Sep 11,2019

Shopify API

The best abandoned-cart recovery methods (and the brands using them)

The best abandoned-cart recovery methods (and the brands using them)

We all spend time browsing our favourite online stores, adding products to our basket only to exit the site without buying. Okay, maybe not all of us, but it’s a pretty big club – 76 in every 100 shoppers abandoned their baskets in 2018, with merchants losing $4.6 trillion every single year from cart abandonment. 

So, ask yourself – how many dollars (or pounds) worth of items have been left sitting in baskets on your store? And, more importantly, are you doing anything about it? 

In this article, we cover the top reasons customers abandon their baskets, as well as the best methods for recovering those lost sales, with examples from some of the world’s biggest brands.

Reasons for cart abandonment

To recover these ‘lost’ sales, or to avoid losing them in the first place, you need to understand the reasons it’s happening. Let’s take a look at the top five reasons customers abandon their baskets:

5. The customer cannot see or calculate the total order cost upfront.

4. The checkout process is too long or complex.

3. The customer has to create an account but doesn’t want to.

2. The extra costs – such as delivery and taxes – are too high.

But, responsible for a massive 58.6% of abandoned carts, the most common reason is:

1. The shopper is simply not ready to buy.

Some of these issues can be partly remedied through design tweaks or a review of some services and costs. You can use analytics and heat maps to see if your customers are running into any of these problems. 

Unfortunately, analytics won’t help you for customers that aren’t ready to buy. Baskets abandoned by customers that are simply window shopping or don’t have the funds yet is something that affects all ecommerce sites. However, there are some things you can do to recover those lost sales.

Three effective cart-recovery methods

Cart-recovery emails

Popular platforms/tools: MailChimp, Nosto, Klaviyo, Omnisend

If you haven’t already got cart recovery emails set up, you should make that a priority for your business. According to various studies, between 10% and 18% of cart-abandonment emails convert into a sale. These emails see a better return on investment (ROI) than any other type of marketing email. 

Take a look at your own cart-abandonment stats. How much are your shoppers leaving in their baskets? Would getting 18% of that back be worth the small task of setting up an email or two? I’m betting yes. 

As with pretty much everything in ecommerce, you’ll want to do some testing to see what works best for your customers, but the following these best practices will help you get a head start.

Cart-recovery emails: Best practice

Show the right products: Personalise your emails by including the items your recipient was planning to buy, preferably with a product image. If they liked it enough to add to their basket once, remind them why. 

Make it a series: Studies show that sending three emails is likely to result in 69% more sales than only sending one. As it is with most email marketing, timing is key. Omnisend advises the following timings:

  • Email 1: 30 - 60 minutes after cart abandonment
  • Email 2: 12 hours after
  • Email 3: 24 hours after

If you choose to use a discount code to help convert these lost sales – though there are arguments against this tactic – this shouldn’t be included until the third email. 

Nail the subject line: Any email marketing expert worth their salt knows that a great deal of time should be spent on an email’s subject line. Many actually suggest that it should be 50% of the time you have available for the email. 

Although you should carry out your own testing to find the right one (or three) subject lines for your customers, Klaviyo has done some for us. Their study showed that subject lines that mentioned the shopper ‘left something behind’ were the most successful. 

Keep it simple: These emails serve one purpose: to encourage the shopper to return and purchase what they’d already added to their cart. This is not an opportunity to try and sell them other products. You already know what they like, so don’t flood the email with multiple messages and CTAs. 

Include support: With the only purpose being to convert these missed sales, it’s worthwhile taking the opportunity to address potential objections or obstacles. Include links to your support channels and encourage your visitor to get in touch. 

The benefits of this are two-fold:

  1. You might get an extra opportunity to sell by remedying the problem.
  2. Your email looks helpful, not pushy.

Kate Spade currently has a great example of a cart recovery email. It’s simple, with only one call to action and zero distractions. The abandoned product is highlighted by itself, with helpful support links below to address potential obstacles.

Cart recovery ads

Popular platforms/tools: Google Ads (display), Facebook/Instagram advertising

There have been concerns that people find retargeting ads invasive or even ‘creepy’, but the truth is, they’re the minority. 60% of people say they’re indifferent to retargeting ads, and 25% actually appreciate seeing them.

Despite differing opinions, these ads work. Shoppers are 70% more likely to convert when retargeted with display ads. 

