From this article, you can learn to win back a sizable portion of them and gain extra revenue while doing so – with the most cost-effective, automated methods.
We will talk about how you can remodel your website, what emails should you send out right away and I will also tell you what is it that you have to tell your customer immediately, otherwise they will leave your product in that cart unpaid.
It is true that rates are constantly rising, however in the meantime traffic of online stores, average cart value, revenue can still be growing.
This is not a paradox at all. The number of cart abandoners may rise, but at the same time more people may find your site (via good search engine optimization or content marketing) and more people will convert.
In order for you to be capable of doing this, first you must be familiar with the most important statistics – all of which we gathered in this article, so you have nothing to do but continue reading.
Second, you have to know the basic methods with which you can use in your online store to convince people not to abandon their carts or if they do so, to return and make a purchase.
Let’s start with the very basics because I’m not sure you calculate your abandonment rate right…
What is cart abandonment?
In a clothing store you may be a cart abandoner if you try on different clothes, then leave without buying anything. This is fairly common, but you are much less likely to enter a grocery store without eventually making a purchase – because in this case, you are more likely to be looking for something specific.
Now, on the internet the whole situation is different. In a brick-and-mortar store, the rate might be lower because it requires greater investment in your part – you have to physically go to the store, it requires time and energy on your part. So it’s more ‘expensive’ for you to be ‘just looking’. If you need some mineral water, you won’t go to another store miles away just because you can buy it a few cents cheaper.
But online you definitely will. After all, you don’t have to do anything other than hitting a button and return to a Google results page, then clicking on another result. In a few minutes, you can visit dozens of competing stores, see their prices, terms and put products in your cart in every single one of them without making a purchase.
The investment on your mart is minimal, engagement is low, you don’t feel any kind of obligation to purchase. You don’t even feel slightly awkward like you would in a grocery store if you would like to leave empty-handed, passing a long line of customers at the cash register.
You simply have to click.
Every online store has a great number of cart abandoners. The only question is how many of them can you bring back. Even if just a couple of percent, you will gain significant extra revenue. And as you will see this is far from being a hopeless goal. There are many good solutions, you only have to chose wisely.
But let’s start with when you have to worry…
Real cart abandonment rates
The average global rate between 2012 and 2017 was 69.23%. This, however, can be misleading – let’s have a look at the yearly averages:
- 2012: 66.22%
- 2013: 71.75%
- 2014: 69.18%
- 2015: 73.18%
- 2016: 72.95%
- 2017: 74.1%
As you can see, the rate is slowly but steadily rising. There are experts who theorize it may reach as high as 90% by the end of the decade. You don’t really have anything to worry about – it is only natural that as the traffic of e-commerce sites grows along with global internet penetration, and the number of options (competitors) is also larger, cart abandonment will rise.
There are of course other fresh statistics we can have a look at. Listrak, for example, did a research recently where they concluded the abandonment rate is at 81% currently. The most recent numbers show 75% by others.
There are more people on the internet, browsing at more stores, and since they can do this very fast, they can compare dozens of stores in minutes – showing up in the statistics as cart abandoners at many of them.
For more in-depth numbers, visit our in-depth e-commerce strategies article.
In the next chapter, we are going to look at possible reasons why customers would leave their carts in detail.
Why do we leave our carts?
Let’s start at the top…
Usually, this means the shipping costs or VAT and other additional costs. But the important thing is not the money itself, but the information. Most customers – and this is supported by every single research on the subject out there – will abandon their carts not because the costs are high, but because they are surprised at the end of the process by this fact.
In practice, this means that while your customers are browsing your inventory and putting items in the cart, they only see the prices of these items – but not the additional costs, which they, of course, have to pay, but they only become aware of this on the last page of check-out.
The second most common reason for abandoning a cart is that the store requires the user to register in order to place an order. This is perfectly understandable from a UX standpoint: you are giving additional tasks to complete to the potential customer, you make the whole process longer and more complicated, while they can shop at your competitors with a few simple clicks, providing only the most basic information.
Signing up should always be something that gives a certain plus, something extra to the user. Premium membership, personalized offers, valuable content, even more, convenient shopping and so on. In return you should ask for as many information on the user as possible – registration itself is a transaction and you should view it that way.
Too complicated or lengthy check-out
Even without requiring them to sign up, your check-out process may be too complicated for your customers. It may be that the process includes too many independent pages – one where you ask for information, one where you show the total, one where you ask for payment information, one for confirmation and so on… With a process like this, you would be lucky if a third of those starting the process finish it.
Check-out should be as simple and short as possible. It is no coincidence that eMarketers view on-click-payment as one of the most important innovations of the past years: simplicity + speed = better user experience.
Users who are doing their research about where they should buy fall into this category. They are looking for the best offer, the best product or terms and visit many websites along the way. They even start the purchase process so they can see possible additional costs, shipping terms and so on, but they don’t finish it.
Most excuses can be traced back to you being in a competition – here this is especially true as your customer is browsing at multiple stores simultaneously. I cannot emphasize more how important it is for you to properly research your competitors.
And if you get to the methods we gathered here, you will see that it is not at all a hopeless quest to engage your customers at this point, given your offer is good enough…
Some users are discouraged by the fact that as they get closer to the purchase, they fell like their data is not secure. Your site may not have the proper SSL certificate, or it may simply look ‘amateurish’. Or maybe you don’t provide enough guarantees.
I don’t really have to get into this: if your site has bugs, if it cannot be trusted to work properly, anyone would leave that cart there. A typical mistake can be if your system gives wrong totals at the checkout page, if items disappear from the cart if discounts are not counted at the end or simply if your server is overwhelmed and cannot serve all requests.
Shipping too slow
This may not be entirely up to you, but you definitely have to look at your competitors. What kind of shipping do they offer, what deadlines? Who do they work with? Your customers may very well pay even more money just to receive their stuff 1-2 days earlier.
For a few percents of customers, the reason for abandonment may be that you don’t offer same day delivery – the best option is to offer a slower and cheaper, and a faster, but a little more expensive delivery.
Return policy and guarantees
Your customer should always be aware what happens when something goes wrong: if they want to cancel the order, if they are not satisfied with the received product, if it doesn’t arrive at all and so on.
