How to Send Perfectly Timed Abandoned Cart Emails in WooCommerce

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If you're running a WooCommerce store and you're not sending out abandoned cart emails, you're leaving money on the table.

Money on the table
Money on the table

Our guide on how to send perfectly timed abandoned cart emails in WooCommerce will teach you how to set up an abandoned cart email sequence and, more importantly, when to send follow-up emails to your potential customers.

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You'll discover why every online shop should be emailing potential customers who abandon their purchases, and you'll also learn about other ways to help you reduce cart abandonment and increase your ecommerce conversion rate.

If you're running a WooCommerce store and you're not sending out abandoned cart emails, you're leaving money on the table.

Every day you don't have an abandoned cart email sequence set up is another day of lost sales revenue, so let's get started.

See also: The Ultimate Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) Checklist

What is an abandoned cart email?

Put simply, an abandoned cart email is an email that's sent to visitors who have added products to their shopping cart but failed to complete their purchase. The email acts as a friendly reminder to potential customers that their products are waiting for them in their cart, and is usually part of a targeted email sequence.

Why do you need to send abandoned cart emails?

An experiment by CXL revealed that 32% of ecommerce businesses didn't send any cart abandonment emails. And when you consider that almost 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned (according to Baymard Institiute), that's a truly staggering statistic.

Even more shocking is the fact that ecommerce brands lose $18 billion each year through cart abandonment, according to Drip.

Young woman with shocked expression
Young woman with shocked expression

So why should you bother sending abandoned cart emails? It's simple. Abandoned cart emails are a remarkably effective customer retention tactic and are proven to reduce cart abandonment and generate additional revenue.

Research published by Moosend (via Oberlo) suggests that 45% of abandoned cart emails are opened. The purchase links in 21% of opened emails are clicked on, and 50% of users who clicked on those purchase links ended up buying a product.

Ecommerce brands lose $18 billion each year through cart abandonment

If you're not sending emails to website visitors who visit your checkout page and leave before completing their order, you're almost certainly losing out on potential revenue.

How to send abandoned cart emails in WooCommerce

WordPress is the world's most popular content management system and powers over a quarter of all websites. WooCommerce – by far the most popular ecommerce plugin for WordPress – is equally ubiquitous, powering 26% of all ecommerce websites, according to BuiltWith.

That puts WooCommerce ahead of Shopify (20%), Magento (8%), OpenCart (5%) and all other major ecommerce solutions.

Despite its popularity, WooCommerce lacks many built-in features – abandoned cart emails being one of them. So how do you create abandoned cart emails in WooCommerce?

Say hello to the WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery plugin. Trusted by over 300,000 ecommerce websites and regularly updated with new features and improvements, it's easy to see why WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery is the most popular WooCommerce plugin for sending abandoned cart emails.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery

Best of all, the plugin is completely free! That's right: it won't cost you a penny to send abandoned cart emails with WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery.

Installing WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery

To install the WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery plugin, follow the simple step-by-step instructions below. It goes without saying that you'll need to have WooCommerce installed first!

1. Access your WordPress admin dashboard and head to Plugins > Add New.

Add New Plugins page
'Add New Plugins' page

2. In the search box, type "WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery" and hit enter.

Search for WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery
Search for 'WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery'

3. Find the cart abandonment plugin by CartFlows (it should be the first search result) and click "Install".

Install WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery
Install WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery

4. Click "Activate" to start using the plugin.

Activate WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery
Activate WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery

Configuring WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery

Once the plugin has been installed and activated, visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandonment and click on the "Settings" tab to access the plugin configuration screen.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery settings
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery settings

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery was designed to be as simple and easy-to-use as possible, so there’s only a handful of settings that need to be configured before you can start sending out abandoned cart emails.

Essential configuration options

  • Enable tracking: Check the box in order to start tracking your website visitors.
  • Cart abandoned cut-off time: Specify a duration (in minutes) after which a cart is considered abandoned.
  • Exclude email sending for: Select the order statuses that should not trigger abandoned cart emails.
  • Email settings: Enter the name of your website, the email address that you'll use to send emails and the email address that users can reply to.

Optional configuration options

  • Disable tracking for: Select the user roles that should not receive abandoned cart emails.
  • Notify recovery to admin: Enable/Disable admin notifications for recovered carts.
  • UTM parameters: Specify UTM parameters that should be added to links in abandoned cart emails.
  • Delete coupons automatically: Choose whether expired or used coupons should be deleted automatically or manually.
  • Send recovery report emails: Enable/Disable admin recovery report emails.
  • Enable webhook: Check the box in order to send data to your CRM or email marketing platform.
  • Enable GDPR integration: Check the box in order to comply with GDPR (more on that later).

