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What Is It That Makes A Great Abandoned Cart Email?

You work hard to get people to visit your website, they express an interest in your products by adding them to their shopping cart (or basket), and then they leave the site before finishing the transaction, it’s frustrating – I suppose you could say it’s a classic case of ‘so close but yet so far!!’

According to Smart Insights, in 2017 76% of customers left behind their order instead of purchasing.

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Firstly, there are a number of potential reasons for users leaving the site without finishing their order – some of which are the responsibility of the website owner and some the customer. A survey by Statista in 2012 found these reasons are among the most common for users abandoning shopping carts before buying:

  • Interruption
  • Limited interest/commitment
  • Lack of urgency
  • Unexpected costs such as VAT
  • Too expensive
  • No free shipping
  • The checkout process was too long-winded
  • No guest checkout
  • Website navigation was too complicated / fault on the site

A positive of cart abandonment as opposed to a site exit without any cart activity is that these users must have liked the products enough to contemplate buying them, meaning the products themselves are not the issue.

A further survey by Internet Retailer in 2015 found that the most significant reason for shopping cart abandonment was lengthy and complicated checkout processes.

To shed light on which of these reasons could be the issue on your site, we recommend running a mystery shop as a potential customer. Taking a step back and seeing the site as a customer would be extremely beneficial, not only for abandonment rates but for general website usability. Often a quick fix such as a page load issue or adding a guest checkout option can see cart abandonment rate improved dramatically. However, even the easiest and fastest baskets will have people abandon the cart because of interruption, limited interest/commitment, and lack of urgency. This is where cart abandonment emails come in…

Because these people have already expressed an interest in your products, it is far easier to get them to make a purchase than a new user who has just started browsing a product. In this blog, we look at the elements that contribute to a successful, high-performing cart abandonment email to help you set up an effective campaign.

Subject Lines

Subject lines are essential to grabbing the reader’s attention. What works as the content of the subject line will depend on the brand and context, but they should deliver a clear message about the content of the email.

Using data from 500 global brands collated by SaleCycle, the graph below shows the open rates of emails that used different types of content in their subject lines.

The winner here is the customer name, which also saw the highest conversion / send rate of 3.7%.

From what we know about the effectiveness of personalization, this makes perfect sense, but make sure you test different options to find the right content for your business and business sector – perhaps there are buzzwords or emoji’s that will have a stronger effect.


Knowing the best times and days to send emails is widely debated and highly dependent on your industry sector and when your users are most active.

Abandonment emails, on the other hand, are far more straightforward since the day of sending is decided by the customer when they abandon the cart. However, the timing of abandonment emails from the point that the user leaves the site plays a big part in conversion rates.

Generally speaking, abandonment emails should be sent while the potential purchase is still in the customer’s mind. In the same study by SaleCycle, results from 500 global brands highlighted that the users are more likely to revisit and repurchase when remarking emails are sent within an hour of the cart being abandoned.

Dynamic Content

Using dynamic content is remarketing emails ensures that content and visuals are all up to date and optimised to each individual user.

Using dynamic content allows you to combine context and data in order to show your customers live information such as pricing, changes the visuals and information which is based on where in the world the shopper actually is.

Dynamic content will also allow you to update the information and design depending on the device they are using and to display up to date consumer trend information such as product popularity or its stock levels.

Summary of Cart Contents

Reminding customers of the products they were thinking of buying with a picture of the product, the size, colour and price, will make a stronger appeal.

The use of images is vital too, this is due to them offering a quick reminder to your shoppers, as they might have abandoned several other baskets, this is why it’s important to provide a clear and to the point summary.

Careful with Those Discounts

A lot of businesses will include discounts in remarketing emails in order to try to provide that extra incentive to complete a purchase, but this is not necessarily the best idea.

Offering out discounts can be a great tactic if customer acquisition is the aim, but there is a bigger risk that discounting will just end up reducing profits in the longer term.

Abandonment cart emails can work well enough without having to offer a further discount.

Clear Calls To Action

Testing is a way to find the combination of copy, colour, and size of call to action which performs the best, but the key is that it’s fairly easy to find and click.

Use a Little Urgency

Employing a sense of urgency will be able to help to encourage customers to hurry their decision regarding a purchase.

This sense of urgency should be used honestly, giving customers real-time updates and availability. This is useful as it provides key information to the potential buyer.


It’s a little-known secret that people will often respond better to images over just text, this is why it’s important to ensure that product imagery is effective and of high quality.

Add Reviews

Consumers will tend to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This is due to them offering reassurance for customers that the product they are considering to purchase will be a good one.

They’re also perfect in abandoned cart emails, where many recipients may still be in research mode. There is no room for detailed consumer reviews in emails, but a summary of the review score and number of reviews is enough for shoppers to make a quick judgement.

Optimize Emails for Mobile

Recent stats form the Litmus State of Email report has revealed that mobile now accounts for 55% of email opens, meaning mobiles simple have to work on mobile. Fact.

Shoppers are quite unlikely to read emails if they are hard to open or read on mobile. In order to avoid this from happening to your emails here are some key things to include:

  • Stick with a wide single column format
  • Respect the smartphone fold.
  • Apply a larger font
  • Make sure the images are large enough to be recognisable
  • Ensure all calls-to-action are large “finger targets”

Segment and/or Personalise Emails

A higher performing email should deliver relevance to recipients and segmentation and personalisation will be able to help achieve this.

First, we should explain what the actual difference between segmentation and personalisation:

Segmentation can be used to divide (potential) customers into distinct groups in order to target them with specific content or products. This can include things such as age, gender, geolocation, propensity to purchase and much more.

Personalisation basically aims to provide relevance at the individual customer level, using customer data to target them a lot more effectively. This type of data can be used to recommend relevant cross-selling options based on a customers purchase and also browsing history.

Product Recommendations

Statistics show that recovered sales tend to have higher average order values that direct (non-abandoned) sales.

One way to increase order values is to recommend extra products. These may be products which are related to the main purchase or items that the customer may have already shown an interest in.

Test and Improve

Abandoned cart emails are far more effective when they are tested and optimised for in order to find the best performance.

A/B tests can be carried out on design elements including imagery, messaging or call to action. An example of this is improved conversions for clients by changing the colour and contract on CTAs, or by moving key elements to more prominent positions.

Delivery Messaging

Messaging around shipping especially free shipping can make a difference. This is often included in or near the email footer, but moving it to a more prominent position can work wonders.