Beginner’s Guide to Writing Epic Abandoned Cart Emails

Beginner’s Guide to Writing Epic Abandoned Cart Emails
Charlene Boutin
Charlene Boutin Mar 25, 2021 — 11 min read
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Have you ever filled up your cart on an online store while picturing yourself with your new purchases, and then left it behind without buying a single thing?

You’re not alone. In fact, the majority of online shoppers do this.

Perhaps you’ve also received reminders in your inbox about completing your purchases.

Those are abandoned cart emails, and they’re a huge part of increasing sales for Ecommerce businesses.


But how do you write abandoned cart emails? Should you bother doing it at all?

Let’s dive into it:

What are abandoned cart emails?

Abandoned cart emails are automated messages that are sent to customers who add an item to their cart (as well as their email address to initiate the checkout process), but don’t complete the transaction.

If users who aren’t logged into your store add something to their cart, and leave without initiating the checkout flow, you can’t send them abandoned cart emails, since you won’t have their email address.

This is one of the reasons you should start the checkout process by collecting the email address and not leave this step last.

On the other hand, if the user is logged in to their account, you’ll be able to initiate the abandoned cart emails without needing them to start the checkout process.

The average abandonment rate for web carts according to the latest studies is 84.27%, which highlights the importance of abandoned cart emails…

…And because 58.6% of customers don’t complete purchases simply because they weren’t ready to buy, it makes sense that they will be ready later on 💡

The abandonment cart email is a friendly reminder for your customers that you are still holding their item for them in your cart. Those who were just browsing and weren’t ready to buy will often forget about the purchase entirely, so a quick reminder is sometimes enough to get them over the fence.

Although it sounds complicated to detect when your users leave items in their cart, the reality is that most Ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Bigcommerce make it easy to set up.

Do abandoned cart emails work?

Abandoned cart emails are so effective, it’s a wonder that many big brands aren’t using them.

According to SalesCycle:

  • 46.1% of abandoned cart emails get opened by the recipients
  • 13.3% of cart abandonment emails get clicks
  • 35.3% of clicks generate purchases
  • Every cart abandonment email sent generates $5.64 in revenue

So, in short – yes, they work, and the data proves it.

This makes sense, since the more exposure your customers get from your brand, the more likely they are to buy. Abandoned cart emails are just another piece of that exposure.

When is the best time to send an abandoned cart email?

While abandoned cart emails are effective, they need to be timed perfectly to convert the maximum number of customers. Send them too fast, and you could be considered spammy. Send them too slowly, and the customer will have lost interest.

First, you need to figure out at what point in the process your customer left your store.

Were they about to hit the “Pay Now” button with everything else complete? Did they leave once they saw how much they needed to pay for shipping?

To find out the most common reasons for abandonment, you can place an exit-intent survey popup in your shopping cart:

The reason you need to figure this out is that not all customers left for the same reason, which means they don’t all need the same message.

Your Ecommerce platform will most likely be able to give you the analytics you need to figure this out.

The first email should be sent within a few hours – one hour is best – if you want the best chances of winning your customer back. The faster you can catch them, the more chances they’ll still be at their computer or using their smartphone to shop.

Subsequent emails should wait a bit longer. For the second email, wait at least 24 hours to make sure your customer doesn’t feel overwhelmed or spammed.

If you want to send a third email, wait another 48 hours at least.

How many abandoned cart emails should I send?

At the very minimum, you should send one email. If you take anything away from this post, it’s the importance of abandoned cart emails, so take action by at least implementing one!

However, you can send up to three emails, with each email having a specific purpose.

Email One shouldn’t be too pushy with your customer. Remember – they were probably just browsing.

The initial email should be written to help your customer, not necessarily sell to them.

In this initial email, you can ask if the customer needs help. Maybe they were attempting to check out, and their browser bugged. Or maybe the process was taking too long, and they had to move on with their day. Explain possible solutions to help your customer, but also ask for feedback so that you can potentially learn why they abandoned their cart in the first place.

The second email, on the other hand, should provide a sense of urgency. At this point, their cart will expire soon, so you want to let them know that whichever coupons or discounts they’re using in their cart may no longer be available once this happens.

With the third and final email, it’s time to give an incentive to provide a final push. This incentive should depend on the reason they abandoned their cart if you have this data on hand.

