Abandoned carts are every merchant’s nightmare.

Imagine having a shopper browse your site, find items they like and then just walk away. And this happens a lot; the average cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69.82%. Ouch. In all fairness, this is partly due to typical user behavior—some are window shopping, comparing prices or saving items on their wishlist.

In fact, Baymard’s latest quantitative study found that 58.6% of online shoppers in the US abandon carts because they were just browsing.

But when you remove the “I’m just looking” segment, there are legitimate reasons shoppers abandon carts—issues you can mitigate.

Once you identify what makes your visitors desert their shopping cart, you can send them an abandoned cart email to bring them back and encourage them to complete their purchase.

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Why invest in abandoned cart emails?

More conversions mean more revenue. 

But to increase conversions, avoid chasing customers with low or no intention of buying first. Instead, look at missed opportunities like abandoned carts. By adding items to their cart, these shoppers have expressed an interest in your products or services and are more likely to make a purchase from you.

Here are three other reasons investing in abandoned cart emails is a smart idea: 

  • Well-timed and multi-step abandoned cart emails can recover sales and improve campaign performance by 30% (SalesCycle, 2021).
  • Since cart recovery emails are targeted emails, they can help you improve both customer experience and retention rates.
  • You can find out why visitors abandoned their carts by asking them what went wrong. Use that information to improve your checkout process or surface content that will prevent lost sales in the future.

12 best abandoned cart email examples to win back customers

Ranging from gentle cart reminders to full-blown psychology hacks, these email examples will help you understand what works and why so you can design the perfect, winning abandoned cart email strategy.

1. The “forget something?” email

The standard “you left an item in your cart” email can work like a charm. Take this example from Zero Gravity, a smartphone case store that uses a standard abandoned cart email template to remind shoppers about their incomplete purchase.

Why this works:

Online shoppers can get distracted easily. A knock on the door, a social media notification, or the impulse to shop around can result in them forgetting the items in their cart faster than you can say shopping cart abandonment. 

Zero Gravity’s email hits all the right notes: 

  • It has a clear and direct subject line: “Forget Something” 
  • The email shows off the product(s) left behind
  • There’s no fluff—only short, concise copy
  • A sense of urgency is established by mentioning “limited inventory”
  • The call to action (CTA) button is consistent with the site’s branding

2. The “free shipping + returns” email

Here’s how Manitobah Mukluks, an indigenous-owned company that makes winter boots, brings back users:

Why this works:

49% of US consumers surveyed in 2021 abandoned their carts because of extra costs—shipping, taxes and fees. The same survey also found that 11% left their purchases incomplete due to an unsatisfactory returns policy.

Manitobah solves both of these issues by highlighting its free shipping and returns policy in the preheader and copy. Other elements in the email you may want to emulate: 

  • Social proof with average customer rating displayed
  • Commitment to transparency by sharing HQ and warranty information
  • Clean, aesthetic design consistent with the brand

3. The “FOMO” email

FOMO or fear of missing out is a powerful motivator. Master & Dynamic, a premium audio brand, taps into it with this email:

Why this works:

We’re a risk-averse species. FOMO can make visitors aware of missed opportunities, thus prompting a purchase.. 

Master & Dynamic’s email invokes that emotion in several ways:

  • The subject line “Your cart is waiting, but not for long” grabs attention
  • The email heading doubles down on the sentiment by repeating it
  • The copy invokes urgency through phrases like “while items are still available”

4. The “FAQ” email

Why this works:

First-time shoppers have a lot of qualms about making an online purchase, especially when it comes to clothing sizes. Taylor Stitch addresses questions that might cross a potential shopper’s mind—returns, shipping, discounts, size guide, and a link to answers for other frequently asked questions.

This strategy helps new retailers build trust and increase the likelihood of retention through discounts and store credits.

This cart recovery email also checks off a few other boxes: 

  • The subject line addresses the users’ indecisiveness
  • Users can explore the answers at will instead of being overwhelmed 
  • The CTAs are short, clear, and actionable

5. The “talk to us” email

Guelaguetza, an immigrant-owned Oaxacan cuisine restaurant that sells its mole and Michelada mix online, sends shoppers this email when they abandon their cart:

Why this works:

Some people abandon carts due to a lack of support and uncertainty about the product. In response, Guelaguetza offers customer service and personalized responses from a real person. 

Although chatbots are a great way to offer live chat at all hours, Userlike’s 2021 study found that almost 40% of people complained about the bot not being able to understand their requests, and 60% said that the bot couldn’t resolve their issue.

Guelaguetza’s email also uses other well-known tactics:

  • Invokes urgency with “your cart is about to expire”
  • The email copy is short and to the point
  • The CTAs are actionable: “Take me back” and “Take me to my cart”

6. The “discount” email

A well-timed discount email can encourage more visitors to turn into customers. Tattly, a temporary tattoo sticker brand, offers a 10% discount to customers that return to checkout:

Why this works:

92% of US consumers use coupon codes for shopping. In fact, having a code plays a huge role in their decision to make a purchase. 

