Retarget abandoned carts using Klaviyo

What is an abandoned cart? When a shopper visits your store, chooses a product, adds it to the cart … but does not continue to checkout, that’s called an abandoned cart. On Shopify stores, around 6% of visitors add to cart and 2% of all visitors complete the purchase – so two-thirds of visitors abandon their cart.

What is an abandoned cart?

When a shopper visits your store, chooses a product, adds it to the cart … but does not continue to checkout, that’s called an abandoned cart.

On Shopify stores, around 6% of visitors add to cart and 2% of all visitors complete the purchase – so two-thirds of visitors abandon their cart.

What is an abandoned cart?  When a shopper visits your store, chooses a product, adds it to the cart … but does not continue to checkout, that’s called an abandoned cart.  On Shopify stores, around 6% of visitors add to cart and 2% of all visitors complete the purchase - so two-thirds of visitors abandon their cart.

There’s some confusion between abandoned carts and abandoned checkouts within the Klaviyo marketing community (read more below). In neither case does the user buy, but abandoned carts don’t even get as far as logging in or registering their details.

How to recover abandoned carts on Shopify

In most ecommerce stores, users who browse for products and add to their cart are doing so anonymously. However, some users will have either signed up for your newsletter or purchased previously. For identifiable users (and this is the hard bit) you have the option to recover abandoned carts using an email or SMS.

With these email campaigns, you would aim to drive users to start the checkout process on Shopify and complete the purchase.

Who is the best-abandoned cart provider for Shopify?

If you want to win back abandoned carts and convert more of them into purchases then you have two basic options: targeting customers via cookie-based audiences and via first-party data you have registered.

Google Ads and Meta Ads are the leading solutions for cookie-based retargeting (this kind of cookie is not going away). After tracking accurate Add to Cart and Purchase events in these platforms – which you can use Littledata’s tracking to do – you can build dynamic product ads that retarget users who added to cart but did not purchase within a set timeframe.

The advantage of cookie-based audiences is they are larger, including the majority of customers visiting your storefront from that channel, but the click-through rate on those display ads will be much lower.

So most brands would also retarget customers who previously signed up to their email or SMS list. Although the first-party list is smaller, the campaigns can be much more personalized, and the response rate will be higher.

The leading tool for this email targeting is Klaviyo. Using Klaviyo you can configure flows that trigger based on a particular event – Added to Cart in this case.

Is it legal to send abandoned cart emails?

Yes, it’s legal as long as the customer has given you their email.

The requirements vary by country, but abandoned cart emails are no different from any other email marketing – emails are a marketing communication that customers have a right to unsubscribe from.

In the US and Canada customers have a right to opt out of marketing emails, and to avoid getting spam complaints – which may block your Klaviyo account – you need to respect that right when sending abandoned cart emails. The easiest way to do so is by enabling global unsubscribes in Klaviyo.

At the other end of the privacy spectrum, it is only legal in Germany to send emails to customers who have double opted in for email marketing (on your site and confirmed by clicking on an email). This applies to abandoned cart emails as well.

How to create a Klaviyo abandoned cart flow

The easiest way to create an abandoned cart flow is to use one of the pre-built flow templates under the Prevent lost sales category of flows within the Klaviyo app.

The easiest way to create an abandoned cart flow is to use one of the pre-built flow templates under the Prevent lost sales category of flows within the Klaviyo app.

The most basic flow has two emails triggered within a day – one after 4 hours and one after 20 hours.

The most basic flow has two emails triggered within a day - one after 4 hours and one after 20 hours.

The flow filters are important because you don’t want to email customers who continue to checkout and purchase (not abandon).

You need to exclude users who added to cart again, as that next Added to Cart event will trigger another flow which supersedes this first one.

The flow filters are important because you don’t want to email customers who continue to checkout and purchase (not abandon).  You need to exclude users who added to cart again, as that next Added to cart event will trigger another flow which supersedes this first one.

When should you send an abandoned cart email

Research done by Rejoiner found that the most effective time was 60 minutes after the add-to-cart.

When should you send an abandoned cart email  Research done by Rejoiner found that the most effective time was 60 minutes after the add-to-cart.

Sending earlier than that might catch shoppers before they buy on another site, but runs the risk of annoying someone who was already going to purchase. If you’re not giving a discount away with this first email, then there is little risk to going early – 30 minutes might work well for your brand.

Sending much later than that runs the bigger risk that the shopper has forgotten about your brand.

The Klaviyo template flows all use 4 hours delay by default. You should experiment with delays from 30 minutes to 4 hours to see what works – but it’s definitely hours, not minutes or days.

All of the Klaviyo templates use a two-email flow. But CXL’s research found emails sent 3 days and even after a month of the cart abandonment had good incremental revenue.

This brand, Legion Athletics, got 35% of its total revenue from the final email sent 3 days after abandonment. Some types of customers just take longer to commit.

All of the Klaviyo templates use a two-email flow. But CXL’s research found emails sent 3 days and even after a month of the cart abandonment had good incremental revenue.  This brand, Legion Athletics, got 35% of its total revenue from the final email sent 3 days after abandonment. Some types of customers just take longer to commit.

Tracking Added to Cart vs Checkout Started

Unfortunately, many brands who think they are targeting abandoned carts in Klaviyo are actually targeting abandoned checkouts.

You may have noticed in the template flow above the trigger was “Added to Cart” – but this is not a standard event tracked in Klaviyo from the Shopify integration.

