When is the best time to send post cart abandonment emails?

By Kathy Heslop


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July 1, 2014 | 6 min read

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There are many questions involved in setting up an abandonment email campaign, the answers to which will determine the success or failure of your efforts. And perhaps chief among them is the question of marketing automation times; or in other words, “how long should I wait post-abandonment to send re-engagement emails?”

This is your guide to send cart abandonment emails with impeccable timing.

By sending an abandonment email, you’re asking the customer to make a decision - whether or not to follow up on their initial interest and complete the transaction. But as each customer will have their own decision making process, based on personal preference, stage in the buying cycle, the complexity of offering (to name but a few), relying on one email to cut through all of these potential barriers is quite the ask - no matter how well designed it is.

This is why we at Ve Interactive advise our clients using VeContact to send a series of emails.

Too often, these cascade campaigns are incorrectly viewed as a means of hammering the customer into submission with repetitive marketing messaging - bringing to mind Einstein’s definition of insanity - but in fact, it’s much more customer orientated than that.

Instead, the content of each email in a cascade campaign should be set up to meet potential customers’ changing needs and motivations as they progress along their own personal decision making process.

So, it becomes not only a question of when to send abandonment emails, but also what to send? Based on common buyer behaviour, here is what we’ve found to be cascade campaign best practice in in terms marketing automation times and content.

• 1st email: 45 minutes – an hour

This customer is still very much within arms-reach, and it’s very likely that they’ll return to complete their purchase with the right messaging. On average, our clients see a 17% conversion rate from the first email sent.

This email should delivered with a helpful and polite tone which aims, not to forcefully push that person back to complete their conversion, but more to show recognition of their interest and demonstrate how much you value it.

In short, it’s reminder message - keeping the lead warm while signifying pro-active customer service. In the case of theatre or auditorium for example, copy could read;

"Thanks you for your visit! We noticed that you’re yet to complete you booking, as tickets are selling out fast so we’ve saved your cart here for your convenience.”

• 2nd email: 23 hours

Similar to the first, the second email should also offer assurance and show the customer they’re still valued. Base the language used in this email on the assumption that they have missed the first, which may well have been the case. However, don’t refer to it apologetically (eg. Sorry, us again…) as it massively undermines any customer service tone you’re trying to project. After all, if you feel obliged to apologise, then you’re probably not being that helpful.

At this stage we also find that offering a mild incentive is advisable. The concept of offering a discount or bonus is a delicate one for any business. Offer an incentive too early and you could be needlessly denting your margins, leave it too late the lead has gone cold. This is where pointing to existing offers can provide the perfect middle-ground.

See below for an example of an ideal second email for any retailer;

“We’ve saved your cart for you here, and we hope to see you again soon! One more thing, did you know we offer free delivery on orders over £60? Click below to complete.”

Timing is crucial and each organisation will find their exact groove through rigorous testing, but in our experience 23 hours is the optimum time-lapse after the abandonment before sending the second email – earning a rather impressive 18% average conversion rate.

• 3rd email: 1 week

This email needs to provoke a reaction as it’s likely your last chance to re-engage this person, so it should therefore invoke a sense of urgency. This can be done while retaining a friendly tone by emphasising finite time limits of offers or services.

Try body copy such as “Just a heads-up – your saved cart is about to expire. Not to worry, you can retrieve it right here.”

Placing time boundaries on any offers, and sending a reminder around the expiry time will help jolt some of the more apprehensive users or the do-it-tommorrow’ers into action. This third email perhaps takes the most tact to get right, balancing urgency with kid gloves, but the rewards are there for getting it right with our third cascade emails earning an average conversion rate of 12% after this length of time lapse.

Growing Opportunity

Browser behaviour has changed. With more time spent online, thanks to increased mobile use, the research stage in any buying cycle has grown enormously, yet still people tend to prefer to complete their transaction from a desktop.

Making sure you are at the forefront of the customer’s mind when they’re ready to buy has become even more significant in recovering abandoned conversions, and following this guide will help give your cascade email campaigns the perfect timing required to do just that.

Read more Ve Interactive blogs at: www.veinteractive.com


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