Where can they contact you about a problem? When do you pay them back? What are the conditions? If they want to return the product until when and in what condition can they do so? These are questions that should be a shorty and clearly answered right there in the check-out process. The best way to deal with complaints: deal with them when they are still only questions.
Not enough payment options
According to data on global e-commerce, there are many who abandon their carts because you don’t offer them enough options for payment. You have to be very conscious of the market you are on because the preferred payment methods can vary from country to country. You can read about this in detail in our earlier article about the 2018 e-commerce statistics.
For example, Europeans prefer bank cards while in North America credit card is the most preferred option. In Western Europe and Asia, digital payment methods are very popular, however, in India customers prefer cash-on-delivery.
So before you chose what kind of e-commerce platform you will use, be sure that it supports the 4-5 most preferred payment options on the specific market(s) you are going to sell your products on.
This is usually a problem with US customers and in general Western markets: it is very important for the Western customer what discount and special offers you give them.
These can be loyalty coupons, instant discounts or other solutions – but it is certainly a few percents of your customers will leave their cart if you offer nothing alike.
Let’s suppose you have no problem with any of the above. If you are purchasing some kind of FMCG product, it is unlikely that you will have further questions – but with a product of higher value it becomes a more important question where can you go if you have any problems. (Of course this applies to FMCG too if you purchase in higher volume.)
If a store has no support built in it may very well be a reason for your customer to abandon their cart. Give them any kind of guarantee you want, create a F.A.Q. page, there will always be questions that can only be answered to them personally.
Global cart abandonment rate statistics 2018
The very first step you take should be calculating your own numbers. This way you are going to know if they are good or bad when you take other factors into account and exactly how you should start optimizing your processes.
How can you calculate your cart abandonment rate?
If you want to know what percentage of your customers leave their cart without converting, you have to know two basic KPIs:
- The number of purchase processes started
- The number of unfinished purchase processes
Calculating the rate is simple, you only have to divide the number of unfinished purchases with the number of started ones. A started process here means that a user places something in their cart, and an unfinished purchase is when after this they don’t close the process, don’t convert just simply leave the site.
Don’t count the unique visitors – just because someone visits a product page or simply browses your site and leaves it afterward this doesn’t count as abandoning a cart. They obviously had a weaker purchase intent than those putting items in the cart. A cart abandoner is someone who starts a process, takes action.
The best is of course if you don’t have to do this calculation by yourself every time. Automate this process and make cart abandonment an important KPI. (You can do this by integrating Google Analytics or other software, but there are a number or eCommerce platforms that can do the job by themselves.
The best solution is to track every step in your funnel individually and have a look at which pages have the highest number of exits, abandoners. If you see for example that most of your customers don’t even get the first check-out page you may have a problem with navigation or your customers may have deeper trust issues with your site.
But if they leave after starting the check-out process, the problem may be something else – maybe you are asking for too many information in your forms, maybe you require a signup for placing an order. If they leave when checking the total they may be faced with unexpected costs.
Cart abandonment statistics by region
- North America: 74.0%
- South America: 75.3%
- Europe: 70.9%
- Asia-Pacific region: 76.3%
- Africa and the Middle East: 76.1%
(Unfortunately, this is the most up-to-date statistic where we can see the individual regions.)
As you can see Europeans are much more enthusiastic when it comes to purchasing the items in their cart (or they simply are less choosy), while Americans and especially Asian customers are much more likely to cancel a purchase process.
But in itself, this tells us little.
Cart abandonment statistics by industry
Abandonment rates can greatly vary if we have a look at the different industries according to numbers from the second half of 2017:
- Financial services: 83.7%
- Travel: 82.2%
- Non-profit: 82.1%
- Retail: 77.3%
- Fashion: 67.6%
- Video games: 67.4%
Usually, travel is one of the industries with the highest cart abandonment rates in any research. Sites offering travel and booking services may experience abandonment rates up to 85%, and that is an average number for them.
In some industries, abandonment have even reached 90% that experts warned us about for years.
Meanwhile, the fashion industry is faring pretty well. Not only it can produce the lowest abandonment rates in years, they even managed to improve their own numbers in the last two years.
Digital Doughnut offers an explanation for this. Buying clothes is a fairly simple process. Of course, you have to pay attention to a number of details, but making the purchase itself is simple enough. Also, marketers of the fashion industry were quick to react to the rise of smartphones in e-commerce: they created simple, mobile-friendly websites and check-out processes to win over customers.
Thus it is practically impossible to plan a trip on mobile: you can’t make the entire process simple enough for the customer so they feel comfortable and safe at the same time. They will most likely feel they have less option to choose from, which is not a good thing considering the industry.
Fashion and video games may have low abandonment rates according to Moosend because they use remarketing much more than other industries and most of these stores are highly automated.
And then there are the varying abandonment rates of different regions (see above) and other variables.
Cart abandonment statistics by device
According to data by Barillliance, abandonment rate is still much higher on mobile than on other devices. Let’s have a look at the numbers.
- Desktop: 73.07%
- Tablet: 80.74%
- Mobile: 85.65%
In the next chapter, we will talk about the concept of micromoments which in part can explain these phenomena.
The trend is clear and relatively stable for years, and it is not surprising: we still feel more secure if we shop on a desktop where we can process more information and have more time to do so. Mobile is primarily the device on which we gather information, on which we browse, but we make our decisions on the desktop.
Of course, it can be a factor that there are still a great number of stores that don’t have mobile-friendly versions of their sites…
Your takeaways from the stats
Your abandonment rate is 5% lower than the global average? Good for you, but don’t feel you can just rest. You also have to pay attention to stats by region and industry and a few other variables. You have to watch your competitors, the behavior of your customers, the efficiency of the different element is your funnel and so on.
Abandonment rate itself is easy to calculate. It is much harder to determine how much work you are going to have optimizing it.
So let me make it easier for you.
They mean you have additional revenue just lying around which you can acquire using a variety of methods. And for that, this article is going to be your starting point and Bible.
With this we have arrived at the most important part: I will show you no less than 28 different methods which can all lower your abandonment rate by percents – if you use them wisely.
Methods for lowering your cart abandonment rate
We are going to have a look at these methods on by one, and we are going to start with the basics: the website itself.
Make your site more user-friendly
1. Loading speed
Pay attention to the rule of 3: if your site loads slower than 3 seconds and your pages are larger than 3 MB, you have work to be done.