Instead, many flow templates – like the high vs low-value split flow below – use the Checkout Started trigger. This event is tracked out of the box.

Instead, many flow templates - like the high vs low-value split flow below - use the Checkout Started trigger. This event is tracked out of the box.

The problem is that under half of the users who add a product to cart will start the checkout.

And even then, the Checkout Started event is only triggered part way through the checkout, after the customer has logged in or entered their email.

You can see from the Shopify benchmarks above that by using the Checkout Started event over the Added to cart event you are missing marketing to half of the potential buyers.

You can see from the Shopify benchmarks above that by using the Checkout Started event over the Added to Cart event you are missing marketing to half of the potential buyers.

How to create “Added to cart” event for Shopify

If you want true abandoned cart flows, triggered when a user adds a product to cart and keeps it there, then you’ll need to track the “Added to cart” event. You have two options.

  1. Add an extra Klaviyo script to track a user clicking on ADD TO CART
  2. Add Littledata’s app to track a more reliable server-side event into Klaviyo

The advantages of Littledata? It requires no extra code and results in more accurate tracking of Added to Cart.

But the main advantage is to better identify customers on your email list who are also active on your storefront (e.g. adding to cart). Linking browsing behavior to customer profiles has gotten harder over the years – most recently with iOS 17 – and Littledata’s cloud identity graph can work around many of these challenges.

The advantages of Littledata? It requires no extra code and results in more accurate tracking of Added to cart.  But the main advantage is to better identify customers on your email list who are also active on your storefront (e.g. adding to cart). Linking browsing behavior to customer profiles has got harder over the years - most recently with iOS 17 - and Littledata’s cloud identity graph can work around many of these challenges.

The upside? Between 40% and 300% more abandoned cart emails can be triggered – with a corresponding increase in purchasing from these flows.

What is a good abandoned cart email conversion rate?

Benchmarks from Klaviyo show that the average brand got a 3.3% conversion rate from an abandoned cart email in 2023, with $3.45 generated per email sent.

This compares very favorably with all emails which have a 0.08% conversion rate and only $0.10 per email sent.

This conversion rate doesn’t vary much by ecommerce vertical, ranging from 3.6% at the high end for Food & Beverages to 2.8% at the low end for Electronics.

That said, CXL found that a 10% to 25% conversion rate was common from abandoned cart emails – so for many brands using Klaviyo, there is a lot of room for improvement.

How to improve cart abandoned flows

Here are a few ways you can improve abandoned cart flow conversion rates:

  1. Use a better trigger that identifies more Klaviyo email subscribers (see above)
  2. Trigger the campaigns based on Added to Cart rather than Checkout Started
  3. Write a more compelling subject line – potentially including your brand name in that subject line.
  4. Improve the messaging in the body of the email
  5. Improve the imagery in the email
  6. Add dynamic product contents to the email (see below)

You should definitely try A/B testing the subject line, copy, and imagery. Here’s a template flow that includes an A/B test, where 50% of the users are directed to the A version and 50% to the B version.

You should definitely try A/B testing the subject line, copy, and imagery. Here’s a template flow that includes an A/B test, where 50% of the users are directed to the A version and 50% to the B version.

There are so many types of A/B tests you could try: tone (serious vs humorous), sender name (personal vs corporate), plain text vs image-based, and one product vs multiple products. See more ideas on the CXL blog.

Then you could try offering incentives. Klaviyo has example flows of how to offer free shipping just for domestic customers or how to offer discounts for high value carts.

Then you could try offering incentives. Klaviyo has example flows of how to offer free shipping just for domestic customers or how to offer discounts for high value carts.

You might also want to give a higher discount to customers with a higher lifetime value – although this can be hard to calculate within Klaviyo (and something Littledata plans to make easier).

Remember you are trying to bring customers back to start the checkout, not immediately to pay. BullyMax, a dog food brand, found that the VIEW MY CART call to action outperformed COMPLETE MY ORDER by 33% for this reason – it’s less commitment to view the cart.

Remember you are trying to bring customers back to start the checkout, not immediately to pay. BullyMax, a dog food brand, found that the VIEW MY CART call to action outperformed COMPLETE MY ORDER by 33% for this reason - it’s less commitment to view the cart.

Finally, a special call-out for Zaymo who’ve developed a shoppable email format. In their case study with Gozney Pizza Ovens, they found that although the click-through rate dropped by 20%, purchasing from the email flow was up 68%.

Finally, a special call-out for Zaymo who’ve developed a shoppable email format. In their case study with Gozney pizza ovens they found that although click through rate dropped by 20%, purchasing from the email flow was up 68%.

How to display all products in cart

Using the event properties of the Added to Cart event you can create a dynamic email that loads some of the product from the cart within the email. Here’s a useful Klaviyo video on how to do so.

You can iterate through the products so that each product in the cart is displayed in a row of the email.

However, be careful if you have multiple product variants with similar product images. It may make the email look dumb or broken. Sometimes just displaying the first item from the cart is a safer option.

In conclusion

Abandoned cart emails are a must-run campaign for your store, and Klaviyo provides a simple way to set up the flows and start testing content.

However, if you keep with the built-in Checkout Started trigger which many of the template flows use you are missing a simple area for optimization.

By swapping this trigger for Littledata’s Added to Cart event, you can get a big uplift in audience size and therefore an uplift in purchasing from exactly the same email flows.

Klaviyo makes it easy to build high-performing abandoned cart email templates; Littledata makes it easy to trigger these emails for as many cart abandoners who we can identify on your storefront.

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