August 14, 2020

Abandoned Cart Emails: A Step-by-Step Guide to Boosting Your Online Sales

Reading time about 11 min

Abandoned carts are one of the most common pain points among ecommerce businesses. The most effective way to recuperate lost revenue from these would-be sales is to follow up with an abandoned cart email.

If you’re running an ecommerce store, you’re likely all too familiar with the concept of abandoned carts. Across industries, on average seven out of 10 online shoppers don’t complete their purchase.

What is an Abandoned Cart Email?

An abandoned cart occurs when a potential customer adds products to the shopping cart in your online store but leaves without completing the purchase. This can happen for a range of reasons, the most common being:

  • Unforeseen costs, especially shipping
  • A complex checkout process or the requirement to create an account
  • Concerns about site security

There are a variety of ways you can optimize your ecommerce site to boost conversions. Nevertheless, there will always be some customers who still fail to complete their purchase – it’s an unavoidable reality for every e-store. Through abandoned cart emails, you can effectively recapture these lost sales and increase your conversions.

Nomad abandoned cart email example


How Does Abandoned Cart Recovery Work?

The customer journey for an abandoned cart email is normally as follows:

  1. A customer visits your e-store.
  2. They add items to their shopping cart.  
  3. They are asked to fill in their email address, normally at the checkout, but sometimes before. 
  4. The customer leaves the site without completing their purchase.
  5. After a specified time delay, they receive an automated email reminder. 
  6. If successful, the customer returns to your site to complete their purchase. 

In order to send these messages, you need to have the customer’s email address. To achieve this you could optimize your checkout process or use exit-intent popups that appear when the shopper is about to leave the website. The more emails you can capture, the more carts — and therefore, revenue — you can recover.

What About GDPR?

The good news is abandoned cart emails are GDPR compliant – as long as you have explicit consent from the customer to email them. Luckily, with a platform like Brevo (ex Sendinblue), you can easily create GDPR-friendly sign-up forms.

Further reading: Creating a GDPR-compliant subscription form

Why Send an Abandoned Cart Email?

So you’re thinking about giving abandoned cart emails a try – but do they really work?

In short, yes. In fact, abandoned cart emails are responsible for almost 30% of all ecommerce revenue.

However, increasing conversions is not the only benefit of abandoned cart emails. They can also help you:

  • Save time and money: With an automated email workflow for abandoned carts, you can focus your efforts on other marketing tasks. Once set up they can help retain existing customers rather than having to spend more to acquire new shoppers.
  • Build better customer relationships: Abandoned cart emails are highly relevant for the customer since they are tailored to their individual browsing history. They therefore show the customer you understand and value their needs, helping to build a lasting relationship
  • Improve the customer experience: Even if your abandoned cart email doesn’t result in a sale, the information you collect can help you better understand why the cart was abandoned in the first place. Use this as an opportunity to address common issues and reduce overall cart abandonment.
Headspace reactivation email example


How to Create an Abandoned Cart Workflow with Brevo (ex Sendinblue)

With Brevo (ex Sendinblue) you have all the tools you need to set up abandoned cart emails and boost your online sales. Simply set up a free account and follow the steps below to give it a try. 

Step 1: Track shoppers’ behavior on your website

To track your shoppers’ behavior, you have two options:

  1. Install the Brevo (ex Sendinblue) plugin for your website platform
  2. If your plugin or feature is not yet available, install the Brevo (ex Sendinblue) tracker

Installing the Shopify plugin for Brevo (ex Sendinblue)

With Brevo (ex Sendinblue) you can send Shopify abandoned cart emails fast and easy. To get started, install our Shopify plugin for free by following these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Shopify marketplace and click the button to add the Brevo (ex Sendinblue) app.
  2. You will then be asked to log in to your Shopify account.
  3. Once logged in click the ‘Install app‘ button
  4. Once the plugin is installed, click ‘Allow access‘ to link your account
  5. Then you will see ‘Connection details’. All fields are generated automatically so just click ‘Save‘.

Using a different plugin? Check out our Help Centre guides for our ecommerce plugins.

Step 2: Track abandoned carts on your website

To track abandoned carts, you can use these three standard track events to monitor some key actions:

  • cart_updated: use the same event to indicate when a cart is created or updated
  • order_completed: use a unique event to indicate when a cart is purchased
  • cart_deleted: use a unique event to indicate when products are deleted from an existing shopping cart

Some plugins will automatically create and send the three standard abandoned cart events to Brevo (ex Sendinblue). If Automation is enabled for your Brevo (ex Sendinblue) account, you can track abandoned cart events by activating track visitor actions through the integration.

