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6 Abandoned Cart Email Tactics That Will Recover Abandoned Shoppers

  • Email Marketing

I think we can all agree cart abandonment is an inevitable pain in the a**, right?

According to SaleCycle, 75.6% of people put items in their online shopping cart only to leave it without completing their purchase.

SaleCycle Abandonment Rates

That’s a lot of potential revenue lost.

But no need to throw in the towel just yet, because even though we can’t eliminate cart abandonment entirely, we can minimize the likelihood of it happening.


Abandoned cart emails.

This type of e-commerce email is one of the most effective, revenue-boosting emails you can send to prospects.

BigCommerce researched abandoned cart emails and found that the average revenue per email is $5.64, compared to only $0.02 for promotional emails, and $0.18 per welcome email you send.

In this post, I’ll show exactly how to write good recovery emails that will lower your cart abandonment rate and increase revenue (including a bunch of email examples).

What’s not to like?

Free Downloadable Bonus

Download These Proven Abandoned Cart Email Examples

Writing abandoned cart emails is TOUGH. To help, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite cart recovery emails to help you urge visitors to complete their purchases.

Get access to your personal swipe file of abandoned cart emails and recover lost sales today (includes 16 examples not mentioned in this post).

What Are Abandoned Cart Emails?

An abandoned cart email is essentially a purchase email.

If you’ve ever exited a checkout before completing an order it’s likely you’ve received an abandoned cart email. If you have, you’ll know its goal is to help you overcome any objections you might have and turn you into a customer.

This isn’t an easy thing to do, but there’s a reason we add items to our cart—and a reason why we chose not to buy.

If you can identify these two reasons with your prospects, you’re already well on your way to writing the perfect recovery email.

Here are the most common reasons users abandon their shopping carts:

  • Pricing
  • High shipping costs
  • Lack of time
  • Complicated checkout process
  • Checkout process requires too much information
  • Lack of payment options
  • Lack of money at time of checkout
  • Internet connection was cut off
  • Other technical problems on the site
  • No guest checkout option

This list could go on forever.

It’s important to mention here cart abandonment doesn’t necessarily mean a visitor’s lost interest. Rather, it means an obstacle—internal or otherwise—prevented them from completing their purchase.

And it’s up to a cart abandonment email to help them overcome it.

An effective abandoned cart email consists of the following three basic elements:

  • A compelling subject line
  • The abandoned items
  • A strong call-to-action

This may sound simple but I encourage you to keep reading to find out exactly how to use these elements and more to create the best abandoned cart emails.

But before you start sending out recovery emails, you need to make sure your checkout is optimized for highest conversions.

How to Optimize Your Checkout to Reduce Cart Abandonment 

Some of the above reasons can easily be avoided by making a few tweaks to your online checkout.

First, you should always include multiple payment options as users don’t always have their credit card handy when impulsively adding items to their cart.

Thus, by adding more payment options, such as PayPal®, PayPal Express®, personal checks, purchase orders, and cash on delivery (COD), you give your customers a chance to pay with whatever option is easiest to them and increase the chances of them completing their purchase.

ASOS tell their visitors at the very beginning of the checkout process which payment options are available, removing any doubt visitors might have about not being able to pay with their preferred option.

Another way to improve your checkout flow, it to include a guest checkout option.

While getting people to sign in so you have their information on hand, for promotional purposes, is nice, it excludes users who want to buy from you but aren’t willing to create an account.

Nike has this down perfectly, offering three different ways to make a purchase:

ProTip: You can always add a checkbox to your checkout process where you ask people to sign up for your newsletter if you want to get them on your list.

Here’s another example from Nike:

Action items:

  1. Add more payment options to your checkout (at least five different options)
  2. Create a guest checkout option
  3. Add a checkbox for email signups in your checkout flow

Making your checkout process smooth and easy for everyone to use, will easily reduce your cart abandonment rate.

However, if we want to lower that percentage, even more, we need to have a look at the emails you should be sending.

How to Create the Perfect Abandoned Cart Email

While there might not be a perfect abandoned cart email, there are a few ways to ensure your emails are effective.

As with any other email, your subject line is crucial.

If your subject line isn’t on point, your emails won’t be read.

The most effective subject lines are those that evoke emotion in the receiver.

If you get people to feel something, they’re much more likely to open and read your emails.

These feelings can include excitement, joy, curiosity, urgency, and fear of missing out.

Your subject line must include a promise of what people can expect when they open your email. And it must be personal.

Here are some of my suggestions for great subject lines for cart abandonment emails:

  • Hey Rikke, you forgot something
  • You’ve left something behind Rikke
  • Your items are feeling abandoned—please help them
  • Your favorite items are still waiting for you
  • Don’t let your favorite items sell out

(If you want more on how to write good subject lines and increase your open rates, read this article)

Action items:

  • Brainstorm at least 10 subject lines for your new abandoned cart email
  • Send your suggestions to your entire team and ask for their feedback
  • Settle on two subject lines and test them in your new email

How to Write Abandoned Cart Emails That Convert

Once you’ve got abandoned visitors opening your emails, you need to convince them to return to their cart to complete their purchase.

