My Exact Abandoned Cart Email Sequence And How To Recover Lost Sales From Your Shop

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Whenever I shop online, I like to comparison shop before I buy most things. In fact, I often browse multiple online stores before finally choosing where to make my purchase.

Sometimes in the middle of shopping, I get sidetracked by my kids. Sometimes, my wife forces me to do some chores or run a quick errand.

Sometimes, I get last minute jitters and abandon my shopping cart even after I’ve entered in all of my information.

My Exact Abandoned Cart Email Sequence And How To Recover Lost Sales From Your Shop

One time, I was shopping for my wife’s anniversary gift online when I was rudely interrupted by screams from my kids downstairs.

Now I must have had thousands of dollars worth of merchandise in my various shopping carts.

I was also in the middle of carefully planning an elaborate getaway to exotic locations around the world…5 star hotels, the finest restaurants….you name it!

But poof!

All of a sudden, I had to tend to my kids downstairs and I lost all of my momentum. My once elaborate anniversary plan turned into just a dinner at a nice restaurant and a movie on Netflix.

Anyway when I explained to my wife what happened, did I get any credit for all of my shopping efforts and elaborate vacation planning? Hell no!

Clearly, it’s not JUST about the thought that counts:)

Shopping Is Full Of Interruptions

playing

But seriously, people are constantly interrupted from their online shopping and it’s very easy to forget where you left off.

That day when I was shopping for my wife, my son actually cracked his head open jumping off the couch into our fireplace and I had to rush him to urgent care.

But guess what?

When I got back to my computer 4 hours later, I saw an email that urged me to complete my purchase.

Minutes later, I received a coupon code for 10% off from a different shop that I was shopping at before my son decided to ram his head into a brick wall.

Had I not received these emails, I probably would’ve forgotten about it.

After all, I visited so many Italian boutiques that day that they all began to blur together.

Recovering Lost Sales

recover

Now the concept of an abandoned cart email sequence is not new and if you don’t have one, you’re missing out on a lot of sales.

But how do you implement one? And more importantly, how many emails should you send and what should you write in them?

You also have to consider the annoyance factor.

How many customers will you drive away by emailing them repeatedly with abandoned purchase emails?

In this post, I will show you my thought process and why I settled on my current sequence.

The First Abandoned Email

funnel

Looking at my funnel statistics, I’m losing roughly 23% of my customers during checkout after they’ve entered in their information.

Note: This number is abnormally high right now because I’m currently running a free plus shipping promotion where I don’t reveal the shipping cost until after they’ve entered in their information. My typical numbers are around 15%ish.

In the case of my free plus shipping offer, some people balk at the shipping price. Other customers get interrupted and some get cold feet.

Whatever the reason, these customers are all extremely close to checking out and often need just a tiny little nudge to complete their order.

As a result, I send the first abandoned cart reminder email out at the 4 hour mark.

Why 4 hours?

I experimented with 2 and 4 hours but 4 hours seemed to perform a little better so I stuck with it. The important thing is to get that first email out while the iron is hot.

Here’s what my first email looks like.

Abandoned Email #1

There are a few things to note. First of all, the email contains a picture of exactly what was in the customer’s cart at the time of abandonment.

Furthermore, there’s a big button that will take the customer back into checkout with their shopping cart pre-stuffed with their items.

The result is that this first email recovers roughly 10% of abandoned customers.

How Many Emails Should I Send?

emails

Most stores that I’ve encountered stop at a single email because they don’t want to annoy their customers. But if you are stopping at 1, you are missing out on potential sales.

Think about it this way.

You got a customer to enter their email and their physical address. They want to buy your stuff! So emailing them a few more times won’t kill them.

Some people just need time to think about a purchase and they may forget about you altogether unless you remind them. In fact, you are doing them a favor!

As a result, I send out my 2nd abandoned reminder email after 48 hours.

My second email looks a lot like my first email except the subject line reads “It’s not too late to have your order delivered on time”

This second email converts at between 2-4%.

Is More Than 2 Emails Too Many?

buried

Based on my conversion numbers from the first 2 emails, I’m recovering between 12-14% of my lost sales.

Not bad right?

In the beginning, my cart abandonment sequence was only 2 emails. But then one day, I noticed that some of my colleagues were sending out 3 emails or more!

In fact, one of my friends uses a 5 email abandoned sequence. Crazy right?

Anyway for the longest time I was against sending out more than 2 emails for no logical reason but then one day I said “what the heck”, let’s try it.

And the results were eye opening.

By sending out a third email out at the 72 hour mark, I was able to convert 6% more lost customers! In fact, the 3rd email outperformed my 48 hour abandoned email!

