A guide to cart abandonment emails

It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right”  – Mark Hunter.

Businesses explore different ideas and avenues of communication to keep subscribers engaged, convert them to customers, and increase their revenue. Many times, though, brands miss out on opportunities despite having everything set up.  Let’s say you have the perfect product, you’ve nailed your customer persona and segmentation, and have a great sales and marketing strategy. Everything is going as planned, yet you find most of your customers not completing the transaction. Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. The cart abandonment rate is at a whopping 69.57%

That’s incredibly high for any ecommerce company. One way to reduce cart abandonment would be to optimize the check-out process, but how do we retarget visitors who abandoned their carts? The answer is abandoned cart emails. Set up triggered emails via your email marketing software to politely nudge your visitors/customers to come back and finish their transactions. This guide is created to learn everything about cart recovery emails, essential elements, causes, and more.

What is an abandoned cart email? 

An abandoned cart email or recovery email is a follow-up email sent to customers who added products to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase. These emails have a high open-rate of about 48%, which shows how effective they can be in encouraging revisits and purchases. 

As a transactional email and sales recovery tactic, these are fully automated, and you can set them to be triggered automatically and win your lost customers with minimal effort. If used properly, they have a great return on investment.

What causes cart abandonment? 

There are many reasons customers abandon their products in their cart, which may depend upon the website experience, the product’s cost, etc. Addressing why customers are leaving their transactions is imperative in providing a hassle-free service. While optimizing your website, checkout process, the number of fields, etc., are proactive measures to keep improving your conversion rate, abandoned cart emails are reactive measures. Let’s look at the reasons why carts are abandoned:

Lack of trust in payment gateway

Customers are usually wary of providing their card details to online retailers. This is even more prominent when some businesses don’t have a secure payment gateway. Using well-known gateways and reassuring customers of their card information’s safety by adding trust badges is a great way to make them more comfortable during checkout. Having a solid return policy and creating a secure checkout experience will ease some of the stress a customer will have while ordering from you, especially if they are first time buyers.

Unexpected hidden costs

While there’re chances some customers add products to their cart with no intention of buying, research shows that 55% of customers abandon due to unexpected hidden costs. These could be high shipping and delivery costs, taxes, and other unforeseen charges that customers didn’t know about upfront or until the end of the purchase process. You can avoid this by being clear about the additional costs, and maybe even offer promo codes or free shipping to reduce the shock.

Complicated checkout process

Ensure the checkout process is quick and seamless. The more complicated you make it, the more impatient your customers get. Having too many fields to fill, not auto-filling previous addresses and information, long log-in process, the page takes time to load, etc., can lose many transactions. Not to mention you give them additional time to second guess their purchase. Keep the process short and secure to avoid any hiccups at this point. 

Creating a new account

First-time customers don’t want to create an account with every brand they buy. By making signing up a mandatory process to complete the purchase, you’re pushing them away since it’s time-consuming. Instead, give them the option to checkout as a guest, where when they finish the purchase, they’d automatically be a signed-up customer, or let them sign-up using Facebook, Google, etc.

Lack of payment options

Limited payment options can discourage customers from completing a transaction. Most customers have a payment option that they’re most comfortable with, and will likely exit if it’s not available. Provide your customers with a range of payment options to choose their preferred mode and complete the transaction.

Technical problems

Ensure the load time of your website and the checkout page is optimized. If they load slowly, customers will get impatient and leave your website. Analyze and monitor your pages to make sure your website isn’t facing any technical issues. A sudden glitch could lead to incomplete transactions.

Unsatisfactory return policy

If you don’t have a strong return or exchange policy, customers might find your business unreliable and either not complete their transaction or spend less than intended. Up to 80% of customers don’t buy from businesses that don’t offer return policies. Now that’s a vast audience you’re losing out on. Have a return policy that assures customers that if the product is not what they expected, they can always return it.

