The Ultimate Guide to Abandoned Cart Recovery


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This is the ultimate guide to abandoned cart recovery.

Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem for online stores. 

In fact, it’s estimated that almost 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned.

That’s a lot of lost sales!

Cart abandonment emails offer a great way to recover lost sales. They’re effective at getting customers who have already shown an interest in your product to come back and complete their purchase.

According to a study from SaleCycle on 500 global brands, they say that “just under a third of clicks lead to a recovered purchase back on site.”

In this complete guide, you will discover how you can use email marketing and benefit from it, including:

Part 1 | What is An Abandoned Cart? 

Part 2 | The Benefits of Abandoned Cart Emails

Part 3 | Understand The Reasons Why Shoppers Abandon Their Carts

Part 4 | How To Improve the Results of Your Abandoned Cart Emails?

Part 5 | How Do You Create a Recovery Strategy For Abandoned Carts? 

Part 6 | How To Write Abandoned Cart Emails That Convert 

Part 7 | How Track and Measure Your Abandoned Cart Emails?

Let’s get started.

Part 1 | What is An Abandoned Cart? 

An abandoned cart is when a visitor adds a product to their shopping cart but does not complete the purchase.

Abandoned cart emails are used to recover those incomplete purchases. 

The cart abandonment email is one of the most common ways to reach out and win back a customer who has abandoned their shopping cart.

It’s clear that these visitors are interested in your product/s, and we want to make sure they leave with them.

Abandoned cart emails are used to increase conversion rates by triggering an automated email to try and bring the prospect back to complete their purchase. 

Part 2 | Understanding The Reasons Why Shoppers Abandon Their Carts

The key to winning back customers who abandon their carts is by understanding why they left in the first place. 

If you can figure that out, then your chances of bringing them around increase exponentially!

Typically you can expect the customer process for online shopping to go as follows:

  1. Someone visits your website
  2. They browse through your shop
  3. They add items to their shopping cart
  4. They go to the checkout page (where their email is captured)
  5. They complete their purchase

Unfortunately, not every visitor who adds items to their cart completes their purchase (leaving at step 3). 

However, those who have made it to the checkout page and have given us their email address can potentially be contacted with abandoned cart emails. 

But in order to effectively convert those abandoned cart emails, we need to understand why they abandoned their cart.

Here are a few reasons why carts are sometimes left behind: 

1. Not Ready to Make The Purchase yet

It isn’t common for visitors to complete a purchase on their first visit to a site. 

They are likely just to be browsing and not ready to make their mind up about what to purchase.

Some people add to their list as they go and eventually will complete the purchase. 

According to a SaleCycle Abandonment Survey, 34% of new customers claimed they were ‘just looking’. 

2. Got Distracted

A little something called “Life” always seems ready to distract us from completing a task. 

There can be a bit of speculation here.

Maybe they had to make a work call or pick their child up from school and simply forgot.

Reminding customers using abandoned cart emails can help ensure that they don’t slip through the cracks. 

3. Unexpected Extra Costs

The leading cause of cart abandonment is when a shopper doesn’t expect there to be any additional costs and then discovers that there are.

It’s important to let customers know upfront about all those little extras that can make or break conversions.

Even if they were excited to get your product, that excitement quickly fades away when they discover, for example, that your product costs an extra $200 for shipping.

Free shipping is a great incentive to persuade shoppers to complete their purchases, as well as offering discounts, coupons, and an easy return policy.

4. Absence of Payment Options

Has there ever been a time when you wanted to purchase something, but the only payment option was a credit card, and you only had a debit card?

If you want to be competitive in this digital age, it’s crucial that customers can pay with whatever option they prefer.

This could be credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, or even Bitcoin. 

Other than convenience, there’s also the issue of security. With credit cards, you’re trusting that your information will be secure when input into a website or app.

The wide variety of payment options offered by e-commerce sites means that they can accommodate most preferences. 

This makes it easier for customers to make purchases without being limited in their choice or stuck with an unwanted option.

5. Lengthy and Challenging Checkout Process

Another reason shoppers don’t finish their purchases could be that they had difficulty with the checkout process.

The checkout process should be easy and straightforward to use.

