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The Ultimate Guide to Browse Abandonment Emails

September 7, 2020

When an online shopper leaves one of your company’s products in their cart, you send them an email letting them know. (At least you should be doing that!) But, what if they — like most potential customers — never actually make it to the cart? Simple. You turn to a browse abandonment strategy.

And we’ll help walk you through all of the steps involved with converting these lost shoppers into customers. Here’s what you’ll learn about browse abandonment in our extensive guide:

  • What is browse abandonment?
  • What’s the solution?
  • Browse abandonment strategy
  • Best practices
  • Email examples
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What is browse abandonment?

In case you’re new to this term or need a bit of a refresher, here’s a definition of browse abandonment:

  • Browse abandonment is when a visitor lands on your website, views a product or category, and leaves without adding any items to their cart.

We guess you could think about it like online window shopping.

Window shopping

They enjoy looking at your products but, for whatever reason, never added the item to their cart to make a purchase.

Unlike with cart abandonment, this practice doesn’t involve the shopper putting anything in their cart. So, it’s like a step before cart abandonment, you might say. But, that doesn’t mean it’s any less important to re-engage these shoppers. Actually, it’s just the opposite.

Solution to browse abandonment

Once a person commits the crime of browse abandonment, what should you do? (OK, it’s not a crime, but it sure does sting, doesn’t it?) The answer is simple: Send them an email.

We’ll go into more detail about what the email should look like, but it’s just an automated, targeted message to shoppers who viewed certain products on your website. The email serves as a reminder to the shopper that they expressed interest in an item.

And if you’re already saying that you don’t have time for something like that, might we remind you that it’s automated. So, you set it up and let the email boost your ROI. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

We’re sure you’re already putting a lot of effort into recovering users who abandoned their cart, right? However, not as many resources focus on the browse abandonment users. And we are here to tell you that’s a mistake. 

Consider these statistics:

  • 97 percent of first-time users leave an ecommerce store without making a purchase
  • 85 percent of those users never add anything to their cart
  • 42 percent of revenue is generated from browse abandonment campaigns

Each view, visit, click, and search done on your site is a shopper expressing some level of interest in your products. You just have to figure out how interested they are in making a purchase and what you can do to encourage that conversion.

A data-driven approach that leverages browser behavior data — including browse abandonment — could be the key to unlocking higher conversions and ROI. Browse abandonment emails are key to your conversion rate optimization strategy and have been shown to convert six times more than other marketing channels. 

You can use email-based retargeting platforms like to collect the email addresses for browse abandonment visitors.

While converting traffic is a great goal, it’s also important to effectively re-engage your website visitors. By using browse abandonment emails you can push them back to the spot they left off, no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey. Even if they don’t end up making a purchase right then, you’re laying the groundwork to nurture that relationship.

So, the question isn’t if you should incorporate this marketing practice but how you can start using it now.

Browse abandonment strategy

Before you can start putting your browse abandonment email campaign to work, you’ll need to build a browse abandonment series. You can create that series via your email service provider (ESP).

Here are components you’ll need to figure out when creating your browse abandonment email strategy.

Targeted audience

You need to know who you want to send the emails to. For example, do you want to target everyone who abandons a browser, or do you only want to reach a specific audience within your list?

The performance of browse abandonment emails can be improved by segmenting and changing the message and tone for different customer groups, tailoring content by on-site behavior. You can also highlight selling points like next-day or free delivery.

Email series

When you send the emails and how many you send can have a big impact on the campaign’s results. For example, someone casually viewing a pair of shoes on your site doesn’t want to be bombarded with emails encouraging them to buy them. So, the frequency and volume of the emails needs to match the shopper’s level of interest.

Here are things to consider when trying to gauge their intent:

  • How far were they from making the purchase when they abandoned the website? The closer, the higher the interest.
  • How recently did they visit? Was it an hour ago or last week? You want to reach them soon after they take an action on your site.
  • How often do they visit? The more frequently they are viewing the product, the more likely they are to eventually make a purchase — making them a hotter lead.

Overall, a good starting point is to send one or two emails. You’ll be able to get the product back in front of them without overwhelming them. 

As for how quickly you want to send these emails, time is of the essence. Remember, they only browsed the product (it’s not in their cart), so send the email within a few hours (day at the latest) of them leaving your page.

Browse abandonment best practices

After you know who you want to reach with the email, when you’re going to send, and how many emails you want to send to each shopper, it’s time to start laying out the different components of the email. Here are some best practices for creating engaging browse abandonment emails.

Subject lines

The first thing the recipient will see is the email’s subject line, so don’t let it disappoint. It’s either going to get them to open the email or send it to their Trash. The purpose of the subject line is to tell them why you’re emailing them and encourage them to check out whatever they were viewing.

Here are some examples of browse abandonment subject lines:

  • Take a second look
  • We saw you checking us out
  • Recommended just for you
  • Did you see something you liked?
  • [NAME], your [PRODUCT] is waiting!
  • We noticed you noticing something pretty great
  • We saw you peeping…

Stick with something that’s short, sweet, and to the point. You can add in a touch of personalization or an emoji to help the email stand out, as well.

This browse abandonment email from American Giant uses the subject line, “Did you see something you liked?” Then the body text says, “Hi there, we noticed that you were browsing our site but that you haven’t checked out yet.” 

They then encourage them to reach out to Customer Service if they have any questions. That’s helpful because the visitor might have left the site because of an issue.

American Giant


Once they open your email, you want to make it worth their while. And luckily for you, browse abandonment emails don’t have to be in-depth or flashy when it comes to the content. Actually, it’s better when they aren’t.

