Here’s a surprising statistic for retail marketers to ponder: more than 40% of retailers aren’t implementing an abandoned cart email strategy to entice back would-be customers.

That’s according to a recent study conducted by Kibo and Astound Commerce, which outlined how many retailers were making efforts to entice cart abandoners back to their sites. Something else the study uncovered: online retailers are missing some serious opportunity.

Across all segments and sizes of online retailers, nearly three-quarters of all carts are abandoned, and they’re abandoned for a variety of reasons ranging from crashed browsers to unexpected total purchase price. Fortunately for marketers, email offers a rare opportunity to convert these cart abandoners back into buyers.

According to Marketing Land, “more than half of cart retrieval emails are opened, and over a third of cart retrieval emails result in purchases.”

Email is a top revenue contributor to online retail sales, but not all emails will generate the same results. So what can you do to boost online sales with an abandoned cart strategy of your own? Let’s take a look at the fundamental pieces of a good abandoned cart email.

Subject Lines

Naturally these are important for any email. Remember the goal of your abandoned cart message: open, click, buy. You don’t need to be tricky—add in keywords so that the recipient knows what your message is. Popular tip offs include “cart,” “complete your order,” or “forgetting something.” Some brands take the “oops” approach, but use that with caution—most cart abandoners aren’t abandoning by mistake.


Pretty Pictures

Quality photography says a lot about your brand and the products you offer. It’s worth the cost to hire a professional photographer, and you can use the photographs both on your site and in your abandoned cart email.

You don’t want an email that’s entirely created from images, but do offer an eye-catching visual as your prominent element, and be sure to include photographs of the item the shopper abandoned in their cart. Doggyloot walks this balance well by including an eye-catching image of a dog and images of what was left behind (plus prices–example below). Good photography is particularly important if your brand is still establishing itself—quality work instills confidence in your reputation, which could translate to more sales from otherwise apprehensive buyers.

Catchy Copy

Fostering community can be a great tactic for generating increased future sales (i.e., consumer stickiness), but you can also employ community-oriented copy in your abandoned cart strategy. For example, SmartPak’s abandoned cart copy speaks to community (riders) and to FOMO (“we can’t promise your items won’t get snagged by another smart rider”). That little touch of FOMO might help you recover the cart abandoner who’s on the fence about buying now or later.


Personalizing isn’t just for $$firstnames. Only 6% of surveyed retailers are personalizing their abandoned cart messages beyond mentioning the product abandoned. Include images of the actual item(s) left in the cart, and consider adding suggestions for products based on what other purchasers bought. These suggestions could be related items at a lower price, or items that have better reviews than the original selection. Here’s where user-generated content can come in handy, too: if you’re collecting reviews and/or images, feature a good review alongside the item abandoned in the cart so that your would-be buyer can build trust with someone who is already in your community of buyers.

Callback Offer

Discounts can be a huge temptation for a cart abandoner, but beware the discount hunter. Consumers are hip to the game, and it’s not uncommon for a shopper to intentionally abandon a cart in hopes of a discount coupon code. Frustrating as that may be, not offering a coupon might cause that buyer to bounce entirely.

So what’s a marketer to do? Some brands are trying out limited time offers or discount codes that expire within 48 hours. Even the slightest perk, like free shipping, can entice a cart abandoner back to your site (and away from your competitors’ site).

Clear Calls to Action

Getting that cart abandoner back to their cart is your one mission. Be catchy, if you like, but be clear with that goal. Go with big, bullet-proof buttons. Link your images. Or, go all out like Chubbies:

Suggestions for Use

One reason buyers report abandoning carts? Buyer’s remorse. It’s easy to add items to a cart, and it can be a little stunning to see total costs once you get to the buying phase. Try adding suggestions for use to your abandoned cart message—these could be anything from recipes (if you’re selling food items) to outfit suggestions (bonus if you pair with other items you sell). Focus on not just how you want your buyers to use your products but also on how your existing buyers and influencers are actually using your products.

You’ve got the basics for a solid abandoned cart email—now build an email series! Download our abandoned cart email series here to get started:

abandoned cart email series

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Let's Get Started