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Cart Abandonment Emails: Best Practices and Examples

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Want to recover lost revenue from abandoning shoppers? Here are 6 must have abandoned cart email ingredients to persuade shoppers to close the deal.

A couple weeks ago I shared tips on crafting a winning Welcome Series. As you might recall, I called Onboarding and Welcome emails the #1 most important emails you’ll ever send. You’ve probably been on the edge of your seat asking yourself “If Welcome Emails are #1 wtf is #2?!”. Well the wait is over. Cart Recovery emails, my friends, are arguably the second most important emails you can send.

Unless you live under a rock or have amazing will power, you’ve likely shopped online, which means that you have definitely abandoned a cart or two. You are not alone. In fact, according to SalesCycle, approximately 75.6% of carts were abandoned in 2018.

What Are Cart Abandonment Emails?

Cart abandonment emails or cart recovery emails are emails that are sent automatically whenever a shopper comes to your site, adds an item to their cart, and then leaves you (and their cart!) high and dry. They are often triggered after a certain amount of time has gone by since the shopper abandons the checkout flow.

As a marketer, I don’t look at abandoned emails the same as a consumer. I see right through Lululemon’s email reminding me that I forgot about the 14 pairs of leggings in my cart and that I qualify for free shipping. Yeah, I know they are there, and they will remain there until some magical fairy drops a couple thousand dollars in my bank account….

But to a non-marketing, average joe shopper, cart abandonment emails work. Plain and simple:

46.1% of people open cart abandonment emails, 13.3% click inside the email, and of those clicks, more than 35% end up buying something.

Why Do People Abandon Carts

Without knowing the why, crafting winning cart recovery emails is pretty tough. According to SalesCycle, here are the top four reasons people abandon their carts:

  • They are just browsing

  • Issues with shipping (thanks, Amazon!)

  • They are comparing products from different retailers

  • The final price is more than what they expected

You’re never going to persuade all cart-abandoners to go through the checkout, but it’s worth putting in the effort to resolve as many lingering hesitations as you can because a significant percentage of them are persuadable.

6 Ingredients of a Successful Cart Abandonment Email

With a great e-commerce marketing automation strategy, you can craft a winning abandoned cart email and then sit back and recoup some lost dough. In order to be successful, there are some important things you need to include in your cart abandonment emails. Here are 6 ingredients that make a cart abandonment email super persuasive:

#1 Timing is Everything

We recommend triggering an email about an hour after abandonment. Any longer and you might miss the window and any shorter and you might look a little too desperate.

Looking to put in some extra credit? The folks over at Omnisend noticed that ecommerce marketers who use a series of 3 cart abandonment emails have the best order rates: they’re seeing 69% more orders on average than those marketers sending only one cart abandonment email.

In a three-parter, typically the first email is a general reminder, the next email goes into some detail about why what’s in your cart is so awesome, and then number 3 tries to hook you with a discount or offer you can't refuse.

#2 Your Subject Line is Critical

The goal here is to have the customer open your email so you want to be creative, but also get to the point. Here are some ideas:

  • Ooops, you forgot something. J Crew

  • Hey, forget something? Here's [Percentage] off. Bonobos

  • Free shipping on your [Company] order. Huckberry

  • Still thinking it over, [Name]?

  • You’re so close

  • Your [Product] is almost ready to ship

  • Wow, [Name}, you have great taste

#3 Include a Visual Reminder of What They’ve Abandoned

Nothing is more powerful than an image of the product to remind folks what they are leaving on the table. This isn’t creepy and it’s an important step!

#4 Make It Super Easy to Shop the Product(s)

With cart abandonment emails, the action you want someone to take is pretty obvious: buy the product.

One simple bold and attractive CTA can really grab the attention of the shopper and push them towards sealing the deal. Whether it’s sending them back to their cart, or to the product itself, make this CTA super clear.

#5 Get Creative with Copy

Besides attractive images and CTA buttons, it’s important that you have convincing and customer-centric copy that’s ultimately pushing towards conversions.

“Short and sweet” is the name of the game here, so be creative and on brand, but get to the point early and quickly.

#6 Offer a Discount

As I mentioned above, two of the four reasons people say “Peace Out!” during the checkout process are because of shipping or the price. Offering discounts and offers such as ‘free shipping’ can significantly help you close a deal. If I were in your shoes, I’d set up an A/B test to see what a difference a discount makes. You might discover that emails with no deal do just as well if not better than your emails offering a discount (I’ve seen it before!). Who knows, the nudge in and of itself might be enough for your customers. You’ll never know if you don’t test!

Get Inspired: Cart Abandonment Email Examples Here are some of our favorite cart abandonment email examples to model your own “come back to us and make this official” versions: Chubbies Key components to steal: compelling visuals and great copy

Warby Parker Key components to steal: Great copy, free shipping is front and center, a visual of what’s been abandoned, plus a customer service call out.

Chefs Catalog

Key components to steal: Witty copy (full disclosure, I worked for Chefs and created this), compelling imagery, visual of what’s been abandoned.

Bonobos Key components to steal: Fun imagery, short and sweet copy, simple CTA, plus a customer service callout.


Key components to steal: Engaging copy, a discount, images of the wines left behind, clear CTA

Wrapping Up

Shopping season is about to get real people so I hope this blog has:

1. Convinced you of how important Cart Abandonment Emails are;

2. Given you the confidence to whip one up ASAP.

Need some help either crafting an email and/or setting up the automation? We got you. Drop us a line and let’s get you rackin’ in that unclaimed dough! _______

About the Author: Founder. Dreamer. Master of None. It's been 9 years since Jules has been paying off her Masters Degree in Social Work loans—zero years of which have involved doing actual Social Work. Instead, she's built a career decoding the puzzle that is the internet and digital marketing. Experienced. Humble. Often burned by auto-correct. Jules created Rolling Hills Media so she could write her own rules and to help brands do the same.

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