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Cart Abandonment Recovery - Email Marketing Vs Conversational SMS: Who Wins?

With cart abandonment rates at nearly 90%, and marketing budgets restrictions, retailers are looking for opportunities to convert those consumers and recover lost revenue. But what happens when cart abandonment is due to pricing issues or website navigation challenges?

Is there life after cart abandonment?

A staggering 90% of online shopping carts end up abandoned - and with today's increasing marketing budgets restrictions, retailers are looking for opportunities to convert those consumers and recover lost revenue. Sometimes, an abandoned cart can be recovered by reaching out to the consumer and reminding them to complete their purchase through an email. This is an efficient practice when the reasons why customers didn’t complete a sale are unrelated to the retailer and they just need a gentle reminder to return to the website.

But what happens when cart abandonment is due to pricing issues or website navigation challenges?

Tinuiti reports these astonishing facts:

  • 93% of online buyers are encouraged to buy more products if free shipping is included
  • 41% are not ready to purchase the product right now
  • 25% thought the item was priced too high
  • 23% had to create an account
  • 13% card security
  • 12% complicated checkout
  • 8% couldn’t find the voucher

This is where email fails.

What automated email marketing doesn’t – and can’t do – is address the reasons why consumers backed out of the sale, individually, case by case. Not only that, but an email can sit unread for days, long after the need to buy is gone, or, the customer has already made a purchase from a different vendor.

With this in mind, and so many marketing tools available, what can you do to turn this around in your favour and bring back your shoppers? Let's take a look at two tried and tested channels - email and SMS marketing - and how you can use each of them successfully.

When Should You Use Email Marketing?

Email is king. Well… it used to be. The problem nowadays is that we are inundated with tens of emails every day and, if you are anything like me, you are using every tool at your disposal to ensure that none of those unrequested “Promotional” emails ever see the light of day in your inbox.

So, if your “Don’t forget about your abandoned cart” email goes straight to the Spam folder, where does that leave retailers?

Not only that, but once that email goes out through your automated cart abandonment recovery workflows, do you really know why your customers decided against making a purchase? Industry statistics are good to benchmark against, but they offer no insight into your specific situation.

However, email is still a communications channel that can be successful if used the right way, so let’s look at when it is suitable for your brand communication and when you should consider email to share your message with your audience – whether it is for an abandoned cart recovery, or general marketing communications.

Email offers various advantages in terms of deliverability and content – it is best used to share information with an audience who is already familiar with your brand, wants to hear from you and has engaged with your content in the past (e.g, they almost expect timely updates from their favourite brands or services). 

Take a look at one of our favourite newsletters from DBrand. They use humour to push forward an engaging CTA, create a sense of scarcity and users have come to look forward to receiving the funny content. 



The reason why DBrand’s newsletters are so successful is because they managed to find a communications niche that their customers resonate with and thus building value over time. 

You can create a successful email marketing program as well if you look over your Analytics – data will tell you what emails your recipients opened the most, what they usually click on, so you can understand what type of messaging they respond to – and create more! 

This is valid when it comes to your cart recovery emails as well – they should still be on brand and offer the same tone of voice and value the rest of your email content delivers time and time again.

So, when should you use email marketing?

  • You already have a strong lead nurturing email program with specific goals
  • You use email as an integrated channel in your overall marketing strategy
  • Your list of customers is segmented according to their interests
  • Your campaigns offer strong content and messages that direct recipients to custom landing pages 
  • You are committed to testing and trying out various types of messages and tracking data to gain an understanding of your audience

 You should think twice when: 

  • You send random announcements about products and offers (a low engagement and high unsubscribing rates will show you if this is the case)
  • You occasionally blast out an email campaign before a major product launch or event but email isn’t part of consistent lead nurturing efforts (sending 2-3 emails a year is a good indication of a situation like this)
  • You use email newsletters as a quick fix when you are low on leads (using it when you are struggling to find customers won’t yield sustainable results)
  • You don’t customize your newsletters according to target lists (e.g. you blast the same email to your entire list)
  • Your only email newsletters for your customers are automated cart abandonment recovery emails


When Should You Use SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing has been around for some time - but as consumers are getting savvier, so do their demands. It’s no longer enough to overwhelm them with automated emails that never get opened. Real customers have real questions - and automated emails can’t answer them.  

