cart emails are one of the most valuable email marketing campaigns you can send.

But, it can be tough to know where to start and what to send in your cart abandonment emails. We gathered and analyzed the data from 1000 direct to consumer brands. So, you can get a good idea of where you start you abandoned cart email campaigns, or make adjustments to campaigns you’re already running.

To start, the track record of abandoned cart emails is so good that more than half of the brands we tested are followed up with abandoned cart emails.

68% of abandoned carts triggered an abandoned cart email.

1,233 total emails were sent to retrieve abandoned carts.

Here’s how those abandoned cart email campaigns looked, by the numbers.

CHAPTER ONE

Abandoned cart email frequency

Average abandoned cart email frequency

Even though over half of online retailers send just one abandoned cart email, sending multiple emails is best. In our research, we noticed that:

  • 21% sent 2 cart abandonment emails.
  • 16% sent 3 cart abandonment emails.
  • 7% send 4 cart abandonment emails.
  • 2% sent 5 or more cart abandonment emails.

Using an abandoned cart email series gives you more opportunities to send offers that increase conversions. That‘s why a series of emails recovers the most abandoned cart revenue.

However, it’s important to test and optimize the number of abandoned cart emails you send. The goal is to recover as many abandoned carts as possible, without over contacting customers.

If your abandoned cart series annoys people into unsubscribing, you can’t market to them with any other promotional emails. So, too many abandoned cart emails can hurt your overall email marketing revenue.

Send as many abandoned cart emails as you can. But, monitor your unsubscribe rate carefully. If you see a spike in unsubscribes at a certain point in your abandoned cart series, reduce the number of emails in your abandoned cart series.

Also, the reasoning works the other way, too. It’s a good idea to extend your abandoned cart email series if the customer is engaging with your emails. For example, you can create an 8 email series. But, emails after the third or fourth email only send if the customer opens or clicks-through in the email.

These sorts of triggered emails deliver exceptional performance because they only target customers that have demonstrated the most interest.

TAKEAWAY:

Sending a series of abandoned cart emails recovers more abandoned carts at a better ROI and makes your abandoned cart email program better than 52% of the competition.

CHAPTER TWO

Abandoned cart email subject lines

Abandoned cart email subject lines

Subject lines are one of the easiest things to A/B test. So, many companies have very well optimized subject lines. The extrapolated data shows that 60% of the subject lines do not use the word “cart,” or include the phrase, “complete your purchase,” or ask the question, “did you forget something?” (and the data is even more lopsided if you look at each of these words and phrases individually).

That means that most brands most likely tested these and either found that they didn’t perform as well as something else. Or, they realized that many other abandoned cart emails used similar subject lines and opted for something that differentiated their brand.

Now, it’s true that any email subject line must give the recipient a reason to open the email and a glimpse of what’s inside the email, which is why emails with an offer inside tell the recipient that there’s an offer.

But, the most effective abandoned cart email subject lines accomplish this differently than the competing brands. So, avoid the common phrases and words. But, be clear about what’s in the email.

TAKEAWAY:

If there’s an offer in your abandoned cart email, say so in the subject line. And use your email subject lines to clearly communicate what the email is about, without using the same subject lines as other abandoned cart emails.

One of our most effective subject lines was “Your {BRAND NAME} basket,” which could be a good place to start your optimization.

CHAPTER THREE

Abandoned cart email CTAs

Abandoned cart email CTAs

Your abandoned cart email CTA is another element that’s easy to isolate and A/B test. So, the data here is instructive.

Notice that the most common CTAs are either, “complete your purchase,” or include the word “complete.” That’s because it’s the most specific CTA that drives to the endstate you want: a completed purchase.

While a CTA like, “return to cart” may get decent click-through rates, the overall conversion rates will likely suffer because a customer could click the CTA, return to their cart, and then immediately abandon it again, all while dutifully following your instructions.

That’s why the abandoned cart email CTAs that are most effective are those that are the most specific about the endstate you want to achieve.

TAKEAWAY:

Use an abandoned cart CTA that asks the customer to finish their transaction, not just return to their cart or keep shopping. At this point, you’re asking for a conversion. Feel free to begin with “complete your purchase,” and optimize from there.

CHAPTER 4

Abandoned cart email offers

Abandoned cart email offers

31% of all cart abandonment emails included an offer ranging from free shipping to discounts to free products.

Offer Types

  • 81% of offers were for percentage discounts.
  • 12% of offers were for dollar discounts.
  • 5% of offers were for free shipping.
  • 2% of offers were for free gift with purchase.

