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How We Used an Abandoned Cart Email Sequence to Recapture 43% of Our Lost Sales

Most marketing advice tells you to market more, spend more on ads, and push harder.

Well, I got fed up with the “more, more, more” approach.

There’s only so many Facebook ads you can optimize before you get blue in the face. So I asked myself…

“What if there was a way to take better care of the interested people we already have?”

There is! But most marketers don’t focus on this part of the sales process, because it’s not as sexy.

What’s responsible for recapturing 43% lost sales in our business?

A simple abandoned cart email sequence (which I’ll share with you in a moment).

Take the shortcut: download the template now

If you know all the reasons you need to setup cart abandonment, and have software like AccessAlly to make it happen, then download these free email templates and get started today.

This download includes swipe email copy that you can customize or use as is. We have subject lines there for you, or again, you can write your own.

This download is a quick jumpstart that will save you hours of work and you’ll be on your way to saving 43% (or more!) of your abandoned cart sales!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Abandoned Cart Email Follow-Up

Let’s get right down to it: abandoned cart email sequences have quietly been making the online retail industry millions of dollars. You can do the same, even if you’re selling on WordPress.

Now it’s time for small business owners to have the same advantage, without needing to hire a full IT department, thanks to WordPress plugins like AccessAlly and marketing automation platforms.

Abandoned cart email stats

(Sidenote: the abandoned cart email funnel is a lot like building a regular sales funnel in ConvertKit or Infusionsoft, for example.)

What is an Abandoned Cart & Why Should You Care?

Someone is said to abandon a shopping cart online, when they click on the “buy now” button or “add to cart” button… but do not complete their order.

I’m sure you’ve been in this situation before yourself: you’re on the fence, you’re evaluating options, or you get sidetracked and maybe even change your mind about buying.

The statistics are bleak.

According to Statista, 75% of people abandon the cart when they click the “buy now” button…

That means you’re spending 100% of your marketing budget, but losing 75% of potential buyers.

That’s a leaky bucket if I ever did see one.

But what causes people to abort their order? Part of it likely comes down to ease of ordering, and the stats from Barilliance back this up, with the highest abandoned cart rates happening on mobile devices.

  • Desktop: 73.07% average shopping cart abandonment rate.
  • Tablet: 80.74% average shopping cart abandonment rate.
  • Mobile: 85.65% average shopping cart abandonment rate.

Other reasons why people might not complete an order, also according to Barilliance’s data, include:

  • Unexpected shipping or other undisclosed costs
  • Having to create a new account
  • Just conducting research (not ready to buy yet)
  • Technical glitches, or security concerns
  • Long and confusing checkout, or bad return policy
  • Declined credit card

Not to mention life distractions that may get in their way (kids come in the room, dogs bark, a package gets delivered, etc.)

With all of these in mind, we can devise a good strategy to follow up (especially with those who were not ready to buy quite yet!).

How Online Cart Abandonment Differs From Offline Sales

As a teenager, I worked in a retail store and learned a lot about buying psychology.

Think about it: when you go to the store in person, if you pick up an item and walk to the cash register… it’s unlikely you’ll change your mind.

But you might walk around the store first, and decide to put the item back on the shelf… and walk out.

An astute salesperson might notice your behavior and ask if you have any questions, if you want to try things on, or if they can take these items to the register for you.

That personal touch can save a sale.

The best service-oriented salespeople are not afraid to talk to potential customers and make sure they’ve found what they needed.

If only there was a way to use this approach in an online sales setting… Well, there is, and it’s called abandoned cart email follow-up.
abandoned cart email sequence in Infusionsoft (Keap)

Why Abandoned Cart Follow-Up Automation Works

Just like the salesperson who notices you might be changing your mind and getting ready to walk out, with online automation marketing you can intervene before you lose a sale.

How? By capturing a name and email address before you ask for a credit card or payment details.

Let’s say you’re selling a digital product. If someone completes their order, then perfect – you’ll send them their welcome email and deliver your digital products or courses.

But what if they fill in their name and email, but get distracted before they can fill out their payment information?
That’s when you apply a tag in your automation marketing platform, and start the abandoned cart follow-up sequence.

This is a simple sequence of emails that reminds the potential customer that they started to buy but didn’t finish.

You can use these emails to continue the service-oriented sales conversation… just like you would in person, you can ask questions and have people reply to get clarifications.

But do these emails really work?