With every second while your site doesn’t load, you lose 7% of your visitors. They will simply go back to the result page of Google and search for the product they want at one of your competitors – where they don’t have to wait. This is even more important on mobile where user habits are different because of the micromoment concept.
(For more tips, check out our guide, What Is Organic Traffic?)
Let’s talk about micromoments for a moment
This is a concept coined by Google in 2015. The basic idea is simple enough: with the rise of smartphones and other similar devices, the traditional customer journey is no longer a viable concept. When you see an ad, you search for the brand r product in the subway. Later on a tablet, you visit and browse the webshop. Even later you make a purchase from your desktop. Or include a number of other steps.
This is basically a journey impossible to track for any marketer.
There are three basic steps you should take to be on the top of this concept:
- Be there! Have a mobile-friendly website and pay attention to SEO so you get good rankings on mobile. (More on this topic: read our article about what is SEO and how it works exactly, and you may also want to check out our SEO case study.)
- Be useful! Give as much and useful information as fast and easy as you can. Make your content and site easy to navigate and make your content valuable enough to help customer decisions. (On how to create it, read our content development guide!)
- Be fast! 70% of those who switch sites on mobile do it because a given store is loading too slowly for them. 67% will switch sites if they have to take too many steps to reach where they want to be.
These are the ground rules you have to follow if you want to lower your abandonment rate on mobile.
Test your site with online tools and if you find it is loading too slowly (in 3 seconds or more) reach out to a web developer who can help you reduce that time.
It can be a problem that many customers abandon their carts because of slowly loading check-out pages – on the pages that contain the most elements you have absolutely no control over like integrated payment solutions, which you absolutely must have.
2. Make your cart visible, always
One of the most important factors: your customers should always have all the information they need at every step of the way. From the research, we cited at the beginning of this article we know that many customers abandon their carts because they are surprised by the additional costs at the end of the check-out process. One of the main reasons for this is when they can’t see the contents of their cart during shopping on your site.
Research also shows that with a good check-out design you can increase your conversion rate by up to 35%.
On an e-commerce site, you can solve this easily by integrating some kind of extension.
What is important:
- Make sure your customer always knows and sees how many and what kind of products are in their cart and what is their current total price.
- Make sure they are aware of how much money they will have to pay at the very end of the process (including additional costs).
- Make sure they know where they have to click to order the products.
3. Show the product until they purchased it
As with the always visible cart, be sure that your customer can see the products they are about to purchase throughout the complete check-out process. The more they see it the more they will feel like it’s already theirs and will be more reluctant to just leave it.
This kind of visual confirmation is much more effective than if you just wrote the name of the product in the cart. Of course, if there are too many products, you have to make some compromises and use thumbnails or chose the ones with the greatest value.
4. Preserve the cart
If a user abandons their cart, keep it for them. This itself can bring you more revenue as there are great numbers of shoppers who assemble carts to pay for the products in them at a later time. They have the intent to purchase, just not right away.
If you store this kind of information – with the permission of the customer of course – then you give them the opportunity to return at a later point and finish the purchase. You can even send them an email (details on that in a minute) telling them you still have what they assembled, they only have to pay for it.
There are multiple options how you can preserve a cert:
- Offer this option if they create a user on your site.
- Offer an option for them to assemble wish lists.
5. Make purchase possible without registration
One of the most common reasons for abandoning a cart is obligatory registration. It says a lot that this is as common as it is despite 80% of US e-commerce sites offering the opportunity to shop as a guest.
There can be of course different security and privacy concerns at play here: there are many users who are not eager to give their personal, financial information to you before they can be absolutely certain about your trustworthiness.
Registration can be very useful of course if a user wants to return and use the site more conveniently, for example by
- tracking their orders;
- reorder previously assembled carts;
- maintain active contact with the support;
- participate in a loyalty program for rewards.
6. Simplified check-out
- According to research by the Baymard Institute, an ideal, optimal check-out process consists of 12-14 elements – including the form, which takes up 7-8 out of it.
- Despite this benchmark, an average US eCommerce site has a check-out process consisting of on average 23.48 elements, 14.88 belonging to forms.
You have to really think about what kind of information you really need to complete an order because with very addition step or element you are going to lose customers. If someone orders a product for less than $5 do you really need their phone number? Do you really have to make your form more complex by including the prefix? Who cares if they are Mr. or Mrs. if you have the address where you can deliver?
Many information that can be useful for you can be asked for later when you get them to register on your site (see above).
In the form, provide prefilled answers in order to be clear about the function of each element.
It is also important that a customer should always know where they are in the process exactly. How many pages remain? One? Five? Tell them with some kind of counter or visual cue like a progress bar.
7. Offer multiple payment options
As we have mentioned at the beginning of this article, preferred payment methods can vary from country to country. Offer as many of them as you can, so every customer can find the one ideal for them – not enough payment options is one of the main reasons for leaving a cart.
At this point let us cite our previous article about 2018 e-commerce statistics:
Depending on your primary market it matters a lot what payment options you offer.
- Globally bank cards are the most popular (above 50%) followed by digital and credit card options.
- In China, the most popular option is digital payment, followed by transactions and credit cards.
- In India, the most popular option is cash on delivery, followed by credit cards and transactions.
- In Asia overall, bank cards, digital payment, and transactions are the preferred options.
- In Western Europe, the digital payment and credit cards are the leading options.
- In North America credit cards are the most popular, then comes digital payment and coupons, gift cards.
8. Remove annoying and unnecessary elements
It is not enough to have a simple and short check-out process. Customers will leave you not just because they get lost.
If someone gets to the point where you ask them for their financial information, you should remove additional offers, annoying navigational elements from the page. Don’t make a window pop-up with a special offer just when they were ready to give you money. If you want to provide cross-sell or upsell offers, do it after they have completed the purchase.
In many cases, e-commerce sites even remove the standard navigation when customers reach the check-out process so they won’t be distracting.
9. Simple, to-the-point CTAs
It is important what kinds of CTA you use both on your product pages and in during the check-out process. A good CTA is easily noticeable, gives a clear task to complete and leaves no doubt about what it is for. For example, I should be aware that if I click the button at the bottom of the always visible cart, I will begin the check-out process, maybe even know which page will I arrive in (e.g. the cart itself).
We could write whole essays about how ideal CTAs work (and maybe we will someday), but here are the most important guidelines for now:
- It should be big, but not absurdly big.