For example, if the shipping was too expensive, consider offering a limited-time coupon for free shipping. A regular discount on the entire cart can work well too if shipping doesn’t seem to be what’s blocking them.

Just make sure you don’t send discounts every single time a customer abandons their shopping cart. For first-time customers, this is fine, but if you have a high-value customer who is coming back for subsequent purchases, you don’t want them to get into the habit of waiting around in their inbox for you to send them a discount.

Best abandoned cart email subject lines

For the abandonment cart email to work, your customers need to open them. So your subject line needs to hook readers in and give them a reason to click.

You can elicit the fear of missing out by using a subject line similar to “Did you forget something?”

Abandoned cart email subject line example from Coco Village

Feel free to use creativity to stand out in the inbox, just like Chubbies Shorts did below:

Clever abandoned cart email subject line by Chubbies

If you attempt to be clever with your subject line, it should fit with your brand voice.

Here are some more suggestions you can take inspiration from:

  • There’s still time to claim your deal
  • Your items are safe and sound in your cart
  • Only 48h left before your cart expires
  • Oops! You forgot something
  • Where did you go?
  • Your items are waiting
  • Just a reminder — you have items in your cart!

How to write an abandoned cart email – best practices to keep in mind

Now you have a schedule to send your emails, as well as some great subject lines to get you started. But what should you write in your emails?

Here are 5 tips to consider.

1. Add a dynamic section for the abandoned product

There’s a reason your customer added a product to their cart. Something about this product caught their eye.

You’ll be more likely to grab their attention again if you display that product in the abandoned cart email.

Be as specific as your software will allow you to be. Tailor the item size and color when applicable, and add an image of the variant your customer added to the cart.

The dynamic section in the abandoned cart email increases CTR

That’s because there’s a chance they will forget what they added to the cart in the first place. Upon seeing the item again, they may remember why they wanted to purchase it at all.

2. Use an attractive, eye-catching CTA button

It’s not enough to show the product in the email – you want to call your customer to action, too. If they finish reading the email and are still unclear about the next steps to take, something’s missing!

The CTA button should stand out in your email. Make it bright, bold, and easy to click.

The CTA button in the abandoned cart email should be clear and action-driven

Make sure you write engaging CTA copy on your button to increase the likelihood of getting click-throughs.

3. Provide a support email address

Remember how we covered that your customer may have had a technical problem? Make sure you tell your customer how they can reach out to you if they need your help.

It might seem obvious that they can hit reply to your abandoned cart email to get your support, but that isn’t always the case. Write out the email address itself – and if it’s the same email address that was used to send the abandonment message, tell them they also have the option to hit reply directly.

The clearer you are in your instructions, the less likely your customer will be to get confused and abandon the purchase entirely.

4. Keep it short and sweet

There’s no need to write an entire sales page on why they should purchase your product. If they added the product to their cart, they already know about it, so keep the copy in your emails simple and to-the-point.

Your customer is most likely busy and may not bother to read through a text-heavy email, so avoid that at all costs.

5. Add social proof

88% of consumers are influenced by ratings and reviews, so you can increase your chances of getting a sale by adding social proof to your cart abandonment emails.

If the specific product abandoned by your customer has reviews, the best option would be to add those exact reviews to your email.

However, if you don’t have specific reviews, feel free to add testimonials and other comments from your existing customers that are related to your brand in general.

Social proof is another way to increase abandoned cart email CTR

3 Abandoned cart email templates to kick off your marketing efforts

Not sure where to get started? Feel free to use the following templates as a starting point.

A simple abandoned cart email template

Oops! Did you forget something?

Hey [first-name],

You left these items in your cart:

[insert items]

Would you like to complete your purchase?

If you’re having trouble checking out, feel free to hit reply or reach out to [email address] and we’ll help you address the issue.

[Call to action button]

A brief abandoned cart email template

You left items in your cart

There’s something left in your cart – would you like to complete your purchase?

Hit reply if you run into any issues!

[insert items]

[Call to action button]

Scarcity abandoned cart email template

We’re still holding [item name] for you – act fast if you want it!

You left this item in your cart, but we can’t guarantee it will still be available tomorrow.

Still want it?

[insert items]

[Call to action button]

9 Abandoned cart email examples and why they work

The best way to learn how to create abandoned cart emails is to see them in action. Let’s look at some real examples and break down what works and what you can learn from them.

