July 8th, 2014 | 3 MIN READ

Cart Abandonment is Rising: 5 Tips For Cart Recovery

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

According to the e-tailing group's 2014 Annual Merchant Survey, the trend is towards higher reported cart abandonment behavior compared to 2013.


It's roughly 50/50 split among the 100 retailers studied who enjoy sub-50% abandonment rate and those that suffer from greater than that.

And only 79% of merchants report to know their cart abandonment rates. As far as statistics go, that appears high and healthy, but these are ecommerce metrics -- that should be 100% of merchants.

Cart recovery email the #1 personalization tactic

One of the top tactics for remedying cart abandonment is triggered cart recovery email. Though the mystery shopping component of the research found only 28% of merchants deploying triggered cart abandonment emails, the method was the most commonly used personalization tactic, with 86% ranking it very or somewhat successful from an ROI perspective (edging out other tactics like personalized email assortments, product and cart recommendations).


Cart recovery emails are typically higher ROI because they’re speaking with visitors that have demonstrated an intent to purchase (though many customers use the cart as a bookmarking tool or to check shipping prices). Compared to blast email campaigns, even highly personalized ones, they’re far more likely to convert for this reason.

Optimizing cart recovery email

But a smart cart recovery conversion optimization strategy also determines their effectiveness. Design, usability, mobile-friendliness, persuasive copy including urgency, calls to action, timing, frequency, subject lines, customer service contacts and sometimes incentives all are key ingredients.

e-tailing group have highlighted some good examples they found of who’s doing cart abandonment email right, for example:


Check out the full summary including all of e-tailing group's examples and advice here.

But since this is Get Elastic, let's recap some of our tips ;)

Cart recovery tips

1. Strike fast

Analysis of over 60,000 abandoned carts by SeeWhy found 54% of all carts that are successfully recovered are won back within the first few hours after abandonment. Another 10% can be saved within the first 48, with 82% recoverable within a week.

Your own days-to-purchase analytics or testing may reveal what the best strategy is for your business, even down to the category or product level.

However, the research also shows immediate, real-time recovery rates are 11% vs 6% at 24 hours, open rates 60% vs 55% for the same, and revenue-per-email $11 vs. $4.

2. Serialize

A series of triggers, such as one real-time, one after 24 hours and one after 7 days is recommended, along with segmenting out those that ignored the first email, opened without a click, and opened and clicked. Experiment with other mixes, such as a shorter or longer series, or introducing progressively more aggressive incentives to those that open and don't act.

3. Don't over-incentivize

Avoid sending juicy incentives in the first triggered message - this may encourage intentional abandonment to receive a discount, which will over-inflate your ROI stats for your recovery program while eroding your margins.

4. Capture email early

You can't send a triggered abandonment email without one, so try -- but don't forget you can still attempt cart recovery without knowing an email address, with retargeting and exit pop-ups.

5. Segment and test different creative

Test subject lines, headlines, product presentation, offers, call-to-action styling, merchandising (similar products) value propositions and persuasive messaging.

For more creative ideas, checkout out our 14 cart recovery email optimization tips.

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