- Its color should contrast the background.
- It should be surrounded by white space.
- Its copy should be very clear (e.g. ‘Continue to check-out’)
- The font should be easily readable.
10. Easy navigation between the cart and product pages
If the only way I can view the contents of my cart is to start the check-out process, and then I have to hit the back button to browse other products, the process is already flawed.
Make switching between these pages as easy as possible. For example, provide a cart as a floating element that they can open up and see its contents any time, so they don’t have to leave the page they are currently on.
The customer journey is rarely linear – when you are in a store you browse the different products, online even more so and meanwhile, you trust the system that it will preserve what you already assembled. That you don’t have to spend valuable second navigating back and forth.
A few tips how you can make navigation easier:
Use specific, clear signs instead of being vague. Use keywords!
Basic structure and style of navigation should be the same throughout the whole site.
- What is the ‘Paradox of choice?’
This is a phenomena well-known for economists and marketers alike. The most common example of it is test that has been performed specifically to study its mechanism.
On a market two booths were set up, both offering jam. One of the booths had 6 different kinds, the other one 24.
It would be logical to think that the booth offering more choice would sell more jam as it can satisfy the needs of more customers. But results show that is not what is happening in a scenario like this.
The second booth with more options drew in more people who were interested – 60% stopped here compared to 40% at the first booth.
But when it came to making a purchase the rates suddenly switched, and radically. At the booth offering only 6 choices 30% of those who were interested bought something. He second booth managed to reach only 3%.
This is because customers are the most satisfied if they only have to face 2-3 options to choose from. Our brain seeks to consume the least energy possible, so it doesn’t like to take on extra tasks. At 2-3 options you can chose easily and fast the best solution for you. But comparing dozens of options is a hard cognitive task not to mention the time factor. Even if it’s only jam we are talking about.
To cut it short: less is more.
11. Use the currency of your customers
It is very common for e-commerce sites to lose customers simply because they indicate the prices in another currency. This gives extra tasks to the customer (checking exchange rates, calculating) if they want to know precisely what is it going to cost them to purchase and ship the products.
You can simply spare them of this by integrating a proper extension that locates the country they are visiting your site from and converts prices to their currency. This provides a very positive customer experience.
12. Always keep an eye on where the most users exit
Use analytics to determine not only the rate of cart abandoners but also to pinpoint the exact locations in your funnel where they leave your site. Which pages have the highest number of abandonment?
Examine these pages from a UX point of view thoroughly: is the cart visible? Are CTAs clear? Are there any distractions on the site? Is the very annoying pop-up that suddenly blocks their whole screen?
Simply by pinpointing these pages, you can make purchasing a more streamlined process throughout your entire site. Users will be more likely to go through the entire customer journey you set up and you will have a higher conversion rate because you will know exactly what is it that you have to eliminate on your site.
13. Pre-fill what you can
If you are offering a coupon or promo code in an ad or email, where you can control the URL the user clicks on, then you should make their job as easy as possible. The fewer steps they need to take and the more convenient it is, the higher the chance for conversion.
So include the code – and if you have other information, like their name or email and need them in the form – pre-filled on the page you are directing them. The idea is that they only have to click once instead of typing and looking for the needed information.
This is a very simple method but still, very-very few stores are actively using it, even in emails sent to their own lists where they possess all the necessary information, meaning you can delight your customers by being user-friendly and pre-filling the information.
This is probably the convenient and easy way you can reduce the rate of abandoned carts: with prefilled promo codes.
Communicate everything, constantly
1. Show the total price where you can
I have already mentioned this when talking about the cart, but it is important enough to have its own chapter.
Your customer should never face any surprises along with their journey – most of all you should avoid putting them in a situation where they have to face additional costs previously not displayed. Research shows that the most common reason for abandoning a cart is no other than unexpected costs at the end of the check-out process because you customer only saw the price of products before.
If the cart is always visible the price you display there should be the end total that they have to pay, including shipping and other fees. Provide all the information from the start: don’t have points in your check-out process where they can get stuck and especially not because they see a different price than earlier.
There are many calculators for this which can be integrated easily, extensions in the case of open source e-commerce platforms, but it is not a particularly hard task even if you need custom development. The best is if you count in taxes, VAT, duty fees and everything else.
2. Customer support
There should always be one or more options besides a chat (see chapters below) for your customers to contact you and you should communicate these on all your pages. (Commonly these are placed in the footer, in the confirmation email and so on.)
You don’t really need to provide a phone number, but your customers should at least be able to send you an email – an email that you answer within 24 hours. Be helpful, assist them at every step of the way and make them feel that they are not receiving an automated response but instead talking to an actual human being.
If someone writes positive things about your brand, service or products in an email, or simply praises the way you handle customer support, ask their permission to use their words on your site.
Testimonials like these can always be a strong tool and will help your customers make purchase decisions, and even convince cart abandoners to return and buy your products. After all, the most authentic way to say nice things about yourself is when you have others to do it for you.
3. Live Chat
In 2018 30% of those who arrive on an ecommerce website expect a live chat option where they can ask for help if needed. (And on mobile this can be double.) What is even more important: 92% of them will feel more satisfied if they get help through live chat than through other options. Which is understandable, since
- they immediately get the requested, important information and
- they will feel like communication between them and the brand is more personal, giving them a better brand experience.
It’s hardly necessary to explain why speed is important. If a user has a question and you don’t answer it right away (you don’t help them in shopping) they will likely abandon their cart as they won’t be certain of their decision. Don’t leave them time to hesitate.
How to use live chat?
- Help them in using your site.
- Give them information about the availability of products.
- Give them information about discounts and special offers.
- Provide cross-sell and upsell offers (but don’t push them).
- Ask for reviews, testimonials, and opinions on products and services.
If you don’t have the manpower to maintain a live chat option, you can always utilize a chatbot which can answer a question with predetermined answers and options. Of course, the user experience will not be as good, but it is still a much better solution than leaving your potential customers without an option where they can expect instant answers.
On- and off-site solutions
1. Offer free shipping
Too expensive shipping can be one of the most common reasons of cart abandonment. (Especially if you don’t indicate it anywhere.)
Shipping cost may rationalize both making and not making a purchase for the customer. If it is too expensive or hidden, someone with a weaker purchase intent may easily bounce off.