Alternatively, you can create your own abandoned cart events, using track events. Within your standard track events you should include two ‘objects’:

  • Properties: information about the shopper to personalize the abandoned cart email (e.g. first and last name)
  • Event data: information about the shopping cart and products. Include the cart’s unique ID and product details you want to have in the abandoned cart email.

Some possible event data related to the product are:

  • Product name
  • Product quantity 
  • Product size
  • Product price
  • Product image
  • Link to product page
  • Link to the cart

While creating your events, be sure to make a note of the ‘parameters’ and ‘keys’ within your event data object. You will reference this information when creating your abandoned cart email template, to be automatically replaced by the event data. 

For example, in the email below we referenced the following data:

  • Variable (shown in red): item
  • Parameter (typically the plural version of your variable): items
  • Keys (shown in green): name, price, variant name (size), quantity

Abandoned cart event data

Step 3: Design your abandoned cart email template

To design your email, create a new template in the Brevo (ex Sendinblue) platform. With Brevo (ex Sendinblue)’s drag and drop editor you can quickly create the perfect email.

Basic elements to include in an abandoned cart email are:

  • The shopper’s name (if you know it) 
  • A sentence reminding the shopper they haven’t yet completed their purchase
  • Details about the product(s) in their cart

For information on adding details like contact name to your emails, read our guide to personalizing emails with contact attributes.

Example abandoned cart email template

Remember you don’t just have to send one abandoned cart follow-up. Through a series of 2-3 emails you can gradually persuade the customer to return to your site and make a purchase.

Your workflow should address potential reasons for cart abandonment. For example:

  • A first notification email could act as a simple reminder to the customer that they have items left in their cart. 
  • The next could include other related items the shopper might be interested in, to re-engage indecisive customers.
  • A final email could attempt to seal the deal by offering a discount.

Looking for more inspiration and tips for creating a successful abandoned cart email? Check out our article: Abandoned Cart Email Examples & Best Practices.

Step 4: Insert the abandoned cart details

The next step is to enable your template to recognize and display personalized data about each shopper’s cart. To do this you must insert placeholders in your email text for the abandoned cart and product details.

When using a Brevo (ex Sendinblue) plugin, the placeholders are standardized. If you are using your own track events, your placeholders will depend on your setup.

It’s a good idea to include the product image and link in your email. To do so, first drag and drop an image block into your template. Then in the image settings, under ‘Image source’, select ‘From URL’. You can then insert the appropriate abandoned cart placeholder for the product image.

To make the image clickable, add the link placeholder under the ‘Link’ field.

Screenshot of adding a product link to an abandoned cart email on Brevo (ex Sendinblue)

To more learn about using placeholders, read our detailed guide on using dynamic lists in the Brevo (ex Sendinblue) drag and drop editor.

Step 5: Set up your abandoned cart workflow

With Brevo (ex Sendinblue) it’s easy to send abandoned cart emails automatically using our ready-made workflow. Simply go to the ‘Automation’ app, click ‘Create new workflow’ and select the abandoned cart option.

abandoned cart automated flow in Brevo (ex Sendinblue)

By default, the Abandoned Cart workflow will:

  • Trigger once a new shopping cart is created
  • Send a follow-up email to the shopper
  • Recognize when the shopping cart items are purchased or removed (stops workflow)
  • Recognize when the shopping cart is updated (restarts workflow)

To create your abandoned cart workflow you will be taken through six steps.

You will be prompted to confirm or update the name of each of the three unique events – cart updated, order completed, and cart deleted. Their default names are automatically populated, but you may modify them if needed.

Screenshot of an abandoned cart event in Brevo (ex Sendinblue)

The workflow automatically sets the delay as 2 hours after cart creation, however this can be customized.

Next, select the email template to be sent to the customer. Brevo (ex Sendinblue) automatically generates a default template, however you can select a template you have previously created.

To ensure accurate personalization, select the following options: 

  • Use my event data to customize the email
  • Data from the last received event 

Screenshot of selecting the abandoned cart email template in Brevo (ex Sendinblue)

You can add additional steps to your workflow, such as further emails, by clicking the plus sign (+).

Step 6: Activate your workflow

Once you’re happy with your workflow, simply click the ‘Activate the workflow’ button and watch your sales increase!

Get started with abandoned cart emails

Abandoned cart emails are a crucial opportunity to drive more conversions, whilst also building stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty. 

So what are you waiting for? Give abandoned cart emails a try with Brevo (ex Sendinblue).

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