It was a Saturday night, around 11 PM, and I was innocently scrolling on Amazon to look for a gift for my best friend's birthday. But then, it happened.
I had an impulse to purchase everything. The female empowerment mug? The wine tumbler? The pillow that said "Nap Queen"? I wanted it all. I added everything I liked to my cart, but bailed once I realized the total had reached $200.
My hesitation to check out triggered abandoned cart emails which attempted to persuade me to make the purchase.
Abandoned Cart Email
An abandoned cart email is an email sent to customers who almost made a purchase to encourage them to complete their transaction.
Abandoned cart emails are one way to convert lost business and turn a lost prospect into a brand enthusiast.
Morgan Jacobson, an inbound marketing specialist on the ecommerce team at HubSpot, wrote about abandoned cart emails in this blog. He says, "First off, if you're doing any kind of shopping cart abandonment you're way ahead of the game. Currently, only 19% of even the top 1,000 ecommerce companies engage in any kind of shopping cart abandonment recovery. Which is interesting, given that up to half of the customers who abandon their carts will complete the purchase when asked."
Here, you'll find abandoned cart email templates to get you started, plus effective abandoned cart email examples to inspire your own.
Abandoned Cart Email Templates
To build your abandoned cart emails, you can find templates in any email marketing tool. Tools like Squarespace, Wix, or HubSpot will have templates to help you get started. For instance, you can use a pre-made template for the layout, but customize the message, images, and design. Here's an example template from our marketing kit:
The messaging in abandoned cart emails is fairly simple. Below is an outline of the basic structure:
- Snappy subject line
- Introduction text
- Items left in the cart
- Offer or discount
- Checkout button or call to action (CTA)
- Reviews or social proof
- Closing text
While this outline is helpful if you're sending one abandoned cart email, you might consider a drip campaign for your cart recovery emails. A drip campaign is a series of automated emails.
6 Free Abandoned Cart Email Templates
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Abandoned Cart Email Sequence
For an abandoned cart workflow, the emails could be structured like this:
- Email 1: Cart reminder (sent a few hours after cart abandonment)
- Email 2: Follow up (sent a few days later)
- Email 3: Promotional discount (sent a few days after email two)
According to Omnisend, a series of emails works 63% better than a single email for abandoned cart emails.
Jordan Pritikin, a team manager for HubSpot's email and growth marketing team says, "When you're writing an abandoned cart email, personalization is key. What was the actual product or service that was abandoned? What are the value propositions that most resonate with the individual you're sending to? Why did they object to the purchase initially and how can you, as the business, help assuage those objections? The more personal your abandoned cart email, the more likely it is to succeed!"
Abandoned Cart Email Best Practices
Whether you send one email or implement a full drip campaign, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when planning an abandoned cart email. For example:
Send your abandoned cart emails within a few hours after a customer abandons their cart. For example, if you work at a company like Zappos, and someone doesn't complete their purchase, you might send an abandoned cart email anywhere from three to five hours after they leave your site without completing a purchase.
At the very least, you want to make sure you are sending the first abandoned cart email within 24 hours. However it’s important to note that the efficacy of those emails goes down if sent after the 24 hour window.
Abandoned cart emails should be personalized to the customer you're sending them to by including the items that were left in their cart and addressing them by name.
Including a list of the items they left behind may persuade them to go ahead and complete the purchase since they’ve already expressed interest by adding them to their cart.
Your abandoned cart email should encourage customers to complete their purchase. For example, the CTA might be something like "Buy Now" or "Resume Your Order."
Creating a CTA that takes them directly to checkout will save your customers time, make it easy to review their times, and further encourage them to complete the purchase.
The copy should be snappy, concise, and compelling. Great copywriting is interesting enough to entice someone to complete their purchase. It should be friendly and mirror your brand voice. Check out some examples in the following section.
Your subject line should be interesting enough to get people to open the email. For example, using something like discounts, humor, or questions could intrigue the customer enough to click. If you wanted to include a promotional offer, your subject line could be something like "20% off all purchases."
You can use reviews and testimonials to strengthen your branding and create FOMO (fear of missing out) among customers who abandoned their cart. For example, including reviews in your abandoned cart emails for specific products can tempt someone to purchase.
Best Abandoned Cart Email Examples
The email above was sent to me by hair care company, Prose after I left the site before completing my transaction. This email checks several boxes:
- Uses a catchy tagline "Ready When You Are" as friendly reminder to revisit the site.
- Has an enticing CTA encouraging folks to "Make My Custom Formula."
- Uses social proof in the form of ratings.