According to stats collected by Moosend, 45% of cart abandonment emails are opened, and from there 21% of people click through and 50% of these people complete their orders.

Not all abandoned cart email sequence follow-up campaigns are created equal, so let’s take a look at what worked for us.

How We Used an Abandoned Cart Sequence to Recapture 43% of Our Lost Sales

At AccessAlly, we know that buying software is a commitment and that people might get cold feet when signing up.

So we use our abandoned cart functionality, and if someone doesn’t complete their order within a few hours of starting the process…

We kick off an email sequence, which starts off by asking if there were any technical problems during the ordering process.

With a global business, sometimes credit cards from other countries decline, or a browser crashes…

I prefer to keep the first few emails as non-emotional as possible and focus on getting the potential client to click back to finish their order.

Who knows, maybe their kids walked into the room, their credit card was in their other pair of pants, or they had an appointment to get to.

After the first few emails (spaced a few days apart), we move into more benefit-focused emails. These are the ones with the testimonials, case studies, and reasons why they’ll benefit from signing up and completing their order.

Finally, we offer a one-time only savings incentive if they purchase within the next few days. This is handled by AccessAlly’s coupon functionality, and adds real individual scarcity.

All told, our abandoned cart email sequence comes in at 6 emails that get progressively more emphatic. If they don’t purchase within this sequence, then we back off and assume it wasn’t the right time.

What NOT to Do in Your Abandoned Cart Follow-Up

Okay, now you might be intrigued because recapturing an extra 43% of your lost sales sounds awesome…

But there are ways to piss off your potential customers if you don’t set up your abandoned cart automation the right way!

The worst thing you can do is to use a tech stack that doesn’t track abandoned and successful purchases properly… and offer a discount to people who just finished ordering.

You laugh, but it has happened and you will lose brand loyalty and customers faster than you can say “broken cart”.

Here’s how this recently went down: a friend of mine purchased a product, and got the welcome email to download it… and then 1 hour later, they got an email offering a discount on the product they just bought.

How did the company handle it? They didn’t own up to the automation mess-up, and just said “thanks for buying”.

If you’re going to set up an abandoned cart sequence, you need to have that service-oriented attitude and make it right for your customers if things don’t work as expected. Offer to apply the discount, or give them something else to make up for the mistake.

With AccessAlly’s shopping cart functionality, you won’t run into this type of mishap… but you still need to think about the content of the emails that you send.

Offering a discount immediately after someone abandons the cart is not the best way to go, because it trains people to abandon and wait for a special offer.

This brings me to abandoned cart examples from different industries, and how they handle the incentive to complete an order.

Abandoned Cart Examples From Different Industries

I wanted to see how different online retailers handle the abandoned cart email flow.

Some do it better than others, and you’ll notice that most of them start off simple and ramp up the incentive or time urgency to get people to say yes.

Bonobos Abandoned Cart Example

This first email from abandoning the Bonobos shopping cart was sent 4 hours in, and offers a 20% off promo code.
This isn’t a specific “abandoned cart promo”, instead it’s a new customer discount.

Hey forget something abandoned cart
The next follow-up email keeps it light and asks if there were any issues with processing the order. (Or if life just got busy!)

Abandoned Cart Example from Bonobos

Huckberry Abandoned Cart Example

For physical products, offering free shipping is a great incentive to get people to the finish line. Here Huckberry gives a special code and shows the exact item that was in the cart.

Free Shipping Abandoned Cart Incentive

Winc Example of Abandoned Cart Email

Here’s another example from Winc, which offers $20 off your first order and also links to some of their specific products.

Notice that they really downplay not completing the order and keep it casual, with that extra incentive to come back and finish the order.
Abandoned cart example you forgot something

Implement Your Abandoned Cart Email Sequence

You’ve seen a few abandoned cart email examples, and you understand why it’s important to plug the leaky holes in your check out process…

Now it’s time for you to flesh out your own abandoned cart sequence, and get it implemented.

If you’re currently making sales, I would move this “abandoned cart email sequence project” to the top of your to-do list… before any other marketing or customer acquisition tasks.

Recapturing even an extra 25% of your lost sales could make your current marketing efforts more profitable, and pay for a little extra time off to enjoy the sun.

Pick a Shopping Cart Platform That Offers Abandoned Cart Functionality

WordPress plugin for abandoned cart followup

The first step in getting this project underway is to set up a shopping cart platform that has the ability to track abandoned carts.

