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).
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.
(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 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
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 sales people 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.
Why Abandoned Cart Follow-Up Automation Works
Just like the sales person 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 credit card or payment details.
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.
Which 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 isn't a specific “abandoned cart promo”, instead it's a new customer discount.
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!)
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.
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.
Your Marching Orders: Start Implementing Your Abandoned Cart Sequence Now
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
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.
Take a look at the full list of AccessAlly features here.
Write a Sequence of Abandoned Cart Win-Back Emails
Now that you’ve got the right systems to set up your abandoned cart automation, it’s time to write the win-back emails.
Here are the emails I propose:
- Oops – did something happen?
- Complete your order
- Here’s what people are saying
- Don’t miss out
- Special offer expires soon
- Last chance for bonuses
Send 1-2 hours later. Ask if there was a technical issue, and link back to order form to complete.
Send 4-24 hours later. Link back to the order form to complete checkout. Ask for a reply if they run into any issues.
Send 24 hours later. Testimonials and more reasons to complete the order.
Send 3 days later. Give them a bonus or special timed offer, to get them off the fence that expires in X days.
Send 2 days later. Remind them about the special bonus or promo code, and that it expires soon.
Send 1 day later. Final reminder about the bonus/promo and last call to complete the order.
Block some time on your calendar right now to dedicate to writing these emails.
Or better yet, if you sign up for AccessAlly and the Online Courses Simplified program, you’ll get swippable abandoned cart emails to take and edit for your business.
Optional: Add a Special Time Sensitive Promotion to Your Sequence
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.
You've spent time, effort, and a lot of money creating a brand new membership site.
Now, all you have to do is fill it with members!
The problem is that membership marketing strategies are a dime a dozen… so how do you know which one to pick?
Well, here's a tip: you don't have to decide which one to commit to. Instead, the most effective membership marketing strategies are those that are intertwined and rely on each other's strength to succeed.
Looking for more ways to automate your business?
If you're an Ontraport user, you've already invested in one of the most powerful tools available to automate your business… but are you using this power to its full potential?
A CRM/email marketing system like Ontraport is only half the equation for most online businesses. The other half of the equation is your online business website.
That's why so many entrepreneurs – and their tech teams – are searching for more efficient ways to establish a solid Ontraport WordPress integration.
And we're ready to help with these 3 little-known Ontraport WordPress integration tricks that will polish your online business automation.
The great thing about these tricks, too, is that they utilize WordPress plugins that are specifically designed to integrate with Ontraport… so you can use them with your current tagging system and sequences. Let's take a look:
This is a guest post by Alexia Vernon.
How to build an audience online… it starts with:
Becoming a trusted expert in my industry.
Launching a signature online program.
Creating an engaged community that champions me—and my offerings.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have—and likely still are—pursuing one or more of these goals. Whether you are a web designer or a wellness coach, a technological wizard or a digital newbie, your inbox is likely flooded each day with experts showing you how to utilize online marketing and technology to achieve your business goals.
I’m not one of those people.
How To Build An Audience Online… Starting Offline
While my speaking and coaching business has had an online presence since it’s inception 8 years ago, the truth is that I’m most in my zone of genius when leading live, in-person events that are high touch and low tech. Where I incorporate heaps of audience interactivity and few, if any, slide decks.
And it’s from leading these quality, transformational live events—e.g., workshops, retreats, corporate trainings, and TEDx’s—that my list has grown. That I’ve been able to emerge more meaningfully online through my spotlight products and coaching programs. That I’ve surpassed the six-figure mark and most importantly, found a way to marry my passion and expertise with what my audience craves.
Although it might sound counter intuitive to go offline to grow online, the truth is that intimate, high-touch, in person events can be one of the most effective ways to supercharge your online fan base.
Live events facilitate and deepen connections between you and your tribe—and between fellow tribe members—both during promotion for the live event and of course during the live event itself.
When led properly, live events put you at top of mind as a trusted expert—in the head and heart of those who attended as well as those who encountered your event promotion.
