Creative Abandoned Cart Recovery Email Strategies Your Competitors Aren’t Using

Adii Pienaar

abandoned cart emails

Are you spending loads of your (hard-earned) money on driving more visitors to your website via Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, yet not seeing the revenue follow?

If that sounds like you, it is probably because you have a leaky bucket.

What that means is that it doesn’t matter how much water you are pouring into the bucket, it is not retaining enough of it because it is leaking somewhere.

For most ecommerce businesses, one of the biggest leaks in their sales and marketing funnel is shoppers who add products to their cart, but then abandon them at checkout.

This is especially hard to accept because you spent a lot of money gaining that attention and these prospects have shown strong purchasing intent.

This is not a new phenomenon though.

More than 70% of your shoppers will abandon carts at checkout and, unfortunately, this is a number that has slowly been increasing in recent years.

By implementing an abandoned cart email strategy, you can start combatting this phenomenon.

Doing this will help you recover more of your previously lost revenue and ultimately convert more of those visitors that you are attracting to your website.

What is an Abandoned Cart Email?

An abandoned shopping cart email is a mainstay of ecommerce.

It is a follow-up email sent to someone who has added items to their cart and gotten through a portion of the checkout and then left the site without purchasing.

Some reports suggest that most ecommerce sites have an abandoned cart rate of 15%.

Abandoned cart emails work to remind customers of items they left in cart – enticing them to come back to purchase what they are already so close to buying.

Even if you only did the basics well, you should begin to see your revenue tick up and the overall profitability and ROI of your advertising expenditure increase.

You can then reinvest this additional cash in other parts of your business.

5 Abandon Cart Email Strategies
  1. Showcase trust and credibility in your email.
  2. Shine the spotlight on a single product.
  3. Make the most of loyalty.
  4. Keep a longer-term connection.
  5. Give your emails a boost with other tools

It has become much harder to stand out in your customer’s inbox.

The challenge with abandoned cart recovery recently is that all ecommerce businesses are using the same tried-and-tested methods and best practices that we have learned about years ago.

In many cases, you are likely using similar, if not the exact same, tactics and tools as your competitors.

It has become much harder to stand out in your customers’ inbox.

Gaining that attention is a crucial component to get your customer to take action and complete that purchase.

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Shopping Cart Abandonment Recovery Strategies

Having worked with more than 20,000 ecommerce merchants that use Conversio, we’ve seen a few emerging ideas that have helped merchants improve their recovery rate.

Here are 5 new ideas to help you reignite your recovery rate:

1. Showcase trust and credibility in your emails.

We are all aware of the many scams on the internet and most of us will be able to tell a story we’ve heard about someone that lost money on a purchase that they never received.

Consumers, too, have become more careful and first-time visitors to your website especially will need a little more convincing before opening up their wallets.

This is where social proof can help you convert those first-time visitors or skeptical buyers.

The best way to do that is to use product ratings and reviews so that those prospects can see that other people (like themselves) have happily purchased from you before.

When 88% of consumers claim that ratings and reviews influenced their buying decision, this represents a big opportunity for you.

Instead of just using this social proof on your website, you can use it in your abandoned cart reminder emails too.

Here are two ways to do that:

  1. Remind your customers that they left highly-rated products in their shopping cart. You can use the star rating (of the highest rated product in the cart) in your subject line (something like “There are ★★★★★ products in your cart!”) to give your open rates a nice boost.
  2. Most abandoned cart emails that you encounter will contain a list of the products left behind in the cart. These emails include all of the basics you’d expect: the product name, image and price. By including the number of reviews along with the average rating, you can make your products more compelling. Seeing something like “Rating: 4.64/5 (67 Reviews)” will give you an instant dose of FOMO to complete that purchase ASAP.

The combination of a higher open rate and more compelling content has meant that some merchants have seen an increase in their recovery rate of up to 36%.

2. Shine the spotlight on a single product.

These days many online shoppers practice a digital version of window shopping where they will add multiple products to their cart for future consideration.

It’s safe to assume though that when someone adds 10 very similar products to their cart, they don’t have equal purchasing intent for all of those products.

Most abandoned cart emails would, however, remind the customer of all those products, which dilutes the effect that your email will have.

Instead of using the opportunity to re-market and re-sell your customer on a single product (preferably the one they are most likely to buy), you (and others) use that fleeting moment across 10 different products.

I would invite you to think about what a one-on-one conversation with that customer would look like and how you could apply some basic sales principles to increase your conversion rate.

Here are three ways in which you can turn your abandoned cart email into a better salesperson:

  1. Use at least part of your abandoned cart email campaign to focus on selling only one product and then really shine that spotlight on that product. The easiest way to do this is to select your best-selling/highest-rated product in the cart, because it converted for many of your past customers.
  2. Once you have that single product focus, highlight some of the primary benefits of that product specifically. Instead of using generic marketing copy that relates to your brand and the abandoned cart, you can communicate the unique selling propositions (USPs) of this product.
  3. Along with using your marketing copy to elaborate on the reasons why the customer should complete their purchase, you can also add some objectivity by including recent reviews of the product. The combination of your and your customers’ own words will give your prospective customer the full spectrum of information to aid them in their purchasing decision.

When you do all of these things in a single email, it also quite a striking visual effect.

Here’s a comparison between a basic abandoned cart email (left) and the results of using the spotlight effect (right):

abandon cart emails comparing

Image Source

3. Make the most of loyalty.

One of the most prevalent strategies to recover abandoned carts at the moment is to include a discount coupon, but because this is such a popular tactic, we have conditioned many of our customers to now expect this.

Discounts ultimately erode your profit margins and over time it loses its efficacy too.

The bigger risk here is that regular discounting devalues your product over time.

Discounts are especially counter-intuitive when it comes to your most loyal customers.

They are familiar with your brand and have indicated a willingness to purchase from you regularly before; so you probably don’t have to sacrifice your profit margin with another discount.

The better way to do this is to leverage your loyalty & rewards program (something like

This tactic has improved abandoned cart metrics for every merchant for whom we’ve implemented this, ranging from a 39% to 600% increase in recovered revenue per email sent.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. First look at your global Average Order Value (AOV). For this example, let’s assume that is $100.
  2. Then look at your reward tiers in your loyalty program. What you want to determine is how many loyalty points a member needs to get at least a 10% discount (based on your global AOV). Let’s say 200 points equals a $10 discount.
  3. Create a segment in your email marketing software for all Rewards members that also has more than 200 points.
  4. Send that segment a different abandoned cart email campaign, where you don’t include a new discount. Instead you highlight the fact that they have loyalty points which they could apply to this purchase to get at least 10% off.

Not only does this tactic convert incredibly well and give your recovery rate a massive boost, you are also not issuing a new discount.

Instead you are just nudging your loyal customers to use the points that they have already earned.

The other, more general, tactic that you can use for all your Rewards members is to remind them of their points balance and how many points they need to reach the next rewards tier.

This will work especially well if every rewards tier unlocks some exclusive or exponential rewards.

The best example I’ve seen (and have fallen for) are airlines’ frequent flyer programs.

abandon cart emails airlines

The more I fly, the more reward miles I earn. But if I earn a certain amount of miles in a specific amount of time, then I can also be upgraded to the next level.

The next level then normally means I can earn even more miles along with other benefits.

Suffice to say, I have been known to book yet-another holiday primarily to be bumped to the next level.

Airline $100. Adii 0.

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4. Keep a longer-term connection.

The recent introduction of the GDPR has shone the spotlight on how crucial consent is for online marketing.

As email marketers, we’ve always mostly agreed that a smaller, highly engaged list will always trump a bigger, disengaged list in many ways.

Making sure that you are only sending emails to prospects or customers who have consented to receive them is a critical component to ensure high engagement.

After someone abandons a cart on your store, you have a legitimate interest to email them about that cart (which is what you’re doing with your abandoned cart emails).

But after a couple of emails about this, you can’t email that customer again without their consent.

That’s a potential relationship lost.

The context you should consider is that often times the timing is not right for the customer to make a purchase now.

Maybe they need to save up a little more or they’re buying a gift that they only need later.

In those cases, you want to retain the connection until that time in future when they are ready to make a purchase.

One way to do that is to add a final email to your abandoned cart email sequence, asking your prospect to instead sign up to your mailing list instead.


That way you can either trigger another automated, drip campaign for them or just send them regular newsletters about new products or promotions.

This keeps you top of mind with them and will nudge at least some of these prospects to make a purchase (which would be an indirect abandoned cart recovery).

5. Give your emails a boost with other tools.

If you could only do one thing about cart abandonment, it would be to implement a good abandoned cart email strategy.