If a shopper has to jump through hoops to make a purchase, they are likely to be discouraged and leave. 

For example, having as few fields to fill out as possible and making sure that if they are interrupted in the purchasing journey they can continue where they left off. 

Also ensuring your website has a smooth navigation system and quick load time improves the experience exponentially.

Adroll created an infographic that shows that $4.6 trillion is how much shoppers leave in their carts. 

This lets us know that there is A LOT of money being left on the table. 

And while some of it may be out of our control like shoppers getting distracted or never having the intention to purchase.

Other times it is within our control to improve the abandoned cart rate, which we will discuss below.


Source: Adroll

Part 3 | How To Improve the Results of Your Abandoned Cart Emails?

1. Give Them a Reason to Purchase 

When it’s time to make a purchase, people are more likely to do their research and compare prices.

If they know there is only one day left before the offer expires, you can increase your chances of making the sale.

You can do this by offering incentives like free shipping or a limited time offer.

Scarcity always creates desire!

2. Simplify the Checkout Process 

Shoppers want a seamless from start to finish, so you should make it a frictionless experience.

It’s important to not just make everything simple but also quick-paced so people don’t get bored while going through the process. 

These difficulties can be fixed by adding a single page or progress bar so that customers know what steps remain and how far they have gone while completing an order.

By giving customers the option to checkout as a guest rather than having to create an account to complete their purchase, you can increase conversions. 

A Guest Checkout is perfect for visitors who don’t need or want access to create their own customer profile in order to purchase something from you – like if someone was just browsing through but didn’t find what they wanted right away.

3. Deliver Excellent Customer Service

Shoppers have a lot of questions when they’re shopping online. 

Making it easy for them to find the answers to those questions is vital if you want to increase your conversions.

Shoppers are likely to leave and go elsewhere (with their money) if they don’t get the answers they need to feel confident in their purchase or if the company doesn’t care, or appear to care, about supporting during the buyer’s journey.

To help reduce abandoned carts, you can add an FAQ section, email address to contact or chatbot to your website.

Part 4 | How Do You Create a Recovery Strategy For Abandoned Carts? 

In order to send out emails to shoppers who have abandoned their carts, you need to have their email addresses.

So it’s important to capture their email address early on before they leave your site. 

Here are a few strategies you can use for an abandoned carts email campaign: 

1. Segment Abandoned Cart Shoppers

To increase the cart recovery rate, you should seek to segment your customers based on their shopping behaviours. 

This allows for more tailored messages and offers that will assist in their purchasing decisions.

By segmenting your customers based on how much money they spend, you can target new or returning shoppers with different offers. 

If someone has never bought from you before but is scrolling through the site looking at products – you can offer a discount for first-time buyers! 

Or maybe offer high spenders an additional 10% off their order so that it will be cheaper than usual… the options are endless. 

For example, Homes Alive sent an abandoned cart email based on the specific products that they left behind.


Source: Really Good Emails 

2. Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads are advertisements that you create specifically to target shoppers who didn’t complete their purchase. 

This is a great strategy when you don’t have the shopper’s email address. 

Retargeting ads remind shoppers about your products by showing them an ad for those products.

This is done by using cookies to tell which items were looked at and abandoned in the shopping cart.

For example, say a shopper was looking at hotels in Thailand and left the site. They could retarget them on Facebook or Instagram and offer 50% off to entice them to come back.

3. Cart Saver Pop-up

Cart saver pop-ups give shoppers a reason to complete their purchase before leaving your site.

They pop up when a shopper shows interest in exiting.

You can structure it based on the value in their cart.

So, for example:

  • With $50 in their cart, shoppers can be offered ‘free shipping’.
  • With $200 in their cart, they can be offered 20% off.
  • With $1000 in their cart, they can be offered 40% off.
cart email series

Source: Privy

4. Abandoned Cart Email Series

An abandoned cart email series is a great way to engage with shoppers who have already shown interest in your products.

You can determine how much a shopper should have in their cart for an email to be sent out. 

Ideally, the series can be a three-parter:

According to Privy

“1. The reminder email: This sends as soon as 1 hour after someone abandons their cart. It’s a small nudge for someone to complete their purchase.”