And the next time you launch online, you better believe that your live event participants will become crazy, beautiful proselytizers within your online community and, just as importantly, within their own communities.
Leading successful live events requires different, albeit complementary skills, to those that make an entrepreneur successful online.
Here are my top recommendations to ensure your first (or next) live event rocks—for you and your peeps.
1. Choose a structure that serves your tribe and your revenue goals.
One of the biggest mistakes I see leaders make is trying to replicate the model of other live events they have attended. As a result, many well-intentioned people are essentially taking their online programs and bringing them offline. Speaking at their audience rather than with their audience.
They are prioritizing teaching their tribe at the expense of transforming them.
In order to over deliver on your tribe’s expectations, choose a live format that enables you to design a truly interactive and mind-blowing experience.
Perhaps you want to lead a live workshop for 30 people. This number will allow you to have people up on their feet, practicing the strategies and techniques you are teaching—and enable you to deliver real-time mindset and skill-based coaching.
Maybe you want to work with an even smaller group via a destination retreat. One of my favorite things to do is to take a group of 10–15 visionary speakers to a fun location (next on my list is Kauai!) in order to mastermind and skill build.
This enables me to give my attendees oodles of customized strategy, opportunities for quality relationship building, and ample time to rest, restore and soak up a beautiful environment that supports the transformative speaking work we’re doing.
It’s also possible that you want to lead a more traditional live event for 100+ people. If going this route, it’s even more important to think about how you give your audience opportunities to apply what they are learning and to connect with fellow participants—versus just having them sit and digest information from you and guest speakers during a one-day intensive or weekend conference.
But the truth is that larger events have larger expenses and it’s often easier to net multiple five or even six figures of profit from an intimate, well-facilitated live event. You do so not only from registration fees, but also from offering participants in your experiences the opportunity to continue their work with you in ongoing private and group coaching, consulting and masterminding programs.
It’s not uncommon for me and other live event leaders to quadruple the income we earn after a workshop or retreat because the experience we create makes it almost effortless to enroll participants into our other programs.
2. Fill your in-person event through online marketing and community building.
Even though you are bringing your tribe together offline, it’s essential that you leverage online business building strategies to promote your live event.
Whenever my clients and I are designing our live offerings, we use a classic online launch formula to promote them. Just as you would hopefully not throw up a sales page and send people straight there for an online program or product launch… When creating a live event, you don’t want to ask people to register without first giving them a chance to “date you and your content.”
There are 3 top priorities for event leaders during the enrollment phase.
Priority 1: Get your audience eager to see you live
If you have participated in Nathalie’s Launch It and Profit training, this is the classic pre-launch stage where you are giving away quality, free content. When doing an online product launch, you might have a landing page where interested people can opt-in for a free video training series. Or you may be offering a free report, a series of interviews, or webinars.
When your goal is to fill a live event, I recommend that you wet your audience’s appetite by doing a series of mini-virtual events.
Remember, prospects are considering whether they want to be in your audience for 1 or more days and they are looking for evidence that you are charismatic, credible and engaging… worth seeing live. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to have a single landing page promoting 3 or 4 webinars where you will give snippets of different content that you will be sharing at your live event.
Webinars are one of the fastest ways to grow your list.
Even when participants don’t enroll in your current live event, they often register for other events, programs and products down the line because webinars make our audience members feel close and connected to us as event hosts.
Priority 2: Incentivize early enrollment
As you share your webinar series with your newsletter list and expand your reach through strategic online advertising (e.g, Facebook ads that you run to your webinar landing page), make sure that you are making it easy for people to say, “heck yeah, I’m in” to your event early by making it cost effective to do so.
You don’t need to have an open and close enrollment period because you typically need to promote your live event 3–6 months before it happens, if it’s out of town, so people have time to make plans. And, let’s face it, you don’t want to have a hard stop on when tickets are available in case you don’t sell out. I often sell a handful of tickets just a few weeks before an event to members of my local community.
However, you can have tiered pricing that goes up 24 hours after each webinar. That way, when you make your offer at the end of a webinar for people to register for your live event, they feel a sense of urgency to do so before the price increases.
