You’re on the train home from work. Bored, you begin browsing your favorite sneaker shop’s online store. You come across a few items you’d like to buy and throw them in your cart. Before you know it, the train comes to a stop, and it’s time to shuffle off and head home.
A half-hour after you get home (pants already removed, of course), your phone dings with a new email. “Where’d you go? Don’t leave your new shoes behind!” the subject line reads. You really wanted those items, so you hop in and complete your purchase.
Of course, this is the ideal situation many email marketers daydream about on their commutes home. But, not every abandoned cart situation is that simple, nor every abandoned cart email as effective.
There are a myriad of reasons that shoppers leave products in their carts —and just as many email strategies to reduce that abandoned cart rate.
That’s why we compiled this guide—to help you avoid the fluff with emails that drive return conversions
First, what’s an abandoned cart email?
Abandoned cart emails are triggered (automatic) emails that are sent after an e-commerce customer browses a website and adds items to their cart but then exits — without completing a purchase.
One way to think of them is like a batch of emails being sent to your customers with one mission, “No cart left behind.” Abandoned cart emails should be viewed as one aspect of the overall email strategy to re-engage shoppers and trigger shopping behavior. This is especially true right after they exit a website when the products are still-top-of-mind.
… and this happens a lot. Did you know that the average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.57%? That means only 3 out of every 10 online shopping sessions result in revenue for that e-commerce company. Ouch. So what can you do to bring potential customers back to your site?
Online shoppers abandon their shopping carts for many reasons: forgetfulness or distraction, sticker shock, shipping cost or time, inconvenient return policies, poor reviews, or even discovering more favorable competing products.
Not to worry, however. The right abandoned cart emails can help revive that beloved browsing behavior — regardless of why the shopper exited in the first place.
How do abandoned cart emails work?
Abandoned cart emails are an exact science, but they’re not necessarily rocket science. They’re actually pretty simple.
Abandoned cart emails are a special breed of triggered emails. Triggered emails are sent at a specific time (such as on a holiday) or after a specific behavior (such as after a purchase).
However, the times and behaviors triggering these emails change depending on the email campaign. For example, a company promoting a New Year’s sale will trigger their emails to send January 1st.
While timing should be an important consideration, abandoned cart emails don’t necessarily have to be reliant on a certain time to send. Instead, these are sent once someone adds an item to their cart and leaves without submitting any payment information.
Let’s say a shopper—we’ll name her Sam—is browsing your website. Here’s how her abandoned cart email would trigger:
- Sam arrives on your website.
- Sam inputs her email (through an exit-intent popup, through your chatbot, while she creating an account, as she checks out, etc.).
- A tool like BounceX identifies her as a shopper and records that data.
- Sam browses your website and places things in her cart.
- Sam exits your website without making a purchase.
- The cart abandonment behavior triggers the first abandoned cart email to send at your scheduled time. Sam receives it in the inbox of the email she submitted on your website.
- If your abandoned cart email is part of a larger sequence, Sam will receive any other emails you’ve created and scheduled.
- Reminded of her desire to buy the productSam returns to your website and completes her purchase.
Voila! That’s how abandoned cart emails work. Now, let’s get into why they work so effectively.
So why are abandoned cart emails so effective?
When it comes to the effectiveness of abandoned cart emails, the numbers don’t lie. Based on BounceX data and findings, triggered emails—including abandoned cart emails—generate 24x more revenue per send. They also have significantly more endurance than your average email, with nearly a quarter of engagement happening more than 24 hours after the first send and almost 3% happening at 2 weeks.
Triggered emails also result in much higher engagement rates, including 2.2x open rates, 2.1x click rates, and 4.1x conversion rates.
So, why do abandoned cart emails work? Abandoned cart emails are tailored to each individual recipient— beyond a personalized greeting or, worse, a spray-and-pray approach. They’re strategically sent after each recipient’s shopping trip and include items they were browsing or considering buying, making them more relevant to the recipient.
No longer are your most effective emails about traffic and volume. According to BounceX CEO Ryan Urban, “Retailers need to move away from batch-and-blast, billboard-like emails if they want to build real relationships with consumers. This process starts with identification, scales with a blend of consumer data, and ends with a renewed focus on [your] brand story.”
So what strategy is most effective to create emails that avoid billboard messaging and convince users to convert?
