Abandoned Cart Email Funnel: Learn the Best Tactics & Examples to Increase Sales

To grow your eCommerce business forward, you need sales coming at you on autopilot so that you can focus on the tasks and goals that matter most. 

With this guide on abandoned cart emails, we want to help you do just that.

Not just by demystifying why abandoned carts happen but by eliminating what it needs to look like and how to put them together.

So sit back and buckle up. 

We’re about to drop some knowledge bombs.

Why do people abandon their carts?

These 3 of the main reasons why people abandon their carts: 

1. Checkout difficulty

34% of shoppers abandon checkout because they are forced to create an account. 

2. Shipping expectations

 23% of shoppers abandon carts due to issues with shipping. 

3. Better prices available

18% of shoppers abandon carts because they want to compare prices (SaleCycle). So there could be a particular reason why some people stop checking out from your store.

That’s why a properly executed abandoned cart email marketing strategy is so important. 

Each email can work to chisel away at apprehension or curiosity to bring back more revenue that could have been lost.

I’ll share more details about how you can do this throughout the guide. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s look more at what a funnel should look like.

What should an abandoned cart email funnel look like?

This is the area that eCommerce stores struggle with. Not only is there a lot of confusion about how many emails you should have in your funnel, but also about what it should contain and when you should send it. However do not be scared, we will talk more deeply about some abandoned cart email best practices we recommend when creating flow, in a moment.

Overall, we like to suggest that abandoned cart funnels are no less than 3 messages and it’s best if they have 5 to 6 emails in the sequence. As for the timing sequence for those emails and the content, here’s what that could look like:

With that being said, let's give you a guide on best practices you should follow for your funnel's effectiveness.

Best practices for an abandoned cart email funnel

To optimize your abandoned cart email funnel, consider these best practices:

  1. Incorporate dynamic and personalized content in your abandoned cart emails to increase customer engagement.
  2. Emphasize the benefits and unique value proposition of the abandoned products to encourage customers to complete their purchases.
  3. Provide a special offer, such as a discount or free shipping, to incentivize customers to take action.
  4. Use discounts strategically to avoid devaluing your products and training customers to only buy during sales.
  5. Experiment with different subject lines to improve open rates and click-through rates. Check out these best abandoned cart email subject lines for some ideas.
  6. Send abandoned cart emails promptly to catch customers while their interest is still high.
  7. Keep the email design simple, clean, and visually appealing with high-quality product images.
  8. Include a clear and prominent call-to-action (CTA) that directs customers to complete their purchase.

Now, let's dive into the part I’m sure you’ve been waiting for: Building your email funnel.

What should an abandoned cart email funnel have?

An abandoned cart email should ideally include the following elements:

  1. A catchy and intriguing subject line that entices the recipient to open the email.
  2. An introductory text that acknowledges the customer's interest in the products left in their cart and encourages them to complete their purchase.
  3. A clear and visually appealing display of the products left in the cart, including product images, names, and prices.
  4. A prominent and compelling call-to-action (CTA) button that directs the customer to complete their purchase, such as "Complete your purchase now" or "Claim your cart items".
  5. Social proof, such as customer reviews or ratings, that adds credibility and encourages the customer to trust your brand.
  6. An offer or incentive, such as a discount or coupon code, that motivates the customer to take action and complete their purchase.
  7. Suggestions for additional products that the customer may be interested in, based on their browsing or purchase history.

With that all done, you’re ready to start crafting your first abandoned cart email template.

Abandoned cart email funnel examples

Abandoned cart email #1: The Scarcity Email 

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a marketing term with very real psychological pulls for people. Nearly 69% of millennials experience FOMO daily (Trust Pilot). 

So making your first email one of scarcity and triggering at least a slight fear of missing out can be very effective in your funnel. You’ll notice this email example from Food52. 

They’ve used this exact type of email for their automated funnel, and they do it perfectly. The first heading catches attention. 

