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The abandoned cart email that will have your customers sprinting for checkout.

abandoned cart email

It’s a dirty rotten thing. Abandoned carts. You and your brand work your tails off crafting killer marketing and investing heavily in SEO to get potential customers on your site only to watch them drop their bags at checkout and sprint out the door.

The abandoned cart is an epidemic that plagues every eCommerce brand in the world. It’s a phenomenon so common that today it’s shrugged off as “just a part of running an online business”.

To a certain extent, this is true. Customers abandoning carts is a part of doing business online… but doing nothing about these abandoned carts is a poor (and I’d even argue “idiotic”) marketing strategy.

The standard cart abandonment rate for online retailers is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% - 80%… with the average sitting at around 69%.

I can tell you that if at a physical retail location 80% of a store’s customers were abandoning their carts before checkout, it’d be a problem that would be addressed immediately. It simply wouldn’t fly. And, it’s not going to fly for your online store either.

How to craft an abandoned cart email that will have your customers sprinting for checkout.

So, here’s what we are tasked with… how can we get the individual shopper to reclaim their abandoned cart and sprint for the checkout?

There are a number of ways to trigger your customers to buy the goodies in their abandoned cart… but in today’s write-up, we’re going to focus on the most common way… the abandoned cart email.

It’s an automated email* sent out to shoppers that have filled their digital cart with something and then left the site without making a purchase.

*Don’t worry, the automation is fairly simple with handy-dandy plugins like CartStack.

Anyway, let’s discuss how you can craft one of these suckers to start sending out to all those no good cart abandoners. I’ve noticed that all exceptional abandoned cart emails possess three elements:

  1. A clever thumb-stopping subject line.

  2. A very clear and obvious call to action.

  3. A punchiness to the email allowing customers to read quickly.

Let’s discuss what each of these three elements looks like on a more micro level. Let’s begin with a clever thumb stopping subject line.

Step One… Craft a clever thumb-stopping subject line with psychological triggers.

I still roll my eyes when I see an email pop up in my inbox with a subject line so boring it’d make an accountant cry. All of us (your customers included) get barraged with emails constantly, so to stop their thumbs, we need to craft something truly clever, something that will get them to open up our email and see what we have to say.

Here are examples of bad abandoned cart email subject lines:

  • Proceed with your order.

  • Wanna finish checking out?

  • Still interested in your cart?

  • Return to cart.

Here are examples of good abandoned cart email subject lines:

  • Aren’t you forgetting something?

  • Don’t let this be the one that got away.

  • We’ve got something with your name on it.

  • You’ve got good taste.

  • Shoppers are eyeing your cart.

To put it bluntly, the first batch of email subject lines will get deleted or over-looked, the second batch will stop thumbs. But, why? Well, for one, they’re far more clever. But, on a deeper level, they’re incorporating some human psychology. Let’s look at the second batch once more and pinpoint the psychological triggers in each…

  • Aren’t you forgetting something? This subject line is just vague enough to pull on the customer’s curiosity… what could I be forgetting?

  • Don’t let this be the one that got away. This subject line is instilling a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) in the customer… oh God, do I really want to miss out on the opportunity of owning this product?

  • We’ve got something with your name on it. This subject line attaches a sense of ownership to the product(s) in the customer’s cart… they’re not our products, they’re yours, you just have to buy them.

  • You’ve got good taste. This subject line is short, punchy and clever enough to build some rapport with the customer. We’re complimenting them on their taste. No, this won’t make them buy from us but it makes us sound more human, more real, more personal. People like to buy from people.

  • Shoppers are eyeing your cart. Customer’s want what other people want. It’s like the pretty girl at the bar. She becomes prettier because everyone else at the bar wants her. This subject line tells the customer that other’s are thinking about buying what’s in their cart, adding elements of both social-proof and scarcity.

Step Two… present a very clear and obvious call-to-action.

When your customer opens up your abandoned cart email, they should know exactly why you’re emailing them and they should know exactly what they’re supposed to do next.