Here are six ways to do that.

1. Be Specific

Depending on when you send your email (more on that later), people might have forgotten about their cart items.

Some of the best emails are those that specify which items are remaining in their cart.

Poo Pourri have made the image of the abandoned cart item the hero of the email:

The copy is super simple and the focus is on the item left in the shopping cart and how they can’t hold it much longer (notice the humorous wordplay?)

Using visual marketing to show people which items they’ve left makes the email more personal and reminds them of what they’re potentially missing out on.

You can mention the items in your messaging, and illustrate it with images (heck, you can even include it in your subject line.)

Action items:

  1. Create compelling visuals to use in your abandoned cart emails (if you’re anything like me, you might want to ask your designer to do it)
  2. Make the abandoned item(s) the hero of the email (copy, image, and call-to-action)
  3. Incorporate humor in your copy (if appropriate to your brand)

2. Be True to Your Brand

Today’s consumers want transparency and authenticity.

Reminding people of your brand’s values in your abandoned cart emails can help build a stronger relationship with your audience.

Your values, of course, should be evident in everything you do, but reminding abandoned cart customers of who you are as a brand, can make people more inclined to complete their purchase.

If you decide to use this tactic, it’s important you don’t write an entire novel about your values, as the focus of your email should still be on the abandoned cart items.

Here’s a great example from Ghurka:

Ghurka starts by addressing the receiver by name, which personalizes the email further.

Then they let the reader know they have items in their cart, and these items are popular, handmade, and limited, which are all carefully selected words to make the product seem more exclusive.

Most importantly,  they thank him for thinking of their brand.

Even though they manage to fit all of that information in one email, the focus is still on the bag that was left in the cart.

Remind people of why they like your brand, to begin with, and you’ll build a much stronger brand relationship with your customers and reduce cart abandonment.

Action items:

  1. Write down your business values and turn them into a three-sentence maximum value proposition for your cart abandonment email
  2. Ask yourself, “Why is my product unique?” “Why should my customers choose my product over a competitors’?” “Why should they buy now?”
  3. Thank them for adding items to their cart in the first place

3. Be Personal

With 94% of businesses saying how critical email personalization is to their success, it unsurprising I’ve included personalization in this post.

Abandoned cart emails are already personal to some extent (especially if you show users the items they’ve left in their cart.

However, you can personalize your emails one step further.

In the previous example, you saw how Ghurka addresses the recipient by name.

This is one of the easiest personalization strategies you can implement, and it makes a huge difference.

But let’s go beyond just including a name in the email.

Personalization also applies to how you write your copy.

In the following example by Beardbrand, you’ll see personalization at a whole new level:

Beardbrand has created an abandoned cart email that looks just like an email you would receive from a friend, with plain text.

Even though we know this email wasn’t just sent to my colleague, Sam, it sure gives that impression.

Notice how Keith reassures Sam the product he left in his cart is a great choice.

Haven’t you been more inclined to purchase something if someone else has given their “stamp of approval”? I know I have several times.

One further improvement would be to include images of the abandoned items.

Action steps:

  1. Include a merge tag in your email for the recipient’s name (maybe even include it in your subject line as well)
  2. Confirm that the items they left behind are indeed worth purchasing
  3. Send the email to yourself and ask yourself this: Do I want to purchase the items in this email now? (Hint: if the answer is no, go back to the drawing board)
  4. Send the email from a real person and not a “no-reply” address

4. Offer an Incentive

It’s no secret we love free stuff and discounts.

And with that in mind, I encourage you to try offering an incentive in your abandoned cart emails that are exclusive to the email and not something that everyone can get.

And with that in mind, I encourage you to try offering an incentive in your abandoned cart emails that’s exclusive to the email and not something that everyone can get.

One of the reasons people might choose to abandon their cart is the price.

Maybe your products are more expensive than visitors had originally thought, or they added another item to the cart, increasing the total cost.

Offering a discount in your email could be the final push they need to complete their purchase.

This is how Bonobos uses a discount as an incentive:

They encourage readers to finish their purchase by offering a 20% discount.

One thing that could make this recovery email more effective, would be to include an incentive to complete the purchase now, such as a time limit to the offer.

Good emails also include scarcity and tell readers that the items have a high risk of selling out if they don’t purchase now.

You could also use scarcity and tell readers that the items have a high risk of selling out if they don’t purchase now.

Another incentive is to offer free shipping.

Like most shoppers, I  tend to abandon carts if the shipping costs are too high compared to the price of the products I’m buying.

Offering free shipping eliminates that reason, and people only have to pay the price of the product.

Here’s how Huckberry offers free shipping:

By offering a special promo code for free shipping, they increase the likelihood of people returning to their cart and complete their purchase.

Offering free shipping also decreases chances of people going elsewhere (offline or other e-commerce stores with free shipping) to buy a similar product.

It’s important to mention here not to discount too much,  too often, as people might come to expect it.

If your customers get used to receiving promo codes and free shipping, they might hold off on buying items at full price because they’re waiting for a discount code.

It varies from business to business, and it’s worth testing out to see how much an influence offering discounts have on your overall revenue.

