In 2017, eCommerce was responsible for around $2.3 trillion in sales. By the end of 2021, it’s expected to hit $4.5 trillion. Black Friday 2019 broke records by generating 7.4 billion in digital sales in the United States alone. Cyber Monday hit $9.2 billion.

Yet, as the eCommerce industry grows, cart abandonment rates grow right along with it. In fact, 69.57% is the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate. If eCommerce businesses reduced their cart abandonment rate by a mere 1 percent, it would literally add trillions in online revenue. 

So why isn’t it happening? What’s holding eCommerce merchants back from reducing cart abandonment and generating more sales?

Let’s assume that as a merchant, you’ve optimized your checkout by making all information easily available, like the return process, delivery costs and times, and warranty terms. You’ve also made sure not to surprise customers by adding extra charges right as they’re about to pay.

Why isn’t your cart abandonment rate going down? The answer is simple. You’re leaving one of the most lucrative eCommerce marketing channels by the wayside: email.

Email has the highest ROI out of any other marketing channel for eCommerce, and the statistics back this up. Email marketing yields $44 for each $1 spent. That’s a 4400% ROI.

There’s money to be made from email marketing and eCommerce businesses should be taking advantage of it; if you want to make a real impact and reduce your cart abandonment rates, generate sales and convert more customers, you need a kick-ass abandoned cart email strategy. 


What is an abandoned cart email?

Essentially, an abandoned cart email is automated and sent to prospective customers who add items to their shopping cart, but don’t complete the purchase. The abandoned cart email acts as a prompt to get the customer to return to the eCommerce site and complete their transaction. We love this one:

Boka Abandoned Cart Email

Image source: Boka

Why are abandoned cart emails important?   

For whatever reason—whether they were distracted, their laptop ran out of power, their dog started barking, or someone called them on the phone—customers abandon their online shopping carts all the time. As much as 75 percent of customers who abandon their carts never meant to leave before completing their purchase—life just got in the way.

That’s where abandon cart emails come in. They act as a glue between the customer and the cart, used by merchants to recover those almost-lost-forever sales. 

What’s the best time to send an abandoned cart email?

Typically, an eCommerce store will send 2-3 of these prompts after the cart was abandoned to entice customers to return.

These emails are sent over a series of days, usually 1-3 from when the cart was initially abandoned. The longer you wait, the more likely customers won’t return to your site to make a purchase, so sending abandoned cart emails as soon as possible is key. This blog from CoSchedule is a great resource for data on email activity:

Email Activity Data

Image source: CoSchedule


How to create the ultimate abandoned cart email strategy

Now that you know you need an abandoned cart email strategy, let’s look at how to actually put one together to win more sales and boost conversions. You can do this in 3 easy steps.

Step 1: Outline what your abandoned cart email should say

So how do you create an abandoned cart email? Well, first you need to figure out what your abandoned cart email should say. Just remember: the same rules to crafting any type of marketing email apply

Here’s 3 simple steps to crafting the right message for your abandoned cart email:

1. Start by defining your key messages. You want to make sure your email conveys the right message, at the right time to the right person. It’s all about relevance.

In order to map out your abandoned cart email’s messaging, first, think about who you’re talking to. It’s customers in your contact database who have abandoned their carts, but what else do you know about them?

The more you segment by using firmographic and demographic information—like job title, age and interests along with their previous purchase history—the more targeted and personalized your messaging will be.

2. Define what you want your customers to do. We know you want them to come back and make a purchase, but can you be more specific? Recall the exact product waiting in their cart and tell them exactly what steps they need to take in order to complete their transaction. 

3. Communicate the benefits of completing that action. The benefit to your business is that you’ll make a sale—but what value are customers missing out on by not completing their purchase? Remember, customers are attracted to values and benefits, not a list of features.

Step 2: Offer an incentive to boost conversions

Once you’ve figured out what you want your abandoned cart email to say, that’s when you’re able to move into the next phase of your email strategy: incentives.

By offering your customers a little something extra to nudge them toward a purchase, you’re increasing the likelihood of your abandoned cart email conversions. But beware: incentives can be tricky, as you do not want to undermine the value of your products. An email offering a small discount would be appropriate:

Discount Email

Image source: Stutterheim


Assuming you’ve priced your products reasonably, it’s important that you don’t use your abandoned cart emails to offer heavy discounts and price reductions, as it can seriously devalue your products in the eyes of your customer.

Instead, use incentives strategically. 

Here are 4 general ideas and guidelines to follow when adding incentives to your abandoned cart emails:

  1. Don’t add incentives to the first email. Instead, consider holding the incentive back for later in the email sequence as a last-ditch effort to convert those customers.
  2. Think about incentives beyond the traditional discount and deal. Can you offer a complimentary box of cookies instead? Think of something that doesn’t devalue your product. You might consider cross-selling a different, related product at a discounted rate.
  3. Frame incentives in a flash sale in your abandoned cart emails. Don’t always offer incentives, instead consider using them only at certain points of the year or in months when abandoned cart rates are often increased.
  4. Put the incentive in the subject line. Don’t bury your offer in the body copy. Instead, put it right front and center on your customer’s inbox to improve open rates.


Increase conversions and boost sales today with our abandoned cart campaign for hubspot-shopify


Step 3: Test and optimize your abandoned cart emails 

You’ve determined the messaging of your abandoned cart email and exactly what type of incentives you’ll use to prompt customers to come back and complete their purchase. 

Now, it’s time to A/B test your emails in order to optimize them for the most conversions. 

A/B testing an abandoned cart email is exactly what the name implies: you create 2 versions of an email (an A version and a B version) and test them against one another to see which one performs best. 

Both emails are identical, apart from the one aspect that you’re looking to test. Things that are typically compared during an A/B test are:

  • The best abandoned cart email subject lines
  • The most enticing hook (i.e. what you’re writing to persuade customers to make a purchase)
  • The type of discount or incentive used
  • The call-to-action
  • The time of sending
  • Mobile and tablet optimization and layout

You then send 50% of your target audience the A version and 50% of your target audience the B version and see which one is the most successful.

Why you should A/B test your abandoned cart emails

You are not a mind-reader, so no matter how much research you do and analysis of your customer base, you can still only make an informed guess about your customers. 

When it comes to crafting a high-converting abandoned cart email, you might look at behavioral data and segment as much as possible—but in the end, this can only get you so far.

A/B testing acts as a side-kick to any marketer looking to identify exactly what works to reduce abandoned cart rates. A/B tests give you real data on what your customers want, so you can transform those informed guesses into high-converting email content.


reduce your abandoned cart rate with email

It’s clear that email is a powerful channel to help you reduce your abandoned cart rates. 

By following the simple steps of defining your key messages and what your abandoned cart email should say, to adding thoughtful incentives and A/B testing your content along the way, you’re setting your eCommerce business up for success.

Next step: ECommerce lead nurturing

Abandoned cart emails are just one small piece of the eCommerce marketing pie. While they’re a powerful tactic that can drive immediate results, they’re best paired with a kick-ass eCommerce lead nurturing strategy that touches prospects along the entire buyer’s journey.

Get our Abandoned Cart Campaign for HubSpot-Shopify today to optimize your sales conversions. This campaign comes with customizable email templates and abandoned cart workflows. Our marketing technologists will help you with the initial set up so you can save time and start winning back abandoned carts right away.


Get Abandoned Cart Campaign for HubSpot-Shopify Now


Originally published December 14, 2019, updated August 22, 2023
Tags: lead nurturing ECommerce Marketing