Another way to incentivize early enrollment is to do an initial 2-for–1 ticket giveaway the first week or two after launching your sales page. This is a terrific way to allow your early, most eager customers to fill your audience with their pals who likely will add more positive vibes to your event.
Priority 3: Prep attendees for the live event
Your live event experience begins the moment a prospective attendee enrolls. Make sure that you have set-up an autoresponder system that communicates pertinent details about the live event, e.g., location specifics, transportation, and daily schedule, so that they can make accurate travel plans.
Make sure also to invite participants into an online community, such as a private Facebook group for the event, to connect with other attendees. The more that your participants get to know each other, the more fully they will show up to the live event because they will be comfortable with one another. You can also use the new online platform, Periscope, to do quick video Q+A sessions with event attendees. I’ll be doing a lot of this during my next live event launch!
Plus, when your live event participants feel connected to one another, they are more likely to want to continue working with you because they want to continue to develop their new business friendships. The first person I ran into at Nathalie’s Off The Charts event was my pal from Launch It & Profit, Sara Bradford.
We spent much of the weekend together. When Nathalie shared details of the 9-month Daring Business Cultivator she was offering that year we knew we both wanted in, but we had to decide if this was the right business investment for us at that time. A key deciding factor for both of us was whether the other was going to do it. (In case you are curious, we applied, were accepted, had an extraordinary year together, and Sara—an amazing real food expert—is serving as the private chef for my Kauai event.)
You can also set your attendees up for success by giving them some pre-event work to complete in advance. Make sure that whatever activities you assign are fun, illuminating and will accelerate learning at the live event.
3. Find your “secret sauce” to move from expert to transformational thought leader
Finally, in order to make your live event game changing for you and your audience, you need to develop your speaking and facilitation skills. If you deliver any kind of online training, you likely have gotten comfortable speaking from your computer, behind a slide deck. Even if using slides (sparingly I hope!) at your live event, you still will be stepping into the role of thought leader. You will be center stage.
People don’t choose to make the time and financial commitment to leave their homes and families and attend a live event, no matter how established the event’s leader is, simply to learn. That’s what online is for.
They want to hear stories you’ve never told before—and understand EXACTLY how you have gotten to where you are today (so they can see the pathway toward where they are striving to be). They want to be asked to think more boldly and take bigger risks than you or anyone else has ever asked them to take.
They want to build genuine, long-term relationships with the other people in attendance. And most of all, they want to leave your event inspired and prepared to implement their insight and create real, ongoing results.
Successful and profitable live event leaders, like Nathalie, have mastered creating and executing a live event that they couldn’t have captured in an online format. They ask questions, lead activities, provide guest speakers, and do laser coaching that deepens the experience of their curriculum and facilitates real, lasting transformation for their audience.
They are so much more than experts who are delivering great content. They are true thought leaders who artfully energize and engage their participants through the live experiences they create.
As I hope you can tell, I’m insanely passionate about leading live events—and supporting other entrepreneurs, change makers and visionaries to do the same.
Whether you have never led a live event before, but know that you want to do deep, delicious work with your tribe—or you have previously led live events, but they just haven’t been as profitable as you now know they can be, my hope is that you take my recommendations and gussy up what you are doing effectively online to create an epic, money-making experience offline.
About Alexia Vernon
Branded a “Moxie Maven” by the White House, Alexia supports visionary leaders to use public speaking and live events to spread their ideas, grow their tribes, and add meaningful revenue to their businesses. Alexia is a contributor to media such as CNN, NBC, Forbes, Inc. and Women’s Health.
One of the first questions I get when it comes to building an email list is: “what am I going to send people once they join my list?”
The idea that you need to be constantly churning out new email content to keep the people on your list happy and in the loop is valid … but also really daunting. And for most small businesses, this strategy is not always the best use of your time.
In the ever-expanding world of online businesses and blogs it’s becoming more difficult to convert your website visitors to subscribers.
The sad reality is that most people who stumble upon your website are unlikely to return, unless you are able to capture their name and email and provide them with a great user experience. leaving them desperate to come back for more.