There's almost nothing more frustrating for an ecommerce business than seeing how many shoppers abandon their online carts: adding items and then leaving your ecommerce site without making a purchase. If you've experienced this frustration, you're not alone: according to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate for ecommerce sites is around 70 percent. Yikes.

But just because shopping cart abandonment is common doesn't mean you have to accept it. You should calculate your own shopping cart abandonment rate, and then use this metric as a prime opportunity for conversion rate optimization. That's because stores with effective abandoned shopping cart strategies can increase their conversion rate (the number of online shoppers who go on to complete a purchase) by more than 35 percent. If cart abandonments represent lost sales, then increasing your shopping cart conversion rate could add up to hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars more in profits.

Why does shopping cart abandonment happen?

There are a number of reasons for cart abandonment, all of which you can address while optimizing your cart abandonment rate. Some customers like to compare prices, and will leave your site to look at similar items at competitors' online stores. Some don't like to pay shipping costs, and may abandon their carts to find a store that will offer free shipping. Some shoppers don't want to set up an account or have to log into your site, and will leave your checkout page when they discover there's no guest checkout option. Many customers don't have patience for a complicated checkout process, where there are too many steps, fields to fill out, or redirects to different pages. And many customers might be concerned about payment options and payment security in your checkout process; if they don't see the payment methods they prefer, they won't complete their purchase.

It's important to remember that when a customer abandons their cart, it doesn't mean you've lost them forever as a shopper. Every abandoned cart represents an opportunity to learn more about what motivates your customers and how you can effectively encourage them to return and complete your checkout process.

What's the best channel for reducing shopping cart abandonment?

Email has traditionally been the go-to channel for B2C communications. With an email address you can notify customers about new products, share coupon codes and sales, confirm a purchase, and of course, remind customers about the items they left behind in their cart. But as an increasing number of people shop online directly from their phones (according to Statista, mobile ecommerce now represents more than two-thirds of all ecommerce traffic), and given that many of these shoppers may not read their emails frequently (we're looking at you, Gen Z and Millennial consumers), you're going to need another approach if you really want to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Enter text message marketing. 

A text message is in some ways the ideal channel to remind customers about shopping cart abandonment. Here's why.

It's reliable. Gartner reports that text message open rates average 98 percent, whereas for email the average is just 20 percent
It's responsive. Campaign Monitor reports that most text messages are read within 90 seconds
It's preferred. In one survey, 75 percent of consumers said they’d be pleased to receive an offer via text, and more than half of Gen Z and Millennial consumers say they'd be willing to share their phone number with a brand in order to receive marketing messages

8 effective text message strategies for reducing shopping cart abandonment

Now that we've established why texting can be an effective strategy for conversion optimization — turning potential customers into successful transactions and increasing revenue at your ecommerce site — let's take a look at how you can use text message marketing for abandoned cart recovery.

1. Build your subscriber list

The first step in any effective text marketing campaign is to encourage your site's visitors to opt into receiving text messages from you. This has a number of benefits for both you and  your shoppers:

  • You expand your list of subscribers, which means a broader network of potential customers with whom you can build relationships

  • Shoppers share their phone numbers with you in a way that's voluntary and compliant

  • Collecting first-party data helps you develop a fuller picture of your target customer

  • You can meet visitors wherever they are with two-way conversations, important notifications, timely offers, and even customer support

For example, Emotive offers easy ways to build your subscriber list, including website pop-ups that can capture both an email address and a phone number. 

Every time you add a new subscriber to your text message marketing list you should also remind them that they can opt out at any time. By being open and transparent in how you collect and use subscribers' information, you're establishing a trustworthy reputation for your brand and setting expectations about how you'll communicate with your shoppers.

2. Automate two-way experiences

Shopping cart abandonment is the ideal scenario for marketing automation. You can easily set up automatic cart abandonment reminders via text message, using departure from your store as a trigger. In this way, every time you detect a customer abandoning their cart, you can automatically follow up and encourage them to return to the checkout page.

One standard practice for managing cart abandonment is to automate a sequence of messages (as an example, Emotive does this with "Experiences.") Automating experiences is a powerful way to enhance your digital marketing, as it can improve a number of important conversion rates with very little effort on your part. For example, starting at the very beginning of the customer journey you can automate welcome messages when shoppers subscribe; automate cross-selling notifications to let customers know about relevant products; send purchase confirmations and shipping notifications after a transaction; and post-purchase, send a user-generated content request for the customer to share a photo of themselves with your product.

Research has shown that three is the magic number with cart abandonment messages, resulting in a conversion rate of over 32 percent, but each of your messages should be slightly different. The first should be a simple reminder: “Did you forget something?” The second should apply some urgency: "Only four left — get yours now!" And with the third, you might offer incentives, such as exclusive deals or free shipping: "Use this coupon code for ____."

3. Get your timing right

When it comes to shopping cart abandonment, timing is everything. In one recent study from Barilliance, sending a message to shopping cart abandoners within an hour after the cart abandonment occurs can help you recover at least 20 percent of your potential sales. One reason text messaging can be so successful in this case is that the vast majority of text messages are viewed within seconds.

Per the advice above to send a trio of reminders, here's the best practice for timing cart abandonment messages:

  • First message: <1 hour

  • Second message: 12 hours

  • Third message: 24 hours

You want to make sure you re-engage while the abandoned items are still fresh in the customer's mind. The longer you wait to follow up, the more likely they are to forget or ignore you. 

