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Abandoned Cart Emails: Tips, Strategy, Examples and Setup

Abandoned cart email

Running an online store isn’t easy. Driving traffic to your website can be costly so it’s important to get the most out of it. Abandoned cart emails are a must for anyone running an online store. According to research the average rate of cart abandonment is 70%. A majority of those potential customers will not return, unless you give them a little push with cart abandonment emails!

In this article we will look at what cart abandonment emails are, their benefits and help you form a strategy for success with the help of examples.

What are abandoned cart emails?

Let’s run through the journey. A visitor comes to your online store, picks a product which goes to their cart but they don’t checkout. This is where a cart abandonment email comes in, it will send a reminder to the visitor asking them to complete their purchase. At a minimum, the email should contain a picture of the product(s) left in the cart, a price and a call to action. Here is an example from H&M Fashion Store:

Abandoned cart email H&M

Most cart abandonment emails will look similar. They are highly personalised with the simple goal of getting a subscriber to complete their purchase, in the above example I had added those trousers to my cart on H&M and received the email a few hours later.

Benefits of abandoned cart emails

The obvious benefit is that the emails will drive subscribers back to your site and it’s the cheapest retargeting method out there. If done right, the emails can have a conversion rate of up to 10%. I would suggest using that figure as a target for your emails.

Cart abandonment emails have a high engagement rate. Open rates average over 40% according to Barilliance which is a lot higher than newsletters. This is great for engagement but the added benefit of high open rates is a better sending reputation. It depends on the volume of cart abandonment emails you send vs newsletters but the higher your engagement rate are, the more likely your emails will land in an inbox. You can read how to reach more inboxes here.

Cart abandonment emails help nurture relationships with customers. Your emails should be personalised which adds value to your content and reminds subscribers of your brand.

Cart abandonment emails are automated which means you can generate revenue without doing any work beyond the setup.

How to setup abandoned cart emails

If you’re a one person band or a start up you might think you don’t have the time or expertise to setup cart abandonment emails. The use of words like automation and personalisation can make the setup sound complicated but it isn’t. You don’t need to be an expert and you don’t need to know any coding to setup your emails.

The setup itself varies depending on your e-commerce and email marketing platforms. Here we will cover the general requirements you need to consider for your setup. If you do need help setting up your emails or picking a platform get in touch with us.

Setup your integration

This is the process of connecting your store with an email marketing platform. The integration will send visitor data to your email marketing platform. This includes the details of the products that were abandoned. This data will be used to personalise the email content.

If you use a popular e-commerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, you can connect with most email marketing providers with a few simple clicks. Some of the top email marketing platforms to consider are:

Our article about the best ESPs can help you narrow down an ESP.

Within the email marketing platform you pick there should be an option for integrations. For example, Mailchimp has an integrations option in the main menu which takes you to the following page:

Abandoned cart email Mailchimp

You simply pick the integration you need and follow the wizard to complete the setup. If your ESP doesn’t have a built in integration you can use tools like Zapier. Zapier allows you to connect apps together and is simple to use.

Create an automation

Once your integration is ready you will need to use the automation features within the email marketing platform to create ‘flows’. There should be a prebuilt template available for you so this can be straight forward. Using Mailchimp as an example again, if you navigate to automations you will find a ‘pre-built journeys’ option.

Abandoned cart email Mailchimp

If you pick a pre-built journey you will be able to create a user journey similar to this:

Other platforms will have similar options. It may look daunting but it’s very simple:

  • Pick a trigger, in this case it’s a cart has been abandoned
  • Pick an action. This would be sending out the email

That’s literally all you need to build for a basic cart abandonment email. You can add other features like picking how many hours after the abandonment should the email be sent. After sending the email you can add further conditions like a follow up email. This is all very easy to create but to get started, the above two points are all you need.

How to create abandoned cart emails that convert

You have picked your email marketing platform, created your integration and now you are ready to create your automation and content. It’s not enough to send just the one email. To get the most out of your cart abandonment emails I would recommend creating a series of three emails.

1. Reminder email

The first email you send will generate the bulk of your revenue from cart abandonment emails. It will most likely have the highest open and click rates. So this is your moment to shine. First thing to consider is the timing. If you send to soon you risk annoying your customer who would have completed the purchase without a prompt. If you leave it too late you risk losing the customer to a competitor.

According to Rejoiner, emails sent an hour after the cart was abandoned have the highest conversion rates.

Remind your customer what they are missing out on

Consider the reasons why someone would abandon their cart. It could simply be that they got distracted or something was wrong. Focus your message around either of these two. Your content should re-iterate the value of your product and simply remind them to complete their purchase. Here’s a good example from Kulala.

Abandoned cart email
Subject lineForgot Something?