Offer Value

  • 40% of all offers were for 10% off.
  • 20% of all offers were for 15% off.
  • 12% of all offers were for 20% off.
  • 5% of all offers were for free shipping.
  • 5% of all offers were for $10 off purchase.
  • 3% of all offers were for 5% off.
  • 3% of all offers were for 30% off.
  • 3% of all offers were for 25% off.
  • 2% of all offers were for a free gift with purchase.
  • 1% of all offers were for $5 off.

The remaining 6% were miscellaneous offers that alone are less than 1% of the total offers.

First thing: using offers in your cart abandonment emails increases your conversions. However, you need to deploy your offers intelligently.

How much you offer depends on your business and how much of a discount you can afford to give. There is a method to the madness, though.

Bigger numbers usually generate better results. That’s most likely why 10%, 15%, and 20% off were the most common offers. At those percentages, the actual dollar amount of the discount is often less than the percentage itself. So, companies use the percentage to make the discount look bigger.

Use a little arithmetic when you craft your offers. Determine how much of a discount your profit margin will bear, on average. Then, calculate what percentage of a discount that would work out to be. Use the higher number as your discount (i.e. use 10% over $7. But, use $7 over 5%).

Free shipping can also be a powerful discount. Unfortunately, thanks to things like Amazon, free shipping has become almost an expectation, rather than an incentive. However, evaluate your checkout flow analytics. If a lot of customers are dropping out at the shipping stage, free shipping could be your highest converting offer.

If you decide to offer free shipping, based on your checkout analytics, use holdout tests to verify that offering free shipping is indeed increasing revenue, and test your free shipping offer head-to-head with alternative offers. That way you know when you’ve found the best offer.

TAKEAWAY:

Use the biggest numbers possible to make your offers look more attractive and get more conversions. Use your checkout flow analytics to determine if free shipping will be a better incentive for your customers, and verify your hypothesis using holdout tests.

Abandoned cart offer methods

Abandoned cart offer methods

This dataset is short, but sweet. Yes, most companies use static codes. But, the bottom line is that dynamic discount codes are better than static codes.

Dynamic discount codes are customizable. And they can only be used one time, which eliminates the problem of people sharing or leaking discount codes.

So, dynamic discount codes are more likely to be used (because a code like “mydiscount10%” is easier to remember than a random string of characters). And dynamic discount codes are impossible to abuse.

Adding offers directly to the abandoned cart is a great way to reduce friction in your checkout process. However, it’s harder to implement than discount codes, which explains why so few abandoned cart emails use this method.

TAKEAWAY:

Dynamic discount codes are the best way to offer discounts. They’re easier for customers to use. And they protect you from discount code abuse.

Abandoned cart offer timing

Abandoned cart offer timing

We found that 35% of brands who send cart abandonment emails send offers in their emails. While we also noticed that 4% improved their offer over the course of their emails.

Of the brands that send abandoned cart offers:

  • 50% send their first offer in the first email.
  • 30% send their first offer in the second email.
  • 18% send their first offer in the third email.
  • 2% send their first offer in the fourth email.

Of the brands that send abandoned cart offers:

  • 61% only send 1 offer email during their cart abandonment email series.
  • 27% send 2 offer emails during their cart abandonment email series.
  • 8% send 3 offer emails during their cart abandonment email series.
  • 3% send 4 offer emails during their cart abandonment email series.
  • 1% send 5 or more offer emails during their cart abandonment email series.

45% of brands that send an offer will include one in every cart abandonment email in their series.

Offers in cart abandonment sequences:

  • 18% of the 1st cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 36% of the 2nd cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 59% of the 3rd cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 62% of the 4th cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 64% of the 5th cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 40% of the 6th cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 100% of the 7th cart abandonment emails included an offer.
  • 100% of the 8th cart abandonment emails included an offer.

We’ve already established that sending a series of abandoned cart emails is the best method. However, it’s a bit surprising how many companies send an offer in the first abandoned cart email.

As we mentioned earlier, many cart abandoners don’t need an offer to entice them to complete their purchase. And, sending an offer to early can train customers who would otherwise be willing to pay full price to abandon carts and wait for an offer.

So, it’s most optimal to send your first offer in the second or third email. This maximizes your conversions, without giving away too much profit margin. And, your offers will reach the more stubborn cart abandoners before they’ve made up their mind not to buy.

TAKEAWAY:

Time your abandoned cart offers to go out in the second or third email. This captures the easy customers with a simple reminder, but still targets the more resistant cart abandoners with incentives.






