Marketing

9 Abandoned Cart Email Tips to Win Back Your Customers

An abandoned cart email should get your customers coming back for more. 20+ experts share how to write an email that ensures your customers always complete their purchase.

Mara Calvello Mara Calvello on January 5, 2021 (last modified on December 24, 2020) • 16 minute read


If you own an e-commerce business, having shoppers leave items in their cart without completing the purchase can be extremely frustrating.

After all, they’re so close to finishing the sale and clicking “Buy”, so you may wonder why they decided to click off the page. Was it the final price or the shipping cost? Whatever the reason may be, one of the ways you can get those customers to return to your website and purchase their items is by sending an abandoned cart email.

If you want to learn more about how to combat shopping cart abandonment by crafting the perfect email campaign, you’ve come to the right place. We asked 20 experts to weigh in on everything they know about abandoned cart emails and how to get the customer to come back and make a purchase. 

Interested in something specific about abandoned cart emails? This article covers:

What is an Abandoned Cart Email?

When it comes to having an e-commerce online store, you never want customers to leave without completing the sale. When this occurs, a way to convenience these customers to return to your website and complete their purchase is to send them an abandoned cart email.

An abandoned cart email is a follow-up email that is sent to customers who have added items to their online shopping cart, completed a portion of the checkout process, but left your website before actually completing the purchase.

The purpose of sending an abandoned cart email is to:

  • Remind the customer of the items left in their cart
  • Entice them to return to your website and complete the purchase 

It can be challenging to stand out from the crowded email inbox of your customer, so it’s important that you understand the ins and outs of why they have decided not to complete their purchase and craft an email that will ensure they come back for more, or at least come back for what they almost purchased before leaving.

Why Do People Abandon Online Shopping Carts?

Before clicking “Send” on the abandoned cart email, you need to know why the shopper lost interest in their items and failed to complete their purchase.

Dan Bailey from WikiLawn suggests, “My best tip is to identify the customer’s barrier to buying and break it down. Obviously, this may take a bit more work on your part, but if people are abandoning their carts over price, offer a discount. If it’s because of shipping issues, offer free expedited shipping. If they’re unsure it’s the best option, convince them of the ways it addresses their needs.”

Essentially, once you’re able to pinpoint the issue the potential had, and why they decided to abandon the purchase, you can offer that shopper the solution, directly into their inbox.

Allan Borch, from Dotcom Dollar, has another reason why customers leave before buying. “As for our experience, the main reason why our customers abandon their carts is due to the delivery fee that comes with the products. When this happens, we send a follow-up campaign and offer free delivery to our customers.”

Borch isn’t alone in that way of thinking, as Darren Litt from Huya Health, agrees. Litt states, “The number one cause of an abandoned cart is that the shipping cost or extra fees were too high. You can lure your customers to return to your online store by giving them a break on shipping and announcing this incentive in your subject line.”

Making some other good points as to why a customer would abandon their cart, and that someones one email just isn’t enough, is SmartrMail’s George Hartley: “One of the top reasons is that people simply got distracted and forgot or they encountered an issue during checkout. So your first abandoned cart email should simply remind people about their cart and ask if something went wrong and point them to your customer service.”

Hartley continues, “If that doesn’t bring the customer back, then address other leading causes of cart abandonment in your subsequent follow-ups. This could include waiving shipping fees or the tried-and-tested option of including a coupon.”

When Should You Send Abandoned Cart Emails?

Once you decide to begin a strategy around sending abandoned cart emails, you have to decide when it’s time to click send. It may depend on the size of your company, and even in the industry. You may even decide to try different intervals with different customer personas. 

Oli Walsh of Asystem shares, “Be sure to send the abandoned cart within one hour of them leaving the site and a second email within 24 hours.

Emails 3-5 can be sent once or twice a day depending on what you’re providing. Send the last email stating that there will be no more offers and this is their ‘last chance.’ The goal of an effective email campaign is to get the consumer to see you and your product and remind them that they can purchase from you.”

In agreement is Andrea Loubier of Mailbird, who also stresses the importance of not waiting too long, otherwise you’ll miss the sale altogether. Loubier states, “Be sure not to wait too long to send a follow up. When it comes to the online retail world, things move quickly. If a consumer is comparing products or services, you definitely don’t want to be the last one to reach out with additional information. There may definitely be something to be said about ‘the early bird catches the worm’.”

What is a Good Abandoned Cart Recovery Rate?

Once you start sending out these emails… how do you know you’re seeing success?

Some data metrics to keep in mind are:

  • Open rate: How many of your emails are actually getting opened and how many are being sent directly to trash?
  • Click through rate: Once your abandoned cart emails are opened, is the shopper actually clicking? Or are they simply opening, rolling their eyes, and deleting?
  • Conversation rate: How many of your emails actually lead to a cart being recovered?