A lot of the call-to-actions we see on the web today aren’t clear nor obvious and as a result, prospective customers aren’t pressing the buttons brands want them to press.

If you’re offering them a discount, make it obvious you’re offering them a discount.

If you’re wanting them to continue shopping, make it obvious by including a big fat red button in the email that says “Continue Shopping”.

No, it’s not rocket science, but you’d be surprised how often this gets overlooked in abandoned cart emails.

Unlike other forms of copywriting out there, the abandoned cart email is unique because the headline and the call-to-action are generally one in the same. So, while the subject line of the email can be clever (because we’re trying to get them to open the damn thing), the headline of the email must be both clear and obvious. To gain a better understanding of what I am talking about, take a look at the example under the section titled 8 best abandoned cart emails.

Step Three… A punchiness to the email allowing customers to read quickly.

The best kind of abandoned cart email is short, sweet and to the point. It’s never a novel. It’s an email that tells the customer what it needs to tell them in 1-3 sentences. That’s it.

My best advice here is that after you’ve crafted your abandoned cart email, try deleting 25% of the words and see if you can still say the same thing you’re trying to say with less.

You’ll see the “brevity” and “punchiness” I’m referring to in the abandoned cart emails I have included down below.

8 best abandoned cart emails.

I’ve scoured the web and have tracked down some excellent abandoned cart emails you and your brand can pull inspiration from. You’ll notice most of them possess all three of the elements I listed previously.

  1. There’s something in your cart by Fifty Three.

abandoned cart email

What do I like about this? I admire the simplicity of Fifty Three’s abandon cart email. It’s clear, crisp and cuts out the b.s. It tells the customer what they need to know without wasting their time.

2. Come back to bed by Casper.

abandoned cart email.

What do I like about this? I’m a big fan of the white space Casper utilizes in this abandoned cart email, directing the customer’s eyes to the blue button towards the bottom of the email accented with the copy “Return to Cart”.

3. Lemme transport you by Chubbies.


What do I like about this? This email, in my opinion, is too long. The headline isn’t super clear and I’m not in love with its overall aesthetic. With that said, it just kind of works and I can’t totally tell you why. I included this one in the batch to show you that there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach to crafting abandoned cart emails. I’m cool with you getting a little funky and your customers might be too.

4. Is your wi-fi okay? by Adidas.

abandoned cart email

What do I like about this? The headline is clever but obvious and I love how it incorporates some pop-culture slang in there too. I love how this Adidas email feels like I’m talking to a person and not just a brand.

5. You left something behind by Moschino.

abandoned cart email

What do I like about this? Moschino’s email can best be described as sexy and bold, two elements that are very fitting if you’re familiar with the brand. The copy “You left something behind” is both clear and cunning and it’s followed by the very obvious call-to-action button with copy reading “return to checkout”. Finally, I like the subtle copy in the upper left hand corner reading “Free standard shipping”. It acts as a nice mini-sell of sorts.

6. Going, going (almost gone) by Google.

abandoned cart email

What do I like about this? Google does a wonderful job here of bringing in an element of scarcity without coming across as not genuine or over-sales-y. The copy underneath the headline is well-written… “Just a heads up: our more popular items sell out fast.” It lets the customer know they don’t have all damn day without telling them they don’t have all damn day.

7. Your shopping bag has abandonment issues by Dote.

abandoned cart email

What do I like about this? I love the humor here while also maintaining clarity. This copy to me is funny without coming across as trying too hard. Also, note the number of sentences in this particular email… just two.

8. High sell-out risk by Saatchi.

abandoned cart email

What do I like about this? This email is extraordinarily simple and some might even say boring. But, it works because it has one heck of an offer… “Complete your purchase today with 10% off.” People like saving and if you can offer it, a discount is always going to make customer’s ears perk up.

Before you abandon this article… a few final thoughts.

You should be well on your way to crafting an excellent abandoned cart email. With that said, if you find yourself needing help, don’t hesitate to give me a shout. I write pretty words and sell things for a living (and that includes abandoned cart emails).

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out -- Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.

Cole Schafer