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A spotlight on abandoned shopping cart emails

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I’m sure most of us have been there.

You’re shopping online and snapping up some bargains. You click here, you click there – adding all these great deals to your cart because – how can you not?

But then you get to the checkout and reality sets in. Maybe you have to set up an account, or the shipping charges are through the roof, or you get distracted by the kids – and you completely forget about your order. The list goes on, but either way, you abandon your shopping cart.

You’re not alone. A study by Barilliance found that a whopping 68.8% of customers abandon their carts before purchasing!

[tweetthis]A whopping 68.8% of customers abandon their carts before purchasing![/tweetthis]

The Baymard Institute estimated the combined loss for the e-commerce industry in the US and the EU due to abandoned shopping carts to be $260 billion.

A highly effective and proven method to capture those potential customers or clients and get back some of this lost revenue is to have an abandoned shopping cart email strategy.

What is an Abandoned Cart Email?

An abandoned shopping cart email is usually an automated email sent to potential customers shortly after they have left your site – and their in-progress shopping cart – trying to persuade them to return to complete the transaction.

When implemented successfully, this tactic can reclaim a lot of potentially lost revenue. In a study by Fresh Relevance, shopping cart abandonment emails increased turnover by $80k for every $1 million made.

Below is an example from fashion giant Bloomingdale’s.

abandoned bloomingdales 1

Reasons People Abandon

Before we look at what to include in your emails, it helps to know the reasons people abandon their carts in the first place.

There are lots of reasons people abandon their carts, but here are some of the main ones:

  • Extra costs added on at the last minute such as a shipping, one day rush order, handling fees or taxes. The Baymard Institute study found this was the main reason for abandonment with 61% of people put off by hidden costs.
  • Having to create an account on the site. For example, many e-commerce websites and online courses are run on platforms that require a buyer to set up an account before they purchase.
  • They didn’t trust the site with sensitive information such as credit card details and address.
  • Shipping is not quick enough.
  • The checkout process is too complicated.
  • Lack of product information.

How to Write the Perfect Abandoned Shopping Cart Email

Timing is Everything

When you send your emails – and how many you send – can make or break a sale. It needs to be relatively soon after the cart is abandoned. Marketo recommends sending one within hours of the cart being left and then another after 24 hours.

Choose your Words Carefully

Your subject line is pivotal to the success of your email. Get it wrong, and it won’t even get opened. The key is to convey a sense of urgency without being too pushy. Credibility is also important, and Inc. has put together a list of words you can use to increase your credibility here.

Keep it Personal

Keep the tone of your email conversational and include the recipient’s name, if you captured it. Be helpful an add value for your reader. recommends offering support and advice where you can.

Include a Product Reminder

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Remind your customer what they are missing out on. Pictures are great to help add a visual element of persuasion.

Add an Offer

You don’t have to include one in every email. Customers may simply have gotten distracted or had technical issues which caused them to abandon their cart, which means that they won’t take much convincing to purchase. But for those sitting on the fence, this can really help. Make sure you put a time limit on the offer to encourage readers to take action. Essence of Email recommends increasing the size of the discount in a ladder style with every email sent.

Call to Action

Make sure you put a direct link back to the checkout page. You want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to come back to you. You may want to include links to recommended products or landing pages with promotional offers, but be careful not to overcrowd the message.

[tweetthis]61% of people are put off by hidden costs. It’s the main cause of abandonment.[/tweetthis]

Abandoned Shopping Cart Email Examples

There are some fantastic examples out there of how to craft an abandonment email. Most companies send out a drip campaign of 2-3 for each cart. Let’s start by taking a look at some individual email examples:

Crate and Barrel

Crate and Barrel is an online housewares store, and they excel when it comes to email marketing.

Here is an example:

abandoned crate and barrel 1

  • The title line ensures you know from the start what the message is about.
  • This message is simple and isn’t overcrowded with too many words or pictures. It gets the job done.
  • Kissmetrics describes abandoned cart emails as a form of remarketing. You need to see them as a second chance to market your company. So, continuity in brand and adding value for your readers should be a top priority. Crate and Barrel does this well by using their corporate colors and font throughout the message, while trying to be as helpful as they can by including their customer support number.
  • There is one clear call-to-action button, and the blue color helps it to stand out from the rest of the message. Crate and Barrel doesn’t confuse readers with links to recommended products and web pages.

Kate Spade

Kate Spade has an excellent example of an abandonment email:

abandoment kate spade 1

  • The title is unobtrusive and not demanding in any way; it is polite and helpful. The casual language keeps the tone light and conversational and is supported by the rest of the text with phrases like, “If you’re on the fence” or “take a peek.”
  • The design of the email is very minimalist and draws the reader’s eye to the center point of the message – the picture of the abandoned item. The large picture can help to entice the reader into making a purchase.
  • The single call-to-action is clear while keeping with the stylish branding of a fashion retailer.
  • The brand continues to add value offering multiple contact details if the customer needs help. This can increase conversions dramatically as a large number of people abandon carts because they can’t find the answers to their questions about a product online.