Keep it simple

Your email should be very simple, a short message followed by the products that were abandoned and a a clear call to action. Here’s an example from Boots:

Abandoned cart email Mailchimp
Subject line – Can we help?

Again, the content is simple with clear CTA’s, this is all you need especially in the first email. The only thing that might be worth including is a ‘chat to us’ option. That’s if you offer any form of customer support.

Subject line

Subject lines with a question tend to have better engagement rates. A few examples of good subject lines are:

  • Did you forget something?
  • Can we help?
  • We have saved your cart
  • Ready to complete your order?
  • {Product tile} is waiting in your cart – Personalise your subject line if you can.

2. Follow up email

If your subscriber doesn’t complete the purchase after the first email then you need to change up your messaging a bit. Again, think about the psychology of your customers. What will motivate them to purchase? Here is Kulala’s second cart abandonment email:

Abandoned cart email
Subject line -Still not sleeping?

They have chosen to focus on the problem their lamp solves. It can help you sleep better, which is quite the claim right? However, this only works if your subscribers have a genuine problem only you can solve.

Create an offer

If you don’t have a compelling problem you can solve for your subscriber then create an incentive for them to complete their purchase. According to Shopify, 55% of carts are abandoned because of additional costs being too high. So if you can offer a discount or free shipping, that might help close the deal. Here’s a good example that makes the offer very clear:

Abandoned cart email

Include testimonials and similar products

If you have customer reviews or testimonials, now is a good time to share them. A good review might push your customers to complete a purchase.

Another piece of content you can include in the follow up email is a list of similar products. Only do this if you can show relevant products, cart abandonment emails should be heavily personalised and showing irrelevant content might have a negative impact.


The timing of your second email really depends the general behaviour of your customer base. If your product is expensive and people tend to take their time making their mind up then send your second email 24 hours after the first one. If your customer journey is short and you have a lot of competition then send the follow up email 12 hours after the initial follow up email.

The best way to determine the best time for your business is by testing. Run A/B tests for 12 hours vs 24 hours and record your conversion rates.

Subject line

The subject line for the follow up email should offer some value to the user. This could be a unique selling point or a discount. A few examples:

  • Still not sleeping? We discussed this above, if you can solve a problem for your subscribers then use that as your selling point.
  • Get FREE delivery when you complete your order. Extra costs are the biggest reason why people abandon carts so free delivery might help complete the sale.
  • Complete your order and get 10% OFF

3. Final reminder

There is a fine line between annoying and helpful. Constantly chasing your subscriber could annoy them so now it’s time to move on. With the third email let your subscriber know this is their last chance to complete their purchase. Adding a sense of urgency could also be a motivator! Here’s Kulala’s third email:

Abandoned cart email
Subject lineDon’t miss out on $50 off your entire cart!

the preview text for this email was ‘Last call! We’re giving $50 off on items you liked’. This combined with the subject line makes it clear to the subscriber they have a great offer about to slip out of their grasp.

Ask for feedback

The next best thing to a sale if customer feedback. If you can understand why your potential customers don’t complete purchases you can improve your user journey. Incentivise your subscribers to leave feedback by creating a simple form for them to fill out.

Timing of the third abandoned cart email

Again, this depends on the type of products you sell and your customer lifecycle. This could be 12 hours after the second email or 24 hours. Keep testing and recording customer behaviour to get your timing right.

Subject line

Try to focus on urgency in your final cart abandoned email. A few good examples are:

  • Your cart is about to expire
  • Last chance to complete your order
  • Complete your order today and get 24% OFF
  • FREE delivery on your next order – 24 hours left

A few more ideas

Continuous A/B testing. Test everything, your subject lines, your preview text and your content.

Connect with other channels. Don’t just send emails, send SMS messages or re-target through Facebook.

Make it easy to create accounts. In order to send emails you need the customers email address, so make signing up for an account easy to do.

Get your copy right. The copy of your emails should be short and simple. Consider why your subscribers abandon their carts and try to solve their problems. Which is why we talked about getting feedback earlier, know your customers!

Follow up again in the future. Email marketing helps build relationships. Whether your abandoned cart emails convert or not you should follow up with your subscribers. Create additional flows for those that didn’t convert and chase them every few months. Create separate flows for subscribers that did complete their purchase and offer them incentives in the future. For example, send an email when the subscriber is coming up to their birthday or their first anniversary as your customer.

Let’s summarise

Abandoned cart emails are a must for any online store. They increase sales and are simple to do. I would say they are more important for start ups so don’t put off setting them up. All you need is a simple integration with an email marketing platform and automation flow that sends out the emails. The content of the emails should highly personalised and for the best conversion rates send a series of three emails.

If you need help with creating a strategy for abandoned cart emails get in touch with us.