Customer Marketing Manager Bethany McDermott looks at how long you should wait before sending cart abandonment emails.

I’ll be honest with you from the start, there’s not one answer to this question, but a good place to start is to think about your shoppers.

They should receive your cart abandonment email while they still have the ‘need’ to purchase or they’re still considering their options. And, for many people and products, this can differ.

Thinking about buying habits is a good indication of when would be the best time to give an extra nudge into returning to purchase.

As a rule of thumb, low value, quick, fast moving purchases generally take less time to consider and are quickly forgotten. Whereas higher value purchases, to your average man on the street, take more consideration and are “wanted” by the shopper for a longer period of time.

Let’s start with the first cycle, which is the first time you contact your customer after they have abandoned their cart and drop an email into their inbox. Across the board we rarely see emails being sent any longer than one hour after the abandonment.

PrettyLittleThing sends a first cycle email just 30 minutes after abandonment.

A short idle time, the time between the abandonment and the first cycle email, can help you make sure that the shopper hasn’t totally forgotten their need to buy and could still be tempted back.

Any longer, and they could have talked themselves out of that new dress for the weekend….

Pretty Little Thing cart recovery email

The travel industry has the highest abandonment rates and usually has high average order values.
Take a look at some of the reasons people abandon their travel bookings:

The top three reasons require the shopper to go elsewhere and take some time to think. If you have just seen a cart abandoned, it could be because that visitor is going to other websites to compare or speak to friends and family.

Sending your email 10 minutes later could be striking while the iron is cold – they have other things on their mind and aren’t ready to reconsider just yet.

Bide your time and allow shoppers to sow their oats. This only means that they still have the need to purchase and are considering buying it somewhere, so with cart abandonment emails make sure it’s you.

Most travel and high average order value websites send their first cycle around an hour after the abandonment. But, as I said earlier – it’s always worth testing.

Pro Direct Soccer US decided to do a split test on their first cycle emails. Originally they were emailing an hour after abandonment, but tested this against three other variables:

  • 45 minutes
  • 30 minutes
  • >1 hour 30 minutes

The group who received their emails after 30 minutes saw an uplift in conversions of 19%, so the change was made implemented in their campaign.

Moving onto the second cycle, this is what a shopper receives if they haven’t purchased from the initial cart abandonment email. Bringing you back to the top of the deck and to the front of mind with your customer.

A common time to send second cycle emails is 24 hours after they first abandoned. But shoppers can be creatures of habit, and most days we all follow similar routines.

An example of how to use this to your advantage is to think about lunch breaks. If you’re shopping online on your lunch break one day, you don’t want to be reminded of it at the end of your lunch break the next day.

Why not have it waiting for your customer for when they start their lunch break and they have free time? The same applies for browsing on a morning, on a night or break times – any time where people have the opportunity to engage and become more responsive.

We ran a split test with Tommy Hilfiger on their 2nd cycle time. Originally they were sending the email 24 hours after visitors first abandoned, and the test was to try 22 hours after abandonment. This test lead to a 52% uplift in open rates!

To sum up, the original question, test it. Try out some different times and think about how your customers behave. And, once you’ve run your test, make sure that you check that your results are statistically significant by using our A/B Test Significance Calculator.