CHAPTER 5

Abandoned cart email timing

Abandoned cart email timing

First Email Timing:

  • 5% send within 30 minutes of cart abandonment.
  • 40% send within 1 hour of cart abandonment.
  • 68% send within 6 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 89% send within 12 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 98% send within 24 hours of cart abandonment.

Second Email Timing:

  • 18% of 2nd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 12 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 75% of 2nd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 24 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 91% of 2nd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 48 hours of cart abandonment.

Third Email Timing:

  • 20% of 3rd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 24 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 48% of 3rd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 48 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 69% of 3rd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 72 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 88% of 3rd cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 96 hours of cart abandonment.

Fourth Email Timing:

  • 25% of 4th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 48 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 60% of 4th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 72 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 70% of 4th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 96 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 79% of 4th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 120 hours of cart abandonment.

Fifth Email Timing:

  • 36% of 5th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 72 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 50% of 5th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 96 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 71% of 5th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 144 hours of cart abandonment.
  • 86% of 5th cart abandonment emails are sent within the first 168 hours of cart abandonment.

Although companies are doing a lot of different things, we’ve tested this. In our experience, the best time to send the first abandoned cart email is 30 minutes to an hour after cart abandonment. Sending your first abandoned cart email at 30 minutes usually nets the best conversion rates.

Following that, your second and third abandoned cart emails should arrive within 3 days of cart abandonment. Your second and third emails will often generate a majority of your abandoned cart email campaign revenue.

The data shows that most companies stop their abandoned cart emails after about six days, which makes sense. After a week, your abandoned cart emails may start interfering with your other promotional emails or causing people to unsubscribe because they feel you email them too much.

TAKEAWAY:

The first 3 days after cart abandonment are the most valuable. Time your first three abandoned cart emails should arrive within this 3 day window.

CHAPTER 6

Abandoned cart email content

Scarcity

Scarcity in cart abandonment

44% of all cart abandoned emails used scarcity in the subject line or body as a tactic to drive conversions.

In our research we found that:

  • 36% of 1st cart abandonment emails use scarcity.
  • 50% of 2rd cart abandonment emails use scarcity.
  • 54% of 3rd cart abandonment emails use scarcity.
  • 62% of 4th cart abandonment email use scarcity.
  • 71% of 5th cart abandonment emails use scarcity.
  • 80% of 6th cart abandonment emails use scarcity.
  • 50% of 7th cart abandonment emails use scarcity.
  • 100% of 8th cart abandonment email use scarcity.

We also noticed that 19% of all scarcity comes from the cart expiring or not continuing to be reserved. 23% of all scarcity comes from the offer expiring. 58% of all scarcity comes from the item selling out or no longer being available. However, only 10% of these “selling out” emails explicitly mention low stock or limited quantities.

Scarcity types in cart abandonment

Humor

Humor in cart abandonment

11% used humor in the subject line or body as a tactic to drive conversions.

In our research we found that:

  • 12% of 1st cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 11% of the 2nd cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 8% of 3rd cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 8% of 4th cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 7% of 5th cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 20% of 6th cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 0% of 7th cart abandonment emails use humor.
  • 0% of 8th cart abandonment emails use humor.

These two batches of stats illustrate two things that have been tested over and over:

  • Scarcity is a tactic that reliably drives conversions.
  • Humor is not a reliable conversion tactic.

That’s not to deride humor in emails. There’s nothing wrong with using humor when there’s an opportunity for it. But, if you must choose between funny and scarce, choose scarcity.

The effect on click-through rates and conversions is easily testable, which is likely why 44% of cart abandonment emails employ scarcity up front, while only 11% used humor in the subject line.

Additionally, scarcity is much easier to use than humor. It’s difficult to predict what people will find funny. But, we know that limited time offers and limited stock generate more sales than offers that never expire and unlimited stock.

And, that’s actually a mistake that a lot of companies are making. Over half of the abandoned cart email campaigns—58%—used limited stock as the scarcity device. But, only 10% explicitly mentioned the limited supply. Regardless of how you’re creating scarcity, you need to draw attention to it. Otherwise, customers won’t even notice that there’s any scarcity at all.

TAKEAWAY:

Prioritize scarcity over humor. And, always direct attention to the scarcity in your emails.

CHAPTER 7

Abandoned cart email images and session regeneration

Abandoned cart email images and session regeneration

These two statistics demonstrate something that we’ve already proven: showing the items in the abandoned cart and enabling customers to complete purchases on a different device than they started on increases conversions.