Remind them of the items in their cart and even ask if they had any problems and give them an easy way to contact you.

“2. The expiring incentive: This sends 24 hours after the first email. You can include a discount code here to incentivize the shopper.”

Offer a discount, coupon or free shipping.

“3. The last chance email: This sends 48 hours after the first email. This is the final effort to get someone to complete their purchase. Adding a limited-time discount offer in this email may help.”

Increase the discount and increase urgency. 

Part 5 | How To Write Abandoned Cart Emails That Convert 

1. Subject Line 

It’s time to reel in those customers who’ve abandoned you with subject lines that are sure to catch their attention in their inbox.

For example, Homes Alive used the subject line: Hey Smiles David, did you forget something? 

They are leaving a little reminder that the customer forgot to complete their purchase and they are gently persuading them to carry on shopping. 

This is a common subject line as it refers directly to their cart being abandoned so the recipient knows what the contents of the email entail. 

Here are some other subject line options to potentially use:

  • Items in your shopping cart are selling out!
  • Complete your purchase with 10% off!

2. Copy 

The key to writing great copy is in the details. 

Steer clear of cookie-cutter (not unique or original) copy that doesn’t speak directly to your target audience and their needs.

Instead, focus on being very clear with what you’re trying to say and how you want to make them FEEL!

And finally, show your brand’s personality in your copy.

For example, Homes Alive tailored its message toward pet owners and they joke that they “won’t tell your pet” that you didn’t buy them pawsome stuff. 

Design and copy go hand in hand. Their email isn’t full of words. It’s light and has fun imagery and is inviting to read.

3. Call to Action (CTA) 

Make it easy for your customer to take the next step. 

Make everything as clear and simple as possible so they have no doubt in their mind about what you are asking them to do.

Homes Alive have added a call to action button to finish checkout and another one for those who have any additional questions before they purchase. 

Example: Abandoned Cart Email 

Part 6 | How Track and Measure Your Abandoned Cart Emails

For a successful abandoned cart email strategy, you need to be able to measure its success. 

This includes identifying how many people click on the links you embed in your emails and then convert into customers for those specific products or services.

To calculate your current cart abandonment rate:

Total purchases / shopping cart – 1 x 100 = cart abandoned rate.

For example, let’s say there were 150 purchases and 500 carts.

150 / 500 – 1 x 100 = 70% cart abandoned rate

150500 -1100=70% cart abandoned rate

Now that you know what the current rate is, you can determine the desired rate. 

Open Rate

The percentage of emails that have been opened by the subscribers/recipients.

Open rates are among the best metrics because they tell you if subscribers are actually opening your emails. 

Here you can ascertain whether your subject lines are compelling enough to get subscribers to open your emails. 

According to Mailchimp, “The average email open rate for all industries we analyzed is 21.33%.”

Click-Through Rate (CTR) 

The percentage of subscribers who click on a link in your email. 

Your click-through rate can help you determine how effective your copywriting is at getting your subscribers to respond to your call to action. 

The more effective you are at getting prospects to take action, the easier it will be to get them to follow the links that you provide land them on your sales page, and complete a purchase.

According to Mailchimp, “The average click rate for all industries we analyzed is 2.62%.” 

Recovered Carts

If people engage with you and then go on to buy something, you successfully saved their cart.

This shows how effective your abandoned cart campaign was at recovering those lost purchases.


The percentage of subscribers who opt-out of your email list. 

This is a way to gauge how many subscribers are unsubscribing as a result of your abandoned cart emails. 

Here you can identify what needs to change or stay the same. 

Redemption Rate

The number of deals that you offer is tracked in this metric. 

Here you can see which ones worked best and see how you can replicate them.

Cart abandonment emails are a great way to win back customers who have shown interest in your product but didn’t complete the purchase. 

If you’re looking for a way to increase sales without putting in too much extra effort, abandoned cart emails may be the solution for you. 

Have you tried using cart abandonment emails? What were your results? Let us know in the comments below!

Picture of Amy Rendel

Amy Rendel


AMY RENDEL is a marketing consultant from South Africa currently residing in Israel. She has a B.Com in marketing and has worked with companies in South Africa, Israel, the UK, and the US. She spends her days writing blogs, website content and social media posts.

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