How to Make Abandoned Cart Emails That Actually Work

On average, 68% of all virtual shopping carts get abandoned by shoppers. That’s over 2/3 of potential business.


For some online businesses, abandoned carts are the bane of their existence. Why, oh why, are all these people browsing and selecting items to buy, then not completing their checkout?

Turns out there many possible explanations, including:

  • They want to look for a better price or compare other similar products
  • They get distracted (thanks, Facebook)
  • Shipping costs are higher than they expect
  • They’re just “window shopping” and don’t intend to buy right away
  • They decide they don’t want to buy the product after all
  • Your website presents barriers to completing checkout

The good news is, it’s possible to drastically lower your cart abandonment rates. With the power of abandoned cart emails, you can bring those lost customers back to your site to complete their purchases. They get something awesome from your company, and you get a bunch of money. Pretty sweet, right?

What Is Abandoned Cart Email?

Abandoned cart emails are automated reminders that get sent to your customer if they’ve added items to their cart on your website, but have yet to complete their purchase. These emails, when done strategically, can make a big difference with abandoned cart recovery.

How to Make an Abandoned Cart Series That Actually Works


Abandoned cart emails get an average open rate of 43% and a click-through rate of 21%. Half of those users who click through end up completing their purchase. 

That means that when you send a reminder to cart abandoners, you can expect around 10% of them to return to their cart and finalize their checkout.

And that’s with just one email. If you send more than one reminder, you can improve your recovery rate even more. The best abandoned cart email series can recover as many as 50% of your abandoners!

It is possible to go too far with your abandoned cart series. Eventually, abandoners will tune you out. And the more time that passes without them returning to their cart, the more likely they’ve already bought what they want from someone else.

That’s why the prevailing wisdom in email marketing is that a 3 email abandoned cart series is best. What should each of those emails contain, you ask? Excellent question!

Abandoned Cart Email #1: The Gentle Reminder

The first email you send to cart abandoners should arrive in their inboxes 1 to 2 hours after they left their cart. Your products are still fresh on their mind — this is simply a reminder that the thing they want is waiting for them.

Some tips for this email:

  • Display image of the product(s), price, and any other important details so the customer can see exactly how great of a deal they’re getting
  • Make the CTA big and visible and link it to directly to their cart — the CTA should be obvious, something like “Complete your purchase now!”
  • Consider using images, embedded video, gifs, and other dynamic content to engage customers
  • Make your email subject line and preview text both creative and clear, and on-brand.
    • Email Subject Line Sample: “Hey, You Forgot Your Stuff…”
    • Preview Text Sample: “Complete your purchase now, while supplies are still in stock!”

These tips can all be applied to subsequent emails in your series. Now let’s look at what email #2 should include in addition.

Abandoned Cart Email #2: The Special Offer

Your second email should only go to people who didn’t follow through on email #1, and have still yet to complete a purchase. Send this email 1-2 days after the first, giving customers time to return to their cart.

Customers receiving a second reminder need a bit more of a nudge, which is why we recommend a few options:

  • Display other similar products to lure in customers who maybe aren’t sure about the product they’ve been considering up to now 
  • Include some FAQs to address any potential objections your customers might have
  • Embed social proof in the form of positive reviews from customers
  • Link to relevant blogs or other content that can help readers understand more about your product/service
  • Provide details about any warranties or guarantees to alleviate customer concerns about the product

Remember to keep this email (and the next one, too) in line with email #1 in terms of the colors, fonts, and voice to create a solid sense of continuity for your customers.

Abandoned Cart Email #3: The Big Kahuna

At this point, it’s time for abandon the abandoners. Well, at least the ones who weren’t gonna spend much money in the first place.

When it comes to a third abandoned cart email, we prefer to filter it by total cart value, so that only people who have high-value carts receive it. Then we offer a much higher value discount or gift to help reel these customers in.

Send this email 4 to 7 days after email #2, and include either a single-use, time-sensitive coupon for 15% to 25% off (or whatever makes sense for the cost and value of the items), or a free gift. If you go the free gift route, be sure to include the value of the gift right there in your email.

At this point, you may be asking why our nickname for this email is “The Big Kahuna,” to which we say , “You know your beeswax, you best mind it.” Nicknames are just fun, K-Dawg. That’s you, by the way. Did that go over your head? Lol. Classic K-Dawg.

Boost Abandoned Cart Email Effectiveness with A/B Testing


Any serious email or eCommerce platform will include robust options for abandoned cart recovery. That includes Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress, WooCommerce, and more. Whatever platforms you’re using, be sure to take advantage of these features.

Another feature you should look for is the option to do A/B testing on your abandoned cart emails. With A/B testing, you can test all sorts of aspects of your series, including:

Varied send cadence 

  • Is it better to send The Gentle Reminder 60 minutes or 90 minutes after cart abandonment?

Email Subject Lines

  • Are you better off with a clear-cut, sales-oriented subject line or a funky, branded one?

Product Recommendations

  • Do you bring in more sales when you recommend similar products that or more expensive than the current in-cart product, or ones that are cheaper?>

Images, Body Copy, and More

Read our full guide to A/B testing to learn about how it can take your business from point A to point B, literally »

Well, maybe not literally, but you see what we did there, right? 


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