5 Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines You Should Steal

January 6, 2022

The Bolt Team

Want better results from your abandoned cart emails? Start by improving your abandoned cart email subject lines.

In this post, we’ll show you the importance of abandoned cart email subject lines, the anatomy of a good one, and templates you can steal today. We’ll also give you examples of good and not so good abandoned cart email subject lines, so you know what’s working today.

Remember though, the best way to fight abandoned carts is to make sure customers don’t abandon in the first place. Services like Bolt make it easy to check out in a single click, greatly reducing the amount of shoppers who abandon their carts.

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What are abandoned cart emails and why are they important?

Abandoned shopping carts are the largest source of lost sales in the Ecommerce industry. According to Ecommerce optimization firm SalesCycle, an average of 81.08% of shopping carts are abandoned.

To recover these sales, abandoned cart emails have become essential. They make a direct appeal to shoppers, encouraging them to complete their purchase. Done right, they recover anywhere from 10–30% of lost sales.

But let’s be honest. No email can succeed if it doesn’t get opened.

The importance of abandoned cart email subject lines

A study by CMB found that 47% of people open an email based solely on the subject line. That’s the second-highest reason, after the “from” name on the email (64%).

But to earn the click, you must craft an email subject line that captures the recipient’s attention. For that, we need to think of the abandoned cart subject line as we would the headline of a sales page. As Copyblogger’s Brian Clark says in his book, Copywriting 101:

“Your headline is the first (and perhaps only) impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a skimmer into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.”

The same holds true for email subject lines. You can send your customers the perfect abandoned cart email, but if they don’t open it, it won’t matter. Your subject line is the first impression. And it should make the user want to click.

The anatomy of a good abandoned cart subject line

Your customer’s inbox is overflowing with Ecommerce emails. With a bland, boring subject line, your email can easily get overlooked. Here are six principles to ensure it stands out.

Principle # 1: Appeal to their self-interest

Marketing should always be customer-focused. That’s especially true of emails. Your abandoned cart email subject line should speak to the benefit your shopper was originally trying to achieve when adding your product into the shopping cart.

Principle # 2: Keep it short and sweet

A good subject line is short enough to show up in the user’s email preview panel but long enough to communicate the benefit of opening and reading the email. Try not to exceed eight words, or about 60 characters.

Screenshot of an inbox with abandoned carts

Principle # 3: Generate curiosity

Curiosity is a powerful drive. When we don’t have the information we’re looking for, it creates a gap that we feel compelled to fill.

Marketers have been leveraging curiosity to drive email opens and clicks for years. The key is to tease your audience without giving away too much information.

In the subject line, say something that captures their attention and makes them wonder what you’re talking about. For example:

  • Your parcel is packed
  • Did you forget?
  • Great choice! Here’s your next step …

Principle # 4: Make it valuable

We don’t recommend offering a discount in the first abandoned cart email. It’s the perfect strategy for a follow-up email. Even so, it’s a powerful technique that’s worth testing.

But a coupon isn’t the only way to add value to your customers. Brainstorm ideas for adding value, then mention the benefits in your subject line. For example:

  • [Product name] is ready – free shipping today
  • Let’s check this off your to-do list
  • Still interested? Take an extra 20% off today

Principle # 5: Use scarcity and urgency

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. That’s why scarcity and urgency work so well. Simply remind people that a product won’t be available in the future, and you can often drive action today.

Here are a few examples:

  • Your mala is about to be taken by someone else ⌛
  • Important: The price goes up in 24 hours
  • Your cart is about to expire

Principle # 6: Personalize it

Personalizing your subject line is an easy way to make it stand out. To do this, include relevant details, such as your customer’s first name, the product in the cart, the customer’s transaction history, or their geo-location.

Here are a few ideas for including personalization:

  • [Name], did you forget something?
  • Your [product] is selling out
  • You can still be the best-dressed person in [city]

5 Abandoned cart subject lines you should steal

Now that you know the elements that make a great abandoned cart email subject line, let’s look at five simple templates that you can begin testing in your emails.

Subject Line #1: Your [company name] basket

After A/B testing the open and conversion rates of five abandoned cart emails, Rejoiner found that the formula “Your [Company Name] Basket” achieved the best results. It offered a 52.1% open rate and a 32.7% conversion rate.

Subject Line #2: Accept my bribe

The “Accept My Bribe” subject line is a favorite of Barilliance. Use this format to “bribe” your customers with a discount. Here’s the template:

  • Empty your cart with X% off
  • Take X% off your cart before it’s gone
  • X% off your entire order for 24 hours only

Subject Line #3: The “forgot something” subject line

One of the most common subject lines for abandoned cart emails is a simple reminder. Here are a few variations of this subject line:

  • Did you forget something?
  • You still have gear in your cart
  • Psst….your [Product] is waiting for you

Subject Line #4: The emotional subject line

We talked about the principle of value above, but let’s take it a step further. By adding emotionally charged words to your email subject line, you release the customer’s imagination.