The subsequent copy underneath presses on the fact that supplies are limited. There are two CTA buttons that stand out and encourage the recipient to take action, plus they use an image of the item left in the cart.

The goal of this email is to get them to click back to their cart and finish up the purchase. If they do, then the funnel will stop and can shift them into another automation. If they don’t, then they’ll get the next email in the funnel. 

The Scarcity Email Elements: 

Cognitive Trigger: Fear of Missing Out & Scarcity. 

Timing: Sent 30 minutes to 24 hours after someone abandons the cart. (We recommend not waiting for more than 4 hours for this email to go out.) 

Content Use: Dynamic images of items left in their cart. 

Copy: Use 1 CTA, preferably a button that stands out. Lay into the FOMO with terms like “Limited,” “Your Items Are Almost Gone,” or anything else that presses this fear a bit deeper. 

Goal: To get someone’s attention and bring them back quickly and convert.

Abandoned cart email #2: Trust and Education Email 

Trustworthiness is a huge factor in making a purchase for the modern consumer. A recent study found that as many as 81% of respondents believed that: ‘Trust in brands is an important part of their purchase behavior.’ (AdAge).

So what information should you give them? How do you build that trust? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Use reviews or social proof in your email.

Eight Sleep does this for their brand and sends an email containing the review, 5 stars, and a photo of the person giving the review.

They’ve made a careful pick of who they’re using (Nike instructor, Football player, Pro bodybuilder) to make a better impression of themselves in the eyes of a possible customer. 

This type of email shows that others trust their brand and have been happy with their purchase. Notice again, the single CTA button.

  1. Put them at ease with a guarantee.

Dollar Shave Club sends this type of email to offer peace of mind and to show that they will be there for their customers.

In this email, the large CTA is at the very top so it’s the first thing you’ll notice, and under the large and well-styled photo is just a bit more copy to really put someone’s mind at ease (“If you’re not 100% happy, we’ll refund your money.”) with a smaller CTA.

As you can see, the second email has much more flexibility in what you can say and what you can include. The goal here is to gain trust. What might work for one brand in that regard can look different for you. Choose a type of email you think will work and test it against another kind to gauge its effectiveness.

The Trust and Education Email Elements: 

Cognitive Trigger: Join the bandwagon (review based). Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. (Offer guarantees to offset mistrust.) 

Timing: 2 days after cart abandonment. 

Content: Use dynamic images of items left in their cart. Use large, captivating images. 

Copy: Consider using reviews or showing your brand story. 

Goal: Aim to offer trust and reassurance in your brand.

Abandoned cart email #3: Here’s a Discount Email 

If the fish still aren’t buying, don’t despair. Your funnel still has work to do.

If at this point the other emails have yet to work, then your potential customer may just be looking for a deal. Maybe that deal is free shipping, a freebie with their order, or a percentage off.

Huckberry uses the same design from their previous email but changes out the top heading and subsequent copy. They offer free shipping, place a coupon code to use in the checkout, and move the CTA below the product image.

Your email can be just as simple and you get to choose or even test what discount type gains the most revenue.

The Here’s a Discount Email Elements: 

Cognitive Trigger: Discount with a time limit (FOMO). Save money.

Timing: 4 days after cart abandonment.

Content: Use product images, and make sure your CTA stands out.

Copy: Offer your discount. Make sure to use your subject line to let them know there’s a discount inside the email. Using coupon codes is great as they can be custom and help you measure sales from emails and A/B email tests.

Goal: To convert to a sale.

Abandoned cart email #4: Brand or Product Value Proposition

It’s important to remember that the reason why someone buys your product will not be the same for everyone. And the reason they’re not buying will be different too.

One customer might have needed more education on your product before purchasing, while a different customer may have just been waiting for a discount. Or they may be looking for something unique or different that speaks to them on a more personal level.

A value proposition email is aimed at that angle. It offers a mixture of conveying both what your brand or product will do for your customer as well as what makes your product better or unique compared to the competition.

