Quick quiz:

How many times today have you been in the middle of doing something, gotten a notification or an email or a text or just gotten plain ol’ distracted… and forgotten to finish what you started?

I’m guessing it’s happened at least once today. And you’re not alone. Guess who else falls prey to distractions mid-task?

Your customers.

They’re rolling right along inside your store, adding items to their cart — and then their browser crashes. Or their phone rings. Or they remember the documentary on albino micropigs that they were watching in another tab.

If only this documentary existed.

My point is that not all of your customers abandon their carts on purpose. There’s a good chance they’re just getting distracted. And they might only need a tiny bit of help to remember what they left behind.

That’s why I want to show you how to write irresistible Abandoned Cart emails.

This simple, automated follow-up campaign gives you a fighting chance to recover the shockingly high percentage — our data shows nearly 70% — of shoppers who get cold feet at checkout.

The 3 elements of crazy-effective Abandoned Cart emails

First things first. Remember that in order to even send an abandoned cart email, you’ll need to grab your user’s email address as soon as possible in the checkout process.

Some stores require account creation or email address entry up front, while others roll that form field into a single-page checkout. Whatever makes the checkout process feel as easy as possible for your buyers is the right way to go.

What are the 3 elements of effective Abandoned Cart emails?

  1. They REMIND the user she’s not done
  2. They URGE the user to take action and finish what she started
  3. They FOLLOW UP more than just once

1. REMIND the user she’s not done

It’s entirely possible that your user meant to check out, but got distracted by:

  • A notification
  • A real-life tap on the shoulder
  • One of her other six million tabs
  • The crushing recollection that she still owes her mom $200

But her intentions were pure. She wanted to buy from your store. She just forgot to finish doing it.

So pop into her inbox and make it very clear that for whatever reason, she left her purchase at that cliffhanger moment — and her items won’t be delivered into her eager hands until she comes back to finish.

Here’s how lingerie maker True&Co puts that reminder in its email copy:

You can also offer alternatives to checkout, like support or related product recommendations. It’s possible your user was just having trouble understanding if your products would work for her.

Along with the urgent language above, True&Co’s abandoned cart email offers “New Recommendations” and ends with an offer of customer support:

2. URGE your user to finish what she started

Most people HATE leaving things unfinished.

It’s why we can’t sleep at night, thinking of that email we really should have sent already… or that passion project we dove into months ago and then quietly stopped working on.

In fact, the act of completing a task or project releases sweet, sweet dopamine in the brain, which leads us to seek out that fabulous Gettin’ It Done feeling (and which leads us to prioritize small achievements like checking email over more meaningful, more complex projects).

So appeal to your user’s intrinsic need for a quick win.

If you’re not comfortable applying the squeeze, because it feels too pushy for you, think of this as “encouraging” your buyer rather than “urging” her.

I love the way Dot&Bo does it, with subject line “Psst… You left something behind!” and the following low-pressure message:

You might even send a small discount code or link inside your Abandoned Cart email (or emails, if you’ll send more than one) to make the decision a no-brainer.

Just be sure not to train your buyers to abandon their carts, wait for a discount, and then come back. That’s no bueno.

If you’re worried about this happening, try offering incentives as a follow-up, after your first abandoned cart email.

Speaking of which…

3. They FOLLOW UP more than once

The golden window of opportunity for abandoned cart recovery varies between brands, so there’s no single perfect time to send your email(s).

A good rule of thumb, though, is to send the first email within a few hours of cart abandonment, once you’re fairly sure the user won’t come back in her own time.

You want to catch your buyers before they lose the excitement that your products gave them. So don’t wait longer than a couple of hours to send your first “Hey, you still want this?” email.

Send up to two more emails before accepting the fact that the cart is well and truly abandoned. Why? Think about a prospective customer who’s on the go. She adds a product to her cart, gets distracted, and abandons it. We’ve been through this part already.

Your first automated abandoned cart email arrives while she’s fixing lunch. She quickly opens it, scans it, and then returns to her turkey sandwich — marking the email “read,” so it won’t be at the top of her inbox anymore.

At this point, she might still want to buy! You’ve just had the bad luck to catch her at the wrong times. So you can still offer her another chance or two to buy (and experiment with sending Emails #2 and #3 at different times of day, so they might arrive when she’s feeling less rushed).

Here are 2 Abandoned Cart email templates you can swipe and use right away

No time to write your own email copy? No worries.

Swipe this straightforward email copy (which includes a spot for you to paste in a rave review from a past customer) and watch your recovered sales start rolling in:

SUBJECT LINE: Forget something?


You’ve got good taste.

But it looks like you left [STORE NAME] without completing your purchase!

If you still want your items, click the link below to go right to your cart:


Here’s what other customers are saying about us:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “I love [STORE NAME] so much. Everything is so well made, and support is fantastic” – Laura C., purchased on 5/15/17


And just for kicks, here’s another fun version that you can have fo’ free:

SUBJECT LINE: Can you hear that?


We were enjoying a leisurely nap just now when we woke up to the worst sound in the world.

It was your shopping cart, crying for help.

[IMAGE: Anthropomorphic shopping cart with sad face]

Caption: He misses you.

Now, you seem like a nice person. We’re sure you didn’t mean to leave your poor cart all alone in limbo.

So why not come back and take your stuff home with you?

This button will take you right into your shopping cart’s open and waiting arms:


Your friends at [STORE NAME]

(who also love your cart very much and hate to see him sad)

Simply sending abandoned cart emails gives you a leg up

If you think stressing over copy and content might stop you from setting up your first abandoned cart campaign… don’t let it.

The most important part of your abandoned cart emails is just sending them.

So keep the advice here in mind, but don’t overthink it.

Now go set up your emails!