How to create an abandoned cart flow

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Learn how to set up a valuable abandoned cart flow in Klaviyo in order to increase your ecommerce business revenue and personalize communication to your subscribers. An abandoned cart flow is a message or sequence of messages sent to someone who added an item to their shopping cart, but failed to complete the purchase. Reminding customers about their cart can greatly prevent lost sales — almost 70% of shopping carts are abandoned on average.

There are a lot of reasons why someone might abandon a cart. Perhaps the customer didn't have their credit card in front of them or wanted to browse your site a bit more before making a decision. Whatever their reason is for leaving mid-checkout, most often it's not because they're no longer interested in the product. Reaching out to them can remind or encourage them to continue with their purchase.

Depending on your ecommerce platform, you may already have a built-in abandoned cart flow that is running. For example, if you use Shopify, you likely already have a Shopify abandoned cart flow. Klaviyo allows you much more customization and targeting than your ecommerce platform’s default abandoned cart flow. In Klaviyo, you can fully customize the content of the email and SMS, add multiple messages, and branch the flow based on things like the value of the item in the cart, and much more. You’ll want to turn off any default platform abandoned cart messages to make sure that you’re not double-messaging anyone.

Before you begin

Because an abandoned cart flow triggers based on a customer's activity in your store, make sure that you first integrate your ecommerce platform with Klaviyo.

If you plan on using SMS messages in your flow, follow our guide on how to setup SMS in your account.

Creating an abandoned cart flow

After you integrate your ecommerce store with Klaviyo, you'll find several best practice flows populated automatically in your account within the Flows Library, including a pre-built abandoned cart flow.

Depending on your integration, you may see several different types of abandoned cart flows that suit different needs. We recommend choosing one of these pre-built flows to start off, then customizing the flow to your liking.

Screen_Shot_2022-08-17_at_2.47.17_PM.jpg

You can also build your own abandoned cart flow from scratch.

  1. Navigate to the Flows tab
  2. Click the Create Flow button in the top right.
    Screen_Shot_2022-08-17_at_3.27.03_PM.jpg
  3. Name your flow "Abandoned Cart" or something similar.
  4. Click Create Flow.
  5. Choose Metric as the trigger.
    trigger.png

Flow trigger and filters

The most common type of abandoned cart flow uses the Started Checkout event as a trigger. This works by tracking:

  1. When someone adds an item to a cart and then starts a checkout
  2. If someone completes their purchase and places an order

Some ecommerce integrations track the Added to Cart metric which triggers when someone adds an item to their cart but doesn't place an order. If you are using Shopify or BigCommerce, you will need to setup this metric manually.

If someone adds an item to their shopping cart but does not make a purchase, this is considered an abandoned cart. Note that if you are using WooCommerce, you will have to first set up SMS before being able to use the Added to Cart triggered flow. You need to add a filter to prevent people who complete a purchase from continuing into the flow.

  1. Click on the trigger.
  2. Choose Flow Filters.
  3. Click the Add a Flow Filter button.
  4. Choose What someone has done (or not done).
  5. Configure the filter to check for Person has Placed Order zero times since starting this flow
    filter.png

This configuration will prevent anyone who places an order before the time delay from continuing into the flow, and will also prevent someone from receiving further emails if they place an order after receiving the first email.

Klaviyo's flow builder showing the start of a new Abandoned Cart flow after someone started a checkout but did not place order

It is important to note that everyone who starts a checkout will enter the flow. If they go on to place an order, they will be skipped. For this reason, you will typically see a large number of people who enter the flow being skipped due to "failing flow filters." This is actually a good thing and simply means the flow is functioning correctly by not sending abandoned cart emails to people who placed an order.

Another flow filter you might want to add is Hasn't been in flow in the last X days. This will prevent those who recently received your abandoned cart messages from receiving them again. 

A view of the recommended trigger and flow filters to setup, including started a user checkout, placed zero orders, and has not been in flow in the past 7 days

If you have more than one message in your flow, Klaviyo will check your flow filters before each individual email or SMS is sent out. This means that if someone completes their purchase after the first email, they won't receive any other messages in your series.

If your customers live in a region with data protection laws, you should consult your legal team before turning your abandoned cart flow live. Check out our guide to best practices for complying with data privacy laws for more information.

