Cart Abandonment

How Cart Abandonment Emails Maximize ROI


It can feel like a swift punch to the gut when you’ve successfully gotten a potential customer to your shopping cart, only to have them bail last minute. It’s ok though, don’t curl up into the fetal position just yet! Even though a large number of readers drop off your shopping cart page, there is still great potential to re-engage and successfully convert this group of visitors.

In this blog, we’re going to break down why having a cart abandonment strategy in place is critical to your mailing strategy. Plus, we’ll share some helpful tips to make a successful cart abandonment campaign.

Why people abandon shopping carts

According to Hubspot, 57% of online consumers will abandon a site, and 80% of those consumers will never return. On top of that, SalesCycle reported that in Q1 2015 cart abandonment rates averaged 75.6% across all sectors. But why? What factors stop someone from pulling the trigger on the item they obviously have some interest in buying?

To get a better read on understanding this behavior, Statista did a study that breaks down why people don’t finish their purchase:

Statista shopping cart abandonment study

As you can see, the #1 reason for abandoning was unforeseen prices. This sentiment was echoed in another article that reported 41% of abandoners cite hidden delivery charges as the main reason for cart abandonment. So, word to the wise, don’t be sneaky about your pricing. Instead, be upfront from the beginning.

Now that we know the why of cart abandonment, let’s check out how this powerful email can help you re-engage with this group.

The effectiveness of cart abandonment emails

You understand by now that there can be a mass exodus on your shopping cart page, but you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t retarget them with an email. How much money you ask? According to Econsultancy, for every single cart abandonment email sent, each email delivers more than $8 in revenue.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, here are some more stats from Salescycle that might:

  • More than a tenth (11.61%) of cart abandonment emails are clicked.
  • The average order value (AOV) of purchases from basket abandonment emails is 14.2% higher than typical purchases.
  • Nearly half (44.1%) of all cart abandonment emails are opened.
  • Nearly a third (29.9%) of clicks lead to a purchase back on site.


Retargeting through email to these “abandoners” is worth its weight in gold. Now that we understand how effective these campaigns can be, let’s check out ways to optimize them.

Be timely

After someone leaves your shopping cart, there is a small window of when you should send this campaign.

GetElastic saw that companies who sent their first recovery email within the first 20 minutes saw an increase in conversions by 5.2%. Those that sent the email after 24 hours saw their conversion rate drop by 50%. Want to optimize your send time even further, check out the image below by Salescycle which shows conversion rate based off of the time the reader abandoned the site:

GetElastic recovery email statistics

The clock is ticking, literally, when it comes to the performance of your cart abandonment sends so make sure you get in front of them in a timely fashion.

Clarity vs cleverness in subject lines

A case study conducted by AWeber Communications found that a clear subject line gets 541% more clicks than one that’s clever. Clarity is essential to your open rates. Take a tip from MailChimp when they say, “When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”
So tell don’t sell like FiftyThree does in their brilliantly simple subject line that says, “You left items in your cart.”

FiftyThree shopping cart reminder email

No fluff will lead to better opens so keep that pun for inside of the email.

Offer help

42% of abandoners just needed “more information”. Let your cart abandonment email give more information about the product in question or even provide them with a support person to call or chat with. Nordstrom’s does a great job in the email below offering help if they need it. They ask in two different places if they can help and at the bottom they have clear CTAs on how their potential prospect can reach them.

Nordstrom shopping cart reminder

No one wants to feel strong-armed into a sale so if they have questions, make sure you’re ready to offer answers.

Use social proof

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when an individual looks to other people’s actions to determine what decision they should make. According to CompUSA and an iPerceptions study, “63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.”
In your cart abandonment email, social proof is a must. Sure, you could have an incredible offer (product, service, etc.), but you need people singing your praises to convince others. The Dollar Shave Club did a great job of adding testimonials at the bottom while also sticking to their hilarious branding.