Components of successful abandoned cart emails

The perfect abandoned cart email can make a massive difference to your revenue. You must design a well-thought-out email that works for your brand and reflects your persona. Create highly successful abandoned cart email templates while keeping the following elements in mind:


Remind them of what they abandoned

You need to create a recall with the abandoned cart email by showing them what they have left in their shopping carts. Add pictures of the product to remind them, because it’s likely they no longer remember what they had added to the cart. The visitor could have left because the website crashed, or they had technical difficulties, and they bounced off. By creating an accessible email with the product descriptions and CTA’s to go back to the checkout, customers who didn’t intend to drop the transaction are likely to return and complete it. 

Check out this simple and clear email from Moment - a photography marketplace. It provides its customers with a visual of the product, a description, and the total amount to be paid. The customers were encouraged to email back if they also faced any difficulties, apart from the ‘Return to cart’ CTA button. Words like ‘case-upgrade guarantee’ and ‘12-month warranty’ create a sense of trust, nudging customers to read more or complete the transaction.


Write subject lines that add value 

Keeping your email subject line simple and straightforward is the best way to increase your open rate. Ensure your email is understandable to the customer and doesn’t leave them confused about what you’re trying to say. Be clear, concise, and conversational. The email subject line should be directly related to the email so that the receiver doesn’t close the email.  The more opens you get, the higher your email delivery rate becomes. Some Information you can add in your subject line:


Add a clear CTA

Every email has a purpose - an action you want the receiver to take. It might be to sign up, or upgrade, or read more, etc. Call to action (CTA) buttons, or links are crucial in abandoned cart emails since it gives your customers easy access to their cart directly from the email. Some CTA’s you could explore for your emails are:

Here’s an email from the lifestyle brand -  Jack Wills, that entices the customer with a CTA in every section. Throughout the email, it gives the receiver a link to the particular items they’ve added and a CTA to the checkout cart. They’ve also added a section of product recommendations and distinctly called out the 50% sale to create intrigue.


Offer special discounts 

Sometimes customers drop out of the transaction because they weren’t satisfied with the final bill or delivery charges. They might have done their research and found the same product at a lower cost elsewhere. You can delight your customers with an exclusive discount in your cart recovery emails. 

Discounts can be a little tricky because you can’t give your customers the impression that they could get a deal every time they abandoned a cart, and sometimes they might not be interested in the discount, to begin with. Only issue discounts to customers if you think it makes sense for them and your brand. 

Look at this email from Alex Mill, which straight-up tells the receivers that the items are still in their cart, and they are also getting a 15% off. It also gives the recipients the option to just view/edit the cart, with pictures of products to create recall.


Combine compelling copy with email design 

As with any good marketing content, copywriting can make or break your deals with customers. Your copy needs to be clear in its purpose without being too pushy, and design so compelling that it attracts customers. Ensuring your copy and design align with your brand image can make a massive difference to your conversion rates. 

Here’s a fantastic example from the leading toy manufacturer, Lego. They’ve used informal tone and words like ‘in a snap’ that speaks to their buyer persona. It follows the lego brand styling to resonate with the buyers.

Give recommendations

Without overwhelming their original choice, provide customers with alternatives to what they originally intended to buy. Most times, customers are in two minds about their purchase leading to their cart abandonment. You could give them some options on products that you think would go great with their original selection in these situations. Maybe you could show them the same products in different colors and variations. Similar products in the same price range, or even better, you could let them know if the price of the product they were looking at has dropped.

Here’s an example of Columbia letting its customer know that the product they were eyeing has a new reduced price. It’s interesting to note that they don’t mention the price in the email, and instead, their CTA is ‘Reveal new price,’ which would make them curious enough to click. They give customers a fair idea of just how much the price could have been reduced by listing products they might be interested in and the slashed price.

Answer doubts that might be there

Having a FAQ (Frequently asked questions) page which answers most queries is one way to engage with your customers. You can reassure your customers about their purchase and answer their questions is by addressing their most FAQs in the cart recovery email. By addressing critical concerns that customers could potentially have, you make them more confident in buying from you. 

Check out this well-designed email from Whisky Loot that answers relevant information about the product. Moreover, this email also guides the users into the next steps that should be taken and encourages product use.

Include social proof and reviews

Case studies on social media and online reviews of your products are a great way to encourage customers to purchase. Customers are inclined to buy a product by the reviews it has received. Social validation works like a charm because customers seek reassurance that they’re picking the right product.