Fashion giant Oakley also knows how to craft compelling emails for shopping cart abandoners:

abandonment oakley 1

abandonment oakley 2

  • The title cuts to the chase and does not try to sell. It is quite a masculine, no nonsense approach that should speak to male readers without being pushy.
  • The picture of the left-behind item with the price is a nice touch, reminding viewers what they are missing out on.
  • The design is minimalist and fits with the sleek and stylish branding Oakley is known for.
  • There are a lot of call-to-actions in this message, but the use of color helps to differentiate between the two different groupings: the ones that take you back to your original cart or the ones that take you to recommendations.
  • Including recommended items gives two benefits. It can increase sales through upselling, but it also increases respect for your brand as it shows that you care about your customer’s needs.

Case Studies

Case Study #1: Case of Mine

Case of Mine sells smartphone cases and accessories for your car and home. They ran a series of three emails to recover abandoned carts. Due to the campaign, overall 23.15% of people that left the carts came back, and 9.7% of them purchased!

Let’s take a look at the emails themselves:

Email 1:

abandoment case of mine 1

  • This email was sent one hour after cart abandonment.
  • It has an open rate of 47.22% and a conversion rate of 4.5%.
  • The subject line is strong. You don’t want to be too pushy in your first email. Especially if you are sending it out one hour after customers left your site. The line is polite and doesn’t blame the customer for leaving. The word “favorites” adds value to the items left behind.
  • The pictures are large, taking up a third of the email, and leaving no question to the reader as to what they are missing out on. Pictures especially help when they are well taken and visually pleasing, such as these.
  • The call-to-actions are clear, taking the viewer directly back to the sales page or individual items pages. This is a nice touch because the viewer may have left because they were unsure about the item. Your product page should be full of enough information and benefits about the product to close the sale.

Email 2:

abandoment case of mine 2

  • This email is sent 12 hours after the customer leaves.
  • It has an open rate of 45.49% and a conversion rate of 3.4%.
  • The subject line is a little pushier than the last, but it still isn’t demanding. The positive “Yes” keeps the reader’s eyes on the prize as it conjures images of abundance and getting what you want. If they say yes to this, what else might it lead to?
  • Again, Case of Mine keeps it simple. A few lines of text and large pictures ensure the reader doesn’t get turned off by information overload.

Email 3:

abandoment case of mine 3

  • This email is sent 24 hours after abandonment.
  • It has an open rate of 41.07% and a conversion rate of 2.1%.
  • The subject line here is a little more intrusive. But this is the last email in the series so Case of Mine can afford to make a final strong pitch to drive customers back. It is almost slightly menacing and comedic which should help to take the edge off for readers starting to get annoyed with these messages.
  • The main text is short and sweet, and written in a polite conversational tone which is perfect for gently closing the sale.

Case Study #2: Peak Design

Peak Design sells bags and other accessories for cameras, drones and iPads.

In a case study looking at remarketing, they had awesome results sending a series of two emails to those who abandoned their carts.

Email 1:

abandoment peak design 1

abandoment peak design 1a

  • This email was sent 30 minutes after cart abandonment.
  • The open rate for this email was 66% with a click though rate of 14%.
  • The title is unobtrusive and the stunning picture it sits on helps the reader to think of all the trips they could use Peak Design’s equipment on – if they purchase.
  • The tone of the main text is conversational and shows that Peak Design wants to add value for its customers as they are eager to answer any questions that the reader may have.
  • The message does well by reminding the reader twice that they can get free shipping with their purchase and a lifetime guarantee – once in the title and also in the main body of the text

Email 2:

abandoment peak design 2

abandoment peak design 2a

  • This email is sent 30 hours after the first.
  • Its open rate was 59% and click through rate 18%.
  • The main difference between this email and the first in the introduction of a small discount. Making this the title of email makes it clear and ensures that it is not missed by skim readers. Although this is a small discount, it can be enough to push potential customers who are on the edge about purchasing. When sending your own emails, try not offering a discount every time as some customers will come to expect it and hold out on purpose. Marketo recommends adding them around 20% of the time.

The average recovery rate for this campaign was an impressive 12%. And it remained at this level throughout.

Shopping Cart Abandonment and Pagewiz

Abandoned cart emails are a great way to get people back on to your site. But if the pages you send them to aren’t converting well, your efforts are being wasted. Pagewiz provides high-converting landing pages that are quick and simple to set up and can be fully customized to ensure maximum conversions. What’s more, they come with unlimited A/B testing so that you can optimize your campaigns and keep them running smoothly.

Wrapping It Up

A surprisingly large amount of online business revenue is lost to abandoned carts.

If you are making no effort to get this back, then in the words of you are definitely, “leaving money on the table.”

Abandoned cart emails are a great way to increase bottom line. With the marketing automation technology available today, implementation is simple. And if you’re a very small business with few sales each day, you can even personalize these emails and send them out manually. I’ve done this in the past and the ROI on my time was unbelievable!

There’s simply no good reason not to add this to your sales process.

Over to you – have you tried to recover sales in your business with abandoned cart emails? If not, what’s holding you back?


Also published on Medium.

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