Dollar Shave Club social proof

Yes, yes, we realize that little kid didn’t actually give that testimonial but it did make a lasting impression.

Social proof can take many forms. Here are a few more ideas to stir up your creative engine:

  • Website/product ratings and reviews
  • Badges/seals/certifications
  • Number of customers served
  • Testimonials from “industry experts”
  • “Likes” on social networks
  • Positive posts or tweets on social media
  • Number of followers on your blog


Bottom line: As an increasingly social culture, people want to feel validated by knowing that others find value in the product or service they are considering. Ease their minds and create an environment where that decision is even easier to make with a nudge from social proof.

Be upfront about pricing

This was discussed earlier in the blog, but since the #1 reason people gave for abandoning their cart was unexpected costs, I thought it was important enough to mention twice.
When you re-target through your cart abandonment email, be as upfront as possible about shipping, taxes, etc. so you reduce their anxiety and convert them into a paying customer.

In the email below, they reassure the buyer there won’t be hidden fees when they wrote, “Free Shipping. Free Returns. Smile, it’s Guaranteed.”

Fab shopping cart reminder email

This puts the reader at ease and builds trust between them and Fab.

Offer an incentive to buy

For whatever reason this potential buyer bailed, so make it worth their while to take action. As we discussed above, most people abandon their cart because it costs more than they expected. You can remedy this issue by chipping away a bit at the price tag.

Bass Pro Shops offers an appealing discount and makes sure you don’t miss it! It’s in the subject line, copy and images.

Bass Pro Shopping cart discount email

They know the sole purpose of the email is to get them back to the shopping cart and they did a great job designing the email to do just that.

Include scarcity

The more scarce a product is (or seems to be), the more desirable it becomes. Exclusivity or scarcity can be a very powerful motivating factor when it comes to email conversions and can perform very well in cart abandonment emails.

DoggyLoot does a great job of intertwining scarcity in their copy when they say that your precious pup’s items are almost gone for good.

DoggyLoot shopping cart reminder email

They also do a great job at really twisting the knife to make you purchase with their copy that says, “Please don’t disappoint your dog. Fetch your items now before it’s too late!” Solid copy and imagery all around, but what can I say, I’m pretty biased when it comes to dogs.

The final step…

After you’ve optimized your cart abandonment email for greater conversions, don’t forget to thoroughly test your email before you hit send. When you’re in your raw html, one wrong keystroke could cause rendering issues in multiple inboxes.

With EOA you can get unlimited email, spam, and image testing, free for 7 days. Start testing today to ensure you aren’t leaving any money on the table.

Author: Alex Ilhan

Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.

Author: Alex Ilhan

Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.

3 thoughts on “How Cart Abandonment Emails Maximize ROI”

  1. Fresh Relevance measures the cart abandonment rate as 60.3% across all sectors – close to Hubspot and significantly different from SalesCycle. I think the difference is because we and Hubspot recognize more multi-device sessions as NOT being abandons – these are where a buyer stops browsing on e,g, a phone and continues on a tablet.

    Abandonment is getting better year-on-year by the way, presumably as marketers take it more seriously.

  2. Hi Mallory,
    Great review of abandoned cart recovery emails! You give great examples for brands to use as inspiration!

    One thing that we’ve discovered that can help supplement abandoned cart campaigns is cart regeneration software. Have you seen a great difference in conversions with campaigns that had this functionality vs. those that didn’t? Here’s an article referencing a case study showing a 34% lift in conversions from email due to cart regeneration

  3. Hi @Jenna,

    I really enjoyed that case study. While I don’t know the difference of conversions that use just a plain ole’ cart abandonment email and one that uses cart regeneration software, I have to assume the latter if more effective. That would be very interesting to find those numbers, though. Since our business model doesn’t sell separate items like a retail store but instead, plans, this would be difficult to test internally. Sorry I couldn’t provide any further information!

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