This one is a great example of how you can craft copy that is fun to boot and right in line with brand voice.

DoggyLoof abandoned cart email is clever and right in line with brand voice

First off, notice all the dog-related language like ‘fetch’ and ‘run away’. Visually speaking, this email is fun and catches the eye.

This brand also uses scarcity to recover more sales. In addition to that, the phrase ‘Please don’t disappoint your dog’ is a lighthearted way to tug at the heartstrings of dog owners.

Holstee

Sometimes simple does the trick. Most of these abandoned cart email examples are heavily designed, but Holtsee takes an approach that makes it seem more personable.

Holstee uses a minimalistic approach in their abandoned cart emails

The purpose of this email is to make it seem like the company is reaching out personally. In the copy, they offer support in case the customer needs it.

Even the checkout URL is provided as a simple link! This makes it seem even more personal, although it doesn’t catch the eye as well as some other examples.

Society 6

This email starts out with a specific statement: “We’ve reserved your cart for the next 48 hours”.

This lets the customer know exactly what they can expect. 48 hours from now, their cart will probably be gone.

Society6 uses scarcity to increase the efficiency of their abandoned cart emails

In addition to that, their call-to-action button offers a 30% discount, which makes it much more tempting to complete the purchase.

And because they know exactly how much time they have to claim this discount, customers will have a sense of urgency, which makes them more likely to buy.

Lego

This fun email from Lego uses a combination of attractive design, fun play on words, and related images to entice their customers to go back to their cart.

Abandoned cart email from Lego is a combination of attractive design, fun play on words, and related images

The tempting phrase “Go ahead, take another look” feels like more than just a reminder to buy. It’s an invitation – no, a tempting challenge!

They also have a reminder at the top for free shipping, plus some easy-to-spot buttons for support inquiries if their customers need help checking out.

Adidas

Adidas’ copywriter probably had too much fun writing this email. Not only is the copy clever and stands out from the rest, it simultaneously counters objections that customers might have against completing their purchase.

Adidas abandoned cart email counters objections that customers might have against completing their purchase

If they’re not sure whether or not they should trust the brand, they can read customer reviews at the bottom. If they aren't huge fans of the existing colors, they can create their own custom shoe.

Whether or not customers end up buying, they will certainly remember the brand!

Winc

“You have wine in your cart. But, it belongs in your home.” This abandoned cart email is convincing without feeling too pushy.

Winc also stands out by using call-to-action button copy that’s different from your usual “Checkout”, “Complete my purchase”, etc. Their choice of using “Let’s do this” is on-brand with the rest of the copy and feels very action-oriented.

Winc uses an action-driven CTA button in the abandoned cart emails

They also provide a $20 off discount code for new members, which makes it a lot easier to pull the trigger on the purchase.

Casper

Not only is this email designed in a sleek and simple way while still catching the eye, but it’s also fun and clever with its tagline, “Come back to bed”.

Casper uses humor to drive customers back to the cart

Casper also uses reviews at the bottom of the email for some additional social proof.

Mango

This is an example of an email that is on the more pushy side of the spectrum. Mango uses scarcity to remind their customers that items can sell out when they’re still in your cart – they won’t hold them for you.

Mango uses the sense of urgency in their abandoned cart emails

Additionally, they add a reminder at the top of the email that the customer qualifies for free shipping. It’s similar to the Lego example, but it specifically guarantees the customer that their order does qualify if they check out as is.

Grove

You don’t need a ton of copy and several images to create a compelling abandoned cart email.

Grove sends their customers a simple and subtle reminder that they left items in their cart.

Grove pictures a lifestyle their customers might be missing out by not completing the purchase

What this email does in just two sentences is remind the customer of the benefits of their products.

They aren’t listing out features – they’re painting a picture of the lifestyle their customers are trying to achieve. Copy like this can help persuade customers who are on the fence.

Increase your sales with effective abandoned cart emails

These templates and examples should help provide you with plenty of inspiration to come up with your own abandoned cart emails to help you save more carts from abandonment and spike up your sales.

Just make sure you stay on brand instead of taking the exact style you’ve seen from other businesses. What could be considered fun and clever won’t necessarily come off that way for all audiences!

Charlene Boutin is a B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies, blog posts, and converting copy for digital entrepreneurs and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.

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