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A 101 on turning abandoned checkouts into sales

A 101 on turning abandoned checkouts into sales

I’ve learned a lot of things about consumers after numerous years of working in the ecommerce space. A prevalent fact is that they frequently add products to their online shopping carts. And then … disappear.

Yes, that’s a fact, not just a strong inkling. Baymard Institute research indicates as many as 81% of online carts are abandoned. That’s an issue for any merchant. 

This is where an abandoned checkout email automation can come to the rescue. 

I’m not insinuating that your shop’s sales will escalate once you activate one. However, I am confident that, when you remind subscribers whenever they leave something behind, you will lead a portion back to complete checkout. Your sales will build up over time. 

As we regularly say around here, “many shavings make a pile.” That’s the best way to describe email automations — messages sent when a subscriber takes a specific action. Emails that address shoppers who fail to complete the checkout process are among the most fruitful automations.

So let’s examine how you can build one for yourself. If you want to take it to the next level, stick around for tips on creating an abandoned checkout multi-part series.

The customer service spin

Creating a checkout abandonment email is a great return on investment because they’re the easiest of automations to devise. You don’t need to think too hard about the messaging. You want your subscriber, who expressed intent to buy, to reconsider.   

The solution requiring the least amount of work is a customer service centric approach. 

WP Standard’s abandoned cart email provides a great example. Their customer service spin shows that there’s real people behind the brand, and hesitant shoppers are invited to ask any questions that may be a hurdle. 

Email image from WP Standard showing a cargo tote bag with a thanks for checking us out message

The other important aspect: we instantly see the abandoned product. Keep in mind  — especially true for Black Friday Cyber Monday time — some online shopping habits entail multiple store visits with numerous products tossed into the cart. If that’s my tendency, then it’s difficult to remember every product that caught my eye. And forget recalling what, exactly, I found at each store. So an email that includes images of the products erases any uncertainties. 

Paired with the call to action (CTA) button that makes it easy for the subscriber to pick up where they left off, WP Standard has done everything short of entering shipping and payment information. 

Worried about bombarding your subscribers with emails? In Seguno, you can halt regular newsletters when a subscriber is in an automated series loop.

The blueprint for a single abandoned checkout automation

OK, it’s time to create your own abandoned checkout automation! With WP Standard as inspiration, use the following customer service framework. 

  • Subject line: Be straightforward. Try something like “Did you forget something?” or “We’re saving your cart for you.” 
  • Imagery: Use an email marketing provider such as Seguno that seamlessly displays an image of the abandoned product(s). You don’t want to make your recipient hunt for it.   
  • Copy: Write a message that translates as a friendly tap on the shoulder, not an annoying plea. That said, there’s no harm in conveying some urgency by stating items frequently sell out. 
  • CTA: Be direct with a “See my cart.” Make this your only link back to the checkout. 
  • Activation: Wait at least an hour after the subscriber leaves the cart before sending. No need to be aggressive when you don’t know the reasoning for cart abandonment.   

Turn it into a series

With the proliferation of such high checkout abandonment rates, I’d consider adding two more emails to the automation. A three-part series is going to perform better than a single message. More opportunities to get in front of your subscribers — without being obnoxious about it — equates to a greater likelihood of making a sale.  

And bonus, a series provides the chance for building brand recognition. Lean into your voice and play up what makes you unique. Chubbies is a case in point. You get a sense of their personality through humorous photos and cheeky text.

Image of 3 emails overlaid, featuring men in beach attire and varying "still interested?" messages

I mean, check out this block that I plucked from one of the Chubbies emails: 

“Just wanted to stop by the ol' inbox in case your dreams are filled with weekend shenanigans due to your recent visit to the site. Don't fret, you can still grab those new threads you added to your cart and turn every hour into happy hour.”

It’s alright if your shop’s persona isn’t as developed. Slide in glimpses of what makes your brand what it is where you can. 

The bigger question you probably have is, “How do I make a series that isn’t the same message, repeated twice?”