Abandoned Cart Email Strategy
You can’t send abandoned cart emails without email addresses, so, before anything else, your first phase should be email collection. For this, you’ll need to show your customers the value provided by giving you their email address.
One way to capture email addresses by providing value before checkout is to set up an exit-intent popup form when a visitor attempts to exit the site. Visitors can input their email to subscribe to the great content from newsletter, get a discount, or receive updates on the products in their carts.
Another way to gather emails before a purchase is through a service chatbot. Visitors utilize chatbots only when they need and want to, meaning that they’re likely ready to interact with your brand in some way.
Chatbots typically ask for emails after assisting customers, to further help the visitor or send a summary of the chat, which leads to a more natural exchange of information. This process is typically less intrusive or lengthy than a form or popup.
Kris Mobayeni, AVP of Marketing at BounceX, recommends yet another strategy: “Collect emails ahead of any steps or pages that see high drop-off. For example, the first step of the checkout process on mobile sees high abandonment. Most e-commerce sites have a Guest Checkout button that people click to start the checkout process. Instead of just having that CTA on its own, work in a field with copy that says, ‘Enter your email to begin guest checkout’. That way, if visitors abandon on the next step, the website at least has the email address they can use to remarket.”
These data collection strategies can help you gather email information from shoppers who’ve placed items in their carts but haven’t yet created an account or completed a purchase—enabling you to accurately send your abandoned cart emails.
The next phase is shopper identification. Without good identification, brands aren’t able to identify the shoppers that they have permission to email. When it comes to abandoned cart emails, identification is key to providing that personalized, tailored email experience that has shoppers re-engaging with your brand.
In years past, marketers have relied on tracking cookies to identify website visitors, but with today’s shoppers using multiple devices and clearing their history often these cookies are all but rendered useless during online shopping. Oneway to avoid this is by identifying who’s shopping on your website through users who have online accounts with your brand. However, only 25% of shopping traffic actually takes the time to log in.
To truly understand who’s browsing your website, regardless of device or login status, you should invest in a third-party solution, like BounceX. BounceX can help you identify and recognize your visitors without relying on cookie technology so you can send accurately tailored abandoned cart emails no matter how audiences access your site.
Finally, the last phase is customer segmentation. Once you’re able to identify the shoppers on your website—and those who are abandoning their carts—you’ll be able to segment them to further personalize your emails.
Consider segmenting your customers by:
- First-time cart abandoners
- Returning cart abandoners
- Customers who abandon their carts
- Cart abandoners with high-value items in their carts
- Cart abandoners with high ROI items in their cart
- Cart abandoners with matching items or sets of items
Your abandoned cart emails will only be as successful as their relevance to each recipient. What motivates an existing customer who’s abandoned a high-value item in their cart is probably different than what might motivate a first time shopper.
Moreover, different types of shoppers will have different experiences and perceptions of your brand. While your brand story should remain consistent in your emails, you might choose to include more information about your company in those abandoned cart emails sent to first-time shoppers.
Abandoned Cart Email Sequence
Now that you know how to segment the audience that will be receiving your emails, let’s talk about how often you should send them and what they should say. Before you start creating the copy for your abandoned cart emails, you should map out the entire sequence.
There are three major factors to tackle here:
- Timing and frequency
What’s the best time to send abandoned cart emails?
To reiterate, your abandoned cart emails will only be as successful as their relevance to each recipient, and that includes their shopping behavior. The best timing for your abandoned cart emails depends your customer behavior and which products they’re shopping for.
Consider the time to sale for your customers when creating your cadence. Kris Mobayeni shares BounceX’s best practice: “Send the first part of the series 30 minutes after abandonment, then each subsequent part 24 hours after the previous. So, if you have a three-part series, it’d be 30 mins > 24 hours > 48 hours after abandonment. This will be adjusted based on the industry, though. For example, travel and ticketing have a little more urgency because by 48 hours the flight or event they were shopping for could have passed.”
Another way to approach this is to calculate your average order value (AOV).
