abandoned cart best practices

Abandoned Cart Email Best Practices

People will always be prone to abandoning their carts – it just happens. Sometimes it’s natural causes. Sure, a couple of weeks ago we published the Conversion Rate Increase from Better Checkout Design, but what about those people who just didn’t bite anyway? We have decided to create a list of abandoned cart email best practices for you to have a read through and what’s more, we have some great examples of how best to to draw users back to complete a purchase.

I know, we’re pretty great.


Best Practices

Writing Abandoned Cart Emails

User Optimisation

Abandoned Cart Email Examples

Abandoned Cart Emails: Best Practices

Just a Little More Prevention…

If you’re able to offer free shipping, then do it. It’s a sure fire way to capture the sale before the cart is ever abandoned. And who doesn’t just love free shipping? Also, make your fabulous return policy explicit. If it’s not fabulous, then make it fabulous – obviously.


Make sure you capture a shopper’s email address right away, so that even if they click to the next phase of the buying process and decide to abandon, you’ll retain their email address to trigger your abandoned cart emails.

How Often?

You should tailor the frequency and number of abandoned cart emails to the purchase at hand and that item’s typical purchase window. So, for example, some expensive purchases require more time to justify the spend – which is understandable – and so the purchase window is larger.

On the other hand, an abandoned cart email about a cooling or heating system should be sent quickly to be helpful. Think: people with air conditioning problems will likely want a quick solution. Pay attention to your industry’s typical purchase window, and send abandoned cart emails accordingly. It’s all about the timing ladies and gentleman.

For most products, trigger the first email between one and two hours of abandonment; the second email between 12- 48 hours; and the third between 48-72 hours of the original abandoned purchase.


Although, research from SalesCycle’s research into 200 global brands has revealed that:


– emails sent within 20 minutes achieved on average a 5.2% conversion rate
– emails sent within an hour achieved on average a 4.5% conversion rate
– emails sent over 24 hours after a basket was abandoned achieved on average a 2.6% conversion rate


So we suppose it all depends on what product you’re offering, and how long it would typically take for that person to make the purchasing decision in the first place.

Using What?

Try to use a different email template for each send. You don’t want to; 1 – bore them; and 2 – have them thinking you’ve made zero effort to get them back. Think of it like a first date.

The Email Itself

cart abandonment

The Subject Line

Call out the abandoned item or category specifically in the email subject line. A personalised email subject line that includes the abandoned category or abandoned product increases open rates by 10%. Nice. And there are a few other tactics you should keep in mind for the abandoned cart email subject lines:


– Users like to know why they’re being emailed. So make it obvious that this is an abandoned cart email in the subject line. E.g. “You left items in your basket”.

– Make sure your brand is identifiable before the email is opened (either by sender name or in the subject line).

– Try to personalise the subject line as much as possible, either by using the recipient’s first name or even by the name of the product itself – “We’re still holding the [item] for you, [name]”. (Ed. Note: This can come across a little creepy sometimes, so beware!)

– Get a little quirky. This option separates your abandoned cart emails from the rest of the marketing emails potentially in their inbox. -“Let us magically transport you back to your shopping cart”

– Try to appeal to their sense of excitement about the product – “Hey Hannah, you forgot how much you wanted this [item]”

– Create a sense of urgency – “Hurry, your cart expires in 24 hours!”

The Reminder Itself

Arguably the most important part of the abandoned cart email best practices, how you remind them about the item can make or break a potential sale. Be as specific as possible as your recipient might have visited a whole heap of websites and added things to basket on all of them, I mean we all do like to shop around.

Show the abandoned item clearly in the message. Including an image of the product that they added to their basket is also a must, as people often respond better to images than text on its own. Plus visual representations of products tends to be a lot more appealing to people. Give as much detail as possible, including price, colour and the size that they selected. Just remind them of the things that made them tick in the first place.


You’ll probably have spent ages trying to nail the right copy for your abandoned cart email, but no matter what you do, there are three key things to communicate, and when communicating them you must remain helpful, not pushy:


– the recipient has left an item in their basket
– that they liked this item enough to put it in their basket
– they should return to their basket now (a good way of prompting this is by implying that their basket will expire soon or that having items in your basket doesn’t guarantee that they’ll stay in stock)

The Call to Action

Make sure that your CTA is prominent, super-clickable and that the copy is laser-focused.