It doesn't get any quicker or easier than that. In under five minutes, your WooCommerce store can be ready to send out abandoned cart emails and start generating additional revenue – for free.

Ron Burgundy: Say whaaat?!
Ron Burgundy: Say whaaat?!

In a future blog post I'll explore the configuration options for WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery in more detail, but the default values should be enough for most shops to start sending abandoned cart emails.

However, in order to maximise your revenue you'll need to ensure that your abandoned cart emails convey the right message at the right time.

In under five minutes, your WooCommerce store can be ready to send out abandoned cart emails and start generating additional revenue.

Let's show you how to set up perfectly timed abandoned cart emails that compel potential customers to take action.

GDPR compliance

While obtaining a visitor's email address is important, it's not as important as respecting their privacy. If your potential customers are located in a country protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – and there's every likelihood that they are – then you need to make it clear why you're asking for their contact details.

Putting data protection at the centre of digital business strategies is the key to improving trust and digital growth.

Steve Woods – Deputy Commissioner (ICO)

Thankfully, the WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery plugin has got you covered.

Ben Giroux: Phew!
Ben Giroux: Phew!

Simply visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandonment, click the "Settings" tab and check "Enable GDPR Integration". This will display a message on the checkout page requesting permission from the user before tracking data and sending abandoned cart emails.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery GDPR integration
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery GDPR integration

Of course, enabling the GDPR integration is likely to result in fewer abandoned cart emails being sent – and therefore fewer shopping carts being recovered – but it will mean that you're fully compliant with GDPR.

Email 1: Sent one hour after cart abandonment

For an abandoned cart email to succeed in persuading people to follow through with their purchase, timing is everything.

In order to maximise your revenue you'll need to ensure that your abandoned cart emails convey the right message at the right time.

Your first email should be sent within an hour of cart abandonment – ideally before the visitor has left their computer or put down their mobile device.

This is why it's so important to request the user's email address as soon as possible. If you don't have their email address, you won't be able to send them abandoned cart emails.

That makes sense, actually!
That makes sense, actually!

Elastic Path saw that emails sent within 60 minutes of cart abandonment resulted in a 4.5–5.2% increase in conversions. The conversion rate drops significantly after the first 24 hours, which highlights the importance of the first email in the sequence.

The most important thing to remember when creating the first message in your abandoned cart email sequence is that it should aim to help the visitor, not sell to them.

Girl helping boy to stand up
Girl helping boy to stand up

That may seem like an odd thing to say when the main objective of abandoned cart emails is to encourage people to complete their purchases, but an overly pushy, sales-oriented opening email is likely to alienate your potential customers and create negative associations with your brand.

Think about it: You've already risked irritating your potential customers by contacting them within an hour of leaving your site, and if your first follow-up email is focused purely on persuading them to purchase your products, they're likely to do the exact opposite.

Your first email should be sent within an hour of cart abandonment.

Because of this, the main objective of your first email is to try to establish why the visitor didn't complete their purchase. Perhaps they experienced technical difficulties? Was the ordering process taking too long? Was their payment declined? Were they able to locate your delivery information?

Research by the Baymard Institute into the reasons for cart abandonment found that additional costs, the lack of a guest checkout option and a complicated checkout process were the primary reasons for cart abandonment.

It's the job of your first abandoned cart email to identify the cause of lost revenue on your site.

The first communication provides the perfect opportunity to collect feedback and present alternatives and solutions. The responses you receive will help you improve your website, refine your ordering process and, ultimately, convert more visitors into customers.

Amazing things will happen when you listen to the consumer.

Jonathan Mildenhall – CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand

Configure Email Template 1

1. Visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandonment, click on the "Follow-Up Emails" tab and edit the first email in the sequence.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 1
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 1

2. In the template editing screen, toggle the "Activate Template now?" option to activate the abandoned cart email template.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 1 activation
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 1 activation

3. Then scroll down to the "Send This Email" field, set the email to be sent one hour after cart abandonment and click "Update Changes".

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 1 schedule
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 1 schedule

The first email in your abandoned cart email sequence will now be sent exactly one hour after a visitor abandons their purchase. Of course, you can (and should) tweak the email subject and body content to suit the needs of your business.

Need more sales and conversions?
Enquire about our CRO services today!

Email 2: Sent 24 hours after cart abandonment

After you've sent the first email (within an hour of the visitor abandoning their shopping cart), let the dust settle before sending any more emails. The last thing you want to do is irritate your potential customers, so it's a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before contacting them again.

Where the first email in your abandoned cart email sequence was designed to help the visitor complete their purchase, the second email should create a sense of urgency and encourage them to take action "before it’s too late".

