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Some advice on how to improve your abandoned cart emails

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No matter how good your site and products are, chances are people are going to put things into their carts and then leave.

It sucks, but there is good news.

Here are the stats when it comes to abandoned cart email open and click rates:

  • More than 40% are opened.
  • 50% of those are clicked.
  • 50% of users who click through purchase.

Great news, right?

Now, you could just create a basic “Hey, you forgot these items in your cart” email and be done with it, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you were that lazy.

Since you are serious, read on to find out how to improve each aspect.

Starting with the…

Subject Line

The email’s subject line needs to do 3 things:

  • Catch their attention.
  • Let them know what the email is about.
  • Be consistent with their experience up to that point.

Sounds like a tall order, right?

Well no, not if you go about it the smart way.

1. Catch their attention

The trick to the subject line is to be pretty direct and not too fancy.

Trying to be too creative by saying something like “Oops, did something go wrong?” can be misleading and get the attention of people who don’t necessarily want to buy.

2. Tell them what’s inside

Let your subscriber know what the email’s about, by getting to the point.

Something like “Your cart is feeling abandoned”

It’s short and tells them what the email’s about while being a little creative, but not misleading.

That’s it.

Don’t feel like you need to mislead or use click-bait tactics to get people to open your emails.

If they were never going to buy in the first place, then what was the point of them opening the email?

But, if they do intend to complete their purchase, they’ll know that your email will help them do just that.

3. Be consistent with the rest of their experience

This is mostly an extension of letting them know what the email’s about.

In all probability, your subscriber knows they abandoned their cart, and being consistent with that fact will give you the best chance of getting the email opened.

After all, the goal of the subject line is to get the email opened.

Though, you want the people who are most likely to complete their purchase to open the email.

Email Design

The design of your cart abandonment emails isn’t something you need to be overly concerned with if you have a solid design pattern for all your other emails.

That said, here are a couple things to keep in mind...

On-brand design

Your cart abandonment emails need to look like they come from you.

I can’t stress this enough since once someone opens your email, the design will be the very next thing they notice.

If the design is strange or looks like something from somewhere else, they will disconnect.

You shouldn’t need to worry though.

I know you’ll make sure that all of your emails have a universal design aesthetic, which makes them instantly recognizable as being from your business.

Highlight a single product

The only other piece of advice I want to give you when it comes to the design and layout is to focus on 1 product.

Virtual “window shopping” is a thing and people put things into their carts which they might not have any real intention of buying.

To counter this, make sure your email puts all the attention on one single product.


Because it’s easier to sell one product at a time than many all at once.

Here are a couple points to keep in mind to help you do this:

  • Include a large attention-grabbing image.
  • Include copy that highlights it’s benefits.
  • Include reviews of the product.

Keeping the above points in mind, you’ll either want to highlight the highest-rated product or the product with the highest margin.

It’s your choice.

Pro tip: Use personalization to highlight a product that is also similar to previous products your subscriber has purchased (if it applies).

Email Copy and CTA

Continuing on from the previous sections, your email’s copy will need to do a few things:

  • Let the person know that you’ll hold onto their cart (but, not for long).
  • Highlight a single product and it’s benefits.
  • Give them a strong call to action to complete their purchase.

Now, on to the individual parts of the copy.


What is the purpose of the headline?

To get the next line of copy read of course.

And that goes for every line of copy in every email you send.

Right up to the CTA of course.

Its job is to get the reader to do something.

Keeping all of that in mind, you’ll want to craft your email’s headline in such a way that…

  • Grabs the reader’s attention.
  • Lets them know they made the right decision by opening the email.
  • Compels them to read the rest of the copy.

That’s it.

Just like with the subject line, you’ll want to keep the headline short and to the point.

Body copy

There’s not too much more I can say about the main copy of the email.

Just keep in mind that the job of the body copy of your email is to highlight a single product and to sell your subscriber on the value of the product.

After that, it needs to guide them to the CTA.

Speaking of which...


The job of your CTA is simple…

Get your subscriber to click through and complete their purchase.

