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Abandoned Email Subject Lines: Definitive Guide (Updated 2023)
Cart abandonment emails increase profits.
The problem is that a ridiculous 269 billion emails are sent every single day. To get your cart abandonment emails open, you need relevant, irresistible subject lines.
Below is a collection of cart abandonment subject lines from top stores including Sephora, Target, Zaful, and more.
You can skip straight to the examples here. Or, read on for general best practices in writing excellent subject lines. Let's begin!
Note: This post has been updated to reflect the current cart abandonment strategies retailers are using in 2021.
The most common mistake in cart abandonment email campaigns...
According to our study covering 200 eCommerce stores worldwide, the highest performing cart abandonment campaigns recovered 40% of revenue!
Sending more than one email.
Despite this, the vast majority of eCommerce stores only sent one or two abandonment emails. To maximize conversions, you don't need to write a single cart abandonment email template. You need to write a minimum of three.
And the single most important factor of each email is the subject line.
Free Cart Abandonment Audit: Get a complete audit on your checkout process, with screenshots and next actions to take. Request Here.
The Single Most Important Part of Your Cart Abandonment Email: Subject Line
According to Chadwick Martin Bailey, 64% of people open their emails based on the subject line.
The challenge is, the best cart abandonment subject line is going to change depending on where in the funnel the email comes from.
The best cart abandonment subject lines result in incredible conversion rates.
With Barilliance, clients are able to use advanced multi-step cart abandonment campaigns with an average email conversion rate of 18.64%!
How Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines Affect Open Rates
Shopping cart abandonment emails should have some of the highest open rates in your triggered email arsenal. These are customers who have indicated clear interest in your product. On average, Barilliance customers have been able to generate 43.33% open rates with effective subject lines!
The Best Cart Abandonment Subject Lines of 2023
I’m about to share with you some of the best cart abandonment subject line examples.
First up, The Honest Company.
The Honest Company focuses on natural health and food products, and is currently valued at $1.7 billion.
A huge factor in their amazing success is their ability to maximize revenue from each site visitor. Look at how well they construct their cart abandonment subject lines to compel the prospect to click through and complete their purchase.
I love this subject line for a number of reasons.
First, it has great voice and tempo. It is short, direct, and upbeat. Second, The Honest Company makes the best use of customized email preview text I saw during the study.
They employ brackets around an all cap sized [OPENED] to stand out and tease a "to see" with ellipsis for good measure.
The second email was sent exactly 24 hours after the first.
It was congruent in tone and voice to the first email. Even though the words themselves were simple, they convey an upbeat, friendly tone.
Again, The Honest Company makes excellent use of the preview text.
Lastly, The Honest Company uses a new tactic in their second email - urgency. They accomplish this through an imposed scarcity of an expiring cart, and the copy centers around the fact that their cart will be expiring soon.
Their third abandoned cart email follows the cadence of the second, triggered to send 48 hours from the first.
Here, the subject line puts even more focus on urgency and loses the friendly tone. Instead, it is more matter of fact, underlining the urgency of the subject line.
Lastly, the preview text is again used to great measure. In this case, The Honest Company hints at an added benefit of free shipping.
While I wish this line was more personalized based on the shopper's cart, it still accomplishes it's goal of imposing time pressure and adding incentive to act now.
The final subject line in the sequence is a last chance email.
What is most instructive is how persistent The Honest Company is once they have a lead with demonstrated purchase intent.
Despite the customer not responding to previous emails, they don't give up. Instead, they keep their promise, expire their cart, and invite them to come back.
The Honest Company used a variety of techniques to create a fantastic. abandoned cart campaign.
As we went over company after company, we saw many recurring themes, tactics, and strategies used. We consolidated the most common subject line types below, and provide a few examples for your swipe file.
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8 Types of Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines
In total, we discovered 8 subject line archetypes that retailers used to maximize conversions.
1. Accept My Bribe Subject Lines
You want to be abundantly clear that your prospective customer is getting hooked up with an excellent deal if they complete the purchase. Words such as deal, promotion, % off are all powerful trigger words for price conscious shoppers.
