How to Write the Perfect Abandoned Cart Email

Learn how to lower your customer churn and retain B2B buyers for the long haul.

By Tom Wintaugh | November 13, 2023 | 3 minute read
Illustration of people placing mail in a giant mailbox.



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Reducing abandoned carts is a key concern for all ecommerce sellers. Among the various techniques which can be used to re-ignite lost conversions, the abandoned cart email is still very popular and effective. Seller surveys indicate frequently outstanding results, with abandoned cart emails logging as high as a 40% open rates, 50% click-thru rates, and 10% going on to make a purchase. Mastering the messaging of these emails can be a huge help in recapturing potential lost sales—in this blog, we’ll show you where to focus.

Understanding the "Why" Behind Abandoned Carts

Before composing the email's content, it's essential to grasp why customers often abandon their carts, as this will inform the best angle for your approach. The reasons shoppers abandon carts vary from surprise fees to simply getting distracted. Identifying these motives provides a solid starting point for your email copy. Common reasons include:

  • High Costs: Unforeseen fees or product pricing can deter buyers.
  • Confusing or Lengthy Checkout: A complicated checkout process can turn customers away.
  • Comparison Shopping: Many use shopping carts on different sites to gauge final prices.

Grasping the 'why' tailors your approach to directly address and resolve these concerns. Each of the above examples is a different “problem” that you need to specifically solve with the content of your email.

Crafting a Compelling Subject Line

Perhaps the most important copy in your entire abandoned cart email will be the subject line. This line needs to convey, at a glance, an intriguing subject, a sense of urgency, and a strong benefit the recipient will enjoy if they open your email.

  • Using personalization like the customer's name or referencing the product they left can be effective.
  • Phrases that induce urgency such as "Your cart is waiting!" can also be persuasive.
  • Indicate any time deadlines that apply, like “Only 32 left in stock, hurry!”
  • Emphasize benefits, such as “You’ll love how easy this product is to use!”
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Clear and Compelling Visuals

A great product image can do most of the heavy lifting for you. High-quality images of products left behind in the cart can reawaken your customer’s initial interest. You can find examples of good abandoned cart email imagery here. Next, the email layout itself should be clean and concise, focusing on the abandoned cart item, and not bringing in other subjects or promotions which add visual clutter. 

Writing Engaging Content

Now that you have your customer's attention, describe in a few sentences maximum:

  • Why you have written
  • Describe what items have left behind
  • Remind customers why this is a great purchase (benefits)
  • What action you would like the reader to take
  • How to contact you for more information

Tonally, try to be persuasive without appearing desperate. For instance, opt for phrases like "We noticed you left something" rather than "You forgot to check out." A quick reminder of benefits, be it product attributes, swift shipping, or an easy return policy, can further tip the scale in your favor.

Offering Incentives to Complete Purchase

Sometimes, the right incentive can motivate a customer to return to your site. Different customers will value different types of rewards, so consider the qualities of the product and customer profile when devising incentives. Here are some common examples:

  • Discount Codes: A timely discount on their cart items.
  • Free Shipping: Temporarily waiving shipping fees.
  • Exclusive Offers: Providing early sale access or bonus items.

In this way, providing genuine value transforms the purchase completion into an opportunity for your customer.

Free Guide | How to Create a Profitable Ecommerce Marketing Engine

Implementing a Clear Call to Action (CTA)

Your email's culmination is the CTA. It should use simple, clear language in the form of a command. Let the customer know exactly what to do next, usually in the form of a button or a link.

It’s a great practice to shape CTAs around a simple action command and statement of what will happen when a user performs it. The classic “Buy Now” is an evergreen for a reason­—it is a strong, simple command with a strong sense of urgency. Other excellent CTAs include “Get it now”, “Download here” etc. You might try a few words which creatively connect to the idea of the abandoned cart, such as “See What You’re Missing." You can find more CTAs and other conversion drivers here.

Ask For Feedback

While guiding customers back to the sale is the primary goal, gleaning insights into why they abandoned their cart is invaluable. A short survey asking "Why did you abandon your cart?," perhaps with multiple-choice answers, allows for quick feedback, helping refine your overall shopping strategy and experience. Engaging the customer in this way is also a clever sales technique—getting them talking about the product and interacting with your brand brings them closer to purchasing again.

The perfect abandoned cart email is a blend of psychology, design, and strategy.

Through understanding what motivated the purchase/abandonment, sending simple reminders, and adding genuine value offerings, these emails can significantly boost your conversion rates. It's not just about recovering a lost sale, but enhancing the overall shopping experience for your customers—a strategy that will help those abandoned carts transition smoothly to sales.

Learn how to write captivating marketing emails in this free guide.

About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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Author's Bio

Tom Wintaugh

Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.

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