Email is a cost-efficient, stable and scalable way for you to recover more of this revenue.

And if you use the emerging, creative tactics I have included above, you should have a really good recovery rate too.

There are other things that you can implement though to complement your email strategy.

The reason these tactics work is not as much because you’re doing “more”, but because you are using different mediums to find alternative ways of speaking with your customers.

This optimizes for your customer’s individual preference for how they like to hear from you, whether that is email or text messages or phone calls.

Here are a few mediums and tactics you can use to boost you abandoned cart email strategy:

  • Actually call your customers. This is not very scalable, but you can prioritise this by only phoning abandoned carts that have a certain cart value. What is great about this is that you can get great feedback and address unique objections with a specific customer.
  • Use a tool like Shoelace to create automated retargeting ads on Facebook to coincide with your email campaign.
  • As a platform, Facebook continues to grow and Facebook Messenger is a big part of that growth. There are tools like Recart that allows you to send abandoned cart messages via Messenger for those prospects that prefers this (over email).
  • Another medium that you could investigate is browser push notifications or text messages too.

If you implement any of these additional tactics, you will find that the biggest improvement to your recovery rate will come by being consistent in your messaging.

When you have messages going out to multiple channels, the consistency in your voice, tone and even the discount on offer is critical.

On the other hand, your biggest risk too is that you contradict yourself across the multiple channels.

To that extent, make your abandoned cart email sequence your North Star and build out the other tactics around that.

Examples of Successful Cart Abandonment Emails

Theory is fun, but let’s look at a few examples of ecommerce brands (big & small) that have killer abandoned cart email strategies.

I have selected these examples to highlight both existing best practices, as well as some of the emerging tactics that I mentioned above.

1. Adidas

abandoned cart email adidas

This is one of my favorite examples whenever I talk about abandoned cart emails.

The “Is Your Wi-Fi Okay?” messaging is engaging and quirky, which starts the email in a great way.

What I then love about it is how focused the email is on a single product.

The copy mentions “iconic Gazelle silhouette” for example, which makes the email read like something that an actual human said.

The other part that I love is the selected reviews from past customers.

And the images (which looks like photos submitted by those customers) is the cherry-on-top in driving home the message: I NEED THESE GAZELLES FROM ADIDAS.

2. Cali Fabrics

abandoned cart email Cali Fabrics

This is a simple and elegant abandoned cart email with good visual consistency.

The emphasis is instead on the personalized bits that make this a high converting combination.

There’s a unique, personal discount coupon that has a short expiry date.

The product ratings and also reviews communicate that this is a good product that the buyer will not regret.

And then the reminder of the generous returns policy will also help remove uncertainty or mild objections that may have played a role in the customer abandoning this checkout initially.

3. Dollar Shave Club

abandoned cart email dollar shave club

Ah, this takes me back to 2012.

What makes this email so great is how clear & concise it is in shining the spotlight on a single product.

The visual makes the product shine and the four benefits before the image emphasizes the primary reasons to complete this purchase.

4. The Old Farmer’s Store

abandoned cart email old farmers store

As with the email above for Cali Fabrics, this is a minimalist design that uses individual components to paint a bigger picture in favor of using a single, striking image.

The styling is very on-brand and moving from the website to the email feels like a familiar experience, which will help craft a good customer experience.

The customer testimonials will also contribute to that experience by cultivating trust and credibility.

And then there’s a little splash of color and excitement with the product recommendations at the bottom of the email.

While these are never the primary focus, it’s always a nice idea to keep reminding your customers that there are also other products that they could consider.

What’s Next? Get Started!

This article includes many different ideas and suggestions. But where should you start?

Whenever I think about taking action in my business, I always look for the lowest-hanging fruit first.

In your case, I’d recommend checking whether your email marketing solution easily supports the tactics included in this article.

Things to look out for would be to see whether there is a simple for you to automatically pull in your product ratings & reviews into your abandoned cart emails.

This is such a big win if you can do this.

Similarly, have a look at whether there is an integration between your email marketing solution and your loyalty/rewards program.

Then, think about one thing you can do that will differentiate your emails even a little bit compared to the tried-and-tested methods that everyone else is doing.

Sprinkle a little fairy dust and re-energize those campaigns.

Improving your abandoned cart recovery is an incremental process that requires many smaller steps.

Pick one new idea mentioned in this article and plan to take one step forward this week.

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