Content to include in your abandoned cart flow

Generally speaking, your abandoned cart emails should match the style of your other email templates. If you are using a pre-built flow, modify the default Klaviyo template to match your store's branding.

Understand the dynamic content block

One of the most compelling aspects of an abandoned cart message is the ability to include information about the item someone abandoned directly in the message. Klaviyo's default abandoned cart flow contains a dynamic content block that is unique to each ecommerce integration. This content block includes the following:

  • Product image
  • Product title
  • Quantity
  • Price
  • Return to cart button

The dynamic block is also designed to repeat itself for each item in someone's cart if they have multiple items.

While it's true that the dynamic content is pulled in automatically for the pre-built abandoned cart flows in Klaviyo, you may want to customize it. Further, if you are building an abandoned cart flow from scratch, you'll have to build a dynamic block yourself. For more details, check out this article on using dynamic variables to personalize flow messages.

Are you using Klaviyo’s new template editor? Head to our new editor resource center.

Because these blocks utilize tags that are unique to each integration, it can be challenging to rebuild them on your own. We highly recommend saving these blocks before editing the default email or swapping out the template. This way, you can completely customize the design of your email, but don't have to worry about affecting its functionality.

An example showing how to click on the star button in the side navigation to save content blocks for later use

By default, the abandoned cart block will pull in all the items that someone has left in their cart. To change or limit the number of items displayed, you can edit the block.

If you accidentally delete either of these dynamic blocks, you can re-add Klaviyo's default abandoned cart flow to your account from the Flows Library in the Browse Ideas tab.

As we mentioned, the core part of Klaviyo's default abandoned cart flow that you will want to keep is the dynamic content. We recommend saving the dynamic content block and button before editing the default template to ensure that you don't overwrite it. Then, if you have a base template that you've already designed for your other emails, you can use this as your abandoned cart template and drag in the dynamic content from the Saved Blocks library.

Example message

Below is an example of a well designed abandoned cart email:

An example of an abandoned cart email with the picture of an iPhone X / iPhone XS case dynamically populated from the user's latest product interaction

Notice that the primary focus of the message is the item that the recipient left in their cart. This dynamic content should be the core of your email template. After all, this is the item that they demonstrated an interest in in the first place.

What products to include

It's advised to only include in the email the products that the customer abandoned. It’s not advised to have other products highlighted in the abandoned cart message since your main goal is to drive customers back to their cart to complete their purchase. Including other products can distract from this message and lead to an overall lower conversion rate.

What language to use

The language you use in your abandoned cart message should encourage people to reach out if they have questions about your products and inspire a sense of urgency to convince them to complete the purchase. For example, you could lead with "Hurry, before it sells out!"

You can also include information about how your customers can contact you if they have questions or encounter issues.

When to include coupons

While it's common to include a discount or incentive in an abandoned cart flow, we don't encourage you to include a coupon right off the bat in the first email. This can train customers to abandon carts in order to get the discount and is oftentimes giving money away unnecessarily. If you would like to include an incentive in your abandoned cart flow, it's best to hold off until the final email, or only offer it to people who have never purchased before.

Time delays: when to send your messages

Immediately after your flow trigger, include a time delay. You'll want to give customers an adequate amount of time to complete their purchase before determining that they've abandoned their cart and sending them a reminder.

Determine your first time delay

Klaviyo's pre-built abandoned cart flows include a 4 hour time delay before sending the first message if the customer does not complete their purchase. We have found that this timing works well for a broad group of stores, but each business is different, so you may find that a different time delay works well for you.

Deciding when to send your first abandoned cart email can be difficult. As a rule of thumb, we recommend sending your first message between 2–4 hours after someone starts a checkout, and then sending a second email 1–2 days later.

An example of a  flow with a time delay of 2 hours placed after someone started a checkout and then again 20 hours after the first flow email

There is no one-size-fits-all rule for the best time to send abandoned cart messages. Each business and audience is different, and what works for one store may not work for another. Timing may vary depending on what you sell — for example, if you sell big-ticket items, like mattresses, the buying process likely requires more consideration than something smaller, like shoes. For this reason, you might find that a longer time delay is more effective. If you email someone too soon after they abandon a cart without giving them the opportunity to finish making a purchase, you can come off as tone-deaf or overly pushy.