Bonobos executes this subject line perfectly.
The bribe is upfront and clear. The call to action is direct, and uses an active verb. Empty your cart - save 20%.
One important best practice when using incentives is email suppression.
The technology you use should understand when a customer redeems an offer, and not send additional incentives after.
Barilliance comes standard with email suppression, and is an important feature in any cart abandonment technology.
Accept My Bribe Subject Line Template Examples
Above is an example of "Accept My Bribe" cart abandonment subject line by Sephora.
2. Curiosity Subject Lines
Curiosity based subject lines are the exact opposite of the Accept My Bribe types. Instead of being direct and upfront with your offer, these headings get prospects to click through because they pique interest.
Everlane lets their prospects know that they are about to receive something. They just won't reveal what that something is until they click through.
Again, I encourage you to contrast this to the example above as they really are two sides of the same coin. They both focus on creating value, but pull the reader into opening the email in completely opposite ways.
Curiosity Subject Line Template Examples
3. Product Shout-Out Subject Lines
Consistency and recognition are powerful motivators to complete purchase.
Product shout-out subject lines leverage this to it’s fullest. They are to the point, and resurface the want or need the customer originally had when they placed the product in their cart.
Here, The RealReal uses a simple, friendly tone. They then personalize the subject line with dynamic cart insertion to create a relevant message to their prospect.
Product Shout-Out Subject Line Template Examples
4. Suggestive Subject Lines
Suggesive subject lines often make use of the Assumption Principal, which underpins the famous “assumptive close”.
The Assumption Principal functions by assuming the customer has already decided to make a purchase. In other words, it implies that the reason the customer abandoned their cart is because they forgot it rather than any other issue, such as costs, shipping, or finding a better alternatives.
Forever 21 gives a standard example. The subject line is simply "Did you forget about me?", and can easily fit for most brands.
Suggestive Subject Line Template Examples
5. Friendly Subject Lines
People don’t always appreciate the hard sell.
Simply being nice is a great way to engage prospects on a personal level. These subject lines establish a relationship that is not transactional based. Instead, they focus on being "friendly".
Chubbies is a great example of this style. The subject line isn't trying to sell anyting.
Instead, it focuses on being human, greeting their prospect the way a friend would great someone they haven't seen in awhile. The body of the email carries the same voice.
Friendly Subject Line Template Examples
6. Customer Service Subject Lines
Customer service subject lines actively try and solve customer's problems for not completing their purchase.
Oftentimes, these subject lines open a conversation with a simple question such as "Was there a problem with your order?" to learn what the issue was.
Customer Service Subject Line Template Examples
7. Brand Personality Subject Lines
You don’t need to make an offer in the heading to get your abandoned cart email opened.
Humanity centered subject lines work great. Brand Personality lines do so with a focus on establishing the type of relationship you want with your customer. Oftentimes, these subject lines use humor to emulate a real conversation.
Here, Mouth plays on their name and stays light/playful throughout their copy calling their products "goodies" in the preview text.
If you go this route, make sure that your tone is consistant throughout all of your interactions with your customer.
8. Urgency Inducing Subject Lines
Urgency and scarcity are often cited as the most powerful psychological ploys to get customers to act.
We see eCommerce brands create urgency in one of three ways.
The first is centered on the cart itself. Sometimes, they set the cart to expire, creating a sense that the customer needs to complete their purchase now. This is the tactic that The Honest Company used above.
Second, retailers create urgency around specific products within the cart. It may be a limited item, selling fast, or approaching out of stock.
Lastly, you can create urgency in your subject lines by pairing it with an incentive. Many retailers create discount codes that are only valid for a limited time to get customers to compete their purchase.
Customer Service Subject Line Template Examples
You can learn a lot from successful campaigns.
Ultimately though, you are in an unique market, at a unique moment in time, with unique customers. Take these subject line examples and tailor them to fit your company based on your own brand.
Lastly, you can (and should) personalize your subject line as much as possible, whether through their shopping behavior, cart contents, or previously gathered information.
The Best Cart Abandonment Subject Lines: Emails That Get Opened
Below are real examples of cart abandonment subject lines used by some of the most successful retailers in the world.