There are a few things you’ll want to look for in shopping cart abandonment solutions, like the flexibility to tag and automate follow-up based on what someone started purchasing.

Many older ecommerce systems are behind the times here, so you’ll need to do a little research to see what will work with your existing set up.

If you use a modern automation marketing platform like ConvertKit, Ontraport, Drip, ActiveCampaign, or Infusionsoft, then the AccessAlly plugin for WordPress is a great option.

AccessAlly has a 3-step checkout process, which captures the name and email before moving onto payment details.
It then applies a tag to your email marketing platform for this potential client, which allows you to kickstart an automation if the transaction isn’t completed within the specified amount of time you select.

Download Free Abandoned Cart Emails

Enter your name and email to get these free email templates. You can copy and paste the copy directly, or spice it up to match your voice and brand. The hard work is done for you!

Write a Sequence of Abandoned Cart Emails (with stellar subject lines)

Abandoned cart email sequence example
Now that you’ve got the right systems to set up your abandoned cart email automation, it’s time to write the win-back emails.

Here are the emails I propose:

Abandoned Cart Email #1

Subject Line: Oops – did something happen?

Send 1-2 hours later. Ask if there was a technical issue, and link back to the order form to complete.
Pro tips:

  • If you sell a lower price-point item, consider sending this email sooner, say 15-30 minutes after cart abandonment.
  • Get creative with your subject lines! Play up your personality and your brand. Make it you, be authentic.
  • Write in a conversational style. Let them know that distractions and roadblocks happen to the best of us!

Here are a few other subject lines I’ve seen used:

  1. Oops! You dropped this.
  2. We’re ready when you are.
  3. It’s your cart calling
  4. You didn’t finish!
  5. One more step…
  6. Don’t forget to complete your order!

Abandoned Cart Email #2

Subject line: Complete your order

Send 4-24 hours later. Link back to the order form to complete checkout. Ask for a reply if they run into any issues. Get creative with this email. This can be what we think of as a more traditional sales email. Remind them why they added your product to the cart in the first place!

If you sell online courses, sing its praises! Focus on the benefits they’ll get and the transformation they’ll experience.

Abandoned Cart Email #3

Subject line: Here’s what people are saying
Send 24 hours later. Testimonials and more reasons to complete the order.

Abandoned Cart Email #4

Subject line: Don’t miss out
Send 3 days later.

Here’s where you can get creative and offer a bonus. It could be something as simple as free shipping if you’re selling a physical product. Sometimes that’s the little extra nudge they need to complete the purchase.

You can offer a special one-time discount with a timed expiration. For example, save $25 when you purchase in the next 2 hours. You can give them more than 2 hours as well – in fact, it’s not uncommon for these coupon codes to last 24 hours.

If you’re selling an online course, you may also choose to include bonuses in this email. For example, you may have supporting material or a group call they can join when they purchase.

These incentives are usually just enough to get them to say YES and buy now.

Block some time on your calendar right now to dedicate to writing these emails.

AccessAlly makes cart abandonment follow up easy

When you use AccessAlly as your online course and membership site tool, cart abandonment is a breeze. We have step-by-step guides to set up cart abandonment emails sequences in all of our supported CRMs and email automation platforms.

Other Options: Add a Special Time-Sensitive Promotion to Your Sequence

Special Coupon code marketing
Many of the abandoned cart examples we looked at offer some sort of time-sensitive special offer.

Let’s be clear: you don’t have to offer these, because a simple email sequence to follow-up with those who don’t complete a purchase will result in more recaptured sales.

But if you want to increase conversions even more, consider adding something time-sensitive to your abandoned cart emails.

Depending on your price point and products, it may make sense to discount or to add extra bonuses to get people to say yes.

Remember, these are people who were interested enough to start the purchasing process… they’re warm and they need some reassurance that they’re making a good decision.

That’s where offering additional bonuses can help: give them an additional digital product or course, maybe some done-for-you templates or special access to you.

This process is called “stacking the bonuses”, and you want to sell the free bonuses so they really understand how this will help them achieve their goals.

Similarly, if you decide to offer an expiring coupon or discount, make sure that you focus on why you’re giving them this break. It should be to help them and serve them, and not just to make another sale for your business.

Any Abandoned Cart Questions We Can Answer?

Whether you’ve been on the end of an abandoned cart sequence that got you to buy (I know I have!) or you’re just getting ready to set one up for your business…

I’d love to answer any questions you have about abandoned cart emails and automation, so let’s hear it.

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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