Stop Losing Ecommerce Sales With Abandoned Cart Emails

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Driving traffic to your ecommerce website is hard enough. You have to run paid advertisements, ensure your SEO strategy is airtight and provide a frictionless experience for your site visitors to keep them from bouncing.

After pouring time, effort and money into customer acquisition, the last thing you want is to lose would-be customers to shopping cart abandonments.

Cart abandonment occurs when visitors add items to their online shopping cart only to leave your website without purchasing. Ecommerce brands lose $18 billion in yearly sales revenue to cart abandonment.

While it isn’t always preventable — sometimes the doorbell rings or the customer is “just browsing” — it’s generally recoverable.

How? Abandoned cart emails. These automated emails remind customers to purchase the items in their shopping cart. They also allow businesses to upsell or cross-sell and offer purchase incentives. These emails can increase conversion rates due to their personalized content and attractive offers.

Cart abandonment emails have a 41.18% open rate — far outperforming the typical marketing email at 21% — and are instrumental in recovering lost sales.

Here’s a guide to writing effective cart abandonment emails that can help boost revenue and customer loyalty for your ecommerce store.

Common Reasons for Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment can sometimes be attributed to a poor user experience — extra fees at checkout, technical glitches or mandatory account creation. All these factors create friction for the customer and make them reconsider their purchase.

Complicated checkout pages.

A confusing checkout page obstructs the user from completing a purchase. More ecommerce businesses are using single-page checkout to ensure customers can enter their payment details, review and confirm their purchase on the same page.

Mandatory account creation is another impediment — shoppers don’t want to spend time filling out forms and creating a new password. Enable guest checkout for a more efficient experience.

Finally, lengthy checkout processes can lead to privacy concerns. If customers distrust your website, they may abandon their carts to avoid potential security risks.

High shipping costs.

Extra fees are one of the top causes of abandoned shopping carts. Customers will discontinue their purchase if shipping fees exceed their expectations. If you can’t offer free shipping, provide an estimate of shipping fees on the product landing page — this way, customers don’t feel hoodwinked at checkout when they see unexpected fees tacked on.

Better deals elsewhere.

Customers may reconsider if they find a marginally better deal on a competitor’s site. A lower price, liberal return policy or user-friendly website are enough to lure your customers away.

Ensure your pricing strategy and website experience are comparable to — if not better than — your competitors to avoid losing sales over easily rectifiable mistakes.

Technical website problems.

Website glitches such as slow-loading pages, broken links and non-responsive design dissuade customers from checking out. Shoppers might encounter errors when entering payment information or find your checkout page confusing. Test your ecommerce site regularly to ensure customers have a seamless checkout experience no matter what device they’re using.

The customer isn’t ready.

If it’s any consolation, not all cart abandonments are the retailer’s fault. Perhaps the customer got cold feet (especially if it’s a big purchase) or was simply browsing without intent to purchase.

One study found that 58.6% of U.S. online shoppers had abandoned a cart in the last three months because “I was just browsing/not ready to buy.”

Sending a cart abandonment email will keep your brand top of mind when the customer is ready.

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Abandoned Cart Email Best Practices

Treat your abandoned cart email campaign as a crucial sales and retention tool. Personalization and promptness are key to conversions. Here are some best practices to follow:

Send abandoned cart emails promptly.

Send abandoned cart emails within 24 hours of the customer leaving the site to maximize your chances of recovering the sale. List the items in the customer’s cart and include recommendations of other items to consider. Inform the customer about special offers or discounts, such as a first-time buyer coupon code.

Keep the email design simple and clean.

Your email design should emphasize urgency and inspire customers to take action. Use a simple design that makes the email’s purpose clear while being eye-catching and on-brand. The email should be tailored to the customer’s interests and include a clear call-to-action (CTA).

Here are the most crucial elements of a personalized email:

  • List the abandoned items in the customer’s cart (include images and hyperlinks to product pages).

  • Provide a CTA to complete the purchase.

  • Add additional product recommendations (eg: “You might also like…”).

  • Include special offers, such as a first-time buyer discount code.

Personalize the subject line and email copy.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without. To create an effective subject line, consider what products the customer left in their cart and personalize accordingly.

For example, use language like “Don’t forget your new shorts” or “Complete your summer fashion look.”

If you’re offering discounts or incentives such as free shipping, mention these in the subject line (eg: “Complete your purchase with 20% off; shipping now free”).

Use engaging product images.

High-quality product images get customers excited about their purchases. Use images that accurately represent the product while highlighting its features. Consider adding a “Hurry! Low stock!” label to the image to create a sense of urgency and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Include a clear CTA.

An abandoned cart email should have an attention-grabbing headline encouraging the recipient to take action.

Use a CTA that’s clear and direct–“Complete your purchase” or “Get your order now.” Close with a sense of urgency and a deadline, such as “Order by midnight and get 10% off.”

Provide an incentive.

Incentives help customers overcome initial misgivings that led them to abandon their purchase. Discounts and other offers make customers feel like they’re saving money and getting a deal they can’t find elsewhere.

