The Cart Abandonment Checklist: A Guide for Ecommerce Marketers

February 3, 2023

Abandoned carts are a goldmine for ecommerce businesses but most of them don’t even realize it. Only 19% of the top ecommerce companies bother to recover them. But, brands that introduce abandoned cart emails have used them to generate 27.67% of their total email revenue. 

Who wouldn’t want to increase revenue, save on marketing spend and work less? The trick is to see abandoned carts as a sales opportunity instead of just a fact of running an online store. 

Cart abandoners are already interested in your products, even to the point of reaching your checkout process, but they just need a little push. However, it’s important to get that push just right.

Lucky for you, we’ve put together the following cart abandonment email checklist, which will guide you through the key components of our clients’ top performing abandoned cart emails.

Attention Grabbing Subject Line

The subject line is one of the most important aspects of your abandoned cart email campaign. Your subject line is your first impression, and is directly responsible for your email open rate. 

Opt for a tone of voice that is both urgent and supportive, which will entice potential customers to open the email. For example, “Oops, did something go wrong?” or “We can’t hold these items for long!” are great options.

poor cart abandonment subject line

Tips for abandoned cart email subject lines with high open rates:

Keep subject lines short: Over 61% of emails are read on mobile devices, and you do not want your subject line to be cut off. Use no more than 7 words or 45 characters.

Spark curiosity and interest: Subject lines like, “Your abandoned cart” or “Forgotten items” are too straightforward and may not entice the recipient to open the email. A better idea would be “Thinking it over? Maybe this will help…”

Use personalization: Personalizing the subject line with the recipient’s name, location, or purchase history can make the email feel more relevant and increase the chances of it being opened.

Create a sense of urgency: Using words and phrases that create a sense of urgency, such as “Limited time offer” or “Last chance to save”

Keep in mind that subject lines should vary depending on the recipient, so don’t be afraid to test different variations. For more inspiration, scroll through our list of examples of email subject lines with high-open rates.

Number of Emails

We’ve sent 100 million+ abandoned cart emails and found that sending multiple emails (known as a drip campaign) improves performance by 25-30%. 

Sending multiple emails is crucial, as it provides additional reminders to those who weren’t ready to purchase on day one. Sending a second follow-up email, or even a third, adds additional touchpoints to your customers’ journeys, and increases the likelihood of abandoned cart recovery.

The first email usually has the highest conversion rate, but each subsequent email’s rate is cut in half. Example: first email converts 8%, second 4%, third 2%, for a total of 14%. 

Set Ideal Email Frequency (Delivery Timers)

Timing is everything when it comes to cart abandonment emails. It’s important to optimize your abandoned cart email sequence for maximum recovery, and to strike while the iron is hot.

However, an email sent too soon can feel “spammy”. Timing plays a large part in how email marketing campaigns are perceived. The best abandoned cart emails are a balancing act – they must be timely without being too eager.

The optimal timing for a three-email campaign is as follows: 

  • First Email: 20-30 minutes after abandonment.
  • Second Email: 1-2 days after abandonment.
  • Third Email: 2-4 days after abandonment.

Include Your Logo & Company Branding

Your logo is a crucial element in establishing brand recognition, so make sure it’s included in your email. Think about it: you want your customers to recognize the email is coming from your store right away, so they’re more likely to open it and take action.

If they don’t recognize your brand, they’ll most likely delete the email before reading it, leaving their abandoned items in permanent purgatory. Shopping cart abandonment emails can either be seen as helpful cart reminders, or irritating spam – you do not want to look like spam!

Instead, include your brand logo, colors, and other essential visual branding to quickly establish trust and credibility with the customer.  

Insert Strong Call-to-Action (CTA)

Remember: the goal of your cart recovery emails is, well, recovery. Abandoned cart emails are transactional first and foremost, and all other marketing goals are secondary. Do not clutter your email with multiple calls to action in one place – keep CTAs as straightforward as possible.

The primary CTA in your abandoned cart email should link back to the abandoned shopping cart. Utilize strong copy that not only makes it clear where this button leads, but encourages customers to click-through to their abandoned items. This ensures that you’ll get the best response from your highest-intent customers. 

With short attention spans, it’s essential that your CTA is immediately clear and easy to find. This is especially true for your primary call to action. 

