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How to recover lost sales with abandoned checkout emails

How to recover lost sales with abandoned checkout emails

We’ve learned a lot of things about consumers from our ecommerce perch. One fact is that they frequently add products to their online shopping carts, start the checkout process, and disappear. 

And your Shopify store is left behind. 

Or …. not. Counter with an abandoned checkout email; you might entice them back and win their business. 

We’re walking through the checkout abandonment affliction and how email automations help your bottom line (we’ve got the stats!). Then we’ll address what your abandoned checkout emails need for a fighting chance. Stick with us for email examples and guidance to get yours up and running.   


The staggering cost of abandoned checkouts

Abandoned checkouts in Shopify — or on any retailer site, for that matter — are a well-known issue. Baymard Institute research indicates the average abandonment rate is 69%. That means seven in 10 folks pick out items on your site, only to walk away before purchasing. 

That equates to $18 billion in lost sales annually for ecommerce brands. 

Various things cause abandoned checkouts, such as unexpected shipping costs, a poor user experience, a confusing checkout process, or limited payment options.

(While we’re not diving into checkout abandonment root causes, Shopify covers ways to combat cart abandonment from the get-go.)

Other times, life happens, and shoppers with buying intent simply get distracted. 

An abandoned checkout email automation is a behavioral targeting method that can reengage some of those shoppers. 

Here’s how it works. A shopper adds items to the cart and begins the checkout process. They make it to the shipping address stage but stop short of completing the purchase. 

This triggers the abandoned checkout email automation — a message like, “Hey, you left something behind!” 

The automation doesn’t have to stop there. You can opt for a series of abandoned checkout emails to get noticed. 

Screenshot of the abandoned checkout automation workflow within Seguno
The abandoned checkout automation, as shown in Seguno
Usually, only marketing newsletter subscribers receive email automations. However, everyone can receive the first abandoned checkout email if you configure it as a transactional message.

The case for using abandoned checkout emails

Your shop’s sales won’t skyrocket after activating an abandoned checkout email. However, sales will grow over time without a ton of effort on your part. 

The proof is in the data. 

We analyzed our merchants’ historical data to compare engagement metrics between regular email newsletters and abandoned checkout email automations.

Abandoned checkout emails perform better across all facets: average open, click, and conversion rates. We see a 753% lift in conversion rates over newsletters. 

Chart with the title "abandoned checkout rates (in comparison to newsletter rates)" and the following data: average open rate 16.3% higher, average click rate 4.8% higher, average conversion rate 2.56% higher

Furthermore, the difference is more significant when examining the Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) timespan. The statistics below show email marketing performance from Nov. 21 to 28, 2022.

Chart with the title "abandoned checkout rates during BFCM (in comparison o newsletter rates)" and the following data: average open rate 24.2% higher, average click rate 7.58% higher, average conversion rate 3.42% higher

So, yes, abandoned checkout emails work. And if there’s ever a time to have them activated and polished, it’s for the holiday rush.

What to include in an abandoned checkout email

All best practices of email marketing newsletters apply when creating abandoned checkout emails. 

First, your subject line. Shoot for a compelling invitation to open the email. 

Abandoned checkout subject line suggestions appear later in this post when we build email examples. But they skew basic, so here are a few examples if you’re itching for creative-leaning inspo:

  • Hey, don't leave us hanging! Your items are patiently waiting for you
  • Your cart’s got some low-in-stock gems
  • Time is running out … don't let your dream items vanish 
  • Make it official! Complete your checkout 
  • Your cart is lonely. Return for a special offer!
  • We hate goodbyes. Come back and enjoy a special treat on us.

Other must-dos for email content include: 

  • Brand representation. Be consistent with colors, fonts and voice. And don’t forget your logo! (Missing logos happen more frequently than you’d think.)
  • Photos of the abandoned products. Include visually appealing product photos so the shopper knows what they left behind. Especially during BFCM, online shopping often means tossing products in the cart across multiple shops. It can be tough to keep track of what you picked out and from where. Include this “above the fold” so cart contents are the star of the email.   
  • Links to checkout. Make it easy to complete the transaction by incorporating clear calls to action (CTA) and linking all product imagery.  

What about incentives? We didn’t bulletize it because they’re not mandatory, nor are they necessarily a tactic you want to employ. More on discounts later. 

Additionally, if you have a first name, plop it in with merge tags. Personalization matters to consumers. A report found that 71% expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Abandoned checkout emails already check that box. Name inclusion kicks it up a notch. 