Nothing more, nothing less.

This may sound too simple to be true, but remember…

If you’ve crafted the rest of the email well, the CTA won’t have much lifting or convincing to do.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that if someone isn’t convinced, by the time they get to your CTA, you messed up somewhere.

Or, you’re trying to convince the wrong person.

Which is still messing up...

Timing and Intervals

So, how long should your autoresponder wait before sending your abandoned cart email?

Not long at all, actually.


I would suggest the email be sent within the hour of cart abandonment.

This is because if you leave it any longer, they might go to your competition.

The next email after 24 hours.

The third after 48 hours.


How many emails should you send out?

I would say 3 and here’s how I would break them up:

  • First email: Sent within the hour of cart abandonment.
  • Second email: Sent within 24 hours of cart abandonment.
  • Third email: Sent within 48 hours of cart abandonment.

Risk Reversal, Urgency, and Incentives

So, what about things like discounts, free shipping and other incentives to get people to go back and complete their purchases?

Also, what about risk reversal?

Risk reversal

As far as risk reversal is concerned, you should definitely mention any guarantees or warranties your products might come with.

This goes for any promotional email you send out.

It just helps build trust and credibility in your business for your subscriber.


Now, as for incentives…

Well, these can be a little tricky, since many only retailers jump to offering some sort of discount or free shipping in order to entice the sale.

The problem with this approach is that many online shoppers have become so conditioned to it.

It isn’t unheard of for people to abandon their carts just to get the discount or free shipping.

So, there are a few problems with handing out discounts and coupons like candy:

  • It diminishes the value of your products.
  • It conditions your customers to expect it and also attracts cheapskates.
  • It cuts into your margins.

Let me ask you this…

Would you offer a discount on a Rolex?

Well, maybe if you were selling it to a very loyal customer.

That’s my point though.

Your customers are awesome, yes, but they should only be rewarded when they deserve it.

That being said, I would say that offering free shipping can be a great way to get people to purchase since it’s one of the main things which hold people back from buying.

Do this only if it’s reasonable for you to do so.

One way you might be able to go about it is to offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

Does the product you’re highlighting cost too little to justify free shipping?

Suggest other products that would complement it and add up to the amount needed for free shipping.

That way, your subscriber might not only completer their purchase, but you’ve just up-sold to them too.


This is pretty straight forward and ties in with the timing of the emails.

In order to create a sense of urgency around completing the checkout process, remind your customer that you won’t hold onto their cart forever.

You can even go so far as to place a countdown timer in the email.

If applicable you can remind your customer of any limited time offers or deals they might be missing out on.


Can’t be bothered to read the whole thing? Don’t worry, just read the highlights.

Create a consistent experience

This goes for all our emails, not just your abandoned cart campaigns.

Creating a consistent experience for your subscribers will go a long way toward building trust and credibility in your brand.

Remember to keep a couple things in mind to do this:

  • Make sure your abandoned cart email campaign’s design is consistent with all your other emails and campaigns.
  • Make sure your subject line, headline, body copy, and CTA are all in line with what they’ve experienced up to that point.

Highlight 1 product

Highlighting a single product is one of the best things you can do to ensure success.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Either choose a product similar to a previously purchased product, the highest-rated product, or the product with the best margin.
  • Include reviews and images that really make the product shine.
  • Point out the product’s benefits in the body copy.

Create urgency

This is pretty straight forward.

Remind your subscriber that you won’t be holding onto their cart forever and indicate the time they have left to come back.

Also, if applicable, remind them of any limited-time specials or deals they’ll be leaving behind.

Only offer an incentive if necessary or reasonable for you

Don’t fall into the trap of offering a coupon or discount straight off the bat.

Rather only include this if the customer is loyal and has supported you enough in the past to justify it.

If you can though, you might want to consider offering free shipping.

To justify free shipping, you could suggest products that complement the highlighted product and which will add up to the amount needed for free shipping.

That’s it.

I hope you find this post valuable and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send them my way.

Happy email marketing.

Helping eCommerce businesses grow through email marketing.
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