Preston Pilgrim
Author Preston Pilgrim
Digital Marketing PM
Posted in Marketing
May 11, 2016
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Five Effective Steps For an Abandoned Cart Email Strategy

If you are an ecommerce marketer then you know there is one thing that is unavoidable and that my friend is cart abandonment. It's heart breaking knowing that someone has shown interest in buying your products and was seconds away from making a purchase just to find out that they abandoned their cart.

In fact, a Baymard Institute study states that 68.63% of carts are abandoned every year. Putting that into perspective this means roughly 1 out of 3 potential customers actually finish their purchase!

While a great strategy for gaining these customers back is by utilizing re-marketing, today we are going to be discussing how to leverage cart abandonment emails to regain some of these lost customers.

1. Start Segmenting Your Lists

You may have probably heard this before if you're into marketing, but you need to make sure your email list is segmented properly so that you can send personalized cart abandonment emails. Generic emails just don’t work that well so the more personalized and detailed you can make your emails the more success you are going to have with your cart abandonment recoveries.

Putting this into perspective, first time visitors who abandon their cart are probably doing it for a different reason when comparing it to a cart abandonment from a loyal customer who has been purchasing from you for years. Knowing this you are able to create customized emails for each individual if you segment your list properly.

Some ideas on how you can segment your list:


  • First time abandonment
  • Repeat abandoners
  • Existing customers who abandon

Communication Examples For These Segments

First Time Abandonments: These are potential customers who have never purchased from you before. As you follow up with these customers you will want them to feel comfortable and familiar with your brand. Build rapport with this new customer and after a few follow up emails maybe even offer them a discount coupon for being a first time customer.

Repeat Abandonments: Similar to the above segment, you will want to make sure you follow up with these customers, ask questions as to why they have abandoned their cart multiple times. Maybe you aren't offering something they need ie: payment option, specific products, etc, or they aren’t aware of your policies and need to speak with someone.

Existing customers who abandon: These are customers who have purchased from you before. In this case you can start by utilizing some simple follow up emails (view below for example). If this doesn’t work, you can offer them a discount or coupon for being a past customer (loyal customer) of yours and put a timeline on that coupon to create urgency.

2. Create Subject Lines That Get Opened (duh)

Since we are focusing on creating unique personalized emails based on our segmentation above, we should also be creating unique, personalized subject lines that speak directly to the segment we are trying to market to.

The most important part of the subject line should remind the potential customer what they left behind. Then next step is to try and create some sort of urgency to get the customer coming back to make the purchase.

Bad Subject Line: You left items in your cart!

Good Subject Line: Hey [firstname], Did You Still Want [product]?

The good subject line is personalized with their name, it reminds them what product they left behind and it phrases it into a question.

3. Mobile Optimization

With more and more people using mobile phones to check their emails and even make purchases online you need to make sure every email you send is optimized for mobile. In fact, the email open rates on mobile devices will fluctuate from 15-70% depending on the industry and demographic you are marketing to (view source). If this is the case you need to be doing everything to optimize your emails for mobile phones or you could potentially be missing out on a lot of business.

It doesn't matter how good your sales copy is, or how nicely designed your email template is  because if it’s not responsive then you are missing out on all the potential customers who check their emails with their phone. Maybe they will still open the email, it just won't have the same effect as it could.


(image source:

4. Dont be the Tortoise

Stats have shown that 90% of leads become COLD after about one hour! So sending an email sooner than later is going to be more beneficial than waiting 24 hours before you send your first email.

Try sending your first follow up email within the first 1-2 hours of abandonment to keep the product fresh in the consumer's mind. After the first email has been sent you will want to make sure you have a solid follow up sequence to make sure you are capitalizing on as many cart abandonments as possible. This leads me into my next point.

5. Don’t Just Send One

The money is made in the follow up!

You have probably heard that one before and for good reason, it's true. You can’t just send one email and expect everyone to open it and purchase the product, it just won’t happen.

You need to create a series of follow ups that can be utilized over a period of time to increase the chances of getting the sale and making a recovery.

Once again these emails will depend on the list segment (refer to the first section above) you are trying to market to.

To keep things simple for you here is what a 3 step email series could look like.

Email 1: This email is setup as a simple reminder to let the customer know they left an item in their cart. It’s that simple!

Email 2: In this email you will want to start creating urgency to get the potential customer more inclined to take action.

Email 3: If the first few emails didn't work then you can focus on creating urgency around a limited time offer/discount.  

(image source:

What Now?

Now that you have the 5 steps for setting up a successful email abandonment recovery strategy you need to start implementing this with your ecommerce shop and start saving some sales! Combine this strategy with other forms of cart abandonment (remarketing..etc) and watch your ecommerce business grow.

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