Tattly also scores some brownie points with other elements:

  • The subject line invokes FOMO
  • The discount terms and conditions are clearly mentioned 
  • The copy is clean and concise

7. The “social proof” email

Barkal, a modern take on traditional Sudanese shoes, sends shoppers this email when they abandon their cart:

Why this works:

First-time shoppers tend to be skeptical of sites they haven’t shopped on before. In fact, 18% of the people Baymard surveyed said they abandoned their cart because they didn’t trust the site with their credit card information. 

Social proof taps into human instinct to follow the actions of others. By including customer reviews, you can lower that barrier. Other highlights in this email: 

  • The subject line is helpful, not salesy
  • The copy highlights reasons to buy
  • The review features the customer’s names and user-generated content making it more authentic

8. The “USP” email

Cadence Candle Co., a candle brand, shares why someone should choose their products in this simple abandoned cart email:

Why this works:

Your USP (unique selling proposition) is what differentiates you from your competitors, and it’s often the reason why customers choose you over other products. 

Cadence is cruelty-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free and recyclable—qualities that matter to consumers. Plus, the brand offers custom fragrances and a playlist for a musical experience. 

By sharing all the different ways Cadence is a better and unique product, cart abandoners are more inclined to return to the store. 

A few other key elements in this email:

  • They offer a 15% discount on the order
  • The copy captures all the reasons to buy
  • The visual goes beyond the product and showcases a lifestyle

9. The “benefits” email

FitTea, a detox tea company, reminders customers of the benefits they’ll likely experience:

Why this works:

Customers buy a product because they have a problem to be solved or a need to be met. With this email, FitTea reminds users of all the good health benefits they’ll likely experience with the product.

By putting users’ needs first, the brand increases its chances of conversion. 

Fit Tea gets straight to the point in this email but they also have a few other things going for them:

  • The email shows off the different product flavors
  • The CTA “Return to your cart” inspires immediate action

Don’t have time to create the perfect image? Flodesk has you covered. You can now pull any image from Unsplash and GIPHY when designing emails to save time and include interactive elements without needing a designer.

10. The “our picks” email

Ariel Gordon Jewelry (AGJ), a woman-owned jewelry brand, sends out some favorites along with their cart reminder:

Why this works:

You may think that an abundance of choices is what we all want, but in reality, less is more. When we get overwhelmed by the number of options easily available to us, making a decision requires more effort and we are left feeling dissatisfied with our choice. This phenomenon, known as the paradox of choice, limits our freedom.

So if customers routinely add products to their cart but can’t seem to decide, product recommendations may help them commit. 

With the “Ariel Loves” section, AGJ makes it easier for customers to make a purchase by recommending specific products they may enjoy. The email also does a great job meeting other best practices:

  • Consistent design with the website
  • Multiple, short, clear CTAs

11. The “pay later” email

Eve Milan, a skincare brand, offers a pay later option to customers that may want to delay paying for their order instead of being overextended.

Why this works:

On one hand, this helps the 9% of people surveyed by Baymard that abandon their carts because there aren’t enough payment options. It’s also convenient for users who want a better, low-commitment and budget-focused alternative to credit cards. 

1 in 3 American workers (even those earning over $100,000) run out of money before payday. So offering them the option to shop now, pay later can help customers’ budgets.

Eve Milan gets a few other things right as well:

  • The visuals help customers instantly relate to the product
  • They offer social proof through a 5-star customer review
  • They include a discount code for free shipping

12. The “free sample” email

Luxy Hair, a hair extensions brand, offers a free sample to customers in their cart recovery email:

Why this works:

This approach works on two levels—it helps new retailers build trust and invokes the law of reciprocity, in which receivers feel compelled to return the favor.

Luxy Hair also hits the nail on the head with these other elements:

  • Sense of urgency by adding “don’t let hair slip away”
  • Discount code for $10 off
  • 60-day exchange and returns
  • Buy now, pay later option
  • 100% package insurance
  • Free US shipping

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Abandoned cart email strategy: 5 best practices for an online store

You can see from the examples above that best practices don’t exist in isolation. Your email with social proof can be combined with free express shipping and stunning visuals. 

So when you’re designing an abandoned cart email, include these key components and make sure you run A/B tests to understand what your audience resonates with most.

Follow up more than once

One reminder is rarely enough to bring users back. A general rule of thumb is to send 3 emails to address various concerns potential shoppers may have. 

For instance, Fit Tea sends 4 emails to shopping cart abandoners:

But follow-ups shouldn’t spam people’s inboxes. 