Here are a couple examples. If your AOV is, let’s say, $100 or less, it’s safe to consider that a customer may not take a lot of time or thought to make a purchase. For this reason, you don’t need to leave a lot of time between abandoned cart emails. Your abandoned cart email sequence may be:
- Email #1: 30 minutes after abandonment
- Email #2: 24 hours after
- Email #3: 48 hours after
- Email #4: 1 week after
On the other hand, if your AOV is more than $100, customers may need more time to consider a purchase. In this case, it may be smart to spread out of your email sends. Your abandoned cart email sequence may be:
- Email #1: 1 hour after abandonment
- Email #2: 3 days after
- Email #3: 1 week after
- Email #4: 2 weeks after
Your abandoned cart email sequence doesn’t necessarily have to end there. Using BounceX’s Catalog Modules, you can also utilize that behavioral data gathered from each abandoned visit to trigger personalized, revenue-generating emails that are sent up to 6 months beyond the original abandonment window.
Catalog Modules keep track of your product feed and, based on a shopper’s browsing or abandoned cart behaviors, alert that shopper to any changes affecting products they were viewing. These changes include any price drops, low stock notices, or restockings that happen within 180 days after the original cart abandonment window.
Simply put, Catalog Modules are an extension of your abandoned cart email campaigns and allow you to continue converting shoppers up to the 180-day mark.
How many abandoned cart emails should I send?
Just as the timing and frequency of your abandoned cart emails depends on your shoppers’ behavior, so does the quantity of emails you should send.
Your ideal number will depend on your audience, products, and, quite frankly, how persistent you want to be. Some experts recommend sending two; others say to send three or four. Kris Mobayeni recommends different sequencing depending on the type of customer: “Our best practices are to start with a four-part series for prospects and a three-part series for existing customers. We usually see 30-40% of conversions happen after the first email.”
The key is timing your emails with your audience in mind and significantly changing the copy in each email.
Lastly, monitor your recipients’ behavior and how they engage with each abandoned cart email. Recipients who open and perhaps click on the first or second email (but still don’t make a purchase) may need an incremental send to get them over the line. They’re clearly interested in your products, and a third email with a discount, reward, or low stock scare may do the trick.
What should my abandoned cart email say?
Regardless of how many abandoned cart emails you send or how often you send them, they should all have a few key components.
- All emails should reflect your brand guidelines and a tone of voice and visual experience consistent with your other marketing and promotional materials. Recipients should feel as if they’re interacting with the same brand they saw when browsing your website.
- All emails should only include one CTA — something like “Complete your order!” — that, when clicked, leads to a repopulated shopping cart. Avoid including any unrelated CTAs (such as “Subscribe to our newsletter!”) that could steer recipients away from completing their purchase. This CTA should also employ a sense of urgency when relevant.
- All emails should feature the product names and images from the recipient’s abandoned cart. This reminds them exactly what they’ve left behind and corresponds with any product reviews or discounts you might’ve included in your email.
- All emails should provide customer service information in case the recipient has an issue. Not only is this a good business practice, but it encourages recipients to ask any questions that may be holding them back from making a purchase.
- And like any other email you send, every abandoned cart send should have a compelling subject line. (I’ll go into more detail about these in a later section.)
Per our previous examples, let’s say your AOV is less than $100 and you’ve chosen to send three emails because they’re a current customer. Here’s how you may categorize and draft each email.
Email #1 (30 Minutes After Abandonment)
The first email is your “Hey! You forgot something!” email. You can assume the shopper got distracted while shopping and forgot to complete their purchase. Since it’s delivered so soon after abandonment, the email copy should assume the reader remembers their shopping trip and doesn’t need much to trigger their memory or convince them to complete their purchase.
Some brands offer discounts or free shipping in this email, but that’s not always necessary just yet.
Email #2 (24 Hours After Abandonment)
At this point, you can assume the cart abandonment was intentional. Whether it was your price point, shipping policy, or product reviews, the shopper changed their mind for some reason. The second email is your attempt to change it back.
There are a few ways to do this. Employ social proof and build trust by highlighting positive reviews and ratings. Combat shopper doubt or comparison shopping by including user-generated content featuring your products. Leverage your unique value proposition by sharing product benefits (as opposed to simply highlighting features).
At this point, offering a discount isn’t always necessary but will provide extra incentive that can convince a shopper to complete their purchase.
Email #3 (3 Days After Abandonment)
Your final email is the time to employ your more urgent re-engagement tactics. I’m talking about copy like“This product is running out of stock!” or “Hurry! This sale ends today!” Since your recipients are receiving this at least a few days after browsing your website, this may be the last reminder they get to hop back in and make a purchase so it needs to be urgent.
This email is also a great time to include a discount (typically 10% to 20%), free shipping, or an incentive of some kind, especially if you haven’t offered one yet.
Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines
Subject lines are critical to the success of any email campaign, especially abandoned cart emails. Subject lines are intended to pique the interest of your shoppers and will directly impact the open and engagement rates of your abandoned cart email sequence.
In fact, 35% of email recipients decide whether or not they’re going to open an email based on its subject line alone. Point blank, this part of your abandoned cart email cannot be an afterthought.
You should also keep your subject lines relatively short, ideally 30 to 50 characters. Any longer, and your subject line won’t show up on a mobile device. More than 50% of emails are opened on a smartphone, and over 2 billion people around the world use their smartphones to shop online, so this optimization tactic is crucial.
A good way to understand what subject lines perform best with your shoppers is to A/B test subject lines. By doing so, you’ll be able to see how the length, language, and tone affect youropen and/or engagement rate. Experiment with capitalization, punctuation, or emojis to see which versions of your subject lines work best.
Here’s a list of sample abandoned cart email subject lines. Depending on what you’re attempting to trigger with your emails, you can leverage urgency, scarcity, or emotions like excitement or fear.
More Abandoned Cart Email Best Practices
Consider these best practices as you fine-tune your abandoned cart email strategy, sequence, and subject lines
Imagine your abandoned cart email as your in-store sales pitch.
If your abandoned cart email doesn’t read like it’s directed toward or written by a real person, rewrite it. And, no—personalizing your emails with a first name and abandoned cart details aren’t enough. While 72% of people prefer to communicate via email, that doesn’t mean they wanted to be marketed to by a machine.
Highlight a few key products from each cart.
Many people add items to their online shopping carts as a means of comparison and consideration, not always because they 100% intend to purchase them all. For this reason, consider highlighting a few key proudcts in your abandoned cart email to remind the recipient that they left items behind.
Leverage loyalty or rewards programs instead of discounts.
Discounts can be effective in abandoned cart emails, but flash sales and viral promotion codes have dulled their effect. Instead, if your business offers a rewards or loyalty program, remind shoppers of how many more purchases or points they need before receiving an award. Some people may be motivated by the purchase itself, not only by the products in that purchase.
Combine your abandoned cart emails with other retargeting efforts.
Reinforce your abandoned cart email strategy by running display or pay-per-click (PPC) ads with the same content. You can also follow up with a text message or note on Facebook Messenger (if you’d previously collecting this contact data). You never know what mediums or messages will resonate with and motivate your shoppers.
Remember your email manners.
An abandoned cart email sequence doesn’t automatically add each email address to your broader email list (unless you captured their email as they intentionally subscribed to your newsletter or created an account). In your final abandoned cart email, encourage the recipient to join your email list, if not completing their purchase.
Five Abandoned Cart Email Templates
Your abandoned cart emails will vary based on who your recipients are, what motivation you’re attempting to tap into, and what your experimentation has shown you. While imagery is still incredibly powerful for convincing customers to return to site, it isn’t always possible. Here are a handful of text-based abandoned cart email templates based on the purpose of each email.
You’re reminding the recipient about their abandoned cart.
Hey there, [name]!
We noticed you left something behind while browsing [Name_of_Site]. No need to worry—we’ve saved your shopping cart so you can easily return and complete your purchase.
[product photo and information]
If you have any questions or issues, you can visit our FAQ page [here].
Thanks for shopping with [brand]!
You’ve included an incentive or reward.
Guess what, [name]?
We’re so grateful you’ve been shopping on [brand], so we’ve given you [discount] off! You can use it to complete your purchase of [product].
[product photo and information]
Have a question or issue? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us [here].
You’re using social proof or building trust and credibility.
Thanks for browsing our shop! Did you forget something? Don’t worry—we’ve kept your cart intact.
[product photo and information]
Also, don’t miss what our customers are saying about [product].
[review] [review] [review]
If they love [product] so much, we bet you will too! Simply click the link below to return to your cart.
Questions? Reach out to us at [phone number] or [email].
You’re reminding the recipient that they’ve already done the “hard work”.
You’re almost there … a single click away from [product benefits]. Plus, we saved your shopping cart for you! Simply tap the button below to pick up where you left off.
[product photo and information]
Any questions or issues — we’re here to help. Visit our contact page to get ahold of us. As always, thanks for shopping with [brand].
You’re eliciting the fear or anxiety of missing out.
We can see you’ve left some goodies behind. It looks like there’s only a few left in stock—hurry up and grab them before they’re gone!
