Ecommerce Mythbusting: Are Abandoned Cart emails allowed under GDPR?

There’s been plenty of talk about GDPR’s effect on email marketing, but we’ve got good news – Abandoned Cart emails are GDPR compliant, and even better, they’re likely to be more effective than ever before!

The 25th of May marked a minor apocalypse for many email marketers in terms of drastically diminished databases (some of which disappeared altogether!), paused campaigns, and strict rules for earning the right to communicate with their audience.

Although the change was met with a mostly negative response from many, it actually created an opportunity for those ahead of the curve – particularly in the email marketing sector. One such golden opportunity lies in the staple of automated emails: the cart abandonment campaign.

Why? Well, with less noise in the average inbox and with a customer who has opted to hear from you, all emails have increased their power to affect your customer’s behavior.

Let’s look a little deeper at GDPR compliance and maximizing the potential of your cart abandonment email campaign.

First, an important note about the goal of GDPR:

It’s worth noting that the aim of GDPR was not to crack down on email marketing specifically. Rather, it’s legislation put in place to protect data privacy – although it’s fair to say that email marketing has grabbed most of the headlines.

The results of non-compliance – in terms of sending an email that wasn’t asked for – are not covered by the fines laid out in the legislation. These are designed to punish companies selling private data, rather than those sending unsolicited emails. In the latter case, it’s much more likely to be a case of rectifying the problem by cleaning up your mailing list, rather than being hit with a massive fine.

But naturally, with the scaremongering around the subject, we’ve seen many customers become hesitant to send cart abandonment emails despite the rewards they reap. That’s why I wanted to address some of the common questions around using automated email campaigns in a post-GDPR world.

(Obviously this is for guidance only, and we recommend consulting your legal advisor about the specifics of your own situation to make sure you’re fully compliant.)

Is sending abandoned cart emails still allowed under GDPR?

Yes, according to the European Commission’s definition of legal grounds for processing data you’re compliant as long as you have explicit consent from the visitor to receive those emails.

Some shoppers will have given you consent for marketing emails already, for example by opting into your newsletter. To sign up others, the Nosto exit-intent popup is a powerful tool for both obtaining both the email address and consent from those about to leave the site. (It’s worth noting that the consent only applies to receiving the cart abandonment email, so using that email address in your other email campaigns is prohibited, unless you get further consent.)

It’s important to remember that customers must deliberately opt-in; it’s not enough to ask them to uncheck a pre-checked box. It’s also crucial to be able to prove that consent, including what data a customer agreed to share with you and the specific form they gave their consent through. It’s good practice to let customers know how their data will be used when you ask them to share it.

What if they want to withdraw consent?

It’s highly likely that your emails already have an Unsubscribe button, and unsubscribing should be as simple as possible – it’s much better to have a one-click unsubscribe button than a link to send an email asking to be unsubscribed. This has been best practice globally for many years before GDPR was introduced.

You’ll also find an option to manually unsubscribe customers should you need to in your Nosto dashboard.

How do I make sure Nosto knows which visitors have given consent?

Essentially, you need to get the marketing permission tagging that flags in place either by updating your Nosto plugin (Magento, Shopware) or by adding the tagging manually. You can learn more about that in our full GDPR Marketing Permission Tagging manual.

Why should I continue to focus on email marketing?

With a smaller number of emails being sent post-GDPR to a more engaged audience, the value of every email has only increased. According to statistics across Nosto clients, the value of email sent has roughly doubled in markets between May and July. In addition, the average open-rate has also improved by around 30%, further enhancing the effect.

How can I make my abandon cart emails even more effective?

Now we’ve established the legality and value of abandon cart emails, it’s up to you to craft the perfect missive. We’ve written about the best abandoned cart emails, including tips for the subject line and body of the email.

One other powerful tactic is creating an abandonment email sequence instead of a single email. As an example, the first email could be sent after 30 minutes of leaving the cart, framed as a gentle reminder of products left behind. Then a second email sent after 4 hours, with a slightly more commercial messaging. And finally, if you want to aggressively pursue that sale, you could send a final email with a discount code after 24 hours.

Research shows that cart abandonment email effectiveness drops after 24 hours, at which point you have an opportunity to use the other tools at your disposal for reminding a customer about the product they left behind. Try retargeting them with Facebook or Instagram ads to further drive your conversion rate skywards.

If you’re a Nosto customer and still are unsure how to best proceed, our Customer Success team is more than happy to help you out! Feel free to reach out to your dedicated Success Manager or and we’ll make sure you get the most out of the emailing possibilities at your fingertips within the Nosto platform and with our partners.

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