But if you emphasize that shipping is free you can strengthen that intent. You can even incorporate that cost into the price of you products so you don’t lose money. What is important that you should offer free shipping and communicate this to your customers.
2. Exit pop-up
One of the easiest methods: integrate an exit pop-up window into your site so you can grab some of your customers right before they would exit your site and abandon their cart. But what should you say?
An instant, one-time discount, for example, could work very well. If they make the purchase right away, they get 10% off. Or they get free shipping – research shows 93% of customers buy more if you offer them this option.
Even a coupon code can be efficient: with a single pop-up, you can increase your revenue by 10%.
Of course, it matters exactly when this window pops up – is there anything in their cart yet? Are they on a product page or in a blog post? Consider all of these possibilities and set clear rules for the tools how to work.
It is also important to offer your customers to choose from: they should be able to refuse the offer – if they close the pop-up they will still be on the page they have previously been browsing, they may find something interesting at the last moment.
3. Use scarcity
By using scarcity you can imply to your customer that they should purchase now or never – if they want the products, now is the time to buy it because it may not be available later.
- On the product page you can indicate how many do you still have in inventory (and please make it so it is true).
- You can display for how long a certain special offer is available for using a counter.
- You can tell someone who returns to the site and previously abandoned a cart that for how long are you going to preserve it.
- You can display how many of a certain product has been sold in a certain amount of time (make it recently, 24 hours for example). This can indicate that it is a highly wanted product and availability is not certain. (And this also serves as social proof.)
- You can also display how many users are browsing a certain product page at the moment if you can strengthen purchase intent with it. (If you offer a high-value product and the number is not higher than 1-2 at any given moment that is not really encouraging.)
4. Show discounts in the cart
Online shoppers love if they can get something cheaper. Discounts make great incentives to purchase. I don’t want to say you should throw yourself in some crazy price competition – don’t do that, ever. It is bad for you and your competitors both.
Instead, if you have some kind of special offer (for a given segment and for a limited time for example), display the discounts in the cart itself.
This is basically a solution that uses scarcity: your customer will feel like they would lose money if they don’t make their purchase right away.
5. Social proof
Use every available tools that might strengthen purchase intent on your product pages. There is nothing stronger than the community, previous customers telling potential ones about the product being of high quality, arriving on time and so on. A few specific methods you can use:
- Make it possible to rate your product right on the product page. Also ask them afterwards, after they have received the item to visit the site and give a rating. If you can, make it so that Google will also see it and display the rating on the search result page. It might not hurt if they see that others rated a product 4.9 out of 5 before they even click on the link.
- If you have customer reviews and testimonials, use them – complete with pictures and names if it’s possible. It is very important that these should be completely authentic – fake reviews stink from a great distance.
- Simply placing a counter on your product page indicating how many of that certain product have you already sold can also work as social proof.
- Make it possible for customers to comment on your products pages.
But your strongest tool is the topic of our next chapter…
6. User-generated content (UGC)
User-generated content is probably the best kind of proof and confirmation you can utilize.
If a potential customer is thinking about buying a lipstick for example, in an average webshop they will mostly see images of the product itself and nothing more.
This way your potential customer can see that others have purchased the product and they are satisfied with it, and also they can get a picture what it will be like when they are using the product after making the purchase.
7. If you have the lowest price, tell your customers
You are aware that you have a good position on price comparison sites? Then why don’t you integrate a function into your own site that helps you, customers, to compare your prices with your competitors’?
This is a fairly easy task from a developer standpoint and you don’t have to fear your customers leaving you – after all, you have the best deal. Cart abandoners who switch to one of your competitors often do this because they find a better deal over there.
But you can spare them of the time they would otherwise spend with searching and comparing prices – they may even be grateful to you.
8. Use remarketing
If you can’t send an email (we will talk about this in a separate chapter momentarily) then you are left with advertisements. This doesn’t mean your customer should see the product they left in their cart on every page they visit for weeks – it is enough to show it to them a few times coupled with a direct, clear message, even if it’s only a question if they have forgotten something.
You can place remarketing advertisements in the Google Display Network and also Facebook and other social platforms. These are usually the best performers: it is not impossible to bring back as much as 10-20% of the targeted cart abandoners.
9. Build a loyalty program they want to belong in
If you want your customers to stay with you on the long run and return to you making further purchases, your best shot is building a loyalty program.
As customers, we love it when we can feel special. We also like to receive rewards and exclusive offers. If you offer a premium experience you are already making the purchase more attractive as along with it you provide a sense of belonging, additional value.
According to Forrester Research, someone who is a member of a loyalty program spends 13% more than the average customer.
Of course, in order to become a member, the customer has to register. This gives you valuable data about them, you can track their behavior more efficiently and give them better-personalized offers.
You also get the chance to communicate more frequently with members of your loyalty program and can even utilize gamification: in turn for certain achievements you can give rewards, special offers and engage your target audience on the long term.
Offer returns (with conditions)
Most consumers are no longer hesitant if they have to buy something online that they can’t see (with their own eyes), touch or smell as a physical product. But still, online is in a clear disadvantage compared to brick-and-mortar from this viewpoint. This is why you need guarantees.
What happens if say, someone orders clothing from you but the size is a bit off, it is American instead of European and it turns out the product is no good for the customer? You have to give the opportunity for them to return the products – in mint condition of course – and receive their money back.
What you should emphasize in these cases:
- What kinds of products and in what condition can they return?
- How long does warranty last? What do they have to do before time runs out?
- How much of the original price can they expect to receive back? (A portion of the full price?)
- Provide them the address and the exact method of return.
Also make every information available that you think might be important – include these in the confirmation email you send out after a purchase.
If someone reaches your site from a Google search result page, they are likely strangers to the site and brand – so you have to gain their trust. Even little things like using the proper badges can help in this endeavor. Naturally, use only the badges you have the right to – don’t just say your site is secure, make sure it really is.
This helps strengthen what we call perceived security. Use these on the check-out pages where they have to give you their personal and financial information.
Are you skeptical about the effectiveness of a few badges and logos? I will give you one thing: your visitors won’t check them, they won’t run background on you. These elements are not there because we look for them but because we notice if they are missing.
According to Shopify, 61% of online customers abandoned a purchase at least once because on the check-out pages they were not met with the usual badges they view as a sign of security (e.g. Norton Secured).