If you’re worried about bombarding your subscribers with emails, halt regular newsletters in Seguno when a subscriber is amid an automated series.

How to design abandoned checkout emails [+ examples]

Checkout abandonment emails are a great return on investment because they’re the easiest automations to devise. You don’t need to think too hard about the messaging. 

First, we’re sharing an idea for a single automation. Then we’re providing concepts for a multi-message abandoned checkout automation.

See how to build abandoned checkout automations in Seguno with our on-demand course.

A blueprint for a single-email abandoned checkout automation

A customer service approach is the easiest solution requiring the least amount of work. The example from WP Standard is an excellent illustration. 

By signing off with a name, they show real people are behind the brand. They also encourage questions as a way of tackling buyer hesitation.

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

Paired with the product image and CTA that makes it easy for the shopper to pick up where they left off, WP Standard has done everything short of entering shipping and payment information. 

With WP Standard as inspiration, use the following customer service framework. 

  • Subject line: Be straightforward. Try “Did you forget something?” or “We’re saving your cart for you.” 
  • Imagery: We can’t state it enough! Feature photos of the abandoned product(s).     
  • Copy: Compose text 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” and link to checkout.  
  • Activation: Wait an hour after the subscriber leaves the cart before sending, or up to three hours.

A plan for a three-part abandoned checkout email series

Since checkout abandonment rates are so high, we advise adding two (possibly three) emails to the automation. Two more opportunities to get in front of your subscribers — without being obnoxious about it — means a better shot at making a sale.  

A series comes with a bonus: The chance to build recognition and tout your brand personality. 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 playful text.

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

Check out this block 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 strongly developed. Slide in your brand’s personality where you can. 

You’re probably questioning, “How do I make a series that isn’t the same message, repeated twice?” We’ve got some ideas. 

Abandoned checkout email #1

Follow the WP Standard-inspired blueprint for the first email, deploying it one to three hours later. 

If you’re not keen on the customer service route, mirror Food52’s approach. We like how they lace 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. 

Simplicity is the rule. Emphasize that the cart will expire and 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.
  • Make the text short, 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. 
  • Optional: Address possible objections to clear hesitancy hurdles. 
  • Include one link to the checkout, with a CTA such as “See my checkout.”

Sierra’s abandoned checkout email follows this formula, with the copy, “These items are going fast. Don’t let them get away.” They’re not giving away anything extra; 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 Shopify discount to get your subscriber off the sidelines. We don’t advise any brand — whether they can swing it or not — to go that route just yet.

Abandoned checkout email #3

Wait four to seven days before sending the third reminder. Now is the time to give additional reasons to complete the purchase. 

How to do it: 

  • A subject line akin to “Last chance to save your cart” works.
  • We sound like a broken record, but abandoned product images are still important! 
  • Optional: Now is the time to slip in a small incentive for one last push. It can be a discount or free shipping once hitting a spending tier. 
  • Optional: Add suggested products based on what’s in the checkout. 
  • Close with an action-oriented CTA. “Complete my checkout.”

A word of caution about offering discounts in an abandoned checkout email: They can train shoppers to wait so they never pay full price. 

Thus, we advise only new purchasers receive an abandoned checkout incentive. (Note: this is a built-in feature in Seguno’s abandoned checkout automation). A compelling offer just might make them pull the trigger. Consider that a Shopkick survey found 81% of consumers are likelier to wait to purchase until a sale or coupon.    

If you offer a coupon, provide a unique code that no one else can use.  

Take a look at Betabrand’s abandoned checkout example below. The “Selling Out! Take 30% Off And Check Out” subject line shouts the incentive. The callout about free returns is also helpful.  

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

Monitor, tweak and test to get the most out of abandoned checkout emails

If you don’t have an abandoned checkout email automation, we hope we’ve convinced you to activate at least one as part of your email marketing strategy. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Getting something out is better than nothing at all.

Check in after a few weeks, or even once a month, to monitor engagement. Here are some email metrics to watch, along with potential actions to take: 

  • Conversion rate: What percentage of recipients are returning to complete their purchase? Could text changes, such as inserting more urgency, help move the needle?
  • Click rate: What percentage clicks through to the website? Are you leveraging links enough?
  • Open rate: What percentage opens the email? Does the email subject line need strengthening?

Use these insights as a jumping-off point for making improvements. Revisit your design with fresh eyes. Maybe the message needs boosting or rearranging could benefit the layout. Or, adjust your automation timing to see if it makes any difference.  

Whether you periodically test and tweak or “set it and forget it,” abandoned checkout emails will boost your profits.

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.

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