How to create an ‘abandoned-cart’ email strategy in 4 steps

🕒 7 min.

What are ‘abandoned-cart’ email strategies?

‘Cart recovery’ emails are one of the most effective strategies to win back users who left the site without finishing the transaction they began.

It is a powerful digital marketing tool that allows you to interact more personally with your consumers. For instance, a user who has visited your web page and has shown interest in some of its content or services, but then left without converting to a true sale.

How to create one?

The ‘abandoned cart’ email formula is a series of follow-up emails that you can send customers who have left your website without making a purchase. It is a simple reminder, and it can work well. But keep in mind that most e-commerce marketing professionals are using the same strategy. Take some time to come up with a thoughtful plan and take a creative approach.

This strategy consists of four steps:

1. Segment your clients

Identify: guests, registered customers, & existing email subscribers. Segment customers who have abandoned their carts into high-value, medium-value, and low-value customers based on their average order value.

You can then create and test various offers (such as free shipping, $ discount or percentage discount) to detect the one that provides the highest conversions for each segment. Tailor your communications accordingly.

2. Create an effective abandoned cart email sequence

Steps of an abandoned cart email sequence

When is the best time to send an ‘abandoned cart’ email? Customers who have received multiple emails are 2.4 times more likely to complete the purchase than those who receive only one follow-up email.

I recommend an ‘abandoned-cart’ customer recovery strategy consisting of a three-email sequence. Each email has a different goal, different timing, and a different test focus.

Email 1: The one hour email

The first email you send should be immediate and as a reminder, without the message being aggressive.

Oops! Was there a problem with your cart?

Remember, there could be many reasons why the customer abandoned the cart. Your email should have a friendly tone and be presented as a solution to a possible problem. You’re just checking in to make sure everything’s okay. Try presenting alternatives and solutions, and ask for feedback.

Email 2: One day later

Wait 24 hours to send your second email. It pushes you to the forefront of your customer’s mind, and has an average conversion rate of 17.7%. If you wait longer, that rate can drop as much as 7.7%.

The tone of the message will still be reassuring, but it should also create a sense of urgency. You could inform them that your product is still available but that it will expire in a few hours/days.

Email 3: 7 days down the line

Third time lucky?

The truth is that sending a third email does not usually generate much return. But there’s no harm in trying.

This third email should encourage the buyer to complete their purchase. Offer a limited-time discount or free shipping. But don’t do this too often, as smart customers might abuse your generosity. Instead, try A/B testing these emails to see if the incentive works. You should also consider sending incentive emails to your high-value customers to retain their loyalty.

3. Craft your email intelligently

In this last post we showed you a few ‘abandoned cart’ email examples and talked about the ingredients to craft the perfect recovery email message in ten steps

4. Follow these ‘abandoned cart’ email best practices

In order to be successful, there are some important factors that your ‘abandoned cart’ emails should include.

Here are some of the best practices to make sure your abandoned cart emails are effective:


As we said before, the timing of your ‘cart abandonment’ email is essential. Make sure to send your first email after an hour of abandonment and follow up with a second reminder after 24 hours. If you wait too long, you will miss out on the impulse that caused the shopper to add the item to their cart in the first place.

Send a third email after one week if you see no results with the first two.

Layout Uniqueness

Be sure to avoid sending identical reminder emails. Visually indistinguishable emails indicate a lack of effort on your part which may lead the customer to think you don’t care enough.


It means telling your prospects that they risk missing out on items in their cart. This is an important buffer because it will prompt them to return to their cart and complete their order.

Example in which scarcity is used

High-converting subject lines

Don’t be too pushy — you want to remind customers that they left something in their cart, but you don’t want to pressure them. Use a friendly tone and make it interesting enough to get them open it.

Ask yourself: if I was the one receiving this email, would I bother opening it?

Always include pictures of your products

Showing them an image of the product is a great way to remind them of what they’re missing out. They may not always remember what product they abandoned, so the picture is a must.

Example of an email with a picture of the product

A very visible CTA

Grab the attention of the shopper with a big, bold CTA button. And remember, avoid using words like Buy or Pay on it. For instance, you could ask readers to “Visit Your Cart”, like the example below.

CTA example Fabletics

Make your email entertaining

Nobody wants to read a bland email. Be funny and interesting in your ‘abandoned cart’ emails. Add pictures, GIFs, videos… If you’re not sure about your customers’ reaction, send an A/B test so they can tell you what works better.

Funny reminder email


Every email you send is a marketing opportunity. Take advantage of it and include 3-4 similar products along with the message “people who purchased this also bought”. You never know, they may buy more items than you expected.

Reminder email with relatable items

Everybody loves a discount!

If you use promotions, free shipping or a discount, this will increase conversion rates. However, do not offer them until the last email, and consider changing the incentive based on the cart size and customer behavior. For example, a customer with a big-ticket item should be treated differently from a customer making a “normal” purchase.


Many e-commerce sites miss out on potential revenue because they didn’t send any friendly reminders to encourage conversion. Their customers didn’t feel like they had lost out on anything, which cost them 63% of possible purchases.

Strategies like the ones that we have just discussed can help you reach your customers and even acquire loyalty from many of them.

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