Talk to us
How To Write Abandoned Cart Emails

How To Write Abandoned Cart Emails


Twitter Share Link Facebook Share Link Linkedin Share Link

In this post, we look at how to write cart abandonment emails, as well as the elements that contribute to a successful, high-performing cart (or basket) abandonment email
Shopping cart abandonment will happen, for a variety of reasons, but fortunately many can be tempted back to the purchase, often through basket abandonment emails.
For the best results, a lot of thought needs to go into the creation of cart abandonment emails – the creative used, the products shown, and the timing of emails.
Here are some of the key areas to consider…

Subject Lines

Subject lines are key to grabbing the reader’s attention. What works will depend on the brand and context, but they should deliver a clear and informative message about the content of the email.
The table below shows subject lines grouped by content, using data from 500 global brands.
The winner here is the customer name, which also achieves the highest conversion/send rate, of 3.7%.
From what we know about the effectiveness of personalisation, this makes perfect sense, though testing is the key to finding the right blend for your own emails.


The best times and days to send emails are hotly debated, and you’ll find many different answers to that question.
It’s slightly simpler for abandonment emails, as the day of sending is decided by the customer when they abandon. However, the timing of emails from that point plays a big part.
Broadly speaking, emails should be sent while the potential purchase is still in the customer’s mind, so we find the best results are achieved by sending remarketing emails within an hour of the abandonment.

Dynamic Content

Using dynamic content in remarketing emails ensures that content and visuals are up to date and optimised to the individual user.
Dynamic content allows you to:

  • Combine context and data to show your customers live information such as pricing.
  • Change the visuals and information based on where in the world the shopper is.
  • Update the information and design depending on the device they are using.
  • Use up-to-the second results to ensure that you are using the highest converting images.
  • Display up-to-date consumer trend information such as product popularity or stock levels.

For example, flydubai’s cart abandonment emails change to reflect live interest in the abandoned booking, and include messages like this:

Use All the Data

In a world of results and revenue there needs to be reasoning behind the decisions you make.
Does the features you add to emails actually increase clicks and conversions? Is the huge header image you put in the intro really increasing engagement? Everything must be considered and justified with real data.

How Will Your Emails Look?

It’s vitally important to test emails before you send so your creative efforts don’t go to waste.
Your emails may look nice in your browser, but have you tested in the other 100+ email clients?
Tools like Litmus and Email on Acid can help you test across a broad range of email clients.

Summary of Cart Contents

Show customers the products they were thinking about buying, and include the information they need: size, colour, price etc.
Images are important too, as they offer a quick reminder for shoppers. They may have abandoned several other baskets, so it’s important to provide a clear summary.

Careful with Those Discounts…

Some advise offering discounts in remarketing emails to provide that extra incentive to complete a purchase, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea.
Offering discounts and promo codes can be a sound tactic if customer acquisition is the aim, but there is a real risk that discounting will reduce profits in the longer term.
Cart abandonment emails can work well enough without discounting, so we advise against this.
The risk is that, by offering too many discounts and too early in the cycle, retailers are reducing their margins, and potentially training customers to expect discounts.

Clear Calls to Action

Testing is the way to find the combination of copy, color and size of call to action which performs best, but the key is that it’s easy to find and click.

Use a Little Urgency

Employing a sense of urgency can help to encourage customers to make a decision about a purchase.
Urgency should be used honestly, giving customers real-time updates on stock levels and availability. This is useful as it provides key information to the shopper.
It’s very easy to apply in some sectors. Flights, for example, are limited by time and availability, so urgency messaging works very naturally.


People often respond better to images than text, so it’s important to ensure that product imagery is effective and high quality.
I like this example from Dollar Shave Club as the imagery is good quality and highlights the contents of the package very nicely.

Image credit: Really Good Emails

Add Reviews

According to Bright Local, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendations. They offer reassurance for customers that the product they are considering is a good one.
They’re also perfect in-cart abandonment emails, where many recipients may still be in research mode.
There’s no room for detailed consumer reviews in emails, but a summary of the review score and number of reviews is enough for shoppers to make a quick judgement this also helps to improve social proof.

According to Bright Local, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendations.

Optimize Emails for Mobile

Stats from Litmus show that mobile accounted for 43% of email opens in 2021, meaning mobiles simply have to work on mobile.

mobile email open rates

Shoppers are unlikely to read emails if they are hard to read on mobile. Here are some considerations for layout on mobile from Greg Randall:

  • Stick with a wide single column format.
  • Respect the smartphone fold. If the content above the fold is relevant, consumers are more likely to scroll down the page.
  • Apply a large font.
  • Ensure the images are large enough to be recognisable.
  • Deliver white space to set off images and copy blocks.
  • Ensure all calls-to-action are large “finger targets”.
  • Ensure font and calls-to-action have strong contrast against the background. Email content will be viewed in environments with inconsistent and varied lighting.

Segment and/or Personalize Emails

A high-performing email should deliver relevance to recipients and segmentation and personalization can help to achieve this.
First, let’s explain the difference between segmentation and personalization:

  • Segmentation is used to divide people into distinct groups in order to target them with specific content or products. This could be age, gender, geo-location, propensity to purchase and more.
  • Personalization aims to provide relevance by using customer data to target them more effectively, perhaps to recommend relevant cross-selling options based on a customer’s history.

Product Recommendations

Our stats show that recovered sales tend to have higher average order values than direct (non-abandoned) sales.
One way to increase order values is to recommend extra products. These may be products related to the main purchase (cases for laptops etc) or items that the customer has previously shown an interest in.

Test and Improve

Cart abandonment emails are more effective when they are tested and optimized for find the best performance. Testing your abandonment emails is one of the many steps to improving cart abandonment rate.
A/B tests can be carried out on design elements such as imagery, messaging, or calls to action. For example, we’ve improved conversions for clients by changing the color and contrast on CTAs, or by moving key elements to more prominent positions.

Delivery Messaging

We’ve found that messaging around shipping (especially free shipping) can make a difference.
This is often included in or near the email footer, but moving it to a more prominent position can work wonders.
Here, the messages on delivery are visible at the top of the email:

Another approach is to base the message around shipping, as brooklinen does here:

Image credit: Really Good Emails


Find out More About Cart Abandonment Emails

Enter your email below and we’ll be in touch to see how we can help recover abandoned sales.

Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 18/10/2021


⬛️ 2023 Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy & Stats Report

This FREE ebook gives you the methods, solutions & trends for building a high-converting remarketing strategy for Black Friday

2023 Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy & Stats Report

Speak to an expert

Learn how to convert your online audience into revenue with our experts.

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.