CASE STUDY: Increase Your Abandoned Cart Email Conversions by 175%

Howtoimproveabandonedcartemails (3)

Did you know that changing just 3 words in your subject line could increase your email marketing conversion rate by 175%? 

Sometimes the answer to all your email marketing woes is hiding right under your nose. Small changes can amount to big returns and we proved that recently while working with a high-profile Australian retailer.

A magician never shares his/her tricks. Below is a rundown of the strategy but we’re not going to give too much away! Need to know more? To celebrate our new partnership with leading retail management system, Neto, we are inviting you to join our free webinar How to Create Emails that Actually Convert.

There are multiple days/times available and if you sign-up now you will receive a copy of our 10 Ways to Grow Your Email List Checklist

Step 1: Gap-Analysis

The very first thing we do with any client, regardless of what aspect of their digital marketing strategy we are focusing on is provide a gap analysis. Two questions, Where are you now? Where do you want/need to get to?

The gap between your present results and those you strive to achieve is what we will get to work on. The retailer communicated with us that they wanted to get started on improving the conversion rate and generated revenue from their transactional emails.

Step 2: Quick-Wins 

When working on improving any aspect of your digital marketing strategy there are always quick wins that you can implement straight away. Quick wins are the tiny changes that often have a big impact (as aforementioned) and for the retailer, a subject-line makeover on their abandon cart emails was the most obvious place to start our optimisation testing.

Step 3: The Analysis

Yes, it would be easier for one of our expert Milkies to just write a few new subject lines and run with that. But we’re not an agency so that’s not how we work! This is where the constructive criticism comes into play. What have you done in the past? And how was that worked for you in terms of click-through and conversions?

For example, for some businesses, a very in-your-face ‘MASSIVE SALE 50% off’ sort of subject line will work every time. For others, something totally not sales related will see greater revenue uplift. We like to look at what you have already tried to get the best feel for what your audience is engaging with.

At the time the retailer was using the generic “You’ve left something in your cart”.  A very straight to the point subject line that was only seeing a 4% open rate.

Step 4: Re-work

Now that we are all on the same page it’s time to start working on new subject lines. The best way to re-work a subject line is to pick one set of variants, eg. short vs. long and write several possible subject lines. As we could already see straight to the point, wasn’t working we decided to test the opposite.

We brainstormed and wanted to test personalisation and something out of the ordinary to avoid it being overlooked like any other stock-standard abandoned cart email. 

  • Hey (First Name), Please Don’t Leave Me! 
  • Your Shopping Cart Has Abandonment Issues 
  • Going, Going, Gone! Quick Come Back to Your Cart

Step 5: Test 

This step is pretty self-explanatory but I want to draw attention to the two mistakes retailers too often make.

Let’s start with the first mistake. How long should you test for? OR How many emails do I need to send out before I’m sure I received accurate and actionable results? This is a hard one! As it depends on how many emails you send out already (something that could also need working on) and also the types of campaigns you have planned (also could need working on).

To get results that you can actually rely on, you need to test the same variation at least a few times (the longer you test for the more valid your answers will be). If you usually send out say three emails a week you should test a variation (ex. Short vs. long) across all emails but it is also important to test multiple times on the same type of campaign for example sales emails as your audience may already be more inclined to open these emails.

After just one week of testing, we already saw a 50% increase in conversion so we knew we were on the right track. Was it long enough to gather real, statistically significant results? Definitely not! We continued to test these variants over 4 weeks. 

The second mistake is to go in with too much, too soon. You’ve just learned all these cool new techniques to write subject lines and you want to try them all at once. I like to explain testing subject lines like learning gymnastics. No rookie gymnast would walk into a gym and attempt a Simone Biles worthy floor routine straight out. You start by perfecting the somersault and then you add in a twirl and so on. Same with subject line testing. You need to test one subject line variation over and over until you’re sure the results you have received are valid. Then you can add in a combo example the winner of long vs. short/question mark vs. no question mark. You rule out one variation and then move on to the next set of variants. Easy, Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy!

Same with subject line testing. You need to test one subject line variation over and over until you’re sure the results you have received are valid. Then you can add in a combo example the winner of long vs. short/question mark vs. no question mark. You rule out one variation and then move on to the next set of variants. Easy, Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy!

Now that the retailer knows that funny subject lines work better than stock-standard they can start testing variants like emoji vs. no emoji and so forth. 

Expert tip: Once you have refined your ideas down further it’s important to start using A/B testing to measure the effect of really small changes such as switching out just one word.

6: Results

This is our favourite stage! Bad results aren’t always bad, they are actually productive as they allow you to rule out what isn’t working. We love to see that lightbulb moment when I client realises just how easy it is for them to have a positive impact on their email marketing strategy, with what is honestly, a small and easy change (it just takes a bit of thought).

Our new Milkies saw amazing results from the changes we implemented. After 4 weeks of testing the three subjects lines, they saw a 175% increase in the conversion of their abandon cart emails.


Ready to gain some serious traction with your email marketing? We only have 21 spots left for new retailers to join our sophomore program for 2018 (and they are filling fast!). Whether your team needs training in email marketing, content marketing, social media, paid advertising, marketing automation, conversion rate optimisation or analytics we are committed to getting you results. Check out our blog on the 7 Key Areas of Marketing Expertise or click on the image below to learn more about our Sophomore program for marketing teams.

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