Avoid designs that make it difficult for the recipient to identify the CTA, such as cramming multiple CTAs into the same section, or using design elements that distract from the CTA.

Other tips for crafting CTAs with high click-through rates:

  • Primary CTA design should be large, clear and draw the eye
  • Include action-oriented words like “Buy” or “Shop” 
  • Create urgency with phrases like “Secure My Purchase Now”
cart abandonment cta best practices

Display Images of Cart Items 

Personalized emails that contain product images of the customer’s cart are the most effective at lowering your cart abandonment rate. Personalization is key when it comes to cart abandonment emails, and this is where automations can save you a lot of time. 

Automations allow you to customize campaign content at light-speed and create highly personalized emails. Insert products straight from customers’ online shopping carts without lifting a finger.  

For example, using a cart abandonment tool like CartStack, you would insert %%cartitems%% into the body of your email. This triggers the automation to connect customer data from your checkout page, and place it into the email body where specified.

cart abandonment dynamic cart item personalization

Include Pre-Header Text (Secondary Subject Line)

Did you know your emails have two subject lines? Obviously, you have your main subject line. But there is also something known as “pre-header text” that appears directly after your main subject line in the email client. 

cart abandonment preheader text

Be sure to use this to your advantage by including an intriguing email copy that further encourages the recipient to open the email. 

The best way to accomplish this is by adding your copy to the “alt text” for the first content row image, or by adding a box of invisible text (same color as the background) as the very first content block.

Other tips for effective preview text:

  • Keep preview text between 35 – 40 characters long 
  • Connect the preview to your subject line for a cohesive message
  • Personalize the preview email copy
  • Use verbs and sentences like “Hurry up” or “This is your last chance” to instill a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out)

Ensure Coupon Codes Stand Out 

The number one reason for cart abandonment is cost-related, with 48% of abandonments occurring due to high shipping costs, taxes and other hidden fees. Placing a discount code in your cart abandonment email can entice customers to return, but you must be sure it stands out in the email.

To make sure coupon codes stand out in cart abandonment emails, consider the following tips:

  • Highlight the code with contrasting colors to make it easily noticeable in the email.
  • Use clear and concise language to explain the value of the code and how to redeem it.
  • Make the code prominent by placing it at the top of the email or within a box.
  • Offer a deadline to use the code to create a sense of urgency for the recipient.
  • Test different formats and styles to see what resonates best with your audience.
cart abandonment coupon codes stand out

Utilize Persuasive Email Copy 

Email copy is a critical component of effective cart abandonment emails. Well-written email copy can create a sense of urgency and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) among reluctant shoppers, helping to motivate them to complete their purchase. It can also address common objections and make the sale easier by addressing common concerns and providing compelling reasons to take action.

Address Objections 

Reluctant shoppers, especially cart abandoners, will often have objections blocking them from completing the sale. By anticipating and addressing common objections, you can help overcome any obstacles that may be preventing your customer’s from completing their purchase. According to Web Strategies Inc., addressing objections increases sales success rates to 64%.

Instill a Sense of FOMO

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a powerful motivator for consumers. By creating a sense of urgency and scarcity, you can convince customers that they need to act fast to take advantage of a limited-time opportunity. 

Utilize tactics like limited-time promotions, limited stock alerts, or showcasing social proof to drive FOMO. By effectively utilizing FOMO in your cart abandonment emails, you can turn potential losses into wins, recover lost sales, and drive more revenue for your business.

Image and Graphics Optimization 

When creating an email, it’s important to ensure that all images are displayed properly. In some cases, image issues can arise due to the inbox client or the size and format of the images. 

To avoid this, consider using stock images, including alt text, and ensuring that images are the correct size and format. Additionally, it’s crucial to check and test the email preview in various inbox clients to ensure that all images are populating properly. 

All Images Contain ALT Tags

ALT tags provide context for images that may be blocked or turned off by default. Including these tags ensures that recipients will still understand the purpose of the image even if it doesn’t display properly

abandoned cart email image alt tags

Make sure every image has an alt text description to prevent images from not appearing and making it unclear what they are supposed to be, as pictured above.

All Images Linked

To make it easy for recipients to take action, be sure to link all images in your email. This can be done by linking images to the home page or to the same place as the CTA (such as the shopping cart).