The idea is to emphasize the positive experience of using and enjoying the product or the negative experience of not having it. The customer takes the next step, adding whatever value they assign to it. Here, we italicized the word(s) that evoke emotions:

  • Don’t miss these yummy [food items]
  • We’re locking in these rates to [destination]
  • Don’t be left in the dust. Scoop up [X%] off items in your cart!

Subject Line #5: The “going going gone” subject line

This template leverages both urgency and scarcity, two of the most powerful copywriting techniques. Like this:

  • [Days] left
  • Lock in your rate/price/special discount
  • We can’t hold your [products] much longer

Abandoned cart subject line examples

Now, you’ve got five proven templates for abandoned cart email subject lines that you can start using today. But before we turn you loose, let’s look at some real life examples, so we can evaluate what’s working today and why.

1. Chubby Snacks and the case of the abandoned PB&J sandwich

Abandoned cart email from Chubby

The subject line: “Psst…Your PB&Js Are Waiting!

The good:

This email appeals to the senses, with its mention of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches . The use of the “Psst” gives this email a friendly, casual tone.

What they could improve:

They don’t leverage powerful persuasion principles like scarcity or urgency. Nor do they offer to reward you for completing the purchase.

On their website, they offer free shipping on orders over $25. But they don’t mention this important benefit in the subject line.

2. Tom & Jenny’s keto-friendly chewy caramels

abandoned cart email from Tom & Jenny's

The subject line: “Don’t miss 20% off the yummy caramels you placed in your Tom & Jenny’s shopping cart!

The good:

They add not one but two persuasion devices in their subject line.

  • Benefit: They specifically mentioned their 20% discount for first-time shoppers.
  • Self-interest: They use sensory language such as “sweet tooth” and “yummy caramels.”

What they could improve:

This email is too long to be easily read in an email preview. They did well to mention their 20% discount at the beginning of the subject line, but most recipients won’t see the words “shopping cart.”

Like the Chubby Snacks example above, this email would benefit from personalization, especially since they already collected the buyer’s name in the shopping cart.

Also, there’s an implication of urgency (“don’t miss the 20% off…”), but they don’t add enough information to drive action. An expiry date would emphasize the urgency.

3. Guitar Center

Abandoned cart email from Guitar Center

The subject line: “Hey, you still have gear in your cart.

The good:

This email covers the basics, informing you that you have items in the cart and providing a link to check out now. But there are no benefits or persuasive elements to drive the click.

What they could improve:

The use of “Hey” in the subject line is an attempt at conversational copywriting. But there’s no warmth in the email to support this familiarity.

Yes, the Obama campaign used it effectively. And Copyblogger has recognized it as the most effective subject line of the 2012 presidential campaign. But this informal tone must continue into the email.

You could easily improve this email subject line with at least one persuasion element: a benefit, a special offer, some scarcity and urgency, or personalization.

4. The J. Peterman Company

Abandoned cart email from J Peterman company

The email subject line: “You left something in your cart.

The good:

This subject line is a good length and gets right to the point.

What they could improve:

  • Peterman sets the bar high with their sales copy. Their abandoned cart emails and especially their subject lines should have the same flair. Some suggestions:
  • Scarcity: Your plaid flannel shirt is selling like hotcakes
  • Urgency: It’s gone in 24 hours – finish your purchase now!
  • Benefit: You’re going to look so cool this winter

5. Travelocity

Abandoned cart email from Tavelocity

The subject line: “Lock in your rate: These flights to Mexico City are waiting for you.

The good:

Travelocity is a veteran of online travel sales, and it shows. They leverage scarcity and benefits to drive clickthrough.

Their call to “lock in your rate” offers a clear benefit for taking immediate action. It reminds the recipient that this price is only available for a short time.

What they could improve:

They could heighten the urgency with a time limit on the current rate. And they could improve engagement with personalization.

Great checkout = fewer abandoned carts

Again, the best way to combat abandoned carts is to have a great checkout experience. When you remove the friction from buying, your conversion rates and sales will increase.

Still, you’ll likely never get to a 100% conversion rate because things happen … your shopper’s kids could come running in, the phone could ring or maybe the shipping fee is too much.

That’s when you should use the abandoned cart email subject lines in this post as a way to get shoppers to complete their purchases. Your best results depend on a persuasive, clickable subject line.

The purpose of your abandoned cart email subject line is simply to get the first sentence read. If your customers don’t open your email, they won’t read the email’s content, click the button, or complete their purchase.

ThinkShop by Bolt does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. Contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.