Here’s a photo of all 3 of my cart abandoned conversion rates.

Abandoned stats

Should I Send More Than 3 Emails?

At this point, I decided to experiment with 4 emails just to see what would happen.

But the 4th email conversion rate was less than a percent and I started to get some email complaints from customers.

Take me off your list!
Stop emailing me!
I didn’t sign up for anything!

Even though people were still converting on this 4th email, I decided that less than a percent of conversion was not worth pissing off customers and getting our emails marked as spam.

Improving This Abandoned Sequence Further

coupon

With these 3 emails, my abandoned cart sequence converts at around 19% which isn’t bad.

But other people I know have been able to achieve conversion rates between 20-30%.

What’s their secret?

You can send out a coupon code on your 3rd and final email to entice them to make a purchase.

The promotion can be something as simple as a free shipping offer or a percentage discount but sending out a coupon on the last email will likely be your highest converting one.

But make sure that you don’t send out a coupon to customers who have purchased since starting your abandoned sequence.

You only want to send out discounts to people who haven’t completed their purchase.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Sending Out Email

When I first implemented my sequence, I didn’t send out more than 1 email and I was afraid of annoying customers. But think about it this way.

The whole point of email is to make money. If you don’t send out emails, you are just paying for a service that does nothing. And who cares if you accidentally annoy someone who isn’t going to buy from you anyway?

In fact, the annoyance rate did not manifest itself until I started sending out 4 emails. Going forward, I may experiment with a coupon code on the 4th and final email to see what happens.

But in the meantime, a 19% couponless recovery rate isn’t bad.

Keep in mind that your mileage may vary. For your own shop, you should run some experiments with 2,3,4 and even 5 emails to see if the recovery rate is worth the annoyance factor.

Going Forward

Now that I’ve shown you my abandoned cart “email” sequence, who says that it has to stop at email?

If you look at my stats, you’ll notice that my open rate hovers around 45% which means that 55% of my customers aren’t getting the message!

So as a follow on step, you should export your cart abandoners to Facebook and create a custom audience.

The Facebook ads we run to cart abandoners convert at over a 10X ROAS which makes it a no brainer.

Because cart abandoners convert so well, you should do whatever it takes to get these customers back. Good luck!

photo credit: davis.steve32 Recover Reaching

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20 thoughts on “My Exact Abandoned Cart Email Sequence And How To Recover Lost Sales From Your Shop”

  1. Jace says:

    Depends on the store and the individual customer experience.

    I placed an order at a store that had a better “deal” but ended up not shipping my order, didn’t notify me it was back ordered and said it’d be another “few weeks” (after a few weeks). I ended up canceling my order and buying the exact same thing at a higher price from another place that had a 45 day shipping notice (overseas) merely because the last one handled it so poorly. A 10% coupon in my inbox wouldn’t lure me back.

    Maybe only do the coupon for new customers – that way even if they game it, it’s only once. Or maybe offer 10% for new customers regardless.

    I’ve always liked stores that offer a discount at a certain $ amount. Gets me to buy that one extra item that I normally wouldn’t.

    1. @Jace @Ms Constantine @Alvaro
      Thanks for the feedback. I’ve talked to a few other shop owners as well that send automatic coupons after 3-5 days from abandoning their cart. Personally, I think that 3-5 days is a bit long. It’s almost as though you have to regain the customer’s attention the same day or the next. In any case, I’ll probably work on this when I have a block of time. This one shopowner I spoke to manages to regain just about 9% of their customers using this method. It’s unclear how many of these people are just gaming the system but 9% is better than 0%

  2. As long as a store didn’t hound me and only sent me one email with a coupon I’d go back if I was planning on buying that product anyway.

    If I knew about the coupon before looking at the store I’d definitely try to game the system. Why not if it can save me money!

    Recently I’d put my details into a store selling glasses online, I kept chickening out thinking the quality might be bad. Then they sent me a coupon for free frames if I pay the rest. It definitely changed my mind and I bought some right away.

  3. I suggest to consider giving all past clients a 10% discount on one purchase per month. New clients a one time 11-15% discount, (then the become past clients). This would encourage new clients and reward loyalty of past clients.

  4. Also, those gaming the system may not buy from your shop without the coupon. You could count that as a brand new customer you might not otherwise have.

    1. @MsConstantine
      So true. If I could regain just 20% of the abandoned customers, that would equal quite a bit of revenue.

  5. I think sending ONE discount message on the same day or the next day is great. Waiting longer or sending multiple messages will tend to push people away.

    And the worst you can do is follow Amazon’s example of filling my inbox with “since you bought X, we thought you might be interested in Y” messages. Frequently, they are right–and I print out the information and take it to the local Barnes and Noble store to buy the book–simply because I hate spam that much.

