Cart Abandonment Email Best Practices

Illustration by Rodrigo Fortes illustration of a whack-a-mole game

Cart abandonment emails can be highly effective at drawing customers back to your WooCommerce store… if they’re done well!

In this post, I’m taking a look at the best practices for abandoned cart emails, to help you woo customers back to finish their purchase and recover that lost revenue.

If you’re new to the concept of abandoned cart emails, I highly recommend checking out our previous post on sending WooCommerce abandoned cart emails before reading this. It’ll give you the lowdown on what they are, and how you can set them up in MailPoet.

I’ll be covering the following abandoned cart email tactics:

Let’s get stuck in!

1. Get the timing right — with a series of recovery emails

We recommend sending a series of 3 cart recovery emails:

  1. First email – Send within 60 minutes
  2. Second email – Send after 24 hours
  3. Third email – Send after 72 hours

Inboxes are crowded and people get busy. With multiple abandoned cart emails, you get more than 1 opportunity to win back customers.

Plus, there’s the fact recovery emails are opened 46.1% of the time — which means 53.9% of the time they’re not opened. A series of 3 emails gives you more time to persuade shoppers and experiment with different tactics to recover lost sales.

In fact, Barilliance analyzed the shopping cart abandonment emails of 200 brands and found:

  • Sending the first recovery email within 1 hour achieves a 20.3% conversion (if sent after 24 hours, only 12.2% conversion);
  • Sending the second recovery email after 24 hours gets a 17.7% conversion (compared to 7.7% after 48 hours); and
  • Sending the third recovery emails after 72 hours gets an 18.2% conversion.

It’s important to set up your recovery emails so that if the shopper completes the sale after the first or second emails, they don’t receive further cart reminders. (With MailPoet’s abandoned cart functionality, this is easy to set up!).

While this post provides general advice on what to include in cart recovery emails, here are some basic email templates for each of your three abandoned cart emails:

First email

After 60 minutes you’ll still be fresh in the shopper’s mind. If you wait too long, they’ll lose the urge to buy that compelled them to add your item to their cart in the first place.

So keep this email simple. It’s a gentle reminder for shoppers who might’ve got distracted or left your cart to shop around. In this email you’ll want to include:

  • A reminder that they have items in their cart
  • A call-to-action
  • Contact details for customer support

That last one is important. If the shopper experienced an issue while checking out and your email resolves it — i.e. provides customer services, clarity around shipping costs and delivery times — it might be just what they need to return to your site and complete the purchase.

Second email

It’s time to step things up a notch. The customer didn’t open your first email for whatever reason, so it’s time to switch tactics.

If the customer didn’t open your first email, it’s important to experiment with a more persuasive subject line. But if the customer opened your email and didn’t click-through, it’s time to switch up the content of your email.

A few things you can experiment with in your second email include:

  • Adding social proof, such as rating and/or testimonials
  • Highlighting the benefits of your product/s
  • Offering a money-back guarantee or highlighting refund details

Third email

Okay, here’s your last chance. If the customer has ignored your first and second emails, it’s time to go big — with a coupon.

Not everyone will want to offer coupon codes since it risks devaluing your products. For example, if customers know to expect a coupon in your cart recovery emails, they will quickly learn that leaving their cart is an easy way to save money. So this is one tactic you’ll want to experiment with.

However, a 10% off coupon code might be just the incentive a customer needs to convert, especially if they are really interested in your product and unsure about the price.

2. Write a click-worthy subject line

Just because cart abandonment emails enjoy a 46.1% open rate doesn’t mean you should take it for granted that your messages will be opened. Like any marketing email, the subject line is crucial and can help your email stand out in a crowded inbox.

With cart abandonment emails, don’t beat around the bush, just get straight to the point. It’s best practice to explicitly mention the item the shopper abandoned in the cart or mention an exclusive offer or discount.

Unific, an ecommerce marketing platform, experimented with 70+ online retailers and pulled data from hundreds of emails triggered by abandoning a shopping cart. Their research into subject lines found:

  • 29% used “!”
  • 22% began with “welcome” or “complete”
  • 13% asked a question
  • 6% used the recipient’s name
  • 5% used emojis

Some examples of good subject lines that stood out from Unific’s experiment included:

  • [NAME], don’t miss out on your cart full of awesomeness at
  • Don’t Leave Your Socks Behind
  • Complete Your Purchase at HICKIES With 20% Off!
  • Hey. You left without your shoes…
  • Your cart MADE us send this reminder?
  • Uh oh [NAME], Did you forget something?
  • Yo, You Forgot Something
  • Baby, Come Back! Your Cart is Safe at Teddy?

To help inspire you: 12 of the Best Email Subject Lines We’ve Ever Seen.

3. A reminder of what they abandoned

It’s important to remind the shopper of what they left behind in their cart. After all, they may not remember if they visited several different sites and added various items to multiple carts.

