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If you sell anything online through your website, chances are you have some sort of virtual cart for visitors to place items into as they browse. It’s a great day when your visitors have the intent to buy and complete their transactions. However, oftentimes visitors will place items in their cart – and then leave your website before completing a purchase.

In fact, it’s very common. According to Statista, 88% of all eCommerce shopping carts were abandoned before checkout in 2020. Ouch!

Maybe they got distracted while browsing, or just changed their minds. However, this doesn’t have to be a lost sales opportunity! Your visitors already demonstrated their interest in your product or service, and a friendly nudge to remind them about the items in their cart may be just the thing to spur them on to finish the checkout process.

Enter: the abandoned cart email!

What is an Abandoned Cart Email?

abandoned cart email from Thrive Market

An abandoned cart email is just what it sounds like: a message sent to the email your potential customer provided when beginning the checkout process to gently remind them that they have items still in their cart on your website.

Why is an email the most effective way to send this message?

Easy. Email is personal, intended for a particular person. It’s unique, personalized, and tailored to the recipient. In fact, most email marketing platforms will personalize your messages to your email list, incorporating their first and last names with the click of a button.

Email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. The buying process also happens 3x faster through email than social media!  

So, its a safe bet that taking a little extra time to craft a good abandoned cart email for your customers that haven’t quite made it to the Pay Now button may have big returns for your sales.

Now you know why it’s important, so let’s talk about how to write a good abandoned cart email!

How to Write Abandoned Cart Emails

Below are some tips to keep in mind while you’re writing a successful abandoned cart email. Remember, the message doesn’t have to be long or poetic – but there are still some best practices you want to keep in mind.

1. Capture Emails Early in the Checkout Process

It’s kind of hard to send a successful abandoned cart email if you don’t have an email address to send it to. So, you want to create lots of opportunities for curious visitors to give you their email addresses before they make it to the checkout page.

There are a few ways to do this. One is through lead generation on your website, such as offering a freebie, promotion or download prominently displayed on your webpage. If they’re interested, visitors will exchange their emails for the promotion code or discount to be applied to their cart.

You can also display opt-ins for your email newsletter, free downloads, or content items that may indirectly translate into a sales lead.

Another way is by requiring shoppers to set up an account before beginning the checkout process. During account setup, they’ll enter their information, including their email address.

2. Capture Attention Early

With only a few lines to get your point across, you’ll want to focus your attention on making your email stand out in the inbox – and look really good once it’s clicked on.

You have a few tools at your disposal to make this happen, including the subject line, your email design, and the wording you choose.

Subject Line

The first key to a good email is the subject line. Abandoned cart email subject lines don’t have to be complicated, but the best ones create a feeling of exclusivity, or even better, FOMO.

abandoned cart email subject line

Think about using phrases like “Don’t Miss Out!” or, “Did You Forget Something?” you can also create exclusivity with phrases like “Your Items Are Reserved”.

You can also sweeten the deal by throwing in a discount in your abandoned cart email, with a subject line like “Take 10% Off Your Cart Before It’s Gone!”

Abandoned Cart Email Design

Another critical factor to consider is the design of your email. Your email shouldn’t be very long – after all, you’re not writing an essay, you’re just reminding them of what they left behind!

Consider adding images of items they abandoned in the cart so that they get a second look and another chance to make a decision. You can also create a special branded graphic just for this email as Sugarbear Hair did.

You’ll also want to add in a clear and easy CTA to return to the cart, such as an easily visible button.

In these emails, the graphics you add should speak for themselves, leaving a lot of text unnecessary.

sugarbear hair abandoned cart email

Abandoned Cart Email Wording

As mentioned, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on the wording of your email. However, the text you do include gives you an opportunity to inject your brand personality into the equation.

abandoned cart email wording

If your branding is young, fun, and quirky, you can use this opportunity to make a joke like, “I miss you, please come back” or “was it something I said?”