Here are the basic elements you’ll want in the body of the email:

  • Tell them why they are getting the email (i.e. they browsed and left)
  • Prominent call to action (CTA) to get back to the product(s)
  • Photo, description, and price of the item(s)

All of these components make it easier for the user to recollect what they abandoned.

Take this Target browse abandonment email for example:

The only text in the email is, “It’s an *add-to-cart* kind of day.” That’s followed by a clear CTA: “Shop now.” It doesn’t get any more basic than that, and it works! Below the CTA, Target shows the photo, description, and price for the item(s) that they browsed, followed by the “Check it out” CTA. 

  • Bonus: They also remind shoppers they will save 5 percent if they use their RedCard, giving them an incentive to purchase.

If you want to take your email a step further, you can include a “Recommended for you” section with related products. Since they were only browsing and didn’t actually add it to their cart, they might want to see other options. That’s exactly what Target does at the bottom of the email:

Get personal (not creepy)

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with email retargeting, to a certain extent. And as more brands are focusing on browse abandonment, shoppers will come to expect this type of message. 

To help yours stand out from the pack, add personal touches, like putting their names in the subject line or email. That will show them:

  • They aren’t just a number to your company
  • That you care about them as a customer
  • The email is for them
  • That you know what they’re interested in

While this email marketing practice isn’t new, you still want to be careful with how personal you get. People know their online behaviors are being tracked, but there’s a fine line between personalized and stalker.

For example:

  • You can thank them for checking out your products and include a link if they want to view it again. But, you wouldn’t want to say something like, “We see you visited our site on Monday at 1:33 p.m. and viewed these 10 pages.” You get the point.

You can also find more ideas about what to send your contacts in this video:

Create urgency

Just like you want to send the browse abandonment email shortly after they leave your site, you also want them to head back to your website ASAP. You can do that by creating a sense of urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO).

For example: 

  • Tell them there are only a few left — giving them a specific number of items left. Or, give them a coupon for the product category that expires in a few days. That way, they can use it on another item if the one they initially browsed wasn’t exactly what they were looking for.

Browse abandonment email examples

Want more inspiration? Check out these browse abandonment emails from a variety of brands.


This email approach is popular with several brands, including Columbia. They send browsers a message letting them know the price has gone down on something they viewed, along with other items they might like. 

We like their CTA, “Reveal New Price,” because it gives the recipient even more reason to click it. If for nothing else, they are probably just curious to see how much it costs now. While they don’t include the price for the main item (because of the mystery CTA approach), they do include the price for the recommended products.


Anytime you can tailor the content to your brand, do it! LEGO does a great job of staying true to the brand’s voice and products with the text, “Like what you saw? Make it yours in a snap!” They go with a simple CTA, “Shop Now,” followed by the product description below. 

But, instead of simply displaying the product they browsed, they include the text, “Go ahead, take another look,” above it. Again, that helps set their messaging apart from the dozens of others consumers receive on a daily basis. LEGO ends the email using their products to represent support, deliveries, and parts, so you have to love that.


This browse abandonment email from Adidas is a little bit longer than your average one, but it works for what they’re trying to do. “Is your wi-fi okay?” is a fun and easy way to see why they left your site before making a purchase.

Something else we like about this email is how they share reviews for the product they viewed. Consumers love to see what other people have to say about a product, so this brings that information straight to their inbox. They even included a review that wasn’t four stars, which gives the brand credibility.


This email from Framebridge comes off more like a deal message, which is especially effective for when someone has been looking at several products within a category. They start out the email with “We see you have great taste,” which shows this email is targeted to the recipient, without being too straightforward about what they browsed.

They follow that up with “Top Products Hand Selected for You,” with photos and the CTA, “Start framing now,” for the different options.


Still have some questions about using browse abandonment? Check out these FAQs.

Q. When should you send a browse abandonment email?

A. The best time to send one is within an hour or two after a visitor browses your ecommerce site and leaves without placing an item in their cart. The sooner you send the email, the more likely they are to remember viewing the product. And by waiting an hour or two, you give them time to go back to the site if they planned to.

Q. Are there ways to prevent browse abandonment?

A. While email retargeting helps after a visitor has already browsed and left your site, pop-ups and other forms of communication on your website can help reduce the chance of them leaving without making a purchase. On-site messages can tell the visitor the product they are looking at has a limited availability, offer them a discount, or see if they want to speak to customer service. 

These kinds of messages can be incredibly effective in moving customers further down the purchasing funnel, which ultimately reduces browse abandonment.

Q. Is it OK to send a second browse abandonment email if they don’t engage with the first?

A. Absolutely! Here’s an example of how you can space them out:

  1. Give them a day or two between the first and second email, and then try to reach them again with a different message.
  2. If they don’t go to your site after the second email, though, you can take them out of the browse abandonment email series and try another targeted approach later. Maybe they just aren’t that interested in the original product.

Q. Can you use browse abandonment on your Shopify site?

A. Yes. While Shopify doesn’t offer browse abandonment automations directly on their platform, you can use third-party integrations or an ESP that integrates with Shopify.

Q. How does help with browse abandonment?

A. At, we focus on email-based retargeting. For us, that means using identification technology — usually cookies or cross-device ID — to identify anonymous website visitors. Those visitors are then matched to a partner network database of contact records (with opt-ins), and the end user is sent email addresses of people who aren’t already on their list.

So, we can identify some of your site’s visitors, from browse abandonment and beyond. Check out this video for more information:

Time to create your browse abandonment campaigns!

Stop losing potential customers, and start targeting them with browse abandonment campaigns. Considering most site visitors never put anything in their cart — like 95 percent of them — you don’t want to miss out on the chance to reach this large audience.

So, start by creating an automated browse abandonment email series that will help bring some of that lost traffic back to your site!

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