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Cart abandonment

Abandoned Email Templates: Definitive Guide (Updated 2018)

This is the ultimate guide to abandoned cart emails. 

It is NOT just a collection of tips.

Instead, you will see successful strategies employed by the most successful eCommerce stores of 2018, complete with examples and templates. 

You need abandoned cart emails. Cart abandonment statistics are not good, with some industries losing 83%+ of each sale when asked to put in their payment information. 

But not all emails are the same. Which is why we've collected the tactics and strategies of the most successful retailers, and distilled from them actionable cart abandonment email templates you can use for your own site.

Let's dive in.

Note: This page was originally published in 2016 and updated to reflect the current successful cart abandonment templates of 2018.  

Anatomy of a Cart Abandonment Email

Throughout this article, we are going to be creating powerful cart abandonment email templates.

To do this, we are going to break down a number of successful campaigns up into specific parts. 

How to Write Email Subject Lines to Reduce Cart Abandonment

Joseph Sugarman, a legendary copywriter who has sold millions of units through direct copy, has a clear lesson on subject lines.

“The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence.”

With cart recovery emails, the first sentence is the
subject line. It is the single most important part of a recovery email because it is what compels prospects to open and see the rest of your email.

Pouring over abandonment emails, we found four types of subject lines.

Accept My Bribe Subject Lines

accept my bribe cart abandonment subject lines

These subject lines leveraged some type of incentive to get you to open the email. 

Some were straight to the point.

Bonobos wastes no space (or time) and comes out swinging with an aggressive 20% off incentive. 

Other stores are less direct. One common tactic we saw employed was exploiting curiosity gaps.

everlane cart abandonment subject line

While direct incentives work because they express a specific benefit, indirect incentives work because they don't give away enough information.

Curiosity gaps are powerful mechanisms. CopyHacker showed how using curiosity can increase conversions by 927%, and here we see Everlane dangling a carrot without letting the recipient know exactly what the incentive is.

Product Shout Out Subject Lines

Product shout-out cart abandonment subject lines

The next group of subject lines focused on consistency and recognition. 

By using personalization, these subject lines injected the actual products that prospects were looking at in their email, creating a relevant, highly specific lead-in.

Above, The RealReal opens with a simple question and follows with the exact item that was left in my cart.

Brand Personality Subject Lines

brand personality email subject line

A few eCommerce brands eschewed offers all together. Instead, they opted for more humanity centered subject lines. 

These subject lines used humor and/or personality to emulate a real conversation instead of a more transactional experience. 

Simple Subject Lines

simple eCommerce cart abandonment subject line

Lastly, a number of retailers used simple, basic subject lines. The beauty in these subject lines is no non-sense, simple call to actions. 

I particularly like how The Honest Company customized their preview text with [OPEN]. 

It's also good to note that Faction Ski's preview text includes a product shout out. 

Cart Abandonment Logo & Copy: The Perfect Left Right Combo

Almost every single cart recovery email we studied opened their email the same way.

  • Brand Logo - Typically aligned center and sized to cover between 1/4 - 1/3 of the screen
  • Benefit Heavy Copy- We saw a lot of variation, from straight forward discounts, to free shipping and expiring discount codes.

There are a lot of good reasons for this. First, it capitalizes on whatever goodwill the prospective customer has towards the brand.

Second, it provides a consistency in the customer's journey from the eCommerce site to the email. 

Lastly, the benefit oriented copy often makes various appeals to complete the purchase. 

Basic Logo & Copy Combo

Thrive Market Logo and Copy Abandoned Cart Email Example

Thrive Market provides a great example of the basic combo.  Like most of the other abandonment emails, the logo is centered and well sized to cover about 1/4 of a mobile screen. 

Thrive Market follows this up by iterating its core value proposition: great products for less. They add great personalization in the email by injecting the exact amount you would save if you complete your purchase.

Finally, they designed an branded CTA button.

Added Value Variation

Bespoke Logo and Copy combo for abandoned cart emails

The Added Value variation offers a secondary value proposition in addition to their core products. This could be in the form of shipping, exclusive offers, gifts, various discounting schemes, or any other additional value offer.

Bespoke Post is an example of an Added Value variation. Instead of focusing on their core value proposition, they give the prospective customer another reason to complete their purchase: free shipping.

Manufacture Urgency Like a Pro

Everlane Cart Recovery Email

Everlane is an excellent example of how to layer urgency onto the basic combo.

They accomplish this through an expiring coupon. The deadline gives a real, tangible reason to act now instead of putting off the purchase.

Entice with Cart Images to Lower Abandonment

The next most common element in abandoned cart emails are cart images. 

While there were a few retailers who did not include product images of the cart, almost all did.

What is more interesting is the way they displayed the images.

Some retailers opted for simple representations of their product, while others chose to include much more information in their widget.

Simple Cart Images

Bespoke offers a great example of a simple, direct cart image. Product name, price, and quantity are all that is needed next to a classic product image.

Bespoke product recommendatins for cart abandonment emails

Detailed Cart Images

Detailed cart images include additional information about the product. 

Below, Bonobos shares more than just the name of the product. They include some flavor text, allowing the customer to envision how they will use the product. 

Bonobos Product Recommendations

Maximize AOV with Personalized Product Recommendations

Abandoned Cart Email Product Recommendations

The last major element in cart abandonment emails are product recommendations. 

Many retailers who utilized product recommendations personalized their offers to match what was originally placed into the cart. 

Most of the product recommendation widgets were similar: they had a product image coupled with a product name and CTA button.

