Over Half of Online Shoppers Abandon Carts - Get Yours Back

Digital Marketing

What are abandoned cart emails?

Abandoned cart emails, (also known as ‘recovery emails’) are an essential digital marketing tool used for targeting customers who have added products to their shopping cart but didn’t go on to complete the checkout process.

As of January 2016, the UK web research company, Baynard Institute identified that the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate for ecommerce platforms is 68.63%.

At first that statistic might be a little disheartening. There’s a lot of money being left on the table. However it’s important to recognize the opportunity lying within.

Customers abandon carts for a number of reasons, but the takeaway here should be that they were interested in your products. Interested enough to take the time to browse and begin the checkout process. But the act of abandoning a cart effectively identifies them as being further along the sales funnel then other site visitors.

Their reasons for abandoning purchase can provide insight into your target market, and how the architecture of the site and arrangement of content can be refined to improve user experience.

“But won’t extra emails irritate my customers?”

In 2015, market research firm, Marketing Sherpa surveyed a sample of over 1700 American adults on their views on abandoned cart emails. Only 16% of respondents felt that the reminders were so annoying that they wished companies would stop sending them.

The study also revealed that:

  • 6% of respondents found them helpful and identified they always complete their purchase after receiving one.
  • 7% of respondents found them helpful and identified they always complete their purchase if there is a promotion or discount included in the reminder.
  • 69% found reminders either helpful or influential to their purchase decision in some way, even if they found them annoying.

So now that we’ve demonstrated the value of abandoned cart emails, let’s talk about how we can go about creating them.

What makes an effective abandoned cart email?


Every digital marketer worth their salt will tell you that specificity is at the core of any successful email marketing campaign.

Email is, after all, a form of conversation with our customers - each with it’s own unique context and talking points. Addressing users by name, discussing the specific items that they left in their cart, these kinds of refinements are the difference between a unique, engaging brand interaction, and a spammy cash-grab.

Subject Line

Nailing this is critical as it is the first thing customers see. If the copy isn’t well constructed your hard work could end up in the trash before it’s opened.

A good subject line should:

  • Include a Call To Action (CTA).
  • Identify your brand (this can also be done in sender field).
  • Accurately communicate email content (“You left items in your cart”). Remember, nobody likes clickbait.

Engaging Content

This is your opportunity to further develop your brand’s personality through creative design and compelling copywriting. This can take the form of a carefully selected ‘related items’ content with a list of each user’s unique cart items can help entice them back to browse your catalogue further. For products with a higher price point, or those with complex specs (think, technology), leveraging favourable customer review content can help answer user questions and remove residual barriers to purchase.

Many brands also treat this as an opportunity to incorporate humour into their approach with punny, on-brand copywriting. Even if the email doesn’t result in a completed transaction, getting a laugh out of customers can promote brand perceptions and recall, as well as improve the chances of them opening the next email they receive.

Unsubscribe Option

This is another email marketing fundamental. Your customers should always have the option of unsubscribing from future emails. Try to make this as simple of a process as possible (i.e. one step: one click) and avoid annoying confirmations. Over time, this will help to refine your email lists to only include more engaged customers and prevent situations where customers feel bombarded which can foster negative attitudes toward your brand.

Strategies for Success

Dare to Discount

In combination with a well-constructed and personalized abandonment email, exclusive promotions in the form of unique discount codes have shown to be a powerful influencer of both customer purchase decisions and overall brand sentiment.

Taking Marketing Sherpa’s findings (above) into consideration, incorporating discounts into your abandonment campaign could potentially increase your ecommerce conversions by up to 13%.

Thoughtful Timing

Timing is another email marketing fundamental, where key times of day that users are likely to have downtime or actively engaging with your brand are identified and leveraged. Abandoned cart emails vary slightly from the norm in that they have shown to be most effective when sent within 1-6 hours of leaving your store. Prompt responses are key.

Setup Constraints

Implementing carefully considered constraints including frequency caps and suppression windows will restrict how many emails are sent out in a given period to a given individual to ensure your customers aren’t being overwhelmed or taking advantage of multiple discounts.

Responsive Ready

Over 50% of emails are opened via mobile, so email content that is optimized with functioning links and efficient cart recovery are essential to ensuring best user experience across all platforms.

Man the Phones

Uncertainty is hugely influential upon online consumers’ decision making. Including a toll-free number (as well as a support email) in email content and dedicating time to answering customer questions or concerns will remove this uncertainty for users and provide you with valuable feedback on how to modify product page information to improve conversion rates.

Getting Started

The information presented above can help guide you in planning an effective abandonment email strategy that will help increase your ecommerce conversions and refine your understanding of your online customers.

There are a wide variety of tried, tested and well-reviewed third-party abandonment email solutions available across all major ecommerce platforms. Popular Shopify applications include Jilt, Abandon App, and Abandon Aid,  Magento has Abandoned Cart Alerts Pro, and Rejoiner, and for WordPress there’s Cart Rescuer.

Mailchimp is one of the best solutions for those just starting out. It’s compatible with the majority of ecommerce platforms,  has a simple user interface, as well as the functionality to automatically generate abandoned cart emails and include product links and special offers.


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