Send a cart abandonment email
If you have the email addresses of cart abandoners, you can consider yourself lucky. You should automate sequences of emails that target specifically those who leave their carts on your site.
How effective is this? Well, Moosend concludes that
- Cart abandonment emails have open rates higher than 45%
- Click-through rate of opened emails is 50%
- The conversion rate of those who click through is 50%
The reason for this is simple: you are reaching out to an audience you have an existing connection with. They know and hopefully trust your brand. We can assume that they have a strong intent to purchase as they have already started the process.
Of course, it matters exactly what you send them…
It is best if you word your emails so recipients feel like they already own the product – write down that it is there, you have what they selected, they only have to make the purchase.
You can also use a sense of urgency by setting a deadline. For example, tell them that you will keep the product for # days as they asked you to set it aside. Or tell them that you are holding it for them, but you only have # in your inventory – use scarcity as you can see at the on-site solutions.
What they should feel is the product is already theirs. They only have to pay for it. In the email always use specific information – personalize it and call them by their name, include the name and image of the product as a reminder, and include the exact total price.
You don’t have to constantly push and try selling something to them. If you are constantly sending them emails full of valuable and interesting content, they will also open your reminder emails in greater numbers and you can recover many of them.
You can also send more than one reminder email. For example, in the first one tell them their products are still in their cart, preserved for later. In the second one tell them until when are you keeping the products they selected. Then send a last warning. Build a complete sequence and don’t forget to send valuable content in the meantime. Congratulations, you have gained additional revenue without eroding your list.
Timing of the emails
According to Barilliance, it is of utmost importance to time your emails right. They assembled statistics by examining hundreds of campaigns so you can trust their numbers:
- First email without optimal timing: 12.2% conversion rate
- Follow-up email without optimal timing: 7.7% conversion rate
- First email with optimal timing: 20.3% conversion rate
- The follow-up email with optimal timing: 17.7% conversion rate
Okay… But what is ‘optimal timing’?
- You should send out your first email within an hour of abandonment. If you wait 24 hours, you conversion rate will be cut in half.
- Send out your follow-up email after 24 hours. If you wait another day, again: conversion rate gets halved.
- Even better if you send a third email – according to Barilliance you can generate an additional 18.2% of purchases, given that you send it out within 72 hours.
SaleCycle data confirms that speed is a very important factor. They conclude that you can achieve the following average conversion rates with email sent within the given periods:
- After 20 minutes: 5.2% conversion rate.
- After 40 minutes: 4.9% conversion rate.
- After one day: 2.6% conversion rate.
Set a complete trigger based sequence, where the trigger is abandonment itself. It should look something like this:
- First email: send it within the hour. It can be a friendly reminder: don’t be too pushy with it, don’t scare away the potential customer by reaching into their purse too directly. Simply tell them that they placed a product in their cart (use a list of the product and include images), provide a CTA that directs them right to the cart or checkout and offer your help, should they have any questions. (Don’t direct them to an FAQ page: offer real, human support.)
- Second email: send it after a day to those who did not convert after the first email. Use a little urgency. For example tell them that the product they are interested in is very popular and a lot of people are buying it. Tell them you still have the product for them, but soon their cart will be lost. But still, don’t be too direct with your sales. Show them the product, provide a little incentive and give them some kind of deadline: that’s it.
- Third email: send it after 3 days and provide some extra incentive for those who still haven’t returned to purchase the product. This can be a discount or a coupon, test what works the best for your audience.
Now, this is a very basic sequence. You can make it way more complex if you create different messages based on different triggers during the process. For example, those who didn’t open the emails, those who opened them but didn’t click through, those who clicked through to your site but still didn’t purchase and so on.
Also, we should note here that rules of when you should send an email during the day or week naturally don’t apply here: as a trigger based sequence, the right time is right when they abandon that cart.
What should be your subject line?
Let’s talk specifics. Fist, you need a subject line that convinces your audience it is worth to open your email. So the best is if you…
- Personalize the subject line. If you have the email address of your potential customer, you likely also have at least a first name. Use it and call them by it, this will at least get their attention.
- Introduce yourself. They should know who sent the email and why. This will not drive them away – they will find it appealing that you don’t try to fake a personal letter and tell them upfront what this is about. You can also use the sender for this purpose.
- Check if it gets through spam filters. Before sending out any email, run it through a software like GlockApps, Mail Mike or Mail-tester so you can be certain it won’t be filtered.
Let’s talk a bit about the details about personalization.
According to SaleCycle, including different personalized elements in the subject line brings these average open rates:
- 38% – Name in the subject line
- 53% – Brand or name of store included in the subject line.
- 52% – Name of product placed in cart included in the subject line.
Your brand should always appear and be recognizable to the recipient before opening the email, but not necessarily in the subject line. In the case of your sales and newsletter emails, it usually works best if your sender is a real person, but cart abandonment emails work differently: here you can replace your usual sender with the brand name.
29 subject line templates and examples
In this section, we are going to provide a few templates and methods copywriters use when wording the subject lines of such emails.
Communicate that the products they placed in the cart are already theirs. Tell them they have left something in your store and word it like if they already possess it.
Of course, they still have to pay for it, but when a product is placed in the cart they have invested a certain amount of energy into it: they have searched for it, selected the best one, put it in the cart, maybe they even reached the last page of check-out. This is more than enough for them to feel like it is theirs already.
- Example #1: John, you forgot your toaster here! Here you have the personalization and something specific (the product), and we are also playing with urgency including the word ‘forgot’.
- Example #2: We set aside your shirt – you can still get it today Also specific with the product suggests that we have something that is theirs, and including ‘today’ implies they should act right away.
- Example #3: Do you want me to send your unicorn mug? It is yours, and we want you to have it already!
Here are a few other templates you can use (but be certain that you also include some specific details):
- Example #4: Hey, you have forgotten something in your cart…
- Example #5: Did you forget something here…?
- Example #6: You left a discounted product in your cart!
- Example #7: Don’t worry! We still have the cart you assembled.
- Example #8: Did you forget something? We have your shoes!
- Example #9: You are about to lose your cart…
- Example #10: Your cart is ready for the taking!
- Example #11: It looks like something slipped your mind…
It might be effective if you try to be a little provocative (depending of course on your audience). Simply by asking questions, you can imply urgency:
- Example #12: Do you still want the [product]?
