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How To Craft Abandoned Cart Emails That Recover Lost Sales

Abandoned cart emails help online retailers recover lost sales from shoppers who have abandoned their shopping cart before checkout. Keep reading to learn the strategies and best practices to help you maximize the effectiveness of your abandoned cart emails right from the start.

According to checkout usability research firm, the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate across online retailers hovers around 70%. To succeed in 2019 and beyond, online retailers must actively consider strategies to recover their abandoned sales. But despite advances in checkout UX and ecommerce technology, cart abandonment continues to hold steady.

Why abandoned cart emails are important

Focusing on cart abandonment emails can provide many benefits for your online business. The biggest being the ability to better optimize the conversion rate of your online store. In fact, 46% of recipients open abandoned cart emails, 13% click inside the email, and of those clicks, more than 35% end up completing a purchase.

You can think of abandoned cart emails as a powerful distribution tool. The most popular soft drink brands didn’t become popular just because they taste good, these companies also worked tirelessly to get their products in the hands of customers. You’re doing exactly that with these abandoned cart emails – your customers are allowing you to deliver your products straight to their inbox.

– Russell Ackner, Founder, Torch Group

There’s still plenty to be gained when customers add items to their shopping cart but don’t complete their purchase. Your business has already identified a customer segment with high purchase intent. Even though these abandoned cart shoppers haven’t finished their transaction, they’ve already signaled they are very interested in your products and now it’s up to your business to convert these shoppers into paying customers.

Here’s what your online business needs to know to make sure you’re capitalizing on every opportunity to boost your conversion rate and recapture lost sales.

The dos and don’ts for building highly effective abandoned cart emails


Tip #1 – Optimize Email Copy
Do – Leverage urgency in your email copy
Urgency inspires action. One way to do this is by injecting scarcity into your messaging.
Selling merchandise with a fixed quantity? Being upfront about the limited quantity might motivate shoppers to complete their purchase now instead of putting it off until later and missing out on the opportunity to get their hands on your item.

Don’t – Forget to offer discounts, deals, and promotions
Sometimes all it really takes to get shoppers past the finish line is a little incentive. Consider offering promotions like a 10% off discount code or limited time offer for free shipping to help sweeten the deal. Putting an expiration date on discount and free shipping offers is also another way to gently urge your shoppers to complete their purchase. Some customers might feel even more inclined to act if they know that they might be missing out on a great deal.

Emails with coupon code had an above-average open rate (44.37%) and click-through rate (10.85%) according to a study by marketing and email automation platform Klayvio.

Saatchi Art abandoned cart email example - 10% off discount code

(Source: Really Good Emails)

Main takeaway: Online retailers looking to offer a special deal or discount in their abandoned cart email should follow suit. Saatchi Art’s 10% off discount code sits comfortably above the fold making it easy to spot on a mobile or desktop browser. The message is fairly straight forward too, customers are incentivized to complete their purchase with an extra 10% off their purchase.

Tip #2 – Drive Purchases With a Clear Call-To-Action (CTA)
Do – Use cart regeneration to drive a clear path to purchase.
You’ve invested considerable effort into designing an abandoned cart email that you’re confident will help convert more abandoned carts. Your emails are being successfully delivered and your emails are also experiencing high open rates, but unfortunately, that’s where things begin to taper off. Revenue per email is trailing despite an upward-trend in click-through rates for your abandoned cart emails. The culprit? An abandoned cart email call-to-action button that doesn’t drop customers back into their previous checkout session.

When shoppers click on a button like “Return To My Cart” or “Continue Shopping”, the general expectation is that they’d be dropped back into the exact spot they were in before they abandoned their purchase. Without cart and session regeneration, online retailers are subjecting site visitors to a suboptimal customer journey on their site. This journey includes navigating through your website, adding merchandise to their shopping cart, and re-populating billing information before finally completing the purchase.

This is a nightmare for shoppers who are purchasing highly customizable products and have already gone through great lengths to select the right fit and style. Save your customers the hassle of rebuilding their shopping cart and measure the impact on your conversion rate.

To test this hypothesis out further, Rejoiner decided to test the impact of cart regeneration on overall conversion rates. From their email blast of roughly 22,000 sends, the control (no cart regeneration) generated 106 conversions compared to 142 conversions for the variant.
In this test, the variant with cart regeneration outperformed the control by 33%.

(Source: Really Good Emails)

Main takeaway: The strength of 23andMe’s abandoned cart email lies in its minimalist design. The call-to-action button is legible and the fact that there aren’t additional links or buttons to click really emphasizes the one true CTA on the page, “order today”.

Don’t – Overload copy with multiple CTAs
Your abandoned cart emails should accomplish one goal: helping customers pick up on their previous shopping experience and inspiring them to complete their purchase. Populating your emails with multiple CTAs can cause your email design to look cluttered and cause some shoppers to feel overwhelmed. The spaces in your emails are prime real estate; if the content you’re including doesn’t aid the overall goal of the email (in this case driving a purchase), you’re better off omitting it altogether.

Sephora cart abandonment email - conflicting CTAs

Main Takeaway: At first glance, Sephora’s cart recovery email features a clear headline reminding cart abandoners to revisit their Sephora shopping basket. However, the process back to checkout isn’t as streamlined as it appears, since the shopping cart is actually hidden behind a login. The addition of the weekly specials and top picks sections offers competing goals that distract shoppers from completing their initial cart. Although it’s intuitive to include a menu in the email template, this small addition can have a serious impact on your conversion rate. By allowing shoppers to navigate to different parts of your site, your online business runs the risk of resetting their customer journey and taking them back to the product discovery or consideration stage.