    By the way, Steve, I’m getting some family members together to launch our own online store soon (but nothing to do with weddings).

    1. @Walt
      Happy to hear that you and your family are launching their online store! If you ever need any help, please do let me know. Yeah I really hate how Amazon sends me loads of email as well. Clearly it works though, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it.

  6. Jace says:

    Last night I received a call from a local pizza shop that I ordered from only once in the last 2 years. It was the manager/owner and he offered me a free appetizer if I wanted to “come back” and try them again. I’ve tried a hundred pizza shops and I don’t recall if I liked his or not, but that free app will make me choose his the next time I order pizza.

    Perhaps give your customers a nice discount after 6 months to invite them back, or a referral discount if one of their friends makes a purchase.

    1. @Jace @Walt
      Free stuff is definitely compelling. I was thinking of offering a free order of hot wings with purchase of some wedding linens:) Believe it or not, we have quite a few repeat customers. Most of these customers are event planners, wedding planners or people who do their own embroidery on the side. Offering brides a discount for their friends does sound interesting however. I’m positive that we get a lot of business from referrals as it stands.

  7. Good point, Jace. An occasional, infrequent e-mail message can be a great way to pick up repeat business.

    I think the thing with Amazon is that they send out so many. Even if I decided to buy every book they recommended, I couldn’t fund that many purchases. I’d have to move out of my house and live in my car.

    I’ve also noticed that a lot of the hotel loyalty programs do the same thing. (Hint to the hotel chains: I’m too work-oriented to be able to enjoy a week in the Caribbean. By day two, I’d be trying to find reliable Internet, so I could do something constructive. You should know this already, since every hotel stay is for “work” purposes.)

    I’m sure their software has a pretty detailed picture of my interests by now. How about e-mailing once every month or three with the one or two things that are most likely to interest me?

    In Steve’s business, however, I doubt that most of his customers are repeats. So post-sale e-mail needs to be about “did we satisfy you?” and about “we’ll give your friends a discount if they order on your recommendation in the next three months”.

  8. Jace says:

    I’ve been thinking about the referral system for my own uses and I think an email is too flimsy, doesn’t compel the user to actually refer anyone. For my system I think I’m going to have some cards printed up (probably plastic like gift cards) that people can physically hand to someone and has a code on it (haven’t decided whether I want it to be one-time use or not). Include it with the shipped order and let them give it to one of their friends, it’s a physical reminder that’s more useful than a business card. Or better yet, have your business cards printed up with a referral code on the back, double exposure. =)

  9. Its a good idea as long as its not abused. One email, that’s it. I noticed it once and i emailed them to ask if we could help. Ten minuets latter i noticed he purchased the product and completed the transaction. He emailed me back to say he was sorry he abandoned.

    When i sent the email I was not sure if i did the right thing as i never send out an email unless it is expected. For some reason that day i though it was a fair game as the same person did it twice. They were obviously having a problem. It could have been our system or his pc, who knows.

  10. Hi Steve,

    Well,this is a feasible idea to give it a try.If you are not sure,test it out by doing a test market on some of your customers and see how is the response.

    It is common to follow up on a sale offline when a customer did not purchase an item.The main reason is to find the negative behind not making a purchase,overcome it and close the sales.This provide a sale person a second chance to seal the deal.Free gifts or discounts are being use to move things along.

    It is a sensitive issue.Emails send may not be read or be in the spam folder.Doing it incorrectly will causes the customers to have the impression that you are desperate for sales.

    To overcome this,send out an email with a strong title to get them to read it.Overall,it is worthwhile to give it a try.Use this as a good opportunity to project your business image as value for money and broaden the customer base.

    To your success

  11. Jami says:

    I wouldn’t be annoyed, that actually happened to me I actually had to stop what I was doing and closed out but didn’t delete the cart so I was surprised when I got the coupon in return I did make my purchase.

  12. Hello Steve,

    Perfect timing !!

    I was just considering how I should improve my abandoned cart email. i operate on relatively low profit margins but I think offering a 5% discount on the 3rd email is worth a try.

    I know on some websites they always offer add-on deals so I purposely order less than I really want so I can take advantage of “their success” at up selling me. :)

    Jim

  13. Teri says:

    Hi Steve! Is there a particular software/email program you use for your abandon cart sequence? We’ve never tried to implement one before but that high of a win-back percentage is worth a shot for us! (we are on Shopify if you know of a good app on there).

    Love your online course btw, been a member since last year and always come back to it! We are next setting up our Facebook pixel :)

    Thanks!!

    Teri

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