- Example #13: Should we hold the [product]/your cart for you?
Or outright telling them to act as if they were serious:
- Example #14: We’re holding the [product] for you. Act as if you really want it!
You can also tell them what they shouldn’t do…
- Example #15: Don’t let your cart get lost!
- Example #16: Don’t let your discount slip away!
- Example #17: Please, don’t go! We miss you…
You can also use words that tend to have provoked an emotional answer (however small) in the brain:
- Example #18: You sure you don’t want these beautiful shoes?
- Example #19: Would you be happy to know we still have your cart?
- Example #20: Smile! The [product] you want is still on sale!
You can also be a bit silly.
- Example #21: Have a bear jut mauled you…?
- Example #22: Should I teleport you back to the cart? (It’s free!)
- Example #23: Should we launch a rescue expedition…?!
And yes, you can use emojis in the subject line, especially in these cases.
You can also play by implying exclusivity.
- Example #24: [product] is still available just for you
- Example #25: Your loyalty is rewarded: you get [discount] for [product] if you grab it now!
You can also be more specific when using urgency.
- Example #26: You have [time] left until we hold your cart
- Example #27: If you purchase [product] in [time], you get a [discount]!
- Example #28: There is still time: you have [time] to get your [product]
- Example #29: Be quick, because the [product] in your cart is not reserved…
What to include in the email
Visual cues & basic information
It is important to remind your customer right away about the products they put in their cart.
- Include visual cues in the simplest form: images of the product(s). Include at least oneproduct image.
- Include the name of the products.
- Include prices of the individual products.
- Also, include the total sum they will pay if they decide to return and purchase. This total should include any additional costs like shipping fees – on of the most frequent reasons for abandonment is that customers are only shown the real price at the end of the check-out and they are surprised by it. If they see a different total in your email and on the page you direct them to, you can wave goodbye to the purchase and the trust the customer may have for you.
Offer your help
Not finding some relevant information regarding purchases on your site might be one of the reasons why some of your customers decide to leave without ordering. But in most cases, you won’t know for sure what their unanswered questions might be. (Of course, if you pay attention to the feedback on your social channels and support, you will have good guesses.)
You might have an FAQ page, but as we have mentioned before you shouldn’t just link that in the email.
- Offer your help in a way they know they can talk to a real human being if they want to.
- Include one or two examples from you FAQ page and link it only after.
Send the email from an address they can reply to because many of the recipients will just hit the Reply button without looking, even if the email is from a [email protected] address.
You can also include a name and photo of the person they can talk to and ask their questions.
Probably the most important element in your email.
- Include a button that is clearly visible and distinguishable from the rest of the content in the email. Use white spaces wisely.
- You can direct the potential customers to either the cart, the listing of the products or to the check-out – but always be clear about it, they should know where they will arrive after clicking.
When deciding where to direct them, keep in mind: at this point, your goal is not to get them to do more shopping in your store but to close the purchase their started. Every email you send after someone abandoned a cart in your store should have one very clearly defined purpose: plan the sequence very carefully based on customer behavior data.
Still, you may be able to increase the order value by including…
Relevant product suggestions
In your cart abandonment email, you can suggest additional products that are like the ones the potential customer have previously chosen. With this, you can increase click-through rate and average order value according to statistics.
The more relevant your suggestions are the more efficient your email will be. This won’t distract your customer if you don’t give them too many options to choose from (see the part about the ‘paradox of choice’ above) and your offer will be hyper-relevant for them.
I advise you to collect user reviews not only in general but of certain products. In an email like this, you can include these positive reviews, strengthening the buyer intent of the potential customer.
You can also use credibility items not only as social proof but to imply urgency at the same time
Implying that it is very popular and it is not certain they can still buy it later.
How to write your body copy
Use a personal tone – be silly, use humor if you can (by which I mean if it doesn’t contradict the usual communications of the brand). You can tell them how sorry you are to see them go. That you miss them. That you are worried about their sudden and mysterious disappearance.
There are many examples out there where the retailer even uses memes, cute cats and dogs… Have a look at the abandonment email by PoolCenter.com for example. The first thing you see after opening the email? A bulldog on an inflatable raft.
Being funny can increase engagement and also set a friendly tone, both of which are useful if you want to sell someone a product.
I also like the email by Nasty Gal, which starts with the very simple but geniously worded message:
I WANT YOU
TO WANT ME
I love this for multiple reasons:
- I address you personally.
- It implies that there is an actual human being on the other side as the sender.
- Also, it cleverly pushes the right buttons. This is a store for young girls who want to feel beautiful, popular, to find something to wear in which they are going to feel like they are wanted.
See? This is why wording matters a lot.
Then there is an email by Chubbies that uses humor very well. The whole copy is light-hearted, funny from the first sentence to the last. It doesn’t feel like an email with the purpose to sell you something, it is fun to read it through – which is no small feat in the case of a sales letter.
You may also complement your customer.
- Tell them they have a great taste for choosing the product the put in the cart.
- Tell them they are going to look lovely in that dress.
- Tell them how smart they are for shopping for something with foresight (e.g. sunglasses when it’s the end of winter).
Should you offer discounts?
Not right away. Never in the first email.
Most of those who leave without a purchase don’t do so because they find particular products too expensive. (It is an entirely different question if the find the total too expensive after not being told about the shipping costs for example.)
In your first email what you should do is remind them and offer your help.
According to data collected by MarketingSherpa:
- 6% of customers always purchase after receiving a reminder email, but it increases to 7% if there is a discount included.
- The share of occasional purchasers is 12% but drops to 10% with a discount included.
- Of those who are annoyed by reminder emails, 4% occasionally purchases – however, if they receive a discount, it doubles to 8%.
- Discounts have the greatest effect on young men between 18 and 34. If the reminder email includes a discount, 16% find them helpful and will always purchase.
What this shows is that a discount can be useful – if you offer it the right way, at the right time and of course to the right audience.
There is another factor you should consider: you don’t want to be outsmarted by your customers…
What you should do is set up your emails in a way so someone who already received a discount and made a purchase because of it can’t receive another one in the next 30-60 days.
A SmartInsights case study confirms this: you can see in the example that the incentive (a 15% discount) seemingly did a great job in bringing back cart abandoners. However as they have discovered after some time, this did not affect total sales at all: the customers simply learned how to leverage the incentive program in a way so they can buy the products they were going to buy anyway.