This email from Thrive Market is a quite good example:

They do a good job of showing off their brand value proposition without simply saying, “Hey, this is why we’re different.” As part of being a member, you can help donate a Thrive Market membership to lower-income families.

Hopefully, you’ve already done a lot of the work for deciphering what your brand’s value proposition is. If not, you need to dig deep here. What do you sell? What’s the benefit for the customer? How are you truly unique? What’s your story? Who do you help? Who are your current customers? Why did they purchase from you? What draws people to you in the first place?

Digging in here is some arduous work, but when the aim is to convert more abandoned carts into sales, you know it’s worth it.

The Brand or Product Value Proposition Email Elements: 

Cognitive Trigger: Cause-based marketing.

Timing: 5 days after cart abandonment.

Content: Use images or videos to help convey what makes you unique and why your brand brings value to the life of your customers.

Copy: Use images and 1-2 CTAs that get people back to their cart.

Goal: Convey your uniqueness; what makes your brand or products different.

Abandoned cart email #5: Offer a Last Chance Discount Email 

This is really your last-ditch effort to convert your potential customer, and there are a couple of reasons why you should include this in your funnel.

For instance, your first discount email may not have been opened or clicked through or maybe the timing of that initial discount just didn’t work for them. However, offering a “Last Chance” discount is yet another FOMO trigger that has proven very effective for many eCommerce brands.

Bombas often uses this type of email throughout their email marketing and in their abandoned cart funnel.

Now, you could simply reuse the discount design that you have from earlier in your funnel. But you might consider changing things up a bit so that it really grabs attention. The discount stands out and is the largest text in the email to make sure it’s seen and easily understood what the email is offering.

This is just one of many Last Chance email examples. You might not need as much design to your email as this. What’s important is that you offer the discount in a way that can trigger that fear of missing out to help finally convert them into a customer.

The Last Chance Discount Email Offer Elements: 

Cognitive Trigger: FOMO.

Timing: 7-10 days after cart abandonment.

Content: Use images of your products. Make coupon codes clear.

Copy: Use images and/or copy to make it clear this is their last chance for a discount they can use on items they wanted.

Goal Convert your abandoned cart user into a customer.

Building abandoned cart email funnels for eCommerce with Sendlane

Sendlane's pre-built funnels are designed to help eCommerce businesses recover lost sales from abandoned carts. These funnels are easy to set up and customize, allowing you to tailor your emails to your brand and audience. You can customize the timing and content of your emails, as well as add dynamic content, such as product recommendations, based on customer behavior and preferences.

Sendlane's integration with major eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce makes it easy to implement an abandoned cart email flow on your online store. The platform also offers advanced reporting and analytics, so you can track the performance of your emails and optimize your strategy for maximum results.

Overall, using an abandoned cart email flow with Sendlane can help you recover lost sales, boost revenue, and build stronger customer relationships. 

And with a 14-day free trial available, you can try it out risk-free and see the results for yourself.

Abandoned cart email funnel FAQs:

Why does an eCommerce need an abandoned cart email funnel?

An abandoned cart email funnel helps eCommerce businesses recover lost revenue by following up with customers who did not complete their purchases. It also improves customer experience by providing personalized and targeted communication. Ultimately, it can increase sales and customer loyalty.

What is the level of effectiveness of abandoned cart email sequences?

Abandoned cart email sequences are highly effective, with an average open rate of 45% and a click-through rate of 21%. They have been shown to recover between 10-20% of lost sales, making them a valuable tool for any eCommerce business. However, the effectiveness can vary depending on the quality of the email content and the timing of the emails.

What is the optimal time for initiating an abandoned cart email sequence?

The optimal time to initiate an abandoned cart email sequence is within the first hour after cart abandonment, with additional follow-up emails sent over the next 24-48 hours. This ensures that the customer is still engaged with your brand and provides a timely reminder to complete their purchase. However, the exact timing may depend on your specific business and customer behavior.

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