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.
Here's the thing.
You need abandoned cart emails. Cart abandonment stats 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.
Subject Lines That Get Opened
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Logo & Copy: The Perfect Left Right Combo
Almost every single cart recovery email we studied opened their email the same way.
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 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
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 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
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.
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.
Maximize AOV with Personalized 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.
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".
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 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 Template
This is the most basic cart abandonment email template we found.
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 Template Example
Faction Ski's offers the quintessential Personal Offer abandoned cart email template.
It's short, sweet, and effective.
Added Bribe 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.
Notice how each retailer draws attention to their added bribe through color, section breaks, and enlarged text.
Added Bribe Template 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.
In addition to their standard free shipping, Bonobos offers an additional 20% off to complete your first purchase.
Mouth is our last example of the Added Bribe abandoned cart email.
Kitchen Sink Template
There were some abandoned cart emails that incorporated many more elements.
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.
Abandoned Cart Email Followups
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.
Below, we are going to share how The Honest Company utilizes followup emails to maximize conversions from their abandoned cart campaigns.
Maximize Conversions with Followup Sequences
The Honest Company keeps the same format for all of their abandoned cart emails.
The template is simple.
Honest Company First Abandonment Email
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.
Honest Company Third Followup
As with the last followup, the next follows the same format with updated text.
Honest Company Final Followup
Even after the prospect has decided not to buy, The Honest Company persists with an opportunity to redeem their cart.
By studying successful retailers cart abandonment campaigns, we can identify successful templates that compel customers to complete their order.
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
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.