I’ve got some ideas. 

Abandoned checkout email #1

Follow the blueprint above for the first email in a series. 

Feature the abandoned products. Make it a breeze to resume the shopping experience with a clear CTA that transports the subscriber back to cart checkout. And wait about an hour — you don’t want to be too eager, but you also want to be at the top of your subscriber’s mind. 

Food52 understands this concept and laces in a slight touch of personality, too (Give ‘Em a Home). 

Image of glass jars with hand-turned wooden lids and title of Give 'Em a Home

Abandoned checkout email #2

Send a second email 24 hours later. 

Again, simplicity is the rule. Emphasize that the cart is about to expire, and that the items won’t be saved forever. 

How to do it:   

  • Go with a subject line of “Your saved items will expire soon” or “Would you like to finish your checkout before these items are gone?”
  • Prominently show the items within the email.
  • Short text, something like: We’re reaching out before your saved items are put back. We’re always here to help answer any questions you might have. 
  • Include one link back to checkout, with a CTA such as “See my checkout”

Sierra sticks with this formula. “These items are going fast. Don’t let them get away.” They’re not giving away anything extra, as free shipping is a staple once you spend at least $89.   

Text of still thinking about it? accompanied by images of a t-shirt and shorts, with prices

You may be tempted to throw in a discount to get your subscriber off the sidelines. My concern is that you’re safe-proofing your margins. I don’t typically advise any brand to go that route — whether they can swing it or not — yet. 

Abandoned checkout email #3

Wait four to seven days later before sending the third and final reminder, so as not to overwhelm your subscribers. 

Now is the time to give them additional reasons to complete the purchase. 

How to do it: 

  • A subject line akin to “Last chance to save your cart” works.
  • I’m sounding like a broken record in terms of imagery. Including the abandoned products is still important! 
  • Now is the time, if you so choose, to slip in a small incentive for one last push.* It can be a discount or perhaps free shipping once hitting a spending tier. 
  • Close with a succinct CTA. “Complete my checkout.”

* Caution: offering a discount can be a double-edged sword. It trains your customers to expect a lower price when they abandon a cart. 

So offer them only to new purchasers. A compelling offer can help them pull the trigger. (Note: this is a built-in feature in Seguno’s abandoned checkout automation). After all, a Shopkick survey found 81 percent of consumers are more likely to wait to make a purchase until there is a sale or coupon.    

Below is how Betabrand does it, with an accompanying subject line of “Selling Out! Take 30% Off And Check Out.” The callout about free returns is helpful, too.  

Abandoned checkout isn’t the only automation you can send with Seguno. Check out all of the other automation possibilities for your shop.

Closing advice for abandoned checkout email automations

If people are engaged with you enough to put an item in checkout, then it's worth your time to send an email reminder.

As I suggest quite frequently, don’t hold yourself to perfection. Getting something out is better than nothing at all. That’s progress. 

You may be compelled, thereafter, to watch your reports like a hawk. Don’t give in to that urge or you’ll start questioning if it was all worth it. 

Remember, many shavings make a pile. Check in after a few weeks, or even once a month, to monitor engagement metrics. It gives a better perspective as to how the abandoned checkout automation is performing. 

And one more bit of advice. As you infuse your brand into messages that fight shopping cart abandonment, visualize the scenario as if it were happening in real life. 

Frame it as an in-store experience. You leave an article of clothing in the dressing room. A friendly associate stops you and asks if it was intentional. Abandoned cart recovery automations are what bring that type of experience to life digitally. 

Create, manage, and track your email marketing—without leaving Shopify.

Seguno is the top-rated email solution built exclusively for Shopify. Grow your sales with high-performing newsletters, email automation campaigns, and integrations with Facebook, Instagram, banners, pop-ups and more. Build and send engaging emails in our easy-to-use editor and take email creation to the next level with our Canva integration. Automate your email marketing and drive more revenue with welcome campaigns, checkout abandonment, post-purchase automations, tag triggers and more. Learn more at

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