How ecommerce marketers can create a winning cart abandonment email

Posted by Hannah Stacey 3 Feb 16

N.B. Our latest blog post on cart abandonment campaigns can be found here.
Fact #1: Cart abandonment is a pain in the proverbial for online retailers (but sadly it’s inevitable)

With billions of pounds of shopping left in virtual shopping baskets each year, cart abandonment is an infuriating reminder of revenue that might have been made.

The customer has spent time browsing your site, has carefully selected items that have taken their fancy but - for one reason or another - he or she has abandoned ship at the critical point.  Maddening, right?

Unfortunately cart abandonment is probably here to stay: it’s just symptomatic of the way some people browse and shop (and according to the Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.63%).

But it isn’t all doom and gloom! If you’re an online retailer the great news is that...

Fact #2: There’s a lot that can be done to bring those abandoned cart rates down

Many online retailers are taking proactive measures to reduce cart abandonment rates - after all, if you can tempt even a small percentage of those who’ve abandoned their purchase back to complete the process (or even prevent them from abandoning the checkout in the first place), that can represent a significant amount of regained revenue.

This post will focus on one popular tactic: basket abandonment emails. According to remarketing specialist SalesCycle, implementing this type of triggered email gets results.

Here are some interesting stats:

  • Nearly half (44.1%) of all cart abandonment emails are opened. 
  • Over a tenth (11.6%) of all cart abandonment emails are clicked. 
  • Just under a third (29.9%) of clicks lead to a recovered purchase back on site.
  • The AOV of recovered purchases is 14.2% higher than typical purchases. 
This post will map out the features that make a great cart abandonment email, and then offer some examples of best practice from a number of top retailers. 

What a winning cart abandonment email looks like

anatomy of cart abandonment email

1) Timing is essential

Research has shown that timing is critical when it comes to successfully recovering sales lost through cart abandonment. According to SalesCycle’s research into 200 global brands:

  • emails sent within 20 minutes achieved on average a 5.2% conversion rate
  • emails sent within an hour achieved on average a 4.5% conversion rate
  • emails sent over 24 hours after a basket was abandoned achieved on average a 2.6% conversion rate

2) Get your subject line right

Effective subject line copy is an oft-discussed topic. To get your abandoned cart email read, try out some of the following tactics:

  • make sure your brand is identifiable before the email is opened (either by sender name or in the subject line)
  • make it obvious what the email is about in the subject line (“You left items in your basket”)
  • try to personalise the subject line as much as possible, either by using the recipient’s first name (“Hannah, did you forget something?”) or even by the name of the product itself (“We’re still holding the [insert product name] for you!”)
  • create a sense of urgency (“Hurry, your cart expires in 24 hours!”)
  • get quirky (“Let us magically transport you back to your shopping cart”)
  • appeal to their sense of excitement about the product (“Hey Hannah, you forgot how much you wanted to buy this!”)

3) Incorporate your regular website navigation

When you’re sending someone an abandoned cart email, the main goal is to get them back to their basket, credit card in hand, ready to complete their purchase.

But what if they left simply because they changed their mind and didn’t want the item so much after all? Incorporating your website’s regular navigation into your email might well encourage them back onto your site ready to buy something else that’s more up their street.  

4) Remind them of what they’ve left behind

Be as specific as possible, as your recipient might have visited a whole heap of websites and added things to basket on all of them. Including an image of the product that they added to their basket is also a must, as people often respond better to images than text on its own (it’ll also serve as a better reminder of what they’re missing out on). Give as much detail as possible, including price, colour and the size that they selected.

5) Get your copy spot on

You will undoubtedly have spent time crafting a tone of voice for your brand, so we won’t try and trample all over that. But the key points to get across in your copy - in whichever way best suits your brand - are that:

  • the recipient has left an item in their basket
  • that they liked this item enough to put it in their basket
  • they should return to their basket now (a good way of prompting this is by implying that their basket will expire soon or that having items in your basket doesn’t guarantee that they’ll stay in stock)

Above all, remember to keep the tone helpful, not pushy.

6) Call to action

As we’ve already mentioned, when it comes to cart abandonment emails there is only one action that you really want the recipient to take. Ensure that your CTA is prominent, super-clickable, and that the copy is laser-focused. Popular calls to action include:

  • Take me back to my basket
  • Claim my item
  • Complete my order
  • Continue shopping 



7) Tempt them back with related items

If it turned out that the recipient didn’t like the item they added to their basket so much after all, providing them with images of other popular or related items in your store is a great way of getting them back and shopping. Delve into your data to see which items are popular basket top up items with this product and make sure they’re displayed in your email (with pictures).

8) Include customer reviews

Social validation has been proven time and time again to have a significant impact on online purchasing decisions. A lot of stores display reviews on their product pages to help seal the deal - why not pick the most favourable (providing that you actually have a positive review of the item, of course!) and display it in the email? It might provide the nudge that the recipient needed.


11 of our favourite examples of cart abandonment emails


Why we love it: MADE puts our abandoned items at the centre of the message to get us back to the checkout with strong visual cues to repurchase. 

Made abandoned email


Why we love it: ASOS uses a large image and a moving GIF-based logo to catch the attention of would-be buyers.

asos cart abandonment email

3) Kurt Geiger 

Why we love it: Kurt Geiger didn't waste any time cross-promoting their current sale, as well as reminding us of the lovely heels we left behind. 

Kurt Geiger abandoned email

4) JOY

Why we love it: JOY goes all out with its product recommendations at the bottom of this email, tempting us back to the website to buy.

joy cart abandonment email

5) Mothercare

Why we love it: Mothercare gives us plenty of information about how to contact customer service with any questions about the product in question.

mothercare cart abandonment email

6) Fat Face

Why we love it: Fat Face’s email includes a huge call to action right under the product images that demands that we complete our order.

fat face cart abandonment email  

7) Mango

Why we love it: Mango’s email reminds us about every detail of the abandoned purchase, including the size, colour, quantity and price of items left in the basket.

mango cart abandonment email

8) Kate Spade Saturday

Why we love it: This is an example of abandonment email copywriting perfection: not too pushy, it gets to the point and effectively conveys the brand’s image.

kate spade cart abandonment email

9) Alex and Alexa

Why we love it: Again, customer service is key in this email, with clear links to contact details and a helpful tone.

alexandalexa cart abandonment email

10) Nordstrom

Why we love it: Strong shopping CTA's line this email alongside great visual reminders of abandoned items, and a cheeky cross-sell featuring some lovely social proof. 

Nordstrom abandoned email 11) Wolf & Badger 

Why we love it: Everyone loves a bargain - Wolf & Badger waste no time incentivising a repurchase with a nice discount and free shipping. 

Wold & Badger abandoned email

Triggered email for retailers by Ometria - find out more

Topics: Ecommerce email marketing, Ecommerce examples, Ecommerce customer retention, Ecommerce marketing strategy, Ecommerce marketing tips

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