Popular options for calls to action include:


– Take me back to my basket
– Claim my item
– Complete my order
– Continue shopping


But why not have your own unique spin on it, or use something different? Also, make sure the link goes directly back to their cart. Otherwise you’re just being silly.

Tempt With New Items

Incase the original item is no longer desirable to them, consider recommending additional products to encourage a purchase. Tempt them back with related items by providing them with images of other popular or related items in your store is a great way of getting them back and shopping. Delve into your data to see which items are popular basket top up items with this product and make sure they’re displayed in your email (with pictures). Also adding recommendations for additional purchases to increase conversion by 10% and click-through rate by 50%.

Extra Persuasion

Include rating and review information for the abandoned purchase, if possible. Social validation has been proven time and time again to have a significant impact on online purchasing decisions. Many stores show reviews on their product pages to help persuade the customer into purchasing, so why not place the most favourable review you have on your product into the email? A little extra push to seal the deal.

How to Keep on the Right Side of Users

Now, the best practice of all is to make sure you don’t get on anyone’s nerves with your emails. You might think you are being super helpful 100% of the time but, data from Marketing Sherpa shows that it’s actually harder than you think to be useful:


– 51% of the sample thought cart abandoned cart emails were helpful – yay!
– 38% of the respondents expressed annoyance at receiving a reminder – uh oh.
– 16% of respondents felt that the reminders were so annoying that they wished companies would stop sending them.


Well that escalated quickly. So if there’s a chance you might irritate over a third of your users, should you even risk it? The answer is aye! That is, if you follow these bonus abandoned cart email best practices we put together for you – paying special attention to not being a pain in the proverbial:

1. Be Easy to Reach

Sometimes customers abandon ship because they have unanswered questions about buying from your store. Display a your toll-free reminder so that customers can reach a living breathing human. Or better yet, send your cart abandonment emails from a monitored inbox so they can simply reply to you.

2. Personalise

A word you’ll have heard a million times. By personalising the email creative with exactly what your customer was expressing intent to buy, you’re creating context to remind them about their interaction with you. Most importantly, should they click through the email (from any device) drive them back to the appropriate product page AND make sure you can regenerate cart sessions cross-device.

3. Exclusive Promotions

Also known as, ‘buttering them up a little’. We’re jesting. But in all truth, being reminded of an incomplete purchase get’s a little sweeter when you’re given a promotion or discount. All the more incentive to go through with it, especially if it’s going to become cheaper the second time around. Marketing Sherpa’s data indicates that when discounts are included in cart abandonment reminders, “they do influence customer purchase decisions, even for the respondents who felt the reminders were annoying.”

4. One-click Opt-out

A highly effective way of not getting on anyone’s nerves. Give your customers a simple, efficient method for opting out of the campaign. Don’t give them hoops to jump through. And don’t send them an opt-out confirmation email either. That’s annoying as well.

Examples of Abandoned Cart Best Practices


Right, so we’ve got you covered on the theory, but what about seeing these in practice? Let’s take an actual look at the abandoned cart emails we think really nail it.



Here we’ve got some cheeky cross selling, some social proof as well as strong shopping CTAs lining the email with plenty of visual. Nice.

Wolf & Badger

They’re offering 10% off AND free shipping. Why not?!

Alex & Alexa

Customer services are key and this example has some contact details, making it a bit more human.

Kate Spade Saturday

This is simply copywriting perfection. Not too pushy, to the point and in line with the brand’s image.


They remind you of every detail of the abandoned purchase. Including the size, colour and quantity of what you left in the basket.

Fat Face

We love the massive call to action at the bottom of this email. Can’t miss it, really.


We like this example because they give plenty of information on how to get any help – should you need it – probably one of the best abandoned cart email best practices out there. If you demonstrate transparency and are easy to reach, customers are easily persuaded.


We like how they set out product recommendations at the bottom of this email.

Kurt Geiger

We like the cross promotion of their current sale along with a reminder of what’s in the user’s basket.


We like the copy on this one too. ‘Don’t forget about me’ and ‘Snap me up before I’m gone’ are emotive. There’s also a massive image of the item, and of course the moving gif version of their logo.


The abandoned items are at the centre of the email, lined with CTAs. It just looks attractive.

If this guide to abandoned cart email best practises doesn’t really cut it for you, and you want to bring in the big guns, then go here to see what we can sort out for you with our email marketing services.

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