Avoid Images as Backgrounds

Very few email clients support background images, so it’s best to avoid using them. Instead, opt for a background color that makes your images and buttons pop, and does not clash with the color of your headings and body text.

Properly Format Your Email Design 

Keep in mind that the goal of your cart abandonment email is to get customers to return to their cart. A professional email design, that is properly formatted, is just as crucial as your written content. There are several key considerations to make when formatting your cart abandonment emails:

Place Cart Items & CTA Above Fold 

The “email fold” refers to the point at which an email is cut off when it is first opened in a recipient’s inbox. The majority of the email content that is visible without the recipient having to scroll is considered “above the fold.”

It is important to place your most important email design elements, like your CTA and cart items, above the fold. This is the first thing your recipients will see when they open the email. It’s crucial to make a strong first impression and to provide enough information to convince potential customers to return to their cart. 

This is why A/B testing is also a crucial part of an abandoned cart email strategy. Not only will testing reveal any issues with your design, but also alert you to which design has the highest potential for conversions.

Do Not Overuse Dividers 

In some cases, thin dividing lines are used to separate elements in an email, but they are often not needed. Avoid using unnecessary dividers to keep your email design clean and easy to navigate.

Use Web-Safe Fonts

It’s good to keep in mind that, even though your email may look exactly perfect in your campaign builder, different email clients display content differently. If you want to ensure that, no matter what, your emails look the exact same in the builder as they do in the email client, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re using web safe fonts in the builder. 

Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman and Georgia will look the same on every client. Fonts like Montserrat, Roboto, Verdana may look a little pixelated when bolded, italicized or underlined.

Orphaned Words

Structure your email headings and sentences to fit within your design margins. Avoid orphaned words, as they push the email content down further and can misalign your content when viewed on different devices.

email orphaned words

Orphaned words, as pictured here, are not only less pleasing to look at, but can also push content down and misalign other design elements.

Text Color Contrasts with BG

Picking font colors that go well with your email background is crucial for a few reasons. First, it makes sure your text is readable and doesn’t hurt your reader’s eyes. Second, it creates a good-looking design that impresses your reader.

Looking for more design inspiration? Take a look at these abandoned cart email examples to spark your creativity!

Optimize for Mobile Devices

With nearly 1.7 billion users checking emails on their mobile phones, it’s essential that your cart abandonment emails are optimized for mobile. This includes using a responsive design, larger text, and a clear CTA.

Avoid Spam Triggers

Be sure to check your email for spam trigger words that can cause your email to be flagged as fraudulent and routed away from recipients’ inboxes. Nearly one in five emails will end up in spam folders, and there are hundreds of words that can trigger a spam filter.

These words and phrases typically overpromise a positive outcome and aim to get sensitive information from the recipient. To make sure your email copy won’t hold up your cart recovery campaign, review this list of 188 spam words to avoid prior to sending any emails.

Contact Information available?

It’s essential that the cart items, CTA, and contact information are all easily accessible and above the fold. This ensures that recipients can easily take action and have all the necessary information to complete their purchase.

Include Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Including customer reviews and testimonials in your cart abandonment emails is a smart way to win over reluctant shoppers. This is because seeing what other people think about your products can give your potential customers the confidence they need to make a purchase. Plus, seeing real people having positive experiences with your products can be a powerful motivator.

So why not share that love with your potential customers? Including reviews and testimonials can be the push they need to hit the buy button.

Always Offer a Way Out 

Including an unsubscribe button in your cart abandonment emails is a crucial component of responsible email marketing. Not every recipient of your cart abandonment emails will be interested in returning to their abandoned cart, and some may find the frequent reminders to be annoying or intrusive. 

Providing a clear and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails shows that you respect their privacy and gives them control over the emails they receive. Additionally, it can improve your email deliverability and overall sender reputation by reducing the number of spam complaints.

Need Help Optimizing Your Cart Abandonment Campaigns? 

Well, there you have it – all the tips and tricks you need to create an amazing cart abandonment email. Just remember, the goal is to make the customer feel like they’ve got to have those items in their cart, so hit ’em with a catchy subject line, a clear message, and throw in some personalization for good measure. And don’t forget to add a big, bold call-to-action that makes it super easy for them to complete their purchase.

But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want some extra help, we’ve got your back. Schedule your CartStack demo today, and we’ll be more than happy to assist you in maximizing your success with cart abandonment campaigns.