Let’s look at Adidas’ example that wins in every aspect of an abandoned cart email template. They’ve clearly shown the product, with a witty copy, followed-up with small testimonials paired with pictures.

Timing your emails well

When you’re trying to convert lost customers, timing is everything. There’re proven timings that ensure your cart recovery emails yield positive results. A well-timed email or series of emails is the most effective way to convert customers. You don’t want to be too early for the party, nor too late. Here are some timings you could follow for your abandoned cart email sequence. 

Now that you know everything there is to know how to create a stunning abandoned cart email template, let’s understand how you can create a cart abandonment email sequence that works for you.

Create a cart abandonment sequence

Naturally, different strategies work for different businesses. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used for every ecommerce brand. With enough research and experimentation, you have an idea of how many emails to send and how to space them out. If you send too many emails too often, it is likely to annoy the customer enough to stop opening your email. Transactional emails depend entirely on a dedicated domain/IP so that the emails always land in the primary inbox. If not used properly, you can ruin your overall email delivery rate and email deliverability. 

You can use an email marketing tool that lets you create automated drips effortlessly. As a general rule, one email is too little, and more than 3-4 emails can be overwhelming. Let’s look at the type of emails you can collate for your abandoned cart drip campaign:


Email 1: The reminder email 

Timing: 2-4 hours after cart abandonment
Purpose: To remind customers about their incomplete transactions. 

Customers could have abandoned their cart for various reasons, and the first email is supposed to remind them of what’s waiting in the cart. If they didn’t intend to leave abruptly and did so because of the internet or other technical issues, this email could easily convert them. 

Here’s an email from Food 52 letting its customers know that their cart called, and is hoping they come back. An attention-grabbing copy and the email displays the product and its details. This reminder would work great for anyone who didn’t intend to abandon their cart and are interested in buying the product(s). If you’re going to be sending a series of emails, hold off the discount/offer for the end.

Email 2: Make it urgent

Timing: 24 hours after cart abandonment
Purpose: To create a sense of urgency

If your customer didn’t interact with the first email, send them another one. Make them rush to complete the transaction by emphasizing how it’s the last few products in stock.

This is Food 52’s second email, stating that their products are no longer saved, and they’re selling out soon. This nudge will most likely be enough to bring back the customers who were on edge and couldn’t decide if they wanted it or not.

Email 3: Social validation

Timing: 48 hours after cart abandonment
Purpose: Validate their choice of product and establish trust 

At this point, you’re dealing with some hard to please customers. To create credibility, you could use the website and social media reviews to reassure your customers about their product choices. 

Look at this abandoned cart email from Casper, which pushes the customer to return to the cart and adds a witty and interesting testimonial. This minimal and well-structured email can bring back many customers with its CTA to read reviews as well.

Email 4: Incentives

Timing: 4 days after cart abandonment
Purpose: Entice them with offers and incentives

Now you have a group of customers who still haven’t completed their purchases. You incentivize the email by giving them offers and discounts. You could provide them with a discount on select products, promise them free shipping, send a coupon, etc. If your customers want to buy from you and have been reconsidering because of the prices, this would push them to complete the purchase. Set a validity for every offer, so they make the purchase immediately.

Here’s an email from Brooklinen, which pushes consumers to check the availability of the products and grab the free-shipping. It adds social proof with logos of the magazines it has been featured in and shows the different collections they have. 

Freshmarketer (formerly Freshworks CRM) is a next-generation marketing automation software that allows you to effortlessly set up abandoned cart emails. Having a high email delivery and email deliverability rate ensures that all your emails land in the customers’ primary inbox at the right time. Drag-and-drop elements to design the perfect abandoned cart email template and keep your customers coming back.


Once you have enough research and know what kind of abandoned cart emails work to drive your revenue, setting them up is an easy task. In the long run, you need to optimize your buying flow enough to provide delightful purchasing experiences. Ensure that your customers keep coming back with perfect abandoned cart emails. If you can crack this, all you have to do is sit back and watch your sales shoot up!