That’s where a tool like Cartloop will bridge the gap between an undecided customer and the final sale. By infusing the human touch to a customer’s digital experience, you are not only building closer relationships with them, but you are also reaching your ultimate goal: increasing your sales. And have you ever met anyone who said no to more sales? We didn’t, either.

Our goal is to reach customers in an easy, non-intrusive way, where we can connect with them on a personal level in order to build real trust and transform customers into promoters.   

(Psst, you should also check out our other article on why customers love SMS marketing and how to create winning text messages your shoppers will love)

So, when should you use SMS marketing?

  • Your goal is to build trust and solid customers relationships through conversational texts, not bulk automated messages
  • You want to show empathy and understanding towards your shoppers
  • You want to bring the in-store experience online and offer quick response time to their support questions
  • Your main goal is increasing conversion rates through conversational SMS marketing
  • Your abandoned cart recovery program is a priority

You should think twice when: 

  • You want to send bulk text messages through an automated platform with little to no customization
  • You don’t want to “talk” to your customers
  • You’re not interested in customer feedback

One of the most important benefits of using SMS marketing is gaining insight in this area as well. For example, in just one week, a beauty brand based in California with several international distribution clients, increased sales with $7.6k, solely from recovered carts. Additionally, they uncovered the reason why their cart abandonment rate was so high:

  • UX/UI issues: our experts were able to uncover various challenges customers were having throughout their buying journey, which had caused them to give up navigating the overly complex website and abandon their carts previously.  
  • Declined credit cards due to payment provider: we notified the brand’s team about this challenge, who, in turn, were able to fix the issue with their payment provider.

Now, had they sent their automated cart abandonment recovery email, none of these issues would have been uncovered, causing more and more abandoned carts in the future without the retailer really knowing why.

Email vs SMS: Who Wins?

The most important statistic you should look at, regardless of what channels you use in your marketing mix, is conversion rate. Meaning, what channel brings you the highest return from your marketing dollar?

This is where conversational SMS marketing comes in. You can open the door towards engaging with your customers in an informal way and offering you an opportunity to address their problem immediately through human interaction. With 98% open rates, 45% reply rates, and 6-8x times higher engagement rates than email marketing, SMS marketing has become an essential part of ecommerce.

This is highlighted below in our comparison between SMS Marketing and the emails we all love to hate! With open rates at the highest of all channels and sky-high conversion rates, can you now see why SMS Marketing is one of the most useful and efficient channel when it comes to your business’s marketing spend? 

C:\Users\Vaio\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\email_vs_sms.png

So we know the numbers. But do you know why SMS marketing has had a comeback lately? 

Hint: It’s not the discounts.

Oftentimes, what you send through a text, you can send through an email. Discount codes can be neatly placed in a creative design and sent over email directly to the customer’s inbox. Except, it rarely gets into their inbox. Platforms like Gmail offering promotions tabs or anti-spam automation tools that sort marketing messages into a secondary inbox folder pose another hurdle for marketers to pass. 

And, if you’re anything like me, my inbox sends Promo messages directly to the Bin – without my having to even look at it, thanks to Unroll.me.  

With hundreds of promo emails received every day, it’s no wonder customers prefer conversational SMS marketing, where they can directly engage with their favourite brands and get their questions answered - all in record time. 

Between the email and the text below, which one would you rather receive?

https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5e20719d70ac8ab6c468a8a0/5f3a656e06898d5a2e9bcafb_email_vs_sms.png
How email marketing looks & feels in comparison with a conversational SMS strategy

Key Takeaways

When it comes to email marketing vs conversational SMS marketing and which of them are more effective for cart abandonment recovery, the answer is – like with anything these days – it depends.

Ideally, you should use them together, as complementary marketing tools into an integrated communications strategy and staying in touch with your customers across multiple touchpoints.

SMS Marketing helps give that personal touch to your corporate communications and can yield quicker and more powerful results. 

Your audience is unique, thus so should be your marketing. - Click to tweet

Conversational SMS Marketing provides a significant competitive edge over your competitors who aren’t using it, and it gives you an opportunity to gain a solid understanding of your target customers and the challenges they are experiencing throughout their buyer’s journey.  

Remember, the more unique their shopping experience is, the more likely you are to lead them back to their purchase and turn them into repeat customers or promoters for your business.

Curious about what insights you could gain? Sign-up for a 14-days free trial at Cartloop and start connecting with your customers like never before.


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Raluca Tarcea

Allegedly wise to the ways of Marketing, PR and Social Media at Cartloop. Entrepreneur, pilot, visual thinker & planning ninja.

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