Not all emails are created equal. That’s why different companies have such a range of open and click-through rates. Abandoned cart emails are no different. To ensure yours is going to bring you the best results and get that contact back to their cart, incorporate these best practices into your abandoned cart email strategy. Which of course should be part of your overall retention marketing strategy.
With that, let's get started!
This is the first thing users will see when you send them an abandoned cart email, so don't disappoint. Nearly half of all email recipients say they open an email based on the subject line. So, what should you say to get the open?
The best approach is to keep your subject line simple and to the point. Let them know exactly why they are receiving this message. Consumers receive hundreds of emails a day, so cut to the chase.
Not sure what to include in your subject line? Try some of these components:
- Company name: Let them know who is contacting them.
- Customer name: Email personalization may help you get more opens.
- Friendly tone: If you can’t imagine saying it to a friend in normal conversation, rephrase your subject line.
- Product details: What exactly did they leave in their cart? Remind them.
- Urgency: If they might lose the items in their cart, let them know.
- Simplicity: Because the decision to open your email is made within seconds
Here are more than 10 examples of subject lines that work:
- Cart reserved: Open to see
- Don’t miss out! Your cart is expiring soon
- Empty your cart with 25% off
- Take 10 percent off before your cart is gone
- Still deciding? Your [PRODUCT] is waiting!
- Did you forget about me?
- [CUSTOMER NAME], did you forget something?
- Oops, you forgot something
- Where’d you go?!
- A gentle reminder…
- Your cart is expiring. You may qualify for free shipping
- There’s something in your cart
- Thinking about [PRODUCT]?
- Did you forget about me, [NAME]?
- Your cart MADE us send this reminder
- Is your wi-fi ok?
Adding personalized information, like the shopper’s name or the item they left in their cart, will better catch their attention and clearly state this email is just for them.
Create a sense of urgency
Alerting potential customers they might lose the items they’ve placed in their carts is a great way to tap into the scarcity effect as a marketing tactic, as long as you’re being honest.
You can do that by incorporating one of these tactics into your email:
- Reserve their cart for a limited amount of time (with a countdown)
- If their item is limited edition, let the know it won’t be restocked
- Set an alert showing how many other people have the item in their cart (similar to how travel sites tell you how many people have viewed that property in the past 24 hours)
- Let people know if their item is likely to sell out due to popularity
This email from Google is a great example of creating urgency:
From the headline, “Going, going, (almost) gone,” to the content saying their popular items sell out fast, this cart abandonment email is all about creating a sense of urgency. The email is short and to the point, which is a definite must for this type of message.
They also include the company’s contact information, which consumers could use if they had any questions or issues. That’s great to include in case the original reason they didn’t make the purchase was because of an issue or question.
If your subject line does the trick, your potential customer will have made their way into the email body. Yay! Now that they are there, you’ll want to make sure your content makes these three points:
- They liked something enough to put it in their basket
- It was left in their online shopping cart
- They should return and complete their purchase
Everything you should include in your email is a means to that end. Basic elements to include in the email that will help you reach that goal include:
- Shopper’s name (if you know it)
- Sentence reminding them they haven’t completed their purchase yet
- Details about what they left in their cart
Your brand’s personality needs to shine through with every piece of marketing content, including your cart abandonment emails. That allows you to recover sales by being distinctive in a cluttered inbox.
This is a great example from Columbia:
The reason for your abandoned cart email is to get that shopper back to their cart to complete the purchase. One major part of doing that is showing them exactly what they’ve left behind.
- Don’t hide that information: Reveal that product like it’s on the Price is Right.
Using a large product image can turn a good abandoned cart email into a great one. Your abandoned cart email should be designed to reignite your customer’s excitement. There’s a reason the shopper added the item to the cart in the first place, so remind them of that.
People might not remember what products had them clicking the “add to cart” button in the first place. If they open your email and are still confused, they’re probably going to delete the email, and you’ve lost a potential sale. So, make the product image the main event.
Maybe they didn’t complete the purchase because the product wasn’t the best one for them. To combat that issue, you can (sometimes) include an alternative product to the one in their cart. We say “sometimes” here because you might not want to do that with every abandonment email, since that could take away from the main one they really do want. They did add it to their cart, after all.
You could send them an email with the product in their cart as the main image. Then, include two or three similar product photos (with links) below that, in case one of those better catches their eye.
This approach is similar to what you see on Amazon’s “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” section:
Or, you can try showing them related items to include in their cart that won’t distract from the primary product, such as:
- Accessories for the main item
- Different patterns or colors for the same item
You want to give them items of value, without taking away from the item they obviously like.
There are several reasons why people might leave their cart, as we covered above. So, why not address a few of those possible problems or questions in your email? That will help you cover several bases and get them back to their cart.
Using your customer research and website usability testing (or some of the top reasons we mentioned above), create an email that shows you understand their concerns and will address those issues directly with this abandoned cart email. That’s exactly what Whisky Loot did in this fun email:
The brand stays true to its voice by sharing a lighthearted checklist of things customers can do with their product. The email also answers questions that might be holding up people from making the purchase.
This is a great tactic you can easily incorporate into your message. You can use some of the top questions you hear from people on your:
- Social media pages
Besides some of the top concerns — like shipping costs or returns — it can also help to include if you offer financing information for more expensive items. For example, if you provide 0% interest, include that in your abandoned cart email.