At Juno, we find Facebook in particular to be an extremely successful tool for cart abandonment ads. One of our marketing clients is consistently seeing a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 60 or more for their Facebook cart-abandonment campaign. That’s more than £60 back for every pound spent. Results will depend on the industry and business model, but the potential is definitely there. Worth a try, right?

Cart-recovery ads: Best practice

Use dynamic content: Instead of a standard banner ad, show the shopper the actual products they left in their cart, as with your recovery emails. It’s relatively simple to set this up as an automated process using your product catalogue.

Add urgency: A popular technique used in retargeting ads is to make the visitor aware the products might not be available forever. Although you could make it time-sensitive by offering a discount to be used before a certain date, this can actually mean shoppers come to expect this. Instead, as with your emails, create urgency through the use of good ad copy. ‘Get them before they’re gone’ and ‘time’s running out’ are popular examples. 

Be helpful: Minimise negative reactions with helpful-sounding copy. The reason 25% of people actually like to see these ads is that they remind them of the products they wanted to purchase. This should be your approach when drafting ad text.

Keep text short: All retargeting ads are being served to relatively warm audiences, you don’t need lines and lines of ad copy to encourage conversion. Keep your messages short, and don’t distract from the products. These ads should read like a quick reminder. 

Test messages: As with all ads, it’s vital to test, test again and keep testing. You’re not going to get it spot-on right away, so split-test different ad messages until you find the ones that work for your audience.

See how ASOS use all of the above in their cart abandonment ads, both of which are running at the same time:

You can check out Facebook’s Ad Library for inspiration. Search for competitors and big industry players to see what ads they’re running.  

Exit-intent popups

Popular platforms/tools: Nosto, OptinMonster, Growth Funnel

Popups don’t have the best reputation, with customers often finding them overbearing. Which, after being overused and abused for so long, they definitely can be.

But the chequered past of popups doesn’t necessarily mean that – when handled appropriately – they can’t be effective. Data shows that 10% - 15% of visitors are responsive to exit-intent popups. That means that you could prevent up to 15% of people from leaving your site. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean those people will convert, it does give you the opportunity to nurture a sale.

You don’t want a little popup to jeopardise a good overall brand experience, so follow these tips to keep your popups as inoffensive as possible. 

Cart-recovery popups best practice

Keep it simple: To ensure your popup is as unobtrusive as possible, keep it short and get to the point. What’s more, you only have a few seconds (and that’s being generous) for your popup to be effective, so it should communicate your point immediately. Don’t confuse things – it should only be about converting or saving that checkout, one way or another. 

Stick to one: If you do decide to employ exit popups for cart recovery purposes, leave it at that. When a site is littered with popups, that’s when they turn into a negative experience. 

Offer value: It’s simple – people don’t respond negatively to popups if they’re getting something out of it. In this case, it could be a discount (although, as with previous methods, approach with caution) or it could be the option to save their basket or receive personalised product recommendations: “Get personalised recommendations straight to your inbox”. 

Personalise: Firstly, you only want to be displaying this popup to people who actually have contents in their cart. On top of this, you could customise your popups further by tailoring the ads by:

  • The page where the exit intent occurs: You can use this technique to address specific objections. Abandoning at the delivery stage? Provide a ‘free delivery’ code.  
  • Cart contents: You can segment the message or offer by category, or even display one or more of the products in the popup.

Test: As with ads – and most things in marketing – testing should be an essential part of your popup process. Split-test different messages, different designs, tiny changes in copy. Use heat maps and recordings to see how your customers are responding to your popup.

Tarte Cosmetics’ cart-abandonment exit-intent popup covers all best practice advice. The message and design are simple, it’s personalised with the products in the cart and it definitely offers value.

Creating your cart-recovery campaign

Want success from your abandoned-cart recovery methods? Like most things in marketing, following best-practices and providing genuine value is the best way to convert those lost sales.

 The three methods in this article have some key points in common: 

  • Don’t distract from the original purpose.
  • Address potential obstacles.
  • Provide value.

Regardless of whether you use one, two or all three of these methods, keeping this advice in mind will give you the best shot at success and ensure you’re providing a positive brand experience throughout your cart-recovery campaign. 

Now you’ve got your cart-recovery plan sorted, check out 8 Quick Ways to Increase your Average Order Value and nail your upselling game. 

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