Let your visitors know that their shopping carts will soon expire, that product availability isn't guaranteed if they wait much longer and that any special discounts are likely to expire if they don't take immediate action.

People panic buying toilet rolls
People panic buying toilet rolls

In other words, your second cart abandonment email should use an element of fear to persuade your potential customers to complete their purchases as quickly as possible.

Fear is the most basic emotion we have. Fear is primal. Fear sells.

Max Brooks – Actor and author
Frightened woman
Frightened woman

In order to use fear to drive somebody to take action, you need to convince them that the following statements are applicable to them and their situation:

  • You are likely to be affected;
  • When it affects you, it will be painfull; and
  • You have the ability to avoid this pain.

Fear-based selling is aligned with loss aversion – a psychological principle whereby people are more motivated by the fear of losing something than they are by gaining something – and can be an extremely powerful sales tactic when employed correctly.

The second email should create a sense of urgency and encourage your potential customers to take action "before it’s too late".

However, it's very difficult to manufacture a fear that doesn't exist. The right way to employ fear as a sales tactic is to highlight a genuine fear that exists, empathise with that fear and then remove that threat with your solution.

If your product is desirable and its availability or discount are genuinely limited, then using the second email in your WooCommerce cart abandonment email sequence to make people aware of the limited nature of your offer can lead to a surge in cart recovery.

Buy! Buy! Buy!
Buy! Buy! Buy!

To set your second abandoned cart email to be sent 24 hours after the visitor abandons their purchase, you'll need to follow the same basic process as before.

Configure Email Template 2

1. Visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandonment, click on the "Follow-Up Emails" tab and edit the second email in the sequence.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 2
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 2

2. In the template editing screen, toggle the "Activate Template now?" option to activate the abandoned cart email template.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 2 activation
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 2 activation

3. Then scroll down to the "Send this email" field, set the email to be sent 24 hours after cart abandonment and click "Update Changes".

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 2 schedule
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 2 schedule

The second email in your abandoned cart email sequence will now be sent 24 hours after cart abandonment (and 23 hours after the first email).

Email 3: Sent 72 hours after cart abandonment

The third and final email in your WooCommerce cart recovery strategy should incentivise your potential customers to complete their purchase.

Some people suggest stopping at the second email and avoid sending a third cart abandonment email altogether. After all, if you send too many emails then people are likely to mark them as spam, which will impact future deliverability.

Spam
Spam

However, research by Klayvio into abandoned cart email benchmarks indicates that the third email sent in a cart abandonment campaign tends to generate the most revenue.

If you do send a third cart abandonment follow-up email, there are two important things to consider:

  • It needs to be sent at least 48 hours after the second communication; and
  • It needs to offer your potential customers a worthwhile incentive for completing their purchase.

The third email in your cart recovery strategy should incentivise your potential customers to complete their purchase.

The basic process for configuring the third abandoned cart is the same as before. But where the third email in the sequence differs is that you'll need to insert a discount coupon into the email template in order to encourage people to follow-through with their purchase.

Configure Email Template 3

1. Visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandoment, click on the "Follow-Up Emails" tab and edit the third email in the sequence.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3

2. In the template editing screen, toggle the "Activate Template now?" option to activate the abandoned cart email template.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 activation
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 activation

3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and check the "Create Coupon" field.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon creation
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon creation

4. Choose the type of discount that you wish to apply (percentage or fixed amount) in the "Discount Type" field.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon discount type
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon discount type

5. Enter the value of the discount in the "Coupon Amount" field.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon amount
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon amount

6. Scroll down to the "Coupon expiry date" section and specify how long the coupon should be valid for. If you don't want the coupon to expire, simply enter "0" in the field.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon expiry date
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 coupon expiry date

7. Optionally, you can also apply free shipping to a coupon, prevent the coupon from being used in conjunction with other coupons and apply the coupon automatically at checkout.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 optional coupon settings
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 optional coupon settings

8. Then scroll down to the "Send This Email" field, set the email to be sent three days after cart abandonment and click "Update Changes".

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 schedule
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery – Email 3 schedule

The third email in your abandoned cart email sequence will now be sent three days after cart abandonment and will include a discount coupon in a last-ditch bid to persuade people to complete their purchase.

An incentive is a bullet, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.

Steven Levitt – Economist and author

If you do decide to include a limited-time discount coupon in the third follow-up email, it's a good idea to emphasise that it's a one-off special discount that will soon expire. You don't want your more savvy customers holding out for an offer every time they receive an email.

As you can imagine, being able to insert a dynamic discount coupon into an abandoned cart email is an extremely effective way to increase your conversion rate. And with the WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery plugin installed on your WordPress site, anyone can set it up in seconds.