Thanks for checking out [brand]! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us [here]!
7 Abandoned Cart Email Examples
- Mosaic Weighted Blankets
Luggage retailer AWAY uses simple yet effective techniques in this abandoned cart email. The copy is succinct but snappy and on-brand: “Your shopping cart is like your luggage—it should never be left unattended.”
The email is solely focused on the abandoned product and includes a bold and low-commitment CTA, i.e. it asks the recipient to “keep shopping” vs. “buy now”. AWAY also includes the exact product version from the cart, down to the color and quantity. This reminds the recipient precisely what they were shopping for instead of sending a generic version they may not be interested in.
Beardbrand, a men’s grooming company, puts a very personal spin on this text-only abandoned cart email. This email is sent by a real person on the Beardbrand customer service team and simply asks, “Can I help you?”
While it doesn’t include an image or description of the product, it does have a unique personal touch: the P.S. feature, which not only pulls in what the recipient was shopping for, but adds a sense of “Hey, we like that, too”.
This abandoned cart email doesn’t feel like an abandoned cart email, which I think works well when not trying to overly push a sale. It feels like a real person reached out to to offer their help and admiration of the products, which might make a shopper complete the purchase after all.
3. Mosaic Weighted Blankets
Our next example is from Mosaic Weighted Blankets. There are a couple things we love about this email, like the CTA and discount positioned right at the top. But what we really love is that they have taken advantage of the holiday season and provided a fun, themed email to tie their blankets back to any holiday shopping their prospects may be doing.
The one thing to consider changing about this abandoned cart email is the amount of personalization throughout. Mosaic offers so many different types of blankets through their online store that it would have been good to highlight the individual blankets that their prospects are viewing in order to better incentivize a purchase.
While debt can always be a hard issue to talk about, we love this abandonment email from Debt.com because it provides an excellent example of how non-retailers can use the “abandoned cart” strategy to their benefit.
Instead of highlighting individual products here, Debt.com sent an email asking their prospective clients to complete a form to receive a free analysis. They also made sure to provide plenty of copy around how they provide student loan debt support and their accreditations. So, while this is definitely too much text for a typical retailer, it serves the purpose of Debt.com’s form abandonment perfectly.
Subscription sportswear company Fabletics send a very active abandoned cart reminder through this email. The email’s colors, images, copy, and movement help recipients immediately recognize the Fabletics brand.
The only critique for this abandoned cart email is how many links are included in the header. While the “Visit Your Cart” CTA is big and bold, the links at the top could serve as distractions and push recipients away from the goal of the email—returning to the cart and completing the purchase.
I’m a big fan of this abandoned cart email from Huckberry, an e-commerce outdoors and adventure company. The color scheme is simple, the copy is engaging, and the email employs a couple different tactics we’ve discussed in this guide.
The email offers a free shipping discount, a cost savings that could benefit many shoppers. It also reads with a sense of personalized urgency (“Our sales are often limited, and we don’t want you to miss out…”).
However, the CTA could have gone with a lower sense of commitment. A phrase like “View Your Cart” or “Keep Shopping” would get the recipient back to the website without making them feel like, by clicking that button, they had to buy something.
Travel and accommodation site Kiwi.com rounds out our last example of a great abandoned cart email. What they understand with this email is that each click a prospect makes adds another step in the conversion journey which could result in dropoff. In order to make it as easy as possible to complete their purchase, they replicated their onsite booking experience right within the email.
Additionally, they’ve made they’ve included social proof in their email by showcasing customer reviews of Kiwi.com from a consumer review site. This is a great way to provide evidence of superior service, but, nextime, they may want to move up higher so the customer doesn’t need to scroll to see it.
Nearly 70% of online shopping trips result in an abandoned cart. That’s a lot of potential revenue left behind. Abandoned cart emails can help you convert those customers and recover that lost revenue.
Effective abandoned cart email sequences are personalized, product-driven, and sent at strategic times based on your customers’ shopping behaviors. But developing and sending your abandoned cart emails are merely half the battle. The other half is identifying and segmenting your shoppers.
If you don’t know who’s visiting your website and abandoning their cart, you can’t send those tailored abandoned cart emails that send them running back to complete their purchase.
Check out the BounceX suite of tools that can help you recognize your shoppers in real-time, release revenue-generating triggered emails, and create a seamless ecommerce experience for your customers.