How Recovery Email Works

A few weeks ago, I received the email below. It included an offer for a product I was considering and had actually placed in my shopping cart. However, I had not completed my purchase up to this point.

Recovery Email Example

How did AutoAnything know enough about me and my interest in the INNO brand wind fairing to send me this highly targeted and personalized message? Read below to learn more about how recovery emails (also known as cart abandonment emails) work.

Cart Abandonment Emails Explained

In simplest terms, the recovery email process looks like this:

Email Recovery Process

Hopefully, there is a fifth step here that includes the customer completing the sale.

Magical Script

To make all this happen, most cart abandonment platforms will require at least one piece of script to be placed on the website and or shopping cart. This script is just a special code that completes a few important “behind the scenes” steps in the process above:

  1. Records individual’s email address information. This action can only be done subsequent to sign-in or registering.
  2. Records product(s) in cart. Typically, every product has an ID number or SKU. This data is recorded by the script as well.
  3. Monitors transaction success. This is the most crucial piece of information as it determines whether a “please come back” email will be triggered. If a sale never occurs and the cart remains full, an email or a series of emails is set in motion. In the case of successful sales, the email is never delivered.


The Email Follow-Up

In addition to providing a script to capture cart information and initiate a trigger, many cart abandonment platforms will allow you to design a nurture series of email messages to win back the shopper. This run of messages is either created within the cart abandonment platform, or in some cases, the platform can integrate with an email service provider to deliver customized recovery pleas.

This list of recovery email campaign tips provides recommendations on recency and frequency of recovery email messages as well as whether a discount should be included with every message.

A More Detailed Explanation

For those with a craving for a more technical description of the email recovery process, take a look at the table below in which site visitor actions are mirrored with backend processes. Please note that this is just a sample schematic, and your program may require a slightly different approach.

Visit Site N/A
Register or Login Initiate or Activate User Record
Cart Update Update Product Interest or Cart Data Field for User Record
Leave Site* Trigger Message Series (Check Against Conversion Tracking)
Receive Message 1 (30 minutes out) Deliver Message 1 (Check Against Conversion Tracking)
Receive Message 2 (24 Hours Out) Deliver Message 2 (Check Against Conversion Tracking)
Receive Message 3 (72 Hours Out) Deliver Message 3 (Check Against Conversion Tracking)

*In some cases, the act of leaving the site/cart does not initiate the trigger. If the sale confirmation is not present after X minutes subsequent to adding an item to the cart, the nurture series trigger is pulled.

Why Cart Abandonment Emails Matter

The act of bailing on a perfectly good shopping cart is not a behavior unique to me. According to a recent roll-up of studies, nearly 70% of shopping carts are left behind.

There are multiple reasons why someone would leave a cart including:

“I was just browsing.”
“I was presented with a shipping or other extraneous cost I hadn’t anticipated.”
“I had multiple sites up simultaneously and found a better price elsewhere.”

Regardless of the motivation to move on, recovery emails, along with retargeting ads or immediate offers made prior to departure, can win back previously apathetic buyers.

Cart Abandonment Technology Providers

Consider this list of platforms when creating and deploying a recovery email program.

Cloud IQ

Some things to consider when selecting a platform:

  • Can it integrate with your existing shopping cart?
  • What is the process to implement and troubleshoot our magical tracking script that makes all this possible?
  • Can email messages be easily customized, personalized, modified, scheduled and tested?
  • Will it integrate with your existing email service provider (ESP)?
  • What kind of analytics and metrics does it provide?
  • Are there other special features provided by the platform that are both needed and cost effective (e.g. similar product match recommendations, customer surveys, checkout process diagnostics, etc.)
  • Given the cost, what percentage of cart abandonment emails need to convert to make this a worthwhile investment?
  • What is the process to get support (i.e. access to FAQ vs. the ability to talk to a real person)?

Just in case you were wondering, I did end up buying the wind fairing, and driving is a much more peaceful and much less noisy experience now.

Good luck improving your shoppers’ experience as well as your conversion rates with recovery email.

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