Brandon Monaghan at Miracle Brand shares the types of KPIs you need to look out for in order to determine success. Monaghan explains, “ We look at open rates, click rate, and conversion to determine the effectiveness of the emails in order to continue to grow the funnel. In terms of what looks good and is effective, there are benchmarks per industry we work towards, taking into account the size of the store, size/quality of audience, and opportunity for repeat purchases. Outside of this, we ultimately look for continued improvement over time.

We optimize at each metric with the understanding that starting at the top of the funnel has an exponential effect on everything downstream:

  • How many people subscribe to the list
  • How many people open emails
  • How many people click
  • How many people buy
  • How many people buy again

For each metric, we start with a hypothesis and we test. We generally collect three data points to ensure the results are statistically relevant before we choose a winner and move on with the insight.”

Editor’s note: Looking for a way to monitor and track your abandoned cart emails? HubSpot’s email performance dashboard puts important KPIs front and center.

hubspot email performance template

Related: 26 Ways for Improving Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

9 Tips for Writing and Creating Highly-Converting Abandoned Shopping Cart Emails

If you aren’t impressed with the data you see from your emails, chances are you need some tips to really make your email go the extra mile. 

Not sure what to focus on exactly? According to our respondents, the most important elements of an effective abandoned cart email are the subject line, personalization, and email copy.

abandoned cart email elements

Now let’s dive into actionable tips for writing effective abandoned shopping cart emails.

  1. Lean on FOMO
  2. Get the items front and center
  3. Provide discounts that go the extra mile
  4. Don’t be afraid to get personal
  5. Offer more than a reminder
  6. Make sure the customer doesn’t need further assistance
  7. Add some humor
  8. Don’t overdo the discount
  9. Perfect the CTA

1. Lean on FOMO

Fear of missing out, otherwise referred to as FOMO, is real… especially in the world of e-commerce shopping. Making a shopper feel like an item they were interested in is potentially gone forever could make them coming back for more.

Karina Bulate of Live Buz Media elaborates to say, “Our biggest tip to create high-converting abandoned cart emails is to give an instant dose of FOMO. Remind your customers that they left a highly-rated product in the shopping cart with an email filled with social proof, like reviews. Also, try using a star rating in your subject line.”

2. Get the items front and center

If your abandoned cart email doesn’t remind the customer exactly what was in their cart, then it’s never going to pique their interest and get them to complete the purchase.

Holly Zorbas of Credit Donkey explains, “In my opinion, the most effective tip for creating a high-converting abandoned cart email is to provide a clear summary of cart contents. The key purpose is to tell people what they were about to buy, so the products must be center and front in emails. Show shoppers the products they were considering buying and be sure to enter the key information they need, such as price, and details like delivery cost or size. Images are essential to provide a fast reminder for shoppers. People may have rejected numerous other baskets, so it’s necessary to provide a strong visual cue.”

In agreement is Rellery’s Sally Rong, who shares, “Be sure to add the customer’s name, and even the products left in the cart. That way, it is even easier to review their purchases and simply click to finish their order.”

3. Provide discounts that go the extra mile

Having a discount within your abandoned cart email will only work if it adds personalized value in the eyes of the consumer.

Intelivita’s Oliva Baker elaborates further to say, “The best way to get the customers back to their carts is by offering personalized discounts and incentives. Keep in mind that one of the main reasons why people leave your site in the first place is by getting overwhelmed with the product’s prices. With this, initiate the campaign to justify how reasonable the price is and highlight the good points of the product. Follow it with a discount that would seal the success.”

4. Don’t be afraid to get personal

One sure-fire way for your abandoned cart email to end up directly in the trash? 

Sticking with a cookie-cutter template.

If you email shoppers content that feels personal, not only will you have a better chance of them opening, reading, and clicking through, but also completing the sale and buying the items they once abandoned.

To add a personal touch, Jessica Taylor of Lead Nerds shares, “The number one effective tip for creating a high-converting abandoned cart email is a personalized message. You have to add some character to those emails. When they are opened, have something unexpected in there like your team’s favorite GIF or something a customer might not be expecting.”

Eric Wu of Gainful also makes some great points in regards to personalizing your abandoned cart email based on each unique customer. “My tip for creating an effective email campaign is to sell with personalization. At Gainful, we recognize each customer is their own unique and individual person. With that thought at the forefront of our strategy, we offer a quiz on our website to tailor our products to our customers’ goals and lifestyles. 

When our customers receive their personalized products in the mail, they know that we’ve put the time and care into making sure the product is right for them. This emphasis on creating a personalized experience extends beyond our physical products, but also into every aspect of our website and marketing communications as well.”

Related: 6 Strategies Marketers Use to Write High-Converting Email Copy

5. Offer more than a reminder

Sometimes a shiny reminder in a customer’s inbox with the details of their abandoned items isn’t going to be enough. For those people. You’re going to have to offer something more.

Simon Reed at PPS Advisory suggests, “Don’t just remind, offer something, or share benefits.

