Abandoned carts—somehow no matter how well you have set up your online store, they are simply unavoidable. How unavoidable? Nearly 75% of online shopping carts are abandoned.

This begs the question: Why?

Though high shipping costs top the list of reasons why (at 44%), there are possible reasons galore shoppers abandon carts:

  • They get a better deal elsewhere
  • They simply “forgot” to check out
  • They actually weren’t ready to make the purchase
  • They had to put the item in the cart to see the sale price (a practice by e-commerce folks that I personally abhor)
  • Your site crashed or your payment gateway faltered
  • Simply put, they pressed the wrong button

Whatever the reason may be, marketers need to address these “lost” customers and the lost revenue. A great place to start is email.

Cart abandonment emails are an amazing recovery tactic. In fact, cart abandonment emails are opened at a 44% clip by abandoners and can recover up to 30% of this lost revenue. Here’s an example of what a cart abandonment email looks like:

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Image Source: reallygoodemails.com

In this customer service-oriented approach to a cart abandonment email, Ugmonk sends the prospects a cart abandonment email to show that they really care and want to know more about why the shopper might have left those items there.

You can also have a bit of fun with these emails, like the example below from Bonobos:


Image Source: reallygoodemails.com

What Makes an Effective Cart Abandonment Email(s)?

The goal of cart abandonment emails is to help customers through any kind of obstacle they might encounter and nudge them to buy. With that said, there are some important things winning cart abandonment emails MUST have:

1. The Right Timing

One email sent within an hour of abandonment can be great timing. In fact, this speed to inbox can lead a nearly 4.5% conversion rate. Why within an hour? Because the shopper is more likely to still be on the site and the experience is still fresh in the mind.

I like to recommend a 3-email cart abandonment series. The first email sent quickly is an absolute must, but adding two more to the series can be beneficial. Here’s how the timing looks:

Second Email – Send this email 24 hours either after the first email is sent or after the abandonment. Bringing their carts back to the shoppers’ attention exactly a day after they were in the process previously can work wonders.

Third Email – this final email should be sent anywhere between 1-5 days later, depending on what your testing finds works best. Whatever your timing turns out to be, I recommend making sure it is sent within a week.

A nice example of a second or third cart abandonment email can be found here with this email sent by Dollar Shave Club 4 days after cart abandonment. Great copy that clearly states the benefits of being part of the subscription service:


Image Source: reallygoodemails.com

2. Seal It with a Killer Subject Line

Let’s face it: if your subject lines don’t grab attention, your email won’t be. The most effective subject lines are those which invoke some kind of emotions among the readers—excitement, joy, curiosity, even FOMO—like these:

  • You wouldn’t want to miss out on these!
  • Your items feel lonely – help them out!
  • Uh-oh! Looks like you forgot something.
  • Hey! Come back here! Pretty please?

Check out this adorable email by Blackmilk Clothing with their standout subject line:


Image Source: shopify.com

3. Remind Them about What They’ve Left Behind

69% of cart abandoners feel that reminder emails are either helpful or influence their purchase decision in some way. Saving their cart, reserving their items, or displaying their cart items in the email(s) you send them are great ways to bring these prospective customers back. Give as many details as possible, including price, color, and size. Utilize images where possible as well, as people generally respond better to images than text.

Make sure your calls to action go directly back to cart where possible, like in this example from Chubbies:


Image Source: shopify.com

Note: Every link and every image takes the prospect back to their cart.

4. Write Great Email Copy

Easier said than done, I know. The reader should feel that the sender has taken care to remind them about the items they have left behind in their carts. The tone should be engaging and, where brand-appropriate, conversational. Your copy should:

  • Remind them about their items
  • Create urgency around completing the purchase (“Your cart is expiring,” etc.)
  • Make them feel good about the products they’re looking at

Your copy should also prominently display a call to action. There really is only one action that you want the recipient to take in these emails: complete the purchase. Make sure your CTA is clearly visible and super-clickable. Popular CTA copy includes:

  • Go to basket
  • Claim my item
  • Finish the job
  • Go to cart

Consider an example like this one from MADE:


Image Source: ometria.com

5. Tempt Them Back

An obvious template would be to offer some sort of discount. These can be effective, but be careful about savvy shoppers who try to “game the system.”

If you find that your simple, one-CTA cart abandonment emails aren’t working to your expectations, cross-selling popular and/or related items can be another way to tempt customers back. It’s possible that customers don’t want what’s in their cart, but these other items may catch their eye and drive a purchase.

Another great way to bring back shoppers is through customer reviews (otherwise known as “Word of Mouth”). Social proof is a time-tested formula which impacts purchasing decisions. Choose some of your best reviews and mention them in your emails.

Here is one example by Casper, doing it the funny way:


Image Source: sleeknote.com

Note: I’d recommend removing the “Read More Reviews” CTA at the bottom to reduce the potential friction from returning to the cart to complete the purchase. That said, test everything.

Wrapping Up

A lot of revenue is lost by brands and e-commerce companies who fail to employ cart abandonment emails. These emails take a little bit of time and work to set up, but the incremental revenue generated by them more than pay for the effort.

Want to learn more about how cart abandonment emails can be effective for your business? Check out InboxArmy’s infographic: Cart Abandonment Emails: The Secret Weapon for Ecommerce Business.

Also, please share your experiences with cart abandonment emails. What’s working for you? What’s not?