This goes without saying, but be sure not to make your copy sound accusatory or negative. You want the experience to be a positive one, and encourage the shopper to finish the checkout process. If you leave the shopper with a bad taste in their mouth, they may never return to your site again.

3. Build a Relationship

Even though your abandoned cart email exists to help close a single transaction with a visitor to your site, it’s also an opportunity to deepen the relationship – and potentially bring them back for more shopping later on down the line. Here are some ways to build a strong relationship with an indecisive shopper.

Sweeten the Deal

There are many reasons that a customer might back out of a purchase before they finish checking out. You can try offering an abandoned cart email discount to close the sale. If they feel like they’re getting a reward for the transaction, it might be just the thing to tip that “maybe” into a “YES!”

Make sure to include the discount or promotion offered in your subject line and in the body of the email!

Give Some Expert Recommendations

It might be that your visitor didn’t check out because they weren’t one-hundred percent sold on the item. This creates an opportunity to suggest some things they might like better!

Provide some recommendations in your email and allow the customers to choose new options from your update of product offerings, including the new ones.

In this email, Vans showcases the original item that the shopper was considering and the same shoes in different colors or styles.

This gives an opportunity to reconsider the original item, and see different variations that may work better for the shopper!

Don’t Push Too Hard

Coming across as too pitched or too sales-y can have the opposite effect when trying to close a sale on an item they’ve already expressed interest in.

Instead, seek to inform your customer about details they didn’t know, or make other recommendations. Above all, use your abandoned cart email as a friendly reminder of what products or services caught their eye – and give them a chance to look again.

Include a Link to Your Website

In your abandoned cart email, you want your visitors to return to the item they were looking at with one click. But, that’s not the only action you can encourage!

For best results, include a clearly visible button labeled with something like “View My Cart”. But, if your abandoned cart email has room, consider adding another button that directs them back to your entire store. This way, if your email catches their eye, they may be inspired to browse one more time, potentially finding even more items to add to their carts!

Abandoned Cart Email Examples

If you’re stumped on how to write your email, you can find tons of great examples of abandoned cart email templates on the web! We’re sharing some of our favorite examples below, with some pointers on why they work.

1. Target

Target hits all the notes in this simple abandoned cart email. The subject line teases a promo on items in the shopping cart, and offers a full product view of the item – not just one picture. The CTA is prominent at the top of the email, encouraging shoppers to hurry and check out before the promo expires.

2. SimpleModern

Simple Modern’s email design is… well, simple and modern. With the subject line of “Your cart is about to expire” the brand creates a sense of urgency right from the start in the inbox.

They also include an offer or promotion (Free shipping on orders over $25) at the top, which is a great tactic for making shoppers reassess their cart and potentially add in some more items in order to meet the minimum level.

A product image is included, and a CTA to finish checkout.

Fun fact: This email was sent to our Recruiting Manager at Tailwind. Here’s what happened:

“I did go back and buy the Simple Modern stuff! I’m actually using that water bottle now.

 I mean, I wanted to buy it anyway. But the email reminder did remind me that I wanted to, and I did buy it less than 12 hours after receiving said reminder email.”

Kolbi Claiborn

Our friend Kolbi is a prime example of why you should take the time to include an abandoned cart email in your email marketing workflow – it could be just the gentle nudge your customers need when life distracts them before checkout!

3. iFixit

iFixit offers us an example of a longer abandoned cart email. In the top half of the email is the reminder about the service left in the cart, and a CTA to go to Checkout or browse the store again.

Underneath the main CTA, this company includes some information about why shopping with iFixit is a great idea, and what makes this brand different as well as how their process works. It’s included to inspire trust in the purchase decision, and we think it really works!


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Over 88% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout. Learn how to write an abandoned cart email and see some examples to help you save a sale!

Kristen Dahlin is the Content Marketing Manager at Tailwind — your new Marketing team, helping you create social media designs, schedule posts, and optimize across Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest with one easy-to-use social media management tool. Kristen lives in rural Oklahoma with her husband Kyle, daughter Sophie, boxer Lila, and a very temperamental flower garden.

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