Include images of the abandoned orders. Images are essential — it’s not enough to simply list the names of products. For shoppers who skim through their emails, an image of the headphones they were thinking about buying earlier will instantly remind them of what they’re missing out on.

If you sell clothes and/or shoes, make sure you also include the name of the brand, sizes, and colors.

Jack Wills does an excellent job with its abandoned cart email. It reminds you there’s something in your cart, shows you 3 images for each abandoned product to further jog your memory, and provides name, color, size, and price information.

Example of Jack Wills email.

Take a look at our guide on how to do this in MailPoet!

4. Write persuasive copy

Besides images and product information, it’s important that you have great copy. It should be persuasive and customer-centric, but also short and sweet. So sum up what you want to say in as few sentences as possible.

Your copy doesn’t need to be overly clever, but you don’t want to be boring either. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Moschino’s cart abandonment email barely contains any copy — and it works. The imagery is striking, making excellent use of the company’s bold branding, and together with the simple copy — “You left something behind” — make it crystal clear what the email is all about.

Example of Moschino email.

Peel’s email is similarly copy-sparse, however, in this case, there’s some particularly clever wording. Asking if you’re “Still thinking it over?” subconsciously prods you to wonder if you are still thinking it over.

The email goes on to say: “We’re still holding the items in your cart for you…” which tells you that it’s not too late to complete the purchase. But then the second part of the sentence — “… but don’t wait too long! Order today!” — creates a sense of urgency, i.e. if you really wanted those items, then don’t delay!

Scarcity is a powerful psychological sales trigger that online retailers often use to their advantage. they know customers are afraid that something they want might sell out. Peel taps into that anxiety and urges its customers to take action.

Example of Peel abandoned cart email.

My favorite email with great copy comes from Adidas. In addition to showing what was left behind in the cart — in this case, a huge picture of a shoe — it employs some really clever copy, asking “Is your wi-fi okay?”

While the funny headline and first sentence quickly grab your attention, the rest of the copy aims to further convince you that completing checkout is a good idea. It highlights that if you don’t like the color or design, you can customize your own model, aiming to resolve potential problems that led to cart abandonment in the first place.

Example of Adidas abandoned cart email.

And then there’s this great example of copywriting from Whisky Loot. It’s funny and highly engaging, while also providing some actual helpful details in an FAQ at the bottom.

Examples of Whisky Loot abandoned cart email.

All four of these cart abandonment emails have great copy, in addition to other best practices, to entice customers to go back to their cart and complete the purchase.

5. Include a big, easy-to-see CTA (call-to-action)

Your cart abandonment emails should have a clear call-to-action. Use a button for your cart link, not text — you want shoppers to see it right away.

With these types of emails, the action you want them to take it pretty clear: you want them to finish buying the product. Therefore, make it really easy for them. Use descriptive, action-oriented words that compel the shopper to click your CTA.

A great example is Winc. Aside from the fact the email copy is clever and funny (and maybe even true!), the CTA encourages you to click with “Let’s do this” at the top of the email and “I’m ready for wine” at the bottom.

Example of Winc abandoned cart email.

Your CTA doesn’t have to be smart or funny. If you scroll up and take another look at the emails I’ve shared, you’ll see some very straightforward CTAs:

  • View item
  • Return to checkout
  • Return to your cart
  • Shop now
  • Treat yourself

6. Provide customer support

Make sure to include an invitation to contact customer support in your email. After all, it’s possible that the shopper couldn’t complete their purchase due to a technical issue with your WordPress site. Or they might still have questions about the product they were intending to buy (shipping, returns, etc.)

The easiest way to do this is to simply list your support email and/or phone number.

Consider adding an FAQ to your email that answers common pre-sales questions (such as Whisky Loot does above).

7. Include social proof

Reviews and testimonials generate social proof, which is the psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others indicate how we should behave. That is, we tend to think that if a lot of people do something or like something, it must be right.

This phenomenon is driven by the assumption that other people have more or better information. When customers who are thinking about buying from you see that other people have positive things to say about an item in their cart, that item will become more appealing to them.

Casper uses social proof in its email to great effect, including a brief and funny customer review along with a CTA to read more.

Example of Casper abandoned cart email.

8. Recommend other products

When a customer adds items to their cart, it means they’re interested in your WooCommerce store and want to make a purchase, but decided not to buy them. While they might not be interested in the items in their cart, they may be interested in other items in your store.

So consider placing a few product recommendations in your cart abandonment email. These might be products similar to the item the shopper added to their cart, or best-selling items in your ecommerce store.

That’s a wrap

I hope you’re now ready and raring to go rescue those abandoned carts!

Setting up WooCommerce abandoned cart emails in MailPoet is easy, and free with the Starter plan. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.

Have some of your own cart abandonment email tricks up your sleeve? Or maybe a burning question we haven’t covered here? Let us know in the comments!