We've organized the subject lines by industry to make it easier to navigate and compare across industries. We'll be adding to this list over time as we gather more and more examples.
Note* When the email preview text was utilized to complement the subject line, we placed the preview text after a hyphen.
Fashion Cart Abandonment Email Subject Lines
Example 1: The RealReal
Email #1: Still Deciding? Your Dolce & Gabbana Three-Button Wool Blazer Is Waiting!
Example 2: Warby Parker
Email #1: Downing might be the one - Shipping and returns are both free
Email #2: Downing felt the Connection
Example 3: Bespoke Post
Email #1: You've Left Something Behind
Email #2: Forgetting Something?
Example 4: Bonobos
Email #1: Empty your cart with 20% off.
Email #2: Take 20% off your cart before it’s gone.
Example 5: Modern Citizen
Email #1: A gentle reminder...
Example 6: Chubbies
Email #1: clocking in
Email #2: Howdy Bud
Example 7: Surfdome
Email #1: Thanks for visiting
Example 8: Forever 21
Email #1: Did you forget about me?
Example 9: Black Milk Clothing
Email #1: Where'd You Go?!
Example 10: SurfStitch
Email #1: Reminder: Get Your Items Before They Sell Out
Example 11: BooHoo
Email #1: Don't miss out! Your basket expires soon
Example 12: Everlane
Email #1: A Gift For You
Example 13: Under Armour
Email #1: Your Cart’s Loaded & Ready To Go - Free Shipping. No Minimum.
Email #2: UA Curry 4 Low Is Still in Your Cart
Health & Beauty Cart Abandonment Subject Lines
Example 14: The Honest Company
Email #1: Cart Reserved! [OPEN] to see…
Email #2: Don’t miss out! Your cart is expiring soon…
Email #3: Your cart is about to expire - You may qualify for free shipping >
Email #4: Cart Expired - [Items might still be available] - your cart expired!
Example 15: Urban Skin Rx
Email #1: Stephan, You Forgot Something!
Example 16: EyeBuyDirect
Email #1: EyeBuyDirect 15% off on your entire order
Email #2: EyeBuyDirect 15% off on your entire order for 24 hours only
Grocery Cart Abandonment Subject Lines
Example 17: Thrive Market
Email #1: Oops, you forgot something
Email #2: Hurry, the items in your cart are going fast!
Email #3: Complete your purchase now - you made great choices. Check out now
Example 18: Mouth
Email #1: You left your Mouth open!
Other eCommerce Cart Abandonment Subject Lines
Example 19: Real Truck
Email #1: There’s something in your cart.
Example 20: Shower Pass
Email #1: We saved your cart for you
Email #2: Your cart is about to expire - Still interested?
Example 21: FloraQueen
Email #1: Hi Stephan, continue shopping with a discount!
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.
How Target Combines Personalization & Triggered Emails to Create Effective Email Subject Lines
Target Corp increased digital sales 42% last quarter.
2019 is the 5th straight year of 25% or more growth for their eCommerce store - and makes Target Corp an excellent candidate to study a cart abandonment subject lines.
Sign-Up & Reminder Emails
I first visited Target.com on September 13th. After opening a new account, I added this item to my cart.
After abandoning the cart, I received a number of transactional related emails.
Importantly, none of these were specifically a cart abandonment email. Instead, it seems that Target suppresses triggered cart abandonment emails while they are sending establishing the relationship with a new client.
These emails, while not directly encouraging a new visitor to complete their purchase, do give clear reasons to return to the site and implicitly remind them of their previous visit.
Another important note is the frequency of contact.
Target finds distinct reasons to email me four times in the first three days.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Email #1, Sent Day 3
The first true cart abandonment email Target sends is sent on day 3.
The subject line is a simple prompt to "Come back & see what's new" with some minor personalization at the front.
Cart Abandonment Email #1 Subject Line: "Kitchen & Dining Furniture: Come back & see what's new."
Target's Shopping Cart Abandonment Email #2 & #3, Sent Day 4
The next day, Target sends a significant discount across the entire category I was browsing.