Understand how your integration syncs

If you’re using an integration besides Shopify or Bigcommerce, we may not sync Started Checkout data immediately. You will want to double-check how often data is synced from your ecommerce store to your Klaviyo account to ensure that your first abandoned cart email doesn’t send until after these events are synced. 

This means that if, for example, you set an abandoned cart email to send 30 minutes after someone abandons a cart, your customer may not receive the first email at exactly 30 minutes. Some integrations, such as OpenCart, sync once every hour. As a best practice, we recommend setting a time delay of a least an an hour and 15 minutes to accommodate different sync timings. 

How many abandoned cart messages to send

Based on research from thousands of Klaviyo ecommerce customers, we have found that sending 2 -3 abandoned cart messages in your flow leads to optimal performance. For more information on how we determined this result, check out our abandoned cart benchmark report.

Use SMS in abandoned cart flows

Using Klaviyo to send SMS messages in your abandoned cart flow is a great way to reach customers on another channel to remind them of outstanding items in their carts. There are several ways you can fold SMS into your abandoned cart flow, but one of the most effective ways is to reach out to customers who have not opened your abandoned cart email and follow up via SMS.

For your abandoned cart flow, you must:

  • Only include 1 SMS message
  • Have the message send within 48 hours of the individual abandoning their cart
  • Have double opt-in turned on (US and Canada only)

If you don't follow these guidelines, you may experience heavy filtering by wireless carriers.

  1. Add a time delay after your first email in the flow.
  2. Drag a conditional split below the time delay.
  3. Configure the split to check What someone has done or not done > Opened Email at least once over all time > where Message equals [INSERT MESSAGE NAME].
  4. Fill in the message name with the name of your first abandoned cart email (note that this is different from the subject line).
  5. Drag an SMS message onto the NO path of the split. This will only send an SMS message if the customer has not opened the first email.

    =A flow example showing a conditional split below the time delay based on if someone has or has not opened the previous email
  6. After this SMS message, you will want to rejoin the split so that recipients continue down the intended path even if they don't open the initial abandoned cart email. 

Note that many people will likely be skipped from receiving this text message due to several potential factors:

  • You have not already collected SMS consent. Klaviyo does not allow customers to send to contacts that have not explicitly opted-in to receive SMS marketing because this violates TCPA laws. 
  • You do not have a valid phone number for the recipient. Because everyone who starts a checkout will enter an abandoned cart flow, it's likely the case that you won't have phone numbers for a large number of contacts.
  • The contact is not in a location where Klaviyo SMS is available

Keep your messages short and direct, with a very obvious call-to-action (CTA). In this case, the CTA should link customers back to the items they left behind in their cart. To do this, you'll need a dynamic cart link.

For Shopify users, you can find the dynamic cart link on the upper right-hand side of the preview screen. Click the info button on the top right to preview the dynamic tags available for this event, then scroll to find the checkout_url. Click on the tag and it will automatically be copied to your clipboard. In other cases, use the cart link that is pregenerated in your abandoned cart flows. 

Paste the tag into the body of your SMS message. You will want to ensure that you have the Automatically shorten links box checked to conserve space in your message.


Klaviyo also enables quiet hours for flows automatically, preventing SMS flows from sending before 11 am and after 8 pm (using Eastern Time in the US and Canada and Australian Eastern Time in Australia).

Set your abandoned cart flow live

Once you're satisfied with your flow's setup, turn it live and it will start sending automatically to eligible contacts.

  1. Click the Update Action Statuses button in the top right of the flow builder.
    Update Action Statuses button can be found in the top right corner of the flow builder
  2. Choose Live to allow all messages to send.
    In the Update All Action Statuses modal, you can select Draft, Manual, or Live
  3. Otherwise, if only part of your flow is ready, you can update the status of individual actions by clicking on the status button in the lower left-hand corner of each flow action, as shown below.

    A flow email item with the dropdown open to set the item to draft, manual, or live mode

As mentioned before, make sure to deactivate any default abandoned cart messages sent by your ecommerce platform, so that customers are only receiving messages from Klaviyo.

Additional resources

For more inspiration for how to design your abandoned cart emails, check out Really Good Emails.

Still looking for ways to take your abandoned cart flow to the next level? Check out these additional resources:

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