Timing is everything. Too soon and you risk annoying your customers. Too late and they’ll have forgotten about you. 

  • Your first email (which should be helpful, and non-salesy) should go out almost immediately—within an hour of cart abandonment.
  • Send the second email (FOMO) after 24 hours, employing FOMO by hinting at expiring discounts and limited availability. 
  • The third and final email (hail-mary) can be sent 48 hours later. This is a good time to offer greater discounts for a limited time.

Flodesk can help you quickly build automated workflows, taking this kind of manual email sending off your plate.

Craft an enticing subject line

The primary goal of any email marketing campaign is to get recipients to open it. If your subject lines blend in with the rest, the chances of your email being opened are ‌reduced. 

Here are a few keywords that have been found to increase the chance of someone opening your email:

  • X% off purchase
  • Free
  • X% off cart
  • Still thinking about it?

And as you can see from these examples, most brands stick to these best practices.

P.S. Don’t forget about your pre-header. If you don’t set one, copy from your email gets pulled which can get truncated like so:

You may also want to test adding emojis and using brand-related subject lines. For instance, the subject line for a hair-care brand could read “Your luscious locks await. Cart expires in 48 hours…⌛

Show off the abandoned product + recommendations

Window shoppers may have trouble remembering your products, so including high-quality product photos is mandatory. 

But you can also take this a step further and offer some recommendations. Given these potential customers aren’t entirely sure of what they want to purchase, they’ll appreciate the help and may be tempted to add those items to their cart as well.

When designing your recovery cart email, you can also include pictures of your products on models or real people so that shoppers can see how the product would look on them.

Use clear and actionable CTAs

Your cart abandonment email has a clear agenda: get users to return to checkout. Make it easy for them to do so with multiple clear and actionable call-to-action buttons. 

Take a look at this example from Bombinate, a lifestyle brand:

  • There are multiple CTAs: “View Bag,” “View Cart”
  • The CTAs are placed strategically—once in the first section and then below each product

Send customers to your social media pages

Purchase flows are not linear—customers don’t often hear about you, visit your site and then immediately make a purchase.

They may come across your social media posts on Instagram, visit your site, forget about you, watch a TikTok, come back to your site, abandon the cart, wait for a discount, get distracted, and finally make a purchase. 

Since there are multiple channels involved, recovering your abandoned cart may require thinking beyond email. Buyers are used to interacting with D2C and ecommerce brands on social media. In fact, according to Instagram, 90% of users follow a brand on the site.

Most, if not all, brands offer users the option to follow them on social media. Here is an example from Ivory & Deene, a home decor brand:

  • The brand offers multiple channels 
  • Some channels are better suited than others. For instance, Pinterest is where shoppers save their home decor inspiration
  • If your focus is Gen Z, make sure to share your TikTok handle

Avoid being annoying

Being annoying means following up incessantly, calling customers without permission, or visiting their homes uninvited.

All you’ll likely get out of these practices is a bunch of potential customers who’re angry because you’re abusing the little relationship they had with your business, and that’s bad for any brand. Unhappy customers can leave bad reviews or badmouth your brand to their friends and family — who could be your potential customers. In fact, dissatisfied complainants tell twice as many people about their negative experience than satisfied customers do — according to a recent National Customer Rage Study.

So, while you’re trying to persuade customers to come back to their abandoned carts and make a purchase, make sure they don’t find your tactics annoying.

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Design an unmissable cart abandonment email

Cart abandonment emails can bring users back and help you recover lost sales. When designing your recovery cart email, try: 

  • Creating a multi-step email sequence to increase touchpoints for conversions
  • Crafting unique, snappy subject lines that will boost open rates
  • Using stunning visuals to show off the product
  • Having multiple clear and actionable CTA buttons
  • Pushing cart abandoners to engage with you on social media

And cart recovery email builders like Flodesk help you do just that.

Flodesk is the fastest-growing email marketing platform on the market, helping small business owners design emails people love to get. From stunning email templates to immersive forms, Flodesk makes it easy for beginners and experts alike to build their email lists, engage their audiences and convert subscribers into customers—all without a website.

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Abandoned cart email FAQs

What should I write in an abandoned cart email?

If you’re taking a direct approach to increase your conversion rate, let customers know what they’re missing out on and create a sense of urgency by offering a limited-time discount code. For multi-step abandoned cart email sequences, use each email to ramp up slowly. Either way, make sure your copy comes across as helpful, not salesy.

How do abandoned cart emails work?

Abandoned cart emails are sent to customers that leave their purchase without completing the checkout process. These emails can be triggered automatically to bring customers back or find out why they abandoned their cart in the first place.

As long as shoppers signed up with their email on your site, you can send them an abandoned shopping cart email since it is considered a transactional email. However, be wary of using their information for other email campaigns unless you receive further consent.

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