E-commerce businesses lose an estimated $4.6 trillion each year due to cart abandonment — over 3/4 of shoppers leave items in their cart without purchasing. It's a massive number that impacts the bottom line of every e-commerce store.
The most common antidote to cart abandonment is an abandoned cart recovery email campaign that targets cart abandoners with relevant messages intended to drive website traffic and sales completion. The most effective of these campaigns work in conjunction with targeted ads.
Discover why email alone is no longer enough to convert cart abandoners into paying customers and the four best practices for abandoned cart recovery.
Why Email Isn't Enough on Its Own
Email marketing is the process of delivering value to customers through their inboxes — converting prospect buyers and one-time buyers into devoted fans and repeat purchasers.
While abandoned cart recovery email campaigns can be very successful, email as a stand-alone channel still has two significant limitations:
1. You can only send emails to shoppers of whom you have an email address
Some potential customers browse your website, put items in their cart along the way, and then exit their browser before beginning the checkout process. These are called cart abandoners.
However, other potential customers may make it through part of the checkout process — inputting their email address, payment information, etc. but then exit their browser before completing the purchase. These are called checkout abandoners.
Some email solutions can only send emails to checkout abandoners. Depending on the information available from a potential customer's interaction on your site, you may or may not be able to access their email address. And you can't send an abandonment email without an email address.
While various email solutions can send emails to shoppers who have identified themselves with their email addresses but have not entered the checkout, there will always be some cart abandoners who never left their email addresses on your site and therefore cannot be reached via email.
2. You cannot control whether or when your shoppers open your emails
The average open rate for abandoned cart emails is <50%. While this is a high rate, it still does not reach half of the shoppers who abandoned their carts. If they never see your message, they are less likely to return to your website and make a purchase.
How can you increase the number of abandoners targeted with messages to drive traffic and sales? By creating campaigns that include email and ad retargeting.
4 Strategies to Harness the Power of Emails and Ads
E-commerce brands can use retargeting ads to serve relevant ads to shoppers who visited their sites and left without completing a purchase. Emails and retargeting ads can perfectly complement each other to create a strong and effective abandoned cart recovery campaign.
According to OptinMonster, using retargeting ads with other marketing channels can increase sales by up to 50%. Recent research conducted by AdRoll shows that when emails and ads work together, it converts potential buyers into active customers 2x faster.
Using these tools together, at the right time and in the right place, can influence shoppers to think again about a specific product, return to your store, and complete their purchase. Here are four abandoned cart recovery strategies to use today:
Strategy #1: Ensure messaging alignment across all your channels
For email marketing or advertising to succeed, they need to be a part of a larger, connected brand experience for customers. All channels need to tell the same, cohesive brand story, and promote the same values.
A consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. This means that your email campaigns and your retargeting ads need to promote the same message and use on-brand designs.
The most significant consideration when using an omnichannel approach is defining the message you will promote to prevent contradicting yourself across the multiple channels. For example, you could promote different discount offers or promo codes. Or you may choose to highlight free shipping to one channel and free returns to others. Keep it simple and concise!
Here is an excellent example from Minted. Their welcome email includes a 20% promo code for new customers, and its design and messaging are consistent with their ads. Why is this a good practice? By promoting offers across multiple channels, brands can successfully fight cart abandonment, keep the potential customer warm, and increase customer activation.
With ads and emails, you're trying to get your shoppers to act now instead of abandoning their cart. Additional strategies other than discounts include weaving urgency into your messaging, adding a social-proof element with some 5-star reviews, or showcasing product testimonials.
Strategy #2: Time the touch-points in a cross-channel cart recovery strategy
Using multiple channels to target cart abandoners also creates the need to time your efforts, create a flow, and ensure your touch-points won't confuse or annoy your buyers.
For most e-commerce brands, 90% of cart abandonment leads go "cold" after one hour. Because many people don't check their inboxes hourly, you need to find a different channel to promote through.
While abandoned cart recovery emails can be sent within an hour or two of cart abandonment, retargeting ads could frustrate shoppers when served immediately after cart abandonment. On the other hand, retargeting ads can be the perfect way to continue reminding your prospects about their abandoned products, keeping them engaged.
This is why timing is crucial. It certainly differs based on your industry, and there is no perfect solution for all e-commerce brands. Consider A/B testing the timing of different ad campaigns to determine what engages your target audience most effectively.
Then, once a shopper converts, you need to make sure they exit your cross-channel cart recovery program. Practically, this means that all channels share information about the target audience, and each channel is aware of the actions taken by the same shoppers in another channel.
Strategy #3: Re-engage cart abandoners with highly personalised content in both emails and dynamic ads
One of the main advantages of creating a cross-channel strategy for abandoned cart recovery is that you can offer highly personalised experiences to your prospects across all the different channels — from emails to ads on social media and Google.
For content to be dynamic and engaging, it needs to be personalised. You can remind customers of the specific items in their cart, including things they gathered but did not start the checkout process for. (Remember, there is a difference between cart abandoners and checkout abandoners.)
You may also consider incorporating product recommendations in both cart recovery emails and dynamic ads. This includes utilising personalised banners that dynamically adapt content and promotions based on popular or past products viewed. Consider this example from PacSun:
The more personalised and dynamic the email campaign and retargeting ads, the more effective they will be in increasing abandonment conversions.
Strategy #4: Capture emails to boost your cross-channel cart recovery strategy
The only way to fuel an effective cart abandoned cart recovery strategy, and successfully win-back abandoners is to capture their email address and build your database.
Email not only brings a high return on investment through the cart recovery campaigns, but it also amplifies the success of the overall marketing strategy when used in conjunction with other channels. This is why email marketing should be placed at the heart of your e-commerce brand's marketing strategy, coupled with a personalised retargeting ad campaign.