Cart recovery emails are an essential way to recover sales from the 87% of consumers who abandon carts — resulting in $18 billion of lost revenue annually. Shoppers abandon carts for a variety of reasons, but all abandoned carts have one thing in common: they’re solid indicators of customer interest.

Because of that, cart recovery campaigns are usually one of the best-performing campaigns in retailers’ arsenals — which is why it’s especially important to get your abandoned cart template just right. Below, we’ve listed some of the must-haves for any abandoned cart template with examples, as well as a few follow-up tips to make sure your abandoned cart campaigns stay optimized.

1. Remind them of what was in the cart

Because shoppers abandon carts for so many reasons, you should always make an attempt to remind them of what they left behind. You can mention the abandoned items in your body copy, include it in your subject line, and show a product image to jog their memory.

Just make sure you focus on what’s necessary for your shopper to remember the item and get back to your site to complete the purchase.


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2. Use clear calls-to-action

You should make it easy for your shoppers to return to their carts by scattering multiple CTAs throughout the message. And speaking of which, make sure your CTA tells them what they’re actually going to do — don’t send them to a checkout screen if your CTA indicates that they’ll be viewing their cart.

Also, consider using CTAs that are low-commitment. “Return to cart”, “view cart”, and “see your favorites again” can be more effective than “buy now”, especially if they were on the fence about the purchase to begin with.



3. Include relevant product recommendations

Some shoppers may use your shopping cart like a list, carting products on your site that they’re interested in but not sure about — so leverage the browse data you’ve collected from your shoppers to suggest similar products.

Include “bought this, bought that” and “browsed this, browsed that” product recommendations to present them with other options. Maybe they aren’t exactly loving the gray sweater they added to their cart, but the green version of the same sweater would go perfectly with the jeans they just bought.



4. Offer an incentive

A recent study by the Baymard Institute found that 60% of shoppers abandon their carts when they discover high costs or unexpected fees such as shipping. If your shoppers tend to leave the shipping method section of your checkout process, you might want to consider sending them a free shipping offer as the second touch in your cart recovery series.



Consider sending a follow-up message to your initial abandoned cart message, avoiding a significant decrease in profit margins by offering a dollar-off discount based on the cart subtotal to control the maximum discount. Alternately, if you’re unable to offer incentives, this is an opportunity to leverage additional benefits for a loyalty program.

5. Address where they were when they abandoned their cart

Take a look at where the user abandoned the cart and use it to send them a targeted message. If they left on the billing page, send them a cart recovery message that includes a direct number for your customer service center who could help them with the checkout process and any payment questions they may have.

In many cases, shoppers abandon their carts without meaning to. According to Shopify, 24% of customers cite “Website Crashed” and 15% cite “Website Timed Out” as the reason why they don’t complete a purchase.



6. Include social proof for added credibility

This a strong opportunity for marketers to nudge shoppers with social proof. By inserting product reviews in abandoned cart messages helps you speak to the 84% of consumers who trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.



7. Make sure the email copy is quality

You can set up a great abandoned cart template with the elements we’ve already discussed, but if you want to make a phenomenal template then you’ll need to fine-tune the copy. You’re speaking to shoppers who are significantly down the funnel, and all it takes is a nudge to get them to purchase.

This is an extra opportunity to give shoppers confidence, so ensure that the copy is engaging and maintains your brand voice, instead of just listing out what they’ve left behind.



Take steps to prevent “coupon abuse”

You should limit the number of times shoppers receive incentives in their abandoned cart messages to make sure they don’t expect a coupon every time they abandon their cart. This helps control shoppers deliberately abandoning their carts to trigger a coupon email.

You can either temporarily move them to a coupon suppression list or exclude them from receiving coupons if they’ve accessed them recently — just make sure that you don’t stop sending them abandoned cart emails altogether.

Never stop testing your messages

A/B testing is the best way to keep your cart recovery series updated and optimized. Some ideas for testing include:

  • Subject line – Include the discount in the beginning or the middle?
  • Copy – Do users resonate better with one sentence or two?
  • Image – Should you use a lifestyle image or product image?
  • Call-to-action – Is “shop now” more effective than “continue shopping”?
  • Content – Should you display product prices?
  • Discount – Should you give 25% off or $15 off $50?

Keep fine-tuning your abandoned cart template(s)

Two-thirds of consumers said they’re more likely to make a purchase from retailers that send them relevant and personalized promotions, so make sure that you tailor your abandoned cart templates to shoppers with as much personalization as possible.

To maximize conversions,  you don't need to write a single cart abandonment email template, you should create a series of messages to address the various reasons and times they abandoned it. Don’t forget to optimize the user’s shopping experience and checkout flow as well to truly maximize your cart recovery success.