Many abandoned cart emails are some kind of reminders. But rather than a reminder, you should inform the user with some amazing facts. For example, let them know they just earned $10. And that $10 is the product discount that is in the abandoned cart. Try to get attention smartly. Don’t just remind, but inform them about the benefits.”

6. Make sure the customer doesn’t need further assistance

While yes, usually a cart was abandoned because of the price or shipping fee, sometimes it could be because the shopper had a question, or needed help, and wasn’t sure how to get it. When that’s the case, your email can help point them in the right direction.

The Search Engine Shop’s Brendan Tully states, “Most ecommerce consulting clients we worked with do abandoned cart emails wrong and write them in a way that’s desperately trying to convert the customer, instead of trying to determine why they didn’t buy or what their objection was and overcome that.

We’ve found particularly with small to midsize online retailers that if you write the first email in a way where you’re asking the customer if they need help or more information, versus trying to shove discounts down their throat, abandoned cart emails will often be more successful.

Similarly, if you’re giving away discounts in your cart emails that customers can’t otherwise get, it’s often a wise move to flip this approach around and offer those discounts on the frontend of the site or in a welcome email.”

7. Add some humor

Your online store doesn’t have to be a joke shop to offer up some humor as a way to get your customers to return to their cart. Adding some humor will also be a great way to show the reader that your shop is more relatable than they thought.

Growth Hacker’s very own Jonathan Aufray elaborates to say, “Stand out and use humor.

Most e-commerce stores are now running abandoned cart email campaigns and they’re right to do so. Why? Because it increases sales and has a very high ROI. However, you don’t want to send another classic abandoned cart email. You want yours to be different and stand out.

Don’t just copy-paste abandoned cart email templates you find online. Be human and write like one. Using humor in your emails works well. For instance, by using smart play on words in your copy, you will increase your CTR significantly.”

In agreement is Jeremy Yeager L. of How to Do the Write Thing. Adding more insights on humor, Yeager shares, “You have to find a way to poke a little fun at the situation. Make a dumb joke. Even if it just makes them smirk it’s better than the hundreds of ‘Hey! You left this in your cart!’ emails.

Try different things and see if one works better than the other. Try something like: ‘Aren’t you tired of abandoned cart emails? Me too! So stop abandoning your cart.’ Or, ‘Knock knock.’ ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Your cart.’ ‘Your cart who?’ ‘No, I’m serious. You abandoned your cart.’

Silly stuff like this will keep more customers than ‘Hey! You’ve still got stuff in your cart!’”

Editor’s note: To see if your abandoned cart email is converting to customers and helping them make the final purchase, utilize this Mailchimp dashboard template for keeping track of your email campaigns.

mailchip email template

8. Don’t overdo the discount

There’s a fine line between offering a customer a discount and actually losing money on the sale. It’s key to keep your company’s profit margin in mind when sending out the abandoned cart email.

Elaborating on this is Dusan Stanar of VSS Monitoring. Stanar shares, “As the CEO of a company, in my opinion, the most effective tip for creating a high-converting abandoned cart email is not to offer to overdo discounts. It may be attractive to offer discounts in cart abandonment emails to lure people back to the checkout, but it’s essential to think thoroughly about using this tactic. 

Discounting too much and too often can harm profit margins, and could ‘train’ shoppers to drop in the expectation of discounts. Besides, the simple act of recalling shoppers about their purchase is usually all that’s needed to persuade them to return to their shopping cart. Rather, it’s best to use discounting tactically.”

9. Perfect the CTA

Last but certainly not least — Lewis Peters at Icethaw can’t stress enough how important it is to get the call to action right.

Peters states: “Nail the call to action. The call to action is arguably the most important element to any email marketing campaign, as it has to be enticing for the reader to click on but not overly obtuse or in your face that the user will simply click away or even worse – an incorrectly linked CTA can render your entire campaign literally useless. 

When sending abandoned cart emails, keep in mind that the audience is already interested in your product/service, and is very close to making a purchase. Enticing them with a small discount code or reinforcing the benefits of your product. We like to get a few ideas and A/B tests to ensure that we can get an idea of what works the most effectively and the key is to keep experimenting!”

In agreement is Alexandra Zamolo at Beekeeper, who understands that sometimes the CTA can be incorporated into the subject line. Zamolo shares, “In almost every marketing situation, the subject line is the determining factor whether the recipient even opens the email. Therefore, any innovative design or creative content is lost if the subject line is not compelling. Keep it short, but to the point. If it’s too “gimmicky,” it may be sent directly to spam.”

Because everyone needs a little retail therapy

Crafting the right abandoned cart email that does more than just remind your customers of items they failed to purchase can do wonders for your business. Don’t be afraid to try more than one strategy and get creative. 

About the author
Mara Calvello
Mara Calvello Mara is a freelance writer at Databox and a Content Marketing Manager at G2. In her spare time, she's either at the gym, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, enjoying the great outdoors with her rescue dog Zeke, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable.

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