Thrive Market Product Recommendations for Cart Recovery Emails

But, a few eCommerce stores had unique tactics.

One of my favorite examples is below.

Here, in addition to providing a number of similar products personalized for the shopping session, Bonobos included an enticing category offer of "Editor's Choice".

The RealReal Product Recommendations in Abandoned Cart Emails

Key Takeaways

Cart abandonment emails are made up of well defined parts. You can create powerful emails by combining multiple parts together. 

The most important elements in a cart abandonment email are an enticing subject line, value based copy, cart insertion, and product recommendations.

Putting It Together: Abandoned Cart Email Examples and Templates

We've gone over the main individual components of an abandoned cart email.

Now, we are going to explore the most common combinations to uncover the most popular, successful abandoned cart email templates.

Personal Offer Email Template

This is the most basic cart abandonment email template we found.

  • Logo & Copy - Typically, the logo is centered and the copy reiterates the value proposition of either the store or product.
  • Product Recommendation - Typically personalized to what was placed in the cart. 

The Personal Offer Template works because it strips the email down to the bare necessities: Your brand, reiterated value proposition, and additional cross and up-sale offers designed to get your customers back onsite.

Personal Offer Abandoned Cart Email Example

Faction Ski's offers the quintessential Personal Offer abandoned cart email template.

It's short, sweet, and effective.

Faction Ski's Abandoned Cart Recovery Email Template

Added Bribe Email Template

The Added Bribe Template was the most common cart abandonment email that we found. It works by tacking on an additional bonus offer in the email to get customers to complete their purchase.

  • Logo & Copy - Typically, the logo is centered and the copy reiterates the value proposition of either the store or product.
  • Product Recommendation - Typically personalized to what was placed in the cart. 
  • Added Bribe - Could be in the form of free shipping, discounts, free gifts, or any other incentive to act now.

Notice how each retailer draws attention to their added bribe through color, section breaks, and enlarged text.

Added Bribe Abandoned Cart Email Examples

Here we see Bespoke adding Free Shipping to the order with a simple callout. 

As with the next example, it also includes all the characteristics of the Personal Offer abandoned cart email template.

Abandoned Cart Email Template

In addition to their standard free shipping, Bonobos offers an additional 20% off to complete your first purchase.

Bonobos Abandoned Cart Email Template full example

Mouth is our last example of the Added Bribe abandoned cart email.

Kitchen Sink Email Template

There were some abandoned cart emails that incorporated many more elements.

Product recommendations.

Unique offers.

Cart Images.

App CTA's.

Site Navigation.

The idea is to offer a mix of immediate incentives and multiple calls to actions to get prospects to click through.

Below, we see an example from Thrive Market. 

kitchen sink abandoned cart email template

Abandoned Cart Email Strategy: Combining Email Templates into Sequences

The most successful abandoned cart email campaigns include more than one email.

Surprisingly, most retailers we studied did not employ this best practice.

As we shared in our larger  Shopping Cart Abandonment Guide, followup emails can achieve amazing CTRs when you optimize the sending time. 

  • 1st Email, Sub-Optimal Timing - 12.2% conversion rate.
  • 1st Email, Optimal Timing - 20.3% conversion rate.
  • Follow-up Email Sub-Optimal Timing - 7.7% conversion rate.
  • Follow-up Email Optimal Timing - 17.7% conversion rate.

​​Below, we are going to share how The Honest Company utilizes followup emails to maximize email conversion rates. As you can see, their abandonment strategy is persistent, focusing on followup and providing additional value in every email.

Maximize Abandoned Cart Conversion Rate with Followup Sequences

The Honest Company keeps the same format for all of their abandoned cart emails. 

The template is simple.

  • Logo & Copy - Here, they stress urgency above everything else by imposing a time limit on how long they will maintain your cart.
  • Benefit CTA - Next, they reiterate their core value proposition of "Trusted, Effective, Delightful Products".
  • Added Bonus - Finally, they close with an added bonus of free shipping on orders over $50.

Honest Company First Abandonment Email

improving cart abandonment email conversion rates email 1

Honest Company First Followup

The followup email is an exact replica of the first, simply changing the amount of time remaining for the abandoned cart to expire.

improving cart abandonment email conversion rates email 2

Honest Company Third Followup

As with the last followup, the next follows the same format with updated text.

improving cart abandonment email conversion rates email 3

Honest Company Final Followup

Even after the prospect has decided not to buy, The Honest Company persists with an opportunity to redeem their cart.

improving cart abandonment email conversion rates email 4

Key Takeaways

By studying successful retailers cart abandonment campaigns, we can identify successful templates that compel customers to complete their order. 

Next Steps

Barilliance Cart Abandonment Dashboard

Technology can make cart abandonment email templates extremely powerful through accurate personalization, and automating sequencing.

Barilliance is built for retailers who want to build cart abandonment campaigns. You can elect to have our machine learning system automatically personalize your emails, or you can set your own specific rules to match your merchandising strategy. 

In short, Barilliance empowers you to create

  • Multi-Step Campaigns - Design followup emails and automate when (and when not to) send abandonment cart emails.
  • 1:1 Personalization- Embed product recommendations and dynamic cart insertions, price drops, and customize email copy based on customer data.
  • A/B Testing & Reporting - Create and validate experiments with built in A/B testing and end to end funnel reporting.

Free Bonus: Click here to get access to a free PDF field guide that shows you 19 tactics to increase email opt-ins - the most essential step in shopping cart abandonment.

And a multitude of other powerful features including cross-device continuity, coupon code support, rich segmentation, and email suppression logic. 

Request a demo here.

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