2. Whiskey Loot
Whiskey Loot's abandoned cart email utilizes unique and engaging copywriting to entice customers to complete their purchase. They include a list of reasons to purchase their whiskey, provide answers to frequently asked questions, and use clean design to draw your eye to the CTA. With this abandoned cart email, the customer has all the information they might need to complete a purchase.
The best element of Peel's abandoned cart email is the free shipping offer. Not only do they encourage customers to purchase what's in their cart, but they also include an incentive for buyers to add more items to their cart and complete checkout. In addition, this is a classic layout for an abandoned cart email: intro text, items in cart, CTA, questions, and footer.
Short, sweet and to the point, 23andMe has an abandoned cart email with only a few elements: introduction text ("Don't forget to order your kit"), CTA ("Order today"), and closing text offering answers to questions ("Have additional questions?"). With this email, customers won't get distracted by extraneous information and will focus on the action 23andMe wants: purchase completion.
In this example, Dyson does several things very well:
- They use clear text that is helpful and fun to read. For example, "All is not lost" and "We saved the contents" let the customer know that Dyson wants to be helpful.
- They include an image of the product and list the item still in the customer's cart.
- The add a sense of urgency. The text, "Your basket for this promotion was saved, but the offer is only for a limited time" creates a sense of importance about this purchase.
- They include two CTA buttons. This allows customers on mobile to see a CTA button even as they scroll down. These buttons make it easy to complete their purchase at every touchpoint.
Overall, this email includes the right elements, while also showcasing a sleek, clean design that makes it easy to read.
In this example, Virgin Atlantic uses engaging text and three CTA buttons to encourage customers to complete their purchase. The personalized intro text, "Smiles Davis, you're so close…" makes customers feel like they're being spoken to directly, while also reminding them how close they are to travel.
This email also includes flight information, so they have everything they need to make a purchase. When writing your own abandoned cart emails, this is a good example to follow because it takes away any roadblocks for the customer.
Ugmonk uses a different approach to their abandoned cart email. They focus entirely on personalization, making it seem like the owner and designer is reaching out directly to answer any questions. Plus, this includes two in-line CTAs so the customer can finish checking out instantly if they want. This is a simple approach that your target audience may prefer.
Drop's abandoned cart email is a good example because of its use of images and copywriting. Drop creates urgency in the bolded text "ends in 19 days." After they create urgency and include their CTA, they also add other items that the customer might be interested in based on what's in their cart. This is a good strategy to get the customer back on their site browsing other items they might want, hopefully turning into a completed purchase.
This is a perfect example of an abandoned cart email because it includes every element: Great copywriting, clear CTA, personalization by showing the customer's cart, and urgency. With text like "Going, going, (almost) gone" and "Our popular items sell out fast" customers are engaged. They also feel compelled to complete their purchase so they don't miss out. This email closes with a CTA to answer questions and subscribe to their product updates. Again, Google focuses on ensuring the customer feels like they don't want to miss out on anything.
Target takes a different approach in their abandoned cart email by offering a discount on the items in the customer's cart. The text "New price alert" and "Time to check out" make it hard to walk away. But if that approach doesn't work on their customer, Target also includes similar items to get their customer browsing and shopping again.
What I love about this example is that Casper uses social proof. Word of mouth and reviews are becoming increasingly important in the world of marketing. When people don't complete a purchase, it might be because they haven't finished their research. Casper's abandoned cart email makes it easy for the customer to pick up where they left off in regard to their research. Plus, it includes snappy text and clear CTA buttons that entice the customer to continue shopping.
Funny, interesting text is the way to your customer's heart. Dote excels at it with humorous copywriting. In their email, they say "Your shopping bag has abandonment issues" and "Save these items hours of therapy and give them a loving home." This text is entertaining, which makes the brand compelling to its customers. This example showcases how to use abandoned cart emails to illustrate your brand's personality and create brand enthusiasts. Plus, this is short, sweet, and to the point, making it easy to continue shopping.
The bottom of Moschino's email is unique because it includes information on secure payments and easy returns. For clothing ecommerce businesses, these are some of the top reasons that customers don't want to make a purchase online. With their abandoned cart email, Moschino is trying to quell any doubts and take away any reason for hesitation. In addition, they also list the items in the cart and use clear CTAs.
Create Abandoned Cart Emails That Convert
Undoubtedly there are many different approaches to the abandoned cart email. We suggest A/B testing different variations to see what works for your audience. Do they prefer personalized emails? Discounts? Humorous text? It's important to find out.
Abandoned cart emails can create brand enthusiasts and delights customers at every touchpoint. With stellar copywriting and branding, you can earn your customer's trust and loyalty.
Editor's note: This article was published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensive.