Recovering More Shoppers: Best Practice for Recovery Emails

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If you're selling online, browse abandonment recovery and cart abandonment recovery will increase your sales immediately..

All it takes for us to send generic abandonment recovery emails is a little bit of admin and copying a one-line script into your website. (Read more.) Later, you can create your own tailored emails, which will perform slightly better, but don't leave money on the table by waiting until everything is perfect.


One of the very best ways to make your site more profitable is for Fresh Relevance to send Cart Abandonment Recovery and Browse Abandonment Recovery emails to shoppers who visit your site and leave without paying.

This is pretty easy and Fresh Relevance customers are seeing average sales increases of 11.6% (Fresh Relevance- Real Time Marketing Report for Q4 2017).

Here is our advice for using them effectively:

1) Start using Cart Abandonment Recovery today

Here's our advice and 10 examples of great Cart Abandonment emails.

Unless your Website traffic is extremely low, then cart and browse abandonment recovery with someone cost-effective, like Fresh Relevance, will make you money. All it takes to send generic abandonment recovery emails is a little bit of admin and copying a one-line script into your cart, then you can go live immediately. (Read more.)

Yes, perfect emails will make you a slightly bigger percentage, so you should certainly create them, but we've seen organizations take months to perfect the formatting, so don't leave money on the table by delaying. Also, if this kind of delay sounds like something that could happen to you, remember that we have a lot of contacts in email marketing and can get the designs done for you.

2) Use Browse Abandonment Too

Here's our advice and 10 examples of great Browse Abandonment emails.

Browse Abandonment Recovery targets shoppers that Cart Abandonment misses, such as those who research on their cellphone and then buy on a tablet. So if you don't use them, you're missing out.

"Browse abandonment" is a slightly misleading term. These emails are mostly sent to existing customers who have made a return visit to your site to do research, so I think of them as "Window Shoppers". A good approach when writing a browse abandonment email is that you want to thank the shopper for their recent visit and save them time by providing links to the exact products seen. It's not hard: we provide this as a single mail-merge. No advertising!

Browse Abandonment can add several percent of extra sales (Fresh Relevance- Real Time Marketing Report for July 2012).

3) Real-Time is Vital

We recommend sending abandonment emails about 30 minutes after customers leave the site. The precise timing is a judgement call, but between 20 and 45 minutes seems to work for most clients. If you make the delay longer, more shoppers will have already bought elsewhere. If you make it very short, you will get "false alarms" and annoy some shoppers who have just been been dealing with a brief interruption such as a phone call.

Several of our customers have started with a delay of around one day, because that was what they were used to with previous non-real-time solutions, and they all got better results when they reduced this.

We suggest choosing a delay of 20 and 45 minutes, but you could test different timings to see what works best for your customer base and products.

4) Choose a Good Subject Line

Your aim is to remind the shopper of their recent visit, so we suggest you include the site name and consider mail-merging the first product name. We have had success with subject lines such as:

  • Thank you for visiting OnlineMegaMart
  • Thank you for visiting OnlineMegaMart. Your items are waiting for you
  • Thank you for visiting OnlineMegaMart. We have your Sim City 3000 - UK Edition (PC CD)
  • Did you forget something? Your OnlineMegaMart products are waiting for you
  • Your OnlineMegaMart Shopping Cart will expire soon

5) Personalize your email with Pictures of the Products

Your email must be immediately relevant to the shopper, and remind them of what they were doing, bringing your site and brand back to the front of their mind. Make sure you include, as a minimum:

  • Include details and descriptions of the products they saw (Fresh Relevance makes this simple by providing a block of HTML)
  • Include a picture of the product or products, and its description, with links back to see the product on your site.
  • For cart abandonment, include the whole cart, with links back to your site.

6) Design your Email with Care for Maximum Relevance and Don't Spam!

These shoppers are already "qualified leads": you know they are interested. Your job is to remind them of the products they chose and stay out of their way, not to tell them how wonderful your company is. 

  • Use a "customer service" tone. Your email must read like a customer service email, not too sales-focused.
  • Use similar branding to your Website, but keep the layout very simple
  • Keep the email extremely short
  • Personalize the email with product pictures and descriptions, with links. See previous paragraph.
  • Include a clear call-to action, and make it something friendly like "Complete your Order"
  • Create a sense of urgency  e.g. "stock could run out", "prices changing". What makes sense to your customers?
  • Include small customer service details at the bottom - emails, phone numbers, to help shoppers who have real problems.

7) Help Us to Identify your Customers

Fresh Relevance is very good at tracking your shoppers, but there's one way that you can give us a helping hand. Just add an "email id" to click-through links in your bulk marketing emails, then enter your ESP details into Fresh Relevance, and it will recognize shoppers who click-through. See here for instructions.

8) Capture Email Addresses Early

We've seen great results from clients using pop-ups / sliders to capture email addresses. This is great for traditional email marketing, but it's even better for real-time marketing because you can capture email addresses on shoppers' first visit to your site, and by emailing them a few minutes later, you stand a much better chance of them making a purchase whilst they're in the buying mood. See our blog entry on identifying shoppers

9) Avoid Irrelevant Links

In our private research, one company started by using a cart abandonment recovery email based on their standard template, which had a complicated navigation bar at the top. The email performed very badly, until removing the navigation approximately doubled the sales uplift. This is consistent with research into payment pages which shows that removing navigation links increases the ROI. (Why you should enclose the checkout process - Econsultancy.) A cynic would say this shows that customers click  randomly and any link that doesn't take them to the cart or a product is wasted.

10) Avoid Big Discounts

In our private research, one company started by offering a double-figure discount off the price, as a coupon in their cart abandonment recovery emails. They were getting a huge recovery rate. When they experimented with stopping the discount, the recovery rate plummeted, but total conversions actually rose, so it was clear that recovery sales had been almost entirely from cannibalising immediate sales. We therefore recommend against including big offers such as coupons in recovery emails. More about this in a later blog post.

If you really want to offer a coupon, you could try sending a series of recovery emails - a "discount ladder". Only include the coupon in the last email, to avoid cannibalising, as in this example. Fresh Relevance automatically stops the series when the shopper returns:

  1. 30 minutes after abandonment
  2. 24 hours after abandonment
  3. 7 days after abandonment (with coupon)

11) Send Two - or Three - Cart Abandonment Emails

Fresh Relevance programs can send several cart abandonment recovery emails in sequence. Clients who are sending one cart abandonment email quickly, then a second reminder after a day, are seeing slightly better results than those who send just the first.

But we don't recommend sending more than one email for browse abandonment recovery.

12) Treat people differently depending on their behavior profile

Send different emails depending on what you know about people. For example, you could treat people differently depending on whether they are:

* first-time visitors
* Repeat visitors who've never purchased
* Existing customers

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01/06/2014 How-tos