Segment as much as you can
Different demographic groups tend to react very differently to reminder emails. Some of the find it annoying, some useful. There are groups with particularly high numbers of people who always purchase because of them, for others, it is an instant turndown.
Just some examples:
- You may send an email including a discount earlier on in the sequence if your target audience is young men as they tend to find it useful and act on it.
- Older men like it more if you offer them help, contact, answering their questions.
- Middle-aged women who are returning visitors don’t like to receive too many reminders – send them only one, and don’t send them more in 30 days.
You can set up segments based on other factors as well:
- Your most valuable customers may receive exclusive discounts. Write your copy in a way it is clear that they receive this because you value their loyalty and this offer or discount is not available to anyone else. Only for those who regularly return to you.
- Carts with the largest value can also receive special treatment. Provide them with all the important information and tell them they have a limited time to buy the products you set aside for them.
- You can also set up different sequences for different product categories or brands.
Pay attention to the design
Reminder emails should have a design that compliments the store itself: use the same elements of the brand, the same colors, same logo, same font. Keeping the consistency is not only important because of the overall communication, but also because it strengthens the trust and instantly reminds the recipient where were they shopping.
Also, use the simplest design possible: include some brand elements, the right colors, product photos, a CTA, maybe a picture with your main message (or something on it that strengthens it), but avoid cluttering it with redundant visuals.
An email by Fat Face is a perfect example: the is the logo, a simple message, photos of the products in the cart and a huge, to-the-point CTA. Another great example is a FiftyThree reminder, also with nothing but the essentials: logo, message, product photo, and CTA.
Avoid using navigation elements besides the main CTA if possible: it may help with recognition (to remind the customer of the layout of the store), but it can also direct their attention away from the call-to-action. You may try using them in the third-fourth email along with relevant products suggestions: conversion rates are low here, so it may help to offer other options in bringing back more customers.
Some more examples
To help you with assembling your emails, we are going to look at a few more great examples.
This email incorporates multiple elements of a sequence: first, it gets your interest by implying you forgot something, offers help, then reminds you of the product you left in the cart.
And right after this, it offers some relevant suggestions: if you don’t want to close the deal on the phone you put in the cart the first time, some of their other products might suit your needs.
It is built up logically, it is simple, there are the reminder, credibility elements, clear CTAs: nothing unnecessary.
This email you can find here by Nordstrom serves as a perfect contrast in terms of simplicity. There is a lot of completely unnecessary navigation that can direct the attention of the recipient right away from the main message. Which is sad, because it is a really well worded and displayed, simple message. They copywriter here did a great work, the designer, however, failed to deliver the most effective layout possible.
In terms of structure, this email is almost perfect. There is:
- The logo, helping brand recognition.
- Short, easy-to-read copy with a very clear message.
- A picture of the product with the essential information (product name and price).
- Clear, easily noticeable CTA.
- An offer of help (of actual humans).
- And finally, the credibility elements – social proof, delivery info with an incentive and defusing complaints with the inclusion of the return policy.
There is nothing superfluous, nothing missing, and what is there is all in the right place and form. So, take notes.
I absolutely adore the skills of the copywriter who created this email for MADE. Have a look at these two very short sentences, no more than 30 words at the beginning.
Let me break this down for you because it is truly beautiful:
- ‘You’ve done the hard work’ – Meaning both that you are almost there at the and in the meantime reminding you of your investment in choosing this product.
- ‘We’ve kept the products’ – Implying some urgency: we’ve set these aside for you, so you can relax – for now… (And also strengthening the message that they are yours, almost.)
- ‘you had your eye on’ – You wanted this, remember? You have a need this product will fulfill, a problem it will solve, and it was you yourself who choose it.
- ‘so you can skip the queue’ – Here is an exclusive offer for you. You receive special treatment, you can skip ahead of the others!
- ‘and go straight to checkout’ – Clearly telling you what is going to happen, where you will head after clicking on the CTA, clearing uncertainty, making you feel safe about the action. (Also: this is a hidden CTA, a command itself.)
The other necessary elements are also there – personalization, product photo, and details, clear CTAs, an offer of help, but the most important part of this email are these 29 words.
This is a great example for those selling luxury products. Not only because of the look and feel of it, which is also great.
First off, the personalization is different: it addresses you as they would in the lobby of an elegant hotel. It tells you that you are the one here who is important: they bring the luxury to you, they offer human help right away.
Also very important: there is the total sum of the unfinished reservation, including additional costs.
Another beautiful example, and not just because how it compliments the overall brand in layout and design. It is the wording that is almost perfect, and reinforced by the picture it goes for maximum psychological effect.
It outright tells you, that not only you forgot something, but you could be feeling better emotionally right this moment if you have completed the purchase – and also that you needn’t worry because you can still do it. Right now.
Black Milk Clothing
This is how you can use humor and memes in a reminder email. The whole thing is very simple: the captioned picture of the cute dog and plain text, but still, it is effective. If your audience likes this kind of silly humor, you should definitely at least test a reminder like this.
Also, pay attention to the great copy, telling you how lonely your cart feels along with the products you left behind and how you can be a hero by finishing the purchase.
As you can see the brand also tried dogs, but they went with the cuteness, not with humor. Simple and to-the-point copy, perfectly placed reminders and CTA, but what catches my eye is how cleverly they use the dogs (dressed of course in Ralph Lauren) to emphasize the message of the headline: they have kept you bag safe – just like the puppies are guarding this headline.
Before you begin to fill up your ecommerce site with all the extensions out there and utilize ever single method in this article, ask yourself some questions.
First, as I have mentioned when we talked about statistics, you have to pinpoint the exact region and industry so you can have a basis you can compare your rates with.
Then have a look at how your numbers change
- During given time intervals. What happens during the holidays, during different seasons? Is the rate going up or down in the last few years?
- On different devices. If you have a higher abandonment rate on mobile, you may want to think about simplifying your design and processes.
- When you implement different techniques. Are you sure abandonment rate is decreasing because you built in an exit pop-up and not because you have a better offer or a new user interface? Analytics can answer these questions.
It is important that you implement one method at a time – otherwise, you will have no idea what you can assign better results to, only if it is clear from the analytics of the site (like traffic sources or customer paths).