A shopping cart left to die in the concrete jungle

Goodbye isn’t always for good- Abandoned cart emails

Ben Froedge

Shopify Growth Specialist

There's a lot you can do to reduce the number of visitors who abandon their carts, but you’re always going to have those who leave the site without finishing their purchase. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost that revenue for good.


According to SalesCycle, 72% of retail shopping carts will be abandoned. Nearly ¾ of people who come to your site, browse, and add things to their shopping cart will leave it there and not come back.


That doesn’t have to be the end of the story, though.

The same study tells of a nearly 50% open rate for abandoned cart emails, and that ⅓ of those who come back will come back to the items waiting in their cart.



The better your abandoned cart email strategy, the more chance you have of recapturing those buyers.

Abandoned cart emails really have just one job. Bring the would-be buyer’s attention back to the purchase that should have been. They were interested enough to put things in their cart.

That’s almost like buying an engagement ring. It’s serious.


So how do you reclaim revenue once someone has left their shopping cart behind?

Best practices

No matter what, there are a few things you should make sure you're doing when sending abandoned cart emails. These will help you get better results, no matter what else you do in terms of segmenting and customizing.


Show 'em what they’re missing

Abandoned cart emails should always feature an image of the products left unpurchased. Any email is better than none, but by showing them the exact thing they put in their cart, you can do a lot more to rekindle their desire to have it.

Never be pushy or desperate

You aren’t going to go bankrupt without this one sale. So don’t give them that impression. You don’t want to cheapen your brand just to get a sale.

Make it easy

You should always give recipients an email straight back to their cart. This way they can avoid any hassle. The easier you make it to complete the purchase, the higher your returns.

Show some personality

Copy and images that match your brand personality always make your emails better. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming amounts of copy or graphics. Just be fun. Or serious, or whatever your brand is.


First email

Your first email should be sent from 1 to 2 hours after their last action on the site. There's a chance you’ll even still catch them while they’re on the same device. Any less than that and you run the risk of looking a little creepy.


Remind them that they left something they liked behind.

Show them a picture of what they left in their cart, and give them a link to easily get back to it. Add some copy asking them to come back, and preferably make it match your brand personality.

More importantly, make this a customer service focused interaction.

Don’t put a heavy focus on selling in this email. They left something they were interested in buying behind. You need to find out why. Ask them why they didn’t purchase.


Was there a hidden cost that they didn’t see until checkout? Was checkout hard to use? Did your site crash? It’s vital that you know about these issues and address them.

Even if they don’t go on to buy, if the would-be buyer will tell you about why they didn’t buy, you can work to prevent that issue from costing you more sales in the future. You also show that you care about your buyers.

Example of a great 1st cart abandonment email

Here's an example of a great 1st email for cart abandonment


Second Email

You’ll want to send your second email around 24 hours after they’ve left the cart behind. You still want to ask if they have any questions or had technical problems, but this time, it’s ok to focus a little more on selling.


Again: Show them the product and make it easy to get back to their cart exactly as it was.

Making it easy to buy is never a bad thing for retail. If you want to add a bit of urgency, tell them that it won’t remain in cart forever.


Show off perks

If you have free shipping over a certain dollar amount, a great return policy, or anything else that makes it enticing to buy, highlight that in this email. These are the kind of things that tip people over the decision point when buying.


Add cross-sells and upsells

Include a product feed that might entice them to add something else to cart before buying.

Do people typically buy more than one of what’s in the cart? Offer a small discount or free shipping for buying in volume.


Is there something that is almost always bought alongside the cart contents? Something that makes a perfect accessory? Put it in front of them and make it easy to add it to the cart on their way to completing the purchase.


Discounts and freebies

If the cart left behind would be a buyer's first purchase, offer them a one-time discount toget them over the hump to make the first purchase. Once someone has given you their information and paid you, it will be mentally easier for them to do it next time.

The issue with discounts is that you don’t want to train buyers to think they will get a discount every time they add something to their cart and then leave. A ridiculous number of people will figure it out and do it every time. My wife and sister-in-law are masters of this. I’m pretty sure they have spreadsheets of which stores offer discounts and what triggers them.

Example of a great 2nd email for abandoned carts, which offers a discount code

Offering a discount that applies only for today to urge buying soon.



Third Email

Timing on this one is less important. If you have offered an expiring discount, hit them with this one when they have about 12 hours left to use it.

If you haven’t used a discount, find some other way to add urgency to it. Tell them the cart is going to expire or that you are running out of stock on the items in the order.

Show some branding, show the items they left behind, and offer an easy link back to the cart. If you want, add a product feed with upsells. Offer to answer any questions they have. Ask them what is keeping them from completing the purchase.

3rd in cart abandonment sequence

Well branded, displaying what they're missing, creates urgency. Check.



More emails

These 3 emails should allow you to recover a significant amount of revenue, but there are always other things you could do.

Some sequences go on to 4 or 5 emails, and there are ways to make that work, depending on what you are offering them and whether or not they have bought from you before.

What I don’t recommend is anything that makes you sound desperate to make a sale or offers too deep a discount. Don’t cheapen your brand and lower the value of what you’re selling.



There a lot of factors you could segment emails on. Different sequences for a new buyer who abandons versus a repeat buyer, or one who hasn't made a purchase in a fairly long time. Male versus female buyers, buying patterns, etc.

This is just looking for ways to customize your sequence more to particular narrow sets of buyers and seeing what gives you the best results.


Retargeting ads

Rather than continuing on with emails (if this sequence doesn’t work), you can use retargeting ads to get back in front of those who abandoned carts. Facebook and Google both allow you to retarget specifically those who have added to cart but not finished their purchase.

Many eCommerce purchases happen after 2-5 interactions with your site or your marketing, especially at higher price points. Not very often is someone going to buy the first time they visit, or even the first time they add something to cart. That doesn’t mean they won’t be back.



If you can’t entice someone to buy, you can at least ask them WHY they didn’t buy. A quick one or two question survey can reveal a lot about what causes your abandoned carts in the first place.

As a part of your larger cart abandonment strategy, an email sequence is a great way to reclaim some lost revenue that would otherwise drift away for good.


Don't wait.

If you want to start reclaiming more of your lost revenue and bring more cart abandoners back to finish their checkout, talk to us today about how you can get started.

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