Action items:

  1. Brainstorm an incentive for you abandoned cart emails. Should it be free shipping? Or a discount code? Or a third thing?
  2. Decide on two incentives
  3. Test the two incentives in your emails to find out what your audience responds to best

5. Tempt with Related Items

Sometimes, offering a bit of inspiration or alternatives to abandoned cart items can help bring back the lost revenue.

Visitors might not have been completely sold on the items they added to their cart, but might be interested in similar items they didn’t notice themselves.

This is how Birchbox uses related items:

The placement of the related items is great in this email because it doesn’t take the focus from the abandoned cart items.

Also, they’ve included the products’ reviews to encourage purchase. One thing that’s missing though, is a stronger call-to-action.

The call-to-action in your abandoned cart emails should always be: purchase now.

There are two ways you can promote new items in your cart abandonment emails:

You can do like Birchbox and show similar items, or you can show items that go well with the item in the cart to increase additional sales.

Action items:

  1. Decide what type of product recommendation you want in your email—if any
  2. Find a product recommendation software for your email marketing (try Addwish Business)
  3. Implement your new product recommendations into your email

6. Include Customer Reviews and Testimonials

What’s the first thing you do when you want to try a new restaurant or book a hotel?

You look at reviews, right?

There’s a reason why reviews and testimonials work so well, and it’s because they relay (in most cases) people’s honest opinions of a product or service.

If visitors are in doubt when completing their purchase, a little nudge with a testimonial might do the trick.

Casper, an e-commerce that sells mattresses and bed linen, knows how to do this:

They use humor in their opening statement: “Come back to bed” (who doesn’t want that?), and then feature a testimonial informing the reader how great their products are.

Even though this email is simple, the testimonial makes me curious and eager to know if the products indeed are good enough to make you call out of work.

The email also matches the design of their site—clean and simple—which makes the email consistent with the company’s branding.

There are, however, two CTA buttons. Abandoned cart emails should have one CTA: Complete purchase.

Including more CTA buttons with different messages will only confuse the receiver and take the focus away from the purpose of the email.

If you can’t help yourself and you want to add an additional CTA button, at least make it smaller than your “Complete purchase” button.

(Further reading: Learn how to write powerful calls-to-action in this article.)

Action items:

  1. Go through your testimonials and pick the three testimonials that fit your new abandoned cart email best (hint: they need to address any concerns abandoning visitors might have)
  2. If you don’t have any testimonials, read this post to learn how to get great testimonials from your customers
  3. Implement your testimonials at the bottom of your abandoned cart email

How to Get Timing Right

The timing of your abandoned cart email is crucial if you want prospects to complete their purchases.

Ideally, you need to send your email within 24 hours of them exiting your checkout so the prospect’s near purchase is still fresh in their mind.

The sooner you send it, the easier people will remember who you are and why they added the items to their basket in the first place.

SaleCycle researched 200 global brands and found that emails sent within 20 minutes had an average conversion rate of 5.2%.

Emails sent within an hour had a conversion rate of 4.5%, while emails sent more than 24 hours after cart abandonment only converted at 2.6%.

While timing is important, getting permission to send your emails is even more important.

After all, you can’t send tons of cart abandonment emails if you haven’t gotten permission to email people in the first place.

You might have already gotten permission through previous signups and account logins, but what about all the people who add items to their cart but don’t log in, or leave an email address?

Simple: Ask them for an email address.

The best way to do that is through an exit-intent popup in your checkout process.

Just before people leave your checkout process, you can show them an offer and ask for their email address.

This is an example from Cocomi:

Editor’s Note

One of the best ways to ask for a user’s email address is during your checkout process. Watch the video below to learn how to capture more emails using Sleeknote.

Returning to the reasons people leave, you should research your audience and find out where and why they leave.

If they leave because they ran out of time, you can show a popup with this message:

Hey! Did you run out of time?

Text: How about we send you a 15% discount code so you can finish your purchase later today? Enter your email below to get the discount and this won’t be the last time you’ll get a great discount on your favorite items.

Input fields: Enter email

CTA: Get my discount now

Exit-intent technology is the most effective tool to capture abandoning visitors, and if you customize your exit-intent popups, you’ll undoubtedly reduce cart abandonment and your site’s bounce rate.

Action items:

  1. Create an exit-intent form and add to your checkout
  2. Set your abandoned cart emails to go out less than 20 minutes after a cart has been abandoned
  3. Create an abandoned cart email sequence where you send three to five different emails to try and get prospects to complete their purchase

Free Downloadable Bonus

Download These Proven Abandoned Cart Email Examples

Writing abandoned cart emails is TOUGH. To help, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite cart recovery emails to help you urge visitors to complete their purchases.

Get access to your personal swipe file of abandoned cart emails and recover lost sales today (includes 16 examples not mentioned in this post).


The perfect abandoned cart email consists of many different elements which vary greatly from business to business.

I do, however, hope that these strategies have brought you closer to creating an abandoned cart email that works for you and your audience.

Too many e-commerce sites let potential revenue fly right out the window because they don’t send people a friendly reminder that they left something behind.

Don’t be that business.

What are your experiences with cart abandonment emails, and do you have any tactics you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

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