Including pictures of the abandoned products increases email personalization and reminds customers of what they’ve got waiting for them in their cart.

However, cross-device session regeneration is a huge conversion optimization. Most people will finish their transaction on a different device than the one they were using when they abandoned the cart. So, session regeneration reduces buying friction for a massive portion of your cart abandoners. And, it has no impact on customers who use the same device.

Most abandoned cart emails use these tactics because they work.

TAKEAWAY:

Include images of the items in the abandoned cart and use cross-device session regeneration to reliably increase abandoned cart recovery.

CHAPTER 8

Abandoned cart emails by industry

Abandoned cart emails by industry

This data is fairly clear: most industries have realized the value of abandoned cart emails. That’s why most companies are sending them.

Even if your industry is already saturated with abandoned cart emails, they’re still going to be hugely profitable for you. Abandoned cart emails are about nurturing the relationship with customers who have already at least partially opted into your brand. So, performance is largely unaffected by whether or not other brands are sending cart abandonment emails.

TAKEAWAY:

If you’re not sending cart abandonment emails, you need to start!

Abandoned cart email offers by industry

Abandoned cart email offers by industry

Of the retailers that send cart abandonment emails:

  • 35% of Apparel retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 43% of Automotive retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails
  • 38% of Beauty & Cosmetics retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 29% of Consumer Electronic retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 57% of Eyewear retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 50% of Floristry retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 14% of Food & Beverage retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 32% of Footwear & Accessories retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 58% of Health & Wellness retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 29% of Hobby, Recreation & Leisure retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 38% of Home retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 29% of Jewelry retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 0% of Pet retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.
  • 67% of Travel Accessory retailers send offers in their cart abandonment emails.

The data here is a bit more nuanced than our last section. While it’s true that offers are a proven tactic for increasing conversions, they require you to give away some profit margin. The wild variation in industries that employ offers is likely due to varying profit margins.

It’s possible that your prices are already as low as they can go, and abandoned cart offers simply aren’t feasible. In that case, you may have to use other methods for increasing conversions (scarcity, priming, contrasting, etc.).

In any case, it’s critical that you deliberately calculate the best discount for your business, rather than simply using the most common discounts. If the numbers show that you can offer no discount at all, that’s okay. You can still send great abandoned cart emails that will rake in revenue for you.

TAKEAWAY:

Carefully calculate your discounts. And, don’t be afraid to send abandoned cart emails without offers, if a discount is not feasible.

Abandoned Cart Email Product Recommendations

Abandoned cart email recommendations
  • 14% of second cart abandonment emails include recommendations.
  • 17% of third cart abandonment emails include recommendations.
  • 15% of fourth cart abandonment emails include recommendations.
  • 14% of fifth cart abandonment emails include recommendations (2/14).
  • 20% of sixth cart abandonment emails include recommendations (⅕).
  • 0% of seventh cart abandonment emails include recommendations (0/2).
  • 0% of eighth cart abandonment emails include recommendations (0/1).

Product recommendations can be a reliable tactic for increasing average order values, and even lifting conversion rates. However, recommendations are only effective if they’re executed correctly, which is likely why so few cart abandonment emails include them.

To effectively deploy cart abandonment product recommendations, you need analytics and email software that can track user behavior and dynamically insert recommendations into your cart abandonment emails. Otherwise, the recommendations may not be relevant, which is unlikely to positively affect your cart abandonment email performance.

Additionally, the increase in product recommendations included in the later cart abandonment emails is because only cart abandoners haven’t completed their purchase receive the later emails in the series. Customers who haven’t clicked through to their original cart after receiving several cart abandonment emails are prime targets for alternate product recommendations.

These customers added items to their cart. So, they’re clearly interested in their brand. But, failing to complete their purchase after a few cart abandonment emails indicates that they may be more interested in related products than the original item they abandoned.

TAKEAWAY:

Only include product recommendations if you can track buying and browsing behavior, and make personalized recommendations. If you can dynamically insert personalized product recommendations, customers who have not responded to the early cart abandonment emails are the best targets for product recommendations.

TLDR

Conclusions

Although much of the data trends toward using what’s been proven to work, there are a few areas where the majority of companies are not using the best practices for generating conversions.

So, there’s plenty of room to differentiate yourself and outperform the competition by simply creating better emails, that more reliably generate conversions, than the competition. Use this data to follow the trends, and go against the grain where it’s going to be the most profitable.

What to do now

If you’re ready to optimize your own abandoned cart emails, learn how to send the best abandoned cart email campaigns.