4. Use effective words

Copywriting is essential in improving your open rates for cart abandonment messages, whether by text, email, push notification, or exit intent overlay. We live in a world with way too much information to reasonably absorb, and not nearly enough time and attention to absorb it. Add competition between ecommerce brands to that mix and it's imperative that your words be compelling and efficient.

Here are some best practices for writing messages with a high conversion rate:

  • Keep it short, clear, and concise

  • Don’t make it complicated

  • Use power words

  • Add numbers

  • Conduct A/B testing

  • Experiment with emojis

  • Don’t write like a robot

 It turns out that a few words can do a lot of work. Currently, best practices are to keep your length at around 160 characters per text message. Make sure you’re testing your messages to see which ones perform best, so you can apply that knowledge going forward and keep improving your conversion rates. Wish you had some simple text message templates for recovering abandoned carts? Keep reading…

5. Offer incentives

When a shopper needs that last push to return to your checkout page and complete their purchase, a discount code can go a long way. With ecommerce as competitive as it is and most shoppers sensitive to price, offering an incentive sends the message that you want to make their purchase experience more pleasant. You might offer a coupon for 10 percent off, offer to reduce or waive shipping costs, or present a discount for purchasing multiple items at once. Incentives like these show that you're paying attention to the shopper and that you care about their business. And as with any abandoned cart message, you can automate incentive offers to go out based on experience triggers.

6. Showcase the abandoned item

Copywriting may be important, but images say a thousand words. Make sure you include a photo of the item(s) a shopper left behind in their abandoned cart: this will help remind them why they were originally interested in the item and re-ignite the desire for it. You can do this easily when you're using a text message marketing platform that allows both SMS and MMS. With a two-way, conversational texting platform, shoppers can respond to your text reminders with questions about size, color, or inventory and you can respond to or filter their inquiry appropriately.

7. Use personalization

You can overcome fears and doubts about text marketing being "spammy" by providing customers with a personalized experience. All along the customer journey, from the moment they land at your site until after they've made a purchase, you have an opportunity to learn about your customers' preferences, demographics, and behavior. By deploying that data in your marketing you'll not only increase conversion rates but create more loyal, satisfied customers.

Personalizing your text marketing means asking shoppers to give you their valuable, personal information, like a name and phone number. But other information you can gather from existing sources, such as their behavior at your site. Once you have a bit of a picture of each shopper, you can segment them into different audiences. For example, shoppers who all bought a particular camera might be interested in relevant accessories, like cases and straps. Shoppers who live in a part of the country that just got a snowstorm might appreciate a discount on your hot chocolate mixes.

8. Follow up on multiple channels

Customers now expect to be marketed to across multiple screens and channels, and at the heart of all these channels is their mobile device. They want the opportunity to make a purchase where they are, when it's most convenient or the mood strikes them. That might be while they're scrolling Facebook or Instagram, on a mobile app, browsing the web, or responding to text messages. You need to ensure your abandoned cart flows are meeting them in all the places they show up. Text message marketing is powerful, but you can amplify its effectiveness by combining it with other strategies and communications.

The key is to not be repetitive: don't use the exact same message across every channel, which can feel pushy, generic, or spammy. Instead, customize your message to the channel. In your text messages, you'll want to keep things short and sweet and focus on urgency. On Instagram, for example, you might use targeted ads to remind shoppers which items they were browsing at your site. Via email, you could include multiple product photos if a shopper abandoned multiple items in their cart.

Templates to Recover Your Abandoned Carts

So, how can you start implementing some of these strategies? When it comes to writing cart abandonment text messages, it’s not always as easy as it looks. You’re trying to inspire your customers to complete a purchase using just a few words. You need to be careful you’re not pushing them too hard. In addition, your texts should capture your brand voice and sound like they’re coming from a real human. If you’ve got that down, you’ll be saving those abandoned carts in no time.

To help you get started recovering your abandoned carts, try out these simple text message templates.

  • BRAND NAME: Hi [customer first name], it looks like you forgot something! Your cart is waiting for you. Use code [CODE NAME] to get 10% off your order. [LINK TO CART] Reply STOP to opt out.

  • BRAND NAME: Hi [customer first name]! Forgot something? That’s okay, we saved it for you! Did we mention you get free shipping? Don’t miss out: [LINK TO CART] Reply STOP to opt out. 

  • Hey [customer first name], it’s BRAND NAME. We noticed you didn’t complete your order. Come back! Use [CODE NAME] to get [XX%] off. [LINK TO CART] Reply STOP to opt out. 

  • Hey [customer first name], you left a few items in your cart. There’s only XX left, so don’t wait until it’s too late! Get it before it's gone: [LINK TO CART]. Reply STOP to opt out. 

You can use these as a starting point and customize them, or perhaps they'll inspire you to create your own. Once you’ve got a number of templates ready to go, don’t be afraid to experiment so you can discover which ones work best.  After all, marketing isn’t about guessing—it’s about testing, learning, and growing. Data helps you make the right decisions for your business.

Recover your abandoned carts and lost sales with text marketing

Abandoned carts can feel like a sign your business is failing: but with the right strategy and conversion optimization tactics in place, you can reduce cart abandonment and make back those losses. Text message marketing is one of the most effective tools for re-engaging shoppers and successfully ushering them through the checkout process. 

Emotive helps ecommerce merchants every step of the way and our experienced shopping assistants can help you plan out your strategy, set up automated experiences, and write winning text messages.

Sign up for a demo today.