Abandoned cart email templates

You now know how effective abandoned cart emails can be and when to send them, but what do you say in them? How do you write follow-up emails that drive conversions rather than irritate potential customers?

Not everyone knows how to frame follow-up emails, and that’s why the WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery WordPress plugin includes three high-performance cart abandonment email templates out of the box!

Of course, each email template can be tweaked to suit the needs of your WooCommerce store. Simply click on an email template and edit the subject line and email body content as required.

When tweaking the email content, you'll notice several snippets of text enclosed in curly braces, such as {{customer.firstname}} and {{cart.unsubscribe}}. These are dynamic placeholders that will be automatically replaced with the customer's first name and an unsubscribe link when the email is sent.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery dynamic content
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery dynamic content

If you need to send more than three emails, or the included email templates aren't quite right, check out HubSpot's free abandoned cart email templates.

Don't forget to test your abandoned cart emails

According to Email Tool Tester, 15.8% of all emails go missing or get flagged as spam. That's a lot of potential revenue left on the table.

It's no surprise, then, that testing your abandoned cart emails can lead to a higher return on investment (ROI). A study carried out by Litmus found that spam testing your emails – along with A/B testing – can increase your ROI by up to 28%!

Thankfully, WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery includes a handy little feature to help you quickly and easily test the deliverability of your abandoned cart emails.

According to Email Tool Tester, 15.8% of all emails go missing or get flagged as spam.

To ensure that your emails are being delivered, perform the following actions:

1. Visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandonment and edit one of the emails in your abandoned cart email sequence.

2. Scroll down to the "Send Test Email To" field and enter your email address.

3. Check your inbox to ensure that the test email has been delivered.

That's all there is to it! Now you can send your abandoned cart emails safe in the knowledge that they're reaching your potential customers.

Measure the performance of your abandoned cart emails

If you can't measure it you can't manage it, and the same goes for abandoned cart emails. If you don't know how many conversions are driven by your abandoned cart emails or how much revenue you lose through cart abandonment, how do you know what to improve?

One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.

Grace Hooper – Computer scientist

The developers of WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery know how important it is to monitor the performance of every aspect of your WooCommerce store, which is why they've added a powerful and intuitive reporting dashboard to the plugin.

To view the performance of your abandoned cart email campaign, visit WooCommerce > Cart Abandonment and click on the "Report" tab.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery Report tab
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery 'Report' tab

You can view the abandoned cart email reports for "Today", "Yesterday", "Last Week" and "Last Month" by clicking on the corresponding filters at the top of the reporting dashboard. You can also manually select a date range to get a complete picture of your abandoned cart email strategy for any period of time.

WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery report filters
WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery report filters

The WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery plugin automatically tracks the following key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Recoverable orders – the number of people who visited your checkout form and didn't complete their order;
  • Recovered orders – the number of people who returned to complete their purchase;
  • Lost orders – the number of orders that have been lost through cart abandonment;
  • Recoverable revenue – the amount of revenue that could be generated through cart recovery;
  • Recovered revenue – the amount of revenue generated through cart recovery; and
  • Recovery rate – the conversion rate of your abandoned cart email campaign.

In addition to the above KPIs, the reporting dashboard also displays a list of all recoverable, recovered and lost orders, so you'll be able to view the current status of every abandoned purchase.

The intuitive and easy-to-use reporting dashboard provides you with all the information you need to make informed decisions about your abandoned cart emails. And best of all, everything is recorded automatically and requires no input from you.

Your tips for reducing cart abandonment

Using WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery to send emails to people who abandon their purchase is one of the best ways to reduce cart abandonment. But it's not the only way.

Like any good digital marketing strategy, a cart abandonment email sequence should be used in conjunction with other conversion rate optimisation techniques such as checkout optimisation, website speed optimisation and upfront product pricing.

Offering a guest checkout option, using website personalisation and providing multiple payment options can also help to reduce friction and increase the percentage of website visitors who follow through with their purchase.

Now it's your turn. What methods do you use to reduce cart abandonment on your WooCommerce website?

Does your shop have a sticky cart that's always visible as people browse your products? Do you use the default WooCommerce checkout page, or do you use a plugin like CartFlows to optimise the checkout experience? Perhaps you offer free shipping or some other type of pricing incentive?

Let us know in the comments below how you improve the conversion rate of your WooCommerce store. We're excited to learn how you're growing your ecommerce business!

Need more sales and conversions?
Enquire about our CRO services today!
Rob Carter
Rob Carter

Rob Carter is a digital marketing expert with a genuine passion for helping businesses thrive online. Rob has been building websites and crafting marketing campaigns for over 20 years, and his creativity and analytical ability are highly sought after by businesses and non-profits around the world.

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