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10 best practices for cart abandonment emails that recover revenue

10 best practices for cart abandonment emails that recover revenue Headshot

By Simon Nooranvary, Account Manager

Best practices and examples for shopping cart abandonment emails

Whatever you’re selling online, shopping cart recovery emails are a safe bet to increase your sales in a short space of time.

That’s because more than half (54 percent) of shoppers abandon their carts before making a purchase.

Some reasons for cart abandonment are out of marketers’ control – for example, high prices or insufficient shipping options. But many shoppers are simply distracted and forget to complete a purchase.

That’s where email marketers come in. Simply by sending cart recovery reminders, you can generate a sales uplift of around 10 percent. That makes email pretty powerful!

Whether you’re already sending basic cart abandonment emails, or you’re eager to get started, these tips will help you squeeze the most revenue out of your efforts:

  1. Don't procrastinate
  2. Identify your shoppers
  3. Recover sales before they go cold
  4. Choose a good subject line
  5. Include relevant images and details
  6. Reduce purchase anxiety with social proof
  7. Don't offer blanket incentives
  8. Send a series of emails
  9. Treat people differently depending on their behavior
  10. Don't forget about browse abandonment

1) Don’t procrastinate

While you’ll want to create more sophisticated cart abandonment emails eventually, there’s no need to delay until you have the perfect strategy for an advanced triggered email program.

If you’re selling online and have significant traffic, it’s very likely that basic cart recovery emails will generate a sales uplift.

Setting up simple cart abandonment emails can be as easy as pie. Content should include the shopper’s abandoned cart, and a clear call to action. Consider adopting a plug-and-play triggered email provider to help you get going more quickly.


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2) Identify your shoppers

It follows that the more shoppers you can recognize, the better you can follow up with relevant emails.

Use popovers on your website to encourage visitors to sign up. The most effective popovers are personalized based on the customer’s interests and stage in the customer journey. For example, you could show a sign-up form only after a new visitor has seen three product pages, and personalize the special offer to match their favorite product categories.

Here’s an example of an expandable popover from Feel Good Contacts, aimed at converting new visitors:



Also consider whether you can identify the same person when they use multiple devices. A shopper might their cart on their desktop at work, then see an email from you on their smartphone while they're commuting and complete the purchase using this device. Your cart abandonment system should be able to recognize the customer and recreate their cart to minimize friction in the customer journey.


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3) Recover sales before they go cold

Best practice is to send a recovery email 30 minutes after the cart is abandoned. You should test different timings to find out what works best for your customers, but between 20 and 45 minutes seems to work best.

If you make the delay longer, more shoppers will lose interest or shop with a competitor. Sending an email too soon will inconvenience shoppers who were about to return to the site after a short distraction.


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4) Choose a good subject line

The subject line and preview text should make it clear why the shopper received the email, and the benefits of opening it. It’s a good idea to include the name of your website, and even the name of the product. Keep the tone friendly and remind customers that you’re providing a service.

For example:  

  • Did you forget something? Your Fresh Ski products are waiting for you
  • Your Fresh Ski shopping cart will expire soon - We saved your items so you can buy them when you're ready
  • Your cart is ready to check out, are you? -  We're holding on to your items for an easy checkout
  • Sarah, we saved your Fresh Ski basket - Complete your order today
  • Don't forget your Ride Helix Wide Snowboard - Your order is waiting for you



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5) Include relevant images and details

Your email should include details of the carted products, to remind shoppers what they were looking at. The content should be simple but convey enough information that the shopper can decide right away if they want to complete the purchase. Be sure to include:

  • Your branding to remind the customer who you are
  • Some copy that tells the shopper why they received the email (We kept your shopping cart for you).
  • Product image(s), name(s) and price(s). That’s what the shopper is most interested in!
  • A clear call to action that links to the full cart without the shopper needing to enter more information.

Here’s an example of from Cooksongold, containing the shopper's carted items:



For a more engaging email, you can personalize the banner image to match the brand or category of the abandoned product. This will help you get the shopper’s attention right away.



It’s also possible to increase revenues from cart abandonment emails using relevant product recommendations.

For example, you might include alternative similar products in case the carted item wasn’t quite right. Or you could include upsell items to increase the order value.

Be sure that the product recommendations aren’t emphasized above the originally carted product, as you don’t want to distract the customer from their main objective of completing a purchase.



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6) Reduce purchase anxiety with social proof

Often, shoppers abandon their cart because they are uncertain about making a purchase. You can provide reassurance in the form of product star ratings or authentic customer reviews.

This may be exactly what some customers need to feel confident when they click through.

Here’s a great example from Glasses Direct, which uses star ratings to complement other vital product details:



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7) Don’t offer blanket incentives

Incentives can seem like a straightforward way to increase sales. But they can also cannibalize the value of orders that were likely to take place anyway.

Research shows that a repeat cart abandoner is more likely to make a purchase after a remarketing email than a one-time abandoner. This suggests that incentivizing a serial abandoner might not be the best use of your company’s money.

But to tempt a one-time abandoner might need more work, so it might be worth providing them with an incentive to win them over.

You could also opt to send a series of emails, only including an incentive in the final email.


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8) Send a series of cart abandonment emails

Consumers lead busy lives, so don’t rely on a single email to recover abandoned sessions. A series of emails converts much better than once-and-done.

Some shoppers want to sleep on a purchase. Others try to wait for a coupon. Many are simply distracted when the first cart abandonment email arrives.

Kleertjes.com implemented a cart abandonment campaign, sending one email within 30 minutes and another 24 hours later – contributing to a 347% YOY increase for cart abandonment revenue.



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9) Treat people differently depending on their behavior profile

The most effective triggered emails treat people as individuals based on factors such as behavior, location and lifecycle stage. For example, running a different cart abandonment program based on:

  • Browsers/carters of specific product types or brands
  • New customers
  • Loyal customers
  • Carters of sale items

For highly targeted cart abandonment alerts, you’ll need to be able to trigger emails based on real-time behavioral data from your eCommerce site.


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10) Don’t forget about browse abandonment

Our research shows that 39% of visitors to your website will look at products, but only 12% will add something to their cart.

Browse abandonment emails empower marketers to recovery these lost sales.

You might worry that sending browse abandonment emails will irritate customers. But retailers who focus on relevant messages – and are transparent why the message was sent – report positive responses from shoppers.

Just like in cart abandonment emails, the main focus should be the abandoned items – the customer’s most recently viewed products. Here's an example from Jessops which also includes a personalized banner image based on the shopper's fevoraite brand:



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How to get started with cart abandonment emails

Cart abandonment emails are a win-win-win marketing tactic. Customers are reminded about the products they want, marketers are empowered to boost email revenue, and your company benefits from the resulting sales uplift.

If you’re just getting started, you’ll need to consider whether to set up a solution in-house or adopt a purpose-built triggered email solution. The first option can work if you’re content with not being able to identify customers who aren’t logged in. But for timely, targeted emails and personalized content, you might be in for a headache.

To send the most relevant emails to as many customers a possible, consider adopting a purpose-built solution.  

Download our dedicated ebook for more tips on how to create a personalized customer experience across web and email:


10 best practices for cart abandonment emails that recover revenue Headshot

By Simon Nooranvary

Account Manager

As Account Manager at Fresh Relevance, Simon works with renowned brands in the eCommerce and travel space to ensure success with their content personalization programmes in email and online.