Big-ticket items require a significant commitment from an online shopper. These purchases are a big decision. It's your job to convince customers to trust in your brand, and the safety of financing without interest gives customers one less reason to bail out of the purchase. A large, “0% interest” banner is perfect for your price-conscious customers.
(Bonus: For expensive items, incentives like an offer or free gift are great ways of enticing the customer to complete their purchase — especially if that gift is an accessory matching the abandoned item.)
Also, make sure to give them contact information for your company if they have other questions, in case you didn’t cover theirs.
Call to action
Let them know exactly what you want them to do once they open your email (i.e. purchase the items in their cart). Do that by making the CTA prominent in your design. The components of a good CTA for an abandonment email are:
- Be direct (but nice). Your button could say “Return to your cart,” instead of using words like “buy” or “pay”
- Only include one CTA to make sure it’s clear what you want them to do (though there are a few exceptions to that rule, which we will cover later)
- Color/design of the CTA stands out from the rest of the email body
Here’s an example from Bearsville Soap Company that uses the “Return to your cart” CTA:
The CTA emphasizes how easily they can finish the checkout process they started, without being pushy. We also like the bear emoji in the subject line, which helps the message stand out and reinforce branding.
You can set up a series that goes out all on its own – and wins back revenue that would otherwise have disappeared. Like we mentioned above, you’ll want to send the first email fairly soon after they leave their cart. You should also continue to follow up with them using a series of emails if they don’t complete their purchase after the initial email.
This example sequence is one that many brands, including Target, use following a cart abandonment. It starts on Day 3:
- 3: Send first email with a subject line like “Come back and see what’s new,” with some sort of personalization at the front — “Kids’ Clothing: Come back & see what’s new”
- 4: Send a significant discount across the entire category the user was browsing. The offer should be front and center, placed directly in the subject line and as the first call out in the body of the email — “Need kid’s clothing? Take up to 25% off today”
- 4: A few hours after the first email is sent that day, send out another like “The price dropped for something in your cart”
- 5: Resend the notification regarding the price drop with an updated subject line — “Price drop alert”
- 6: If the previous attempts have failed, you can switch back to more category-specific offers. So, if they had originally added children’s clothing to their cart, you could try something like, “All of the outfits they’ll need for school.”
- 7: Pick out personalized products based on what’s in their cart. For example, if they added a boy’s sweater with a dinosaur on it, send them other clothing options that have dinosaurs on them with a subject line like, “Outfits he’ll roar about!”
As you can see, an abandoned cart email strategy includes way more than just one message. You want to use the information you have on them, like what they’re interested in, to provide the most targeted emails possible.
Here’s an example of an email series Wayfair sent after we added curtains to our cart:
They sent a total of five abandoned cart emails spanning nearly two months. These are the subject lines they used:
- CURTAINS you’ll love!!
- The curtain for you!
- CURTAINS & DRAPES: Living Room **SALE**
- ▓▓▓▓ CURTAINS & DRAPES ▓▓▓▓
- CURTAINS you’ll love!! [This one was sent at the beginning and end of their email series]
This is the email they ended the campaign with, which was similar to the first one we got:
They not only showcased the product we had originally added to our cart (curtains), but they also included other popular home items.
What do you do before making a purchase? We’d venture to say the vast majority of you look at reviews to see what others have to say about a product first. We all want to see that social proof, so use that to your brand’s advantage by including reviews in your abandoned cart emails.
Go through your reviews, and pull out the best ones for the product or service they’ve looked at. If you don’t have any, reach out to your top customers for one. The subject line could be:
- See what others are saying about [PRODUCT]
- Why this [PRODUCT] earned a 5-star review
- Our most talked about products
Like with any of your email marketing campaigns, you’ll need to include an Unsubscribe button or link somewhere in the body of your email. Make unsubscribing as easy as possible, so don’t try to hide it or make it super small.
It doesn’t help you or the shopper if they aren’t interested in receiving your emails, and they can always resubscribe later if they choose. If you try to force people into receiving your emails and buying your stuff, you’re destined for complaints, failures, and a struggle to maintain profitability. Let people opt-out before they start to distrust or dislike your brand.
An effective unsubscribe button usually is at the bottom of an email. That’s where readers will look. Try to use a different color, font, or even use italics to make an unsubscribe CTA stand out. You don't need to go overboard with font size. You can keep a smaller size font if you want, but make sure it’s readable.
Abandoned cart emails are about more than getting the shopper to complete their purchase. The email should also be helpful and answer questions so they can complete the purchase when they're ready.
Take this opportunity to create a lasting relationship with your customers and aim to convert your shopper into a loyal brand fan. You want them to become promoters of your business, not just a one-time customer.
While short-term profits from discounting and sales promotion are great, what happens when your promos run out and it’s just a regular day? If you have an effective email cart abandonment strategy in place, you won't have to worry about not having a sale to lure them in.
- You'll know your customers agree with the price you sell your products for.
- They'll be willing to purchase for the full price.
You’ve seen the stats, best practices, and tons of examples. You have power and knowledge. We’ve given you everything you need to make your abandoned cart emails the best they can be.
Even if you follow these steps to a T, you might not be able to capture every single abandoned cart user. Not every shopper is serious about making a purchase, or maybe they are just comparing products.
Even if you don’t close every sale, you’re creating a solid foundation that will help the visitor learn about your brand, that you care about current/prospective customers, and make it easier for them to find your products if and when they decide to make a purchase.
It takes several interactions with a consumer before they ever convert, and abandoned cart emails are a great way to start engaging with them. So, it’s time to get started, and add them to your marketing strategy!