Tip #3 – Hack Your Open Rates
Do – Optimize email pre-header
Email marketers tend to advocate that email subject lines are responsible for doing all the heavy lifting but that might not be true. Email preheaders play an equally important role in helping to prop up your open rates.

Don’t – Forget to personalize your email subject lines
When it comes to email optimization, personalization is one of the first recommendations on the top of the list. Basic personalization can be as simple as including the shopper’s first name in the subject line of your abandoned cart emails or featuring the name of an item that was abandoned during the checkout process. Regardless of which strategy you choose to implement, the underlying principle is the same, crafting subject lines that are relevant to shoppers is one effective way to grab their attention and get them to engage with your email.

Even subject lines that simply reminded cart abandoners that they left or forgot an item at checkout boast a higher open rate than those that didn’t (47.67% vs 41.18% respectively) according to a BigCommerce study.

Here are some examples of subject lines to test in your next abandoned cart email sequence:

  • Your [Store_Name] basket is ready for checkout.
  • Don’t miss out! Your cart is expiring soon!
  • Ready to complete your purchase, [Name]?
  • [Name], Did you leave something behind?
  • [Name] – Still interested in [Product_Y]?

Don’t – Rely on just one cart abandonment email
The rule of three also applies to cart abandonment emails!
Set up your first cart abandonment email to fire 30 minutes after a shopper has abandoned their shopping cart. Email number two can be sent 24 hours post abandonment and finally, email number three can be sent 3 days or 36 hours post abandonment.

Online businesses must remember that cart abandonment emails are another touchpoint with potential customers and should treat these interactions with care. This means prioritizing the customer service experience in each email to continue to win new customers, nurture existing relationships, and uncover valuable product insights. Sending an email to shoppers immediately after cart abandonment is one way to show this level of care and engagement. Maybe the shopper experienced technical difficulties at checkout and as a result, couldn’t complete their purchase? While it’s important to try and recapture the sale, understand that it’s just as critical to ask for feedback. Any responses you receive will help you tailor your checkout process and messaging in the future.

Tip #4 – Keep Cross-platform Users in Mind

Do – Implement a responsive email design
Today’s shoppers are engaging with their favorite brands across multiple platforms and devices. A shopper might browse your inventory on desktop, add a couple of items to her shopping cart and return a few hours later to complete her purchase on mobile. Designing responsive emails helps ensure that you’re always able to serve the right messaging and enticing cart abandoners to repurchase regardless of what device they’re browsing from.

Don’t – Forget about optimizing for mobile
To make the most of your abandoned cart emails your online business should focus on more than just readability across different screen sizes. Remember to design your emails with mobile browsing behaviors in mind. This might include adding additional copy of your abandon cart CTA at the end of your email to save mobile shoppers the hassle of scrolling to the top of the page to checkout.

Examples of revenue-recovering cart abandonment emails

Need some more inspiration for crafting high performing abandoned cart emails? Here are a few examples of high performing cart recovery emails that help encourage shoppers to complete their purchase.

Under Armour’s Abandoned Cart Email

Under Armour cart recovery email

CTA: Return to Your Cart
Additional opportunities to sell: Gear recommended for you
From Line: Under Armour
Subject Line: Your cart’s loaded & ready to go
Incentive: Free shipping on next order
Image included: Display the user’s product configuration
Headline Copy: This gear’s ready to go

Main Takeaway:
Right off the bat, the simplicity of UA’s cart abandonment email really shines. The prominent hero image highlights the pair of trainers the shopper browsed before. Under Armour’s “Return to Your Cart” CTA sets the expectation that users will be dropped back into the same spot at checkout before they abandoned their purchase. Lastly, the product recommendation near the footer offers two advantages for online retailers. In instances where a shopper does not decide to move forward with the original abandoned merchandise, online retailers can still salvage the purchase with a similarly priced item. And for shoppers who are already in a purchasing mood, recommending similar products may help boost average order value.

Winc Wine Club

winc wine club abandon cart email template

CTA: Let’s Do This | I’m Ready For Wine
From Line: hello@
Subject Line: Your cart’s loaded & ready to go
Incentive: $20 off the first order
Image included: Selection of wine bottles
Headline Copy: You accidentally left some amazing wine in your cart.

Main takeaway: The responsive and mobile-optimized design of Winc’s email helps differentiate it as one of the better cart recovery emails out there. The vertical orientation of the content closely aligns with the scrolling behavior closely exhibited by smartphone users. Shoppers who have made it to the end of the email are greeted with another call-to-action they can click to get back into their shopping cart.

Abandoned cart emails are just the tip of the conversion optimization iceberg

As more shoppers look to complete their purchase on the web, shopping cart abandonment will continue to be an issue that riddles online retailers. But that doesn’t mean your revenue and sales potential need to be held back by cart abandonment. Given how impactful abandoned cart emails can be, businesses can stand to benefit greatly from including them in their playbook of conversion rate optimization strategies.

And once your online business feels like you’ve nailed the recipe for stellar abandoned cart, the next logical step is to focus on optimizing the checkout flow so you can avoid losing the shoppers you’ve worked so hard to engage with. Don’t let an outdated checkout process hold your revenue potential hostage. Bolt’s checkout is optimized to help online retailers capture more sales by streamlining the entire checkout process for shoppers visiting your site.

Interested in learning more about how Bolt is helping online retailers improve the checkout experience and boost their conversion rate? Click here to view our list of case studies.