How to set up an abandoned cart automation


Recover potentially lost sales with Sendlane's abandoned cart Automation trigger! Read on to learn about the triggers commonly associated with abandoned cart automations, and guidance on setting up your abandoned cart flow.

In this guide

🚦 Before Getting Started

⚠️ Your abandoned cart automation WILL NOT WORK unless Beacon general tracking is installed

Beacon identifies website visitors and tells Sendlane when your automation’s conditions have been met. If Beacon general tracking is not installed on your store’s website, your abandoned cart automation will never trigger.

Background on triggers

Customers generally see much higher revenue from abandoned checkout automations than abandoned cart automations. We recommend setting up an abandoned checkout automation in addition to an abandoned cart automation. 

Let’s investigate why, starting with the following table describing each trigger associated with “abandoned cart” automations:

Trigger name Fires when
Added to cart A cookied contact adds a specified product to their cart
Abandoned cart A cookied contact adds a specified product to their cart AND does not checkout within a specified period of time
Abandoned checkout A contact reaches the first page of the checkout flow in your store AND does not make a purchase within a specified period of time

The Abandoned checkout trigger doesn’t fire until the contact starts the checkout process on your website (and the amount of time you select for “consider abandoned after” has passed), which means it has the context of your contact’s entire cart. This data is sent to Sendlane from Shopify and does not require the contact to be cookied via Beacon.

Abandoned product email blocks in automations using the abandoned checkout trigger will populate with information on all the products in a contact’s cart when they begin checkout, meaning contacts will be reminded of each item in their cart when they receive the email.

Unlike the abandoned checkout trigger, the added to cart and abandoned cart triggers do not capture or store data for the other products your contact may have added to their cart.

These two triggers use site tracking data from Beacon to tell Sendlane that an identified contact clicked "add to cart." This means that when you add an abandoned product block to an email, only the first product the contact added to their cart will appear in the email they receive.

1. Create an abandoned cart automation

Start your abandoned cart automation setup by creating an automation and selecting the Abandoned Cart trigger:

  1. Click the Automations icon
  2. Click New Automation
  3. Click Start From Scratch
  4. Enter a name for your abandoned cart automation
  5. Click Start
  6. Click Add Trigger
  7. In the lefthand sidebar, click the Shopify or BigCommerce tab
  8. Click Abandoned Cart

2. Abandoned cart trigger settings

When you select the Abandoned Cart trigger, you’ll see its settings in the left-hand sidebar. These settings are the criteria contacts need to meet to be sent through the automation.

  • Store - Select the store you’re creating an abandoned cart automation for
  • Limit Per Contact - Once per day or Do not trigger when already in automation are recommended for abandoned cart automations.
  • Consider abandoned after - Select a time period of at least one hour. The 5 minute and 30 minute settings are intended for internal testing and may inundate contacts with messages if used in a live automation.

You can specify individual products that should trigger the automation by searching for and selecting products in the For Products section of the trigger settings. If you do not select any specific products, all products will trigger the automation.

Shopify, BigCommerce, and Miva users can apply a product tag of sl-exclude to any product that should not trigger the automation. This process removes the product from Sendlane entirely. Read more about excluding products here.

3. Prevent contacts from being sent through multiple pre-purchase automations

The first node of your abandoned cart automation should be an update automation node that ends your abandoned browse automation when contacts trigger the abandoned cart automation. Since adding items to the cart is further in the purchasing process than browsing, you don’t want contacts to receive both browse and cart abandon content.

To add an update automation node:

  1. Click the + icon below the Abandoned Cart trigger
  2. Click Update Automation
  3. Click End Other
  4. From the Automation dropdown, select your browse abandon automation
  5. Select a time period wait before allowing contacts to re-enter the browse abandon automation once they've completed the abandoned cart automation
  6. Click Done

4. Filter out contacts who purchased during the wait time

The second node of your abandoned cart automation should be a Conditional Split that checks to see whether contacts who met the trigger settings’ criteria have made a purchase during the wait time selected for the Consider abandoned after setting. On some platforms, this check happens in the trigger settings and acts as a filter. The functionality is the same with a conditional split.

To add a conditional split to your automation:

  1. Click the + icon below the update automation node
  2. Click Conditional Split
  3. Set the conditional split's settings (see guidance below the screenshot)

When you select the conditional split, its settings will appear in the left-hand sidebar:

These settings will check for orders placed by the contact during the day before they met the automation trigger’s criteria:

  • Condition - Select Shopify or BigCommerce
  • Store - Select the store you’re creating an abandoned cart automation for
  • Resource - Order
  • Order Status - Any
  • Filter - Order Date
  • Operator - In the last
  • Relative date range - 1 day

Add the rest of your automation’s nodes to the NO side so that you target contacts who have NOT placed an order in the last day.

5. Abandoned cart automation content

Now that the logic for your abandoned cart automation is in place, you can add nodes for emails and SMS messages. For more information on optimizing your email and SMS nodes, check out our guide to automation nodes.

We highly recommend placing a wait node between messages to prevent contacts from receiving too many messages too quickly.

⚠️ Emails must include an abandoned cart block

The Abandoned Cart email block displays the first product added to the cart and abandoned, with a link to the Contact's cart (Contacts will be taken to your website if they click this link on a different device than the device they created the abandoned checkout on). Only one abandoned cart block is allowed per email.

6. Add a goal node to pull purchasers out of the automation

Depending on the number of message nodes and the length of wait nodes in between, contacts may complete their purchase before being sent through the entire automation. To prevent contacts from continuing to receive abandoned cart content with a goal:

  1. Click the + button under the last node of your automation
  2. Click Goal
  3. Add a name for your goal, like "Completed purchase"
  4. In the Select condition dropdown, select your eCommerce integration
  5. Select your store
  6. Select Order
  7. Select Unfulfilled
  8. Select Order Date
  9. Select in the last
  10. Enter the number of days that it takes to complete your automation
  11. Click Done

7. Test and activate your automation

You can test your abandoned cart automation with an email address that is opted in to your account. To test your abandoned cart automation:

  1. In your trigger's settings, set the "consider abandoned after" setting to 5 minutes
  2. Activate your email nodes
  3. Activate your automation
  4. Log out of your Shopify store in all tabs
  5. Visit your website
  6. Add a product to your cart
  7. Wait at least five minutes
  8. Check your inbox to ensure you received the first email in your abandoned cart automation

If you successfully completed your automation, you're all set! If you didn't receive messages you expected to receive, or otherwise didn't experience your automation the way you want your contacts to, deactivate your automation while you troubleshoot.

Example of a complete abandoned cart automation

Check out the example abandoned cart automation flow below:


Why are Contacts showing as unsubscribed immediately after completing a purchase?

If your Shopify checkout page pre-selects the marketing email opt-in checkbox, Contacts who uncheck the marketing email opt-in box during checkout will be unsubscribed from the List attached to your Shopify integration as soon as checkout is complete.

The abandoned cart block isn't available!

The abandoned cart block may not appear in your elements sidebar for two common reasons:

  1. Your eCommerce integration is not set up correctly. Review your eCommerce store's integration with Sendlane for possible connection issues.
  2. You already added an abandoned cart block to your email. Only one abandoned cart block is allowed per email.

Additional Resources

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