Free Shipping

Free shipping is a proven incentive as it reduces the total cost of the purchase, especially if shipping fees are a deterrent. It also increases customer loyalty as it demonstrates that an online store is willing to go the extra mile for its customers.

Exclusive Offers

Incentives may be the deciding factor for cost-conscious consumers. Provide a personalized offer for first-time buyers or returning customers, such as a coupon code or limited-time offer.

Add a countdown timer for limited-time offers to build a sense of urgency, so the customer takes action before it’s too late.


Offering a free gift with purchase makes customers feel appreciated, especially if it’s an exclusive item they can’t find in-store. Other effective giveaways include buy-one-get-one-free deals or a discount on a future purchase.

Cross-selling and upselling.

Cart recovery emails are a prime opportunity to cross-sell (recommend similar products) or upsell (recommend high-end products with upgraded features). Include a section on popular items or product bundles in your email to increase the average order value.

Customers may feel ambivalent about the product in their cart — hence why they abandoned their purchase. Product recommendations can help them find an item that’s a better fit.

Use social proof.

Social proof is a powerful ecommerce marketing tool that capitalizes on the idea that people are influenced by others’ actions. Seeing others use a product or sing its praises raises its perceived credibility.

Here are some ways to use social proof in your cart abandonment emails:

  • Highlight customer testimonials and reviews.

  • Showcase user-generated content. If your customers post about your product on social media, embed their content in your email.

  • Include a product recommendation section “Customers who bought this item also bought…”.

  • Prominently display your store’s overall star rating and total number of sales.

Offer tailored customer support.

Use web analytics to determine why a customer left your site. Perhaps they lingered on the checkout page for several minutes before exiting. Or they entered their payment information several times and received an error message.

Address the issue in an email (eg: “We’re sorry our website was down! Would you like to try the purchase again?”) and provide your customer support team’s contact information.

A/B test different email templates.

A/B testing is a method for comparing two or more versions of a template to determine which one yields the highest open rate, click-through rate and conversions.

Each version should feature differentiated elements, such as the subject line, product images or body copy. Send each version to a segment of your email list and measure your metrics. Optimize the template until you find one that generates the highest engagement.

Track your results.

Metrics to look out for include open rate, click-through rate, time spent reading the email and conversions. Consider rewording the subject line and CTA or using different images until you achieve the metrics you’re aiming for.

How to Automate Abandoned Cart Emails

Automating abandoned cart recovery ensures emails are personalized and sent promptly. To do this, you’ll need two types of software:

  • An email service provider to create, send and track emails.

  • An ecommerce platform to track cart abandonments.

Set up triggers on your ecommerce platform so that each time a customer abandons their cart, an email is automatically generated. This can be done using webhooks, which allow you to track events on your ecommerce website and send notifications to your email service provider.

Next, set up an abandoned cart email sequence to trigger a series of emails if the customer doesn’t immediately convert.

Each email should have a slightly different objective. For example, the first abandoned cart email should be more of a “checking in” to remind the customer of the items in their cart and ask if they had any issues checkout.

The second email should inspire a sense of urgency due to low stock, cart expirationor time-limited offers. In the third follow-up email, offer incentives to overcome any hesitation the customer may have.

Find the right software.

Ecommerce platforms are a crucial tool for abandoned cart recovery.

BigCommerce’s Abandoned Cart Saver is a built-in tool that sends an email invitation to customers who have added an item to their cart but left before completing checkout. The emails are customizable and can be combined with coupons to entice your shoppers to complete their purchases. You can set up and schedule up to five emails.

Create an abandoned cart email template.

The key ingredients for crafting a successful abandoned cart email template include:

  • A powerful subject line: Evoke a sense of urgency using phrases like “Don’t miss out!” or “Don’t forget, your cart is waiting.”

  • Personalization: List the abandoned items (along with product images) and remind customers that the items have limited availability.

  • A clear CTA:The CTA should be prominent, direct and easy to understand. The CTA button should guide customers to the checkout page or a product information page.

  • Visuals: Product images and videos help customers visualize the items in their cart and make an informed decision.

  • Highlight product features: Emphasize high-quality materials and the selection of colors or sizes the item is available in.

  • Offer technical support: Ask if the customer had trouble completing their purchase and offer alternate payment options, live chat support or other resolution.

Add triggers and publish.

Set up website triggers so your email service provider automatically sends abandoned cart emails when a certain condition is reached. You can also trigger website pop-ups when a customer idles on a product page for a specific time period. Once you set up triggers, your marketing campaign is ready to go live.

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The Final Word

An abandoned cart email strategy is crucial for ecommerce businesses to increase sales and boost revenue. By sending cart abandonment emails, businesses can also gather data on the reasons behind cart abandonment, allowing them to improve the customer experience.

Additionally, they help build customer relationships by providing a personalized touchpoint with shoppers and a chance to offer discounts and other incentives.

FAQs About Abandoned Cart Emails

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