The offer is front and center - placed directly in the subject line and the first call out in the body of the email.
Cart Abandonment Email #2 Subject Line: "Need furniture? Take up to 20% off today."
A few hours later, Target blasts off a much more specific offer.
They leave some ambiguity in the subject line, but the offer is clear - a nice price reduction for an item left in my cart.
Target's Shopping Cart Abandonment Email #4, Sent Day 5
The following day, they resend the notification regarding the price drop for my cart.
The email has an updated subject line - this time simply stating: "Price drop alert."
Target's Shopping Cart Abandonment Email #5, Sent Day 6
After the two failed attempts at the specific item, Target shifts back to category offers.
The first email simply has "Now seating dinner guests." and displays numerous types of chairs in all styles.
Target's Shopping Cart Abandonment Email #6, Sent Day 7
And the next day they personalize based on the style of the chair I selected. They pick out numerous "neutral furniture" pieces, from bookcases to chairs to upholstered items.
How Walmart maximizes Cyber Monday sales w/ email campaigns
The next subject line example that I want to showcase comes from Walmart.
At the time of writing, Cyber Monday just passed, one of the most important times for eCommerce stores to maximize conversions.
Walmart Cyber Monday intro subject line (email 1)
Walmart begins their campaign with an introduction to their Cyber Monday sale. As we will see, the content team at Walmart has found incorporating emoji's into their subject lines increases conversions.
Email 1 Subject Line: CYBER MONDAY starts NOW
The introductory email has a number of widgets inside. First, is simple product recommendation widget highlighting the most popular gifts. Each product belongs to it's own category.
Followed by a more direct call to action on across various categories.
Walmart doesn't know which categories are most relevant to me. In this context, the email serves as an entry point to help shortcut my shopping experience and aid in product discovery.
Walmart Cyber Monday 3rd email subject line
Email 3 Subject Line: Epic DEALS won’t last long!
Beginning in the third email, Walmart shifts the tone of it's messaging from excitement to scarcity.
While the general format of the subject line remains the same (emoji, text, repeat emoji), the content is very different. Clocks are used to insinuate time is ticking. Risk aversion and time sensitivity language is also employed.
Likewise, the lead content is changed to reinforce this message.
Walmart Cyber Monday 4th email subject line
Email subject line 4: Sun is setting on CYBER MONDAY!
The scarcity them is followed up in the next email This time, the main copy reads "final hours" in the email body.
Again, the calls to action all revolve around discovery.
Walmart Cyber Monday 5th+ email subject line
If a customer doesn't convert during Cyber Monday, Walmart actually extends the various deals. They do this through a mini email series that is triggered if the customer did not complete a purchase.
Here we will just highlight the subject lines.
Email subject line 5: CYBER DEALS EXTENDED
Email subject line 6: Top home deals at LOW prices!
Email subject line 7: DEALS ending SOON (this time for real!)
Email subject line 8: THIS. IS. IT.
Browse Abandonment Email Subject Lines
While the majority of this post has focused on cart abandonment triggered email campaigns, the same principles apply to browse abandonment.
Browse abandonment emails follow the same structure as abandoned cart emails. The main difference is one of customer intent. In cart abandonment, the visitor has already placed an item in their cart, whereas browse abandonment occurs further up the funnel, before the visitor has taken that action.
For browse abandonment email subject lines, use this post as a guide.
However, to build a full browse abandonment campaign that increases conversions, click here.
Above, Zaful uses a combination of tactics in their browse abandonment email. From their subject line which makes use of breaking characters to the curiosity based "unused coupons".
How one Barilliance Customer Improved CTR by 26.96% with one Subject Line Change
Lastly, I want to share with you the power of testing different abandoned cart email components.
Barilliance comes with A/B testing that allows you to experiment and achieve higher results over time. Skandium, a furniture eCommerce store, tested two versions of their subject line and found a dramatic increase in CTR using dynamic product injection (+26.96% CTR).
You can see the full case study here.
The subject line is the first line of a cart abandonment email. You still have a long way to go. Below are some additional resources for you as you build out your own cart abandonment campaign.