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How To Write Your Abandoned Cart Emails: A Copy Guide

Online shopping cart abandonment rates continue to plague ecommerce store owners. On average, only 1 in every 3 carts make it through to checkout. This leaves billions of dollars worth of products lying in the other 2 out of 3 carts every year.

The good news is that a sizeable portion (roughly 35%) of these forgotten about carts are recoverable with a timely email reminder. Doing the math, if these rates are the same for your store, then automating abandoned cart emails will boost your revenue by a whopping 24%. That’s not bad for something you just need to spend a little bit of time setting up once and then not having to worry about again.

But these are just averages; not all abandoned cart emails are created equal.

Ones that have been quickly slapped together with uninspiring copy and bad design layouts aren’t going to recover 35% of abandoned carts. Likewise, well thought out and designed abandoned cart emails that are automated to deliver at the optimal time in people’s inboxes will likely convert more than a third of lost sales.

Seeing as we already have created articles on how to design your abandoned cart emails as well as a collection of great examples, this guide is dedicated to helping you with writing the copy for your abandoned cart emails.

The Problem with Writing Cart Abandonment Emails

While what you ought to say in your abandoned cart emails might seem simple (all you have to do is remind people to complete their transaction, right?), it’s not.

The big issue with writing copy for abandoned cart emails is that you must walk a very fine line between encouraging people to complete their purchases, and being a nag. This problem is made worse as good ecommerce marketing strategy involves not sending just one, but multiple abandoned cart emails.

As there’s multiple reasons people abandon their carts, the reality is that you’ll want to send more than just one follow up email to cover all your bases.

Usually the first email is a simple reminder to catch people who have simply forgotten about their purchase that you send within a couple of hours. You don’t typically want to include any discounts or special offers in this email as chances are it’ll already achieve a decent conversion rate anyway.

To cover people who didn’t simply forget about their cart, but abandoned their purchase because of the price or unexpected payment or shipping fees, you should send additional emails containing offers.

We recommend sending the second email within 24 hours after someone abandoned their cart, and a third, final email another 24 hours later. Best practice is to include a modest discount in the second email such as free shipping if you charge for shipping while leaving your best offer for the final abandoned cart email.

To help visualize this, we’ve created the small timeline infographic below:

Have a Clear Email Subject Line

Examples of email subject lines

There’s a good chance that your potential customer simply got distracted while placing items in their cart on your store and forgot to complete the order. This means they’re not expecting to receive an email telling them to complete their purchase.

When it comes to getting someone to open an email they weren’t expecting to receive, the ultimate deciding factor will be your subject line. A good subject line will encourage people click through and read your email, whereas a poor one will drastically reduce your open rate.

So how do you write a good subject line for abandoned cart emails?

In general, the best email subject lines are ones that invoke a particular emotion. So for your first reminder email, creating a feeling of abandonment or a desire for someone to be reunited with the items in their cart can work wonders. Additionally, including the product someone added to their cart (or one of the products if they included multiple ones) in the subject line can grab people’s attention. Finally, the inclusion of appropriate calls to action can provide the final push to get someone to open your email.

Example subject lines along these lines include:

  • Your {product} is missing you, come back and complete your purchase now!
  • You and {product} got separated, get reunited now!

For the second and third follow up emails, you generally want to include some kind of offer or discount. This is because your first email has done the job of reminding potential customers of their shopping carts, so if they still haven’t checked out, it’s likely because the product’s cost or shipping was too high.

Example email subject lines you can include for these follow up emails include:

  • Finish your {product} purchase now to qualify for free shipping!
  • Get 10% off your {product} when you checkout.

While not all email service providers will let you include the title of products people left in their carts in your subject lines, you can with SmartrMail’s abandoned cart emails.

Read more: How NOT to Write Your Email Subject Line for E-Commerce.

If Possible, Always Personalize It

Personalized email marketing always performs better than non targeted email blasts. While abandoned cart emails present limited opportunities for personalization, when they do, you should take advantage of it.

The most basic level of email personalization is simply addressing the recipient by their name. While doing this is pretty much mandatory for all the other types of email marketing communications, abandoned cart emails make doing so challenging. This is because doing so not only requires your potential customer leaving their email address during checkout and opting into email marketing, but also leaving their name.

To counteract this, you can experiment with different checkout flows to see works best at getting people to leave their names. Just remember that the goal with your checkout flow is to convert prospective customers into actual ones. There’s no point in increasing the number of people abandoning their carts just so you have more details to include in your emails.

In addition to including someone’s name, you can also include personalized product recommendations of extra items the customer might like to purchase. While not all email service providers offer this option, ones focused on ecommerce and personalization like SmartrMail include this option for abandoned cart emails.

Create a Sense of Urgency

A perception of scarcity is a great marketing tactic, especially when it comes to abandoned cart emails.

Creating a sense of urgency can be as simple as encouraging the prospective customer to hurry up and complete their order before a product is sold out. The email below is a good example of this in action.

Example of an abandoned cart email that creates a sense of urgency

Seeing as one of the biggest reasons people fail to complete their online transactions is because they are searching for a better price elsewhere, including a limited time offer in your second or third abandoned cart email is a great way to generate actual urgency.

Stay on Brand

Your brand is essential for ecommerce success and to ensure a strong brand, you need to make sure all your marketing communications remain on message.

Whatever your branding is, your abandoned cart emails should remain consistent with it. If your brand is fun and playful, so should your abandoned cart emails. Take the example from Virgin Trains below.

Virgin Trains abandoned email example

Virgin’s branding is known around the world and this abandoned cart email from them more than lives up to the broader Virgin image. This is what makes the email work so well too.

Unfortunately given how unique brands are, it’s hard to recommend what to write here. You and your customers know your brand better that anyone else. The best advice we can give here is to take the same approach to creating the content for your abandoned cart emails as you do with all your other marketing communications.

Stay on Point

Abandoned cart emails should only be sent with one goal in mind: getting prospective customers to complete their purchases. This means that abandoned cart emails should be short and sweet. There’s no need for lengthy emails that take any more than a minute to read through. All that your emails need to cover are the following:

  • Remind your potential customer of their cart/offer a discount
  • Include details of the product(s)
  • Include product images
  • Provide an easy way for people to click through to their cart
  • Provide a way for people to reach out if they have any questions

Conclusion

Writing the copy for your abandoned cart emails doesn’t need to be hard. By keeping the above points in mind, you’ll be well on your way to create a solid abandoned cart email series.

Of course, your conversion rate will rely on other factors beyond just the copy. That’s why I’d encourage you to now read through our other articles on improving your abandoned cart emails too.

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