Email Marketing

Abandoned cart email sequences for ecommerce stores

One of the most common problems in ecommerce, roughly ⅔ of all virtual carts end up being abandoned. As such, reclaiming abandoned carts is something all ecommerce websites must undertake at some point or another in order to ensure future success.

Abandoned Carts are when visitors add products to their virtual cart, then leave your website without completing the purchase. 

One of the most common problems in ecommerce, roughly ⅔ of all virtual carts end up being abandoned. As such, reclaiming abandoned carts is something all ecommerce websites must undertake at some point or another in order to ensure future success.

But how do you go about doing this?

One way is by placing a cookie in the visitor’s browser so each time they return, they’ll be notified of the abandoned products. This helps you track customers’ carts across multiple visits. What’s more, by tracking visitor activity over a long period of time, over multiple sessions, you can identify and contact customers by sending cart abandonment emails.

This way, you can address the issues that caused them to abandon their carts. These are usually factors like price, shipping or payment methods.

Why customers abandon carts

Before we tackle how to reclaim abandoned carts, let’s look at why it’s happening in the first place. 

A popular study by Business Insider identified many causes for cart abandonment. The main reasons are:

  • Shipping costs
  • Security
  • Added expenses
  • Inconvenience, usually because the prospective customer has to make an account

Have a look at the chart below to see the most common reasons for cart abandonment.
Top 10 reasons for cart abandonment

1. Money

Extra costs involving shipping, tax, and fees are the biggest obstacles standing between your customer and their purchase. Fixing these pain points is the first thing you should do when trying to reclaim an abandoned cart. Do this by sending an abandoned cart email addressing these three issues. 

Moreover, if you suspect that costs are causing customers to abandon their orders, see how you can remedy the problem. One way is to help customers cut back on unnecessary expenses.

For example, if a customer abandons a cart due to high shipping costs (and 56% most likely are), find a way to save them some money without eating into your profits. One way is by offering cheaper shipping for multiple orders, or for orders above a certain price threshold.

If possible, see if you can offer customers the option of free shipping—provided it makes sense economically to do so. That way, you can eliminate a contributing factor that makes up more than half of the cart abandonments companies experience.

2. Mandatory accounts

The next reason customers abandon carts is an inconvenience. Nobody wants to be forced to create an account at the last stage of their purchasing journey. For this reason, many ecommerce websites have stopped requiring customers to create accounts, allowing them to complete their transactions as guests instead. You can tackle this issue using an email offering your prospects to check out as guests, making sure to explain to them how to do so. 

3. Frustration

The third contributing factor is frustration. If your checkout process is long and complicated, customers are going to become annoyed and leave.

Identify whether this is a problem by observing how much time visitors spend in the checkout and whether they go back frequently. Then, send them an email describing the checkout process in detail, making sure to explain the steps they may find intimidating.

4. Unknown costs

The fourth reason customers abandon is because they can’t see a total calculated cost of their order. 

If you suspect a customer abandons a purchase, for this reason, connect with them by email and give them a complete breakdown of the costs involved in the purchase. 

Why use emails to recover abandoned carts?

For starters, it allows you to recover your cart and make a sell that could go to a rival company. 

According to research conducted by email marketing company, Moosend, 47% of cart abandonment emails are opened by their intended recipients. Moreover, roughly one-fifth of the people who open the abandonment email visit the website, and 20% of them actually complete their purchase.

These statistics make emails a very efficient way to recover abandoned carts.

How do you create a sequence?

Getting the email address

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s look at how you’d go about creating a sequence of cart abandonment emails. 

First and foremost, you have to get the email of the person who abandoned their cart. Most shops offer some kind of incentive to get customers to provide their email address. Usually, discounts for products or to join an exclusive mailing list. Below are three examples of stores collecting email addresses from their prospects.


Using a pop-up window, Colourpop promises customers $5 off their first order if they register with their email address. Upon registering, the customer receives a welcome newsletter with a discount code.

What’s more, Colourpop provides trust indicators, such as “Cruelty free” for animal rights conscious customers and “Made in the USA” to encourage customers to support their brand.


Sportique sells lifestyle items, including clothes, bags, watches and more. They provide a curated experience trying to match their products with their prospects’ lifestyles. 

Like Colourpop, they also use a pop-up window to offer discounts. And customers who sign up with their email receive 10% off their purchase. 

While both are effective, this incentive is better than Colourpop’s because it encourages the customer to spend more money so they can benefit from larger savings.
Sportique email pop-up

Sportique uses a hero image, hoping to appeal to people that enjoy spending time surrounded by nature. Moreover, their incentive is impossible to miss, especially when accompanied by their call-to-action button that encourages the user to “Save 10%.”

Of course, the visitor can also click “No thanks, I don’t need a discount…” if they don’t want to provide an email address.


Tattly is a store that sells temporary tattoos. 

They offer a newsletter subscription asking for your email address in exchange for updates on their offer (which happens a lot since they frequently bring in new designs), as well as 20% off your first order.
Tattly pop-up window

The invitation is a simple pop-up with its benefits clearly listed in the header. Here, the customer knows exactly what to expect when subscribing.

Gathering emails

As we can see from the three examples above, collecting email addresses is relatively easy. Simply provide an incentive and, more often than not, your prospective customers are happy to share their email addresses.

How to structure an email sequence that recovers carts

Once you have an email address, it’s time to come up with your own abandoned cart sequence strategy.

According to Marketo, an ideal sequence should consist of three emails. The first email should be sent within 30 minutes of the customer leaving your website.

Inside the initial email, you should remind the prospective customer that they’ve left an item in their cart. Use this time to also assure the customer that the item will still be there when they decide to complete their purchase. You can even use this opportunity to connect with customers who’ve dropped out for other reasons, like unexpected costs or complicated checkout processes, by simply addressing their problems in your email. 

Just make sure to send this email as soon as you discover your customer has abandoned their purchase. That way, you minimize chance of them forgetting the event entirely.

According to Rejoiner, you can obtain maximum results by keeping the following principles in mind:

  • Consider your customer’s success to be just as important as the success of your campaign.
  • Make customer service a top priority in your abandoned cart campaign.
  • Further personalize your emails by segmenting customers. That way, you can make targeted emails that appeal to specific customers.
  • Place your email capture field high in the checkout process—ideally, at the very top. This makes it easier to target as many customers as possible.
  • Use discounts and offers sparingly. Otherwise, prospective customers may “hold out” with the expectation of saving additional money. 
  • In order to facilitate communication with your prospects, make sure emails are sent from a real inbox that allows you to read and react to customer feedback.

Let’s see how Huckberry does it:
Huckberry’s abandoned cart email

First and foremost, Huckberry sends an email reminding customers they’ve left items in their cart without completing their purchase.

The second sentence tells the customer that they can finalize their order in a couple simple clicks, removing any hassle that could cost them a sell.

Finally, they add a sense of urgency by pointing out how there’s only a limited supply of stock left.

The CTA button says “Checkout Now,” which sends the message that the order can be quickly finalized—re-enforcing the expectation set in the second line of the email. 

Huckberry offers free shipping for orders over $75 in the United States, in addition to matching any price customers find on the internet. These two elements effectively remove any potential price-related obstacles, which can motivate the recipient to buy the items.

However, the email is missing a clear indicator of urgency to go along with the scarcity. Instead of mentioning that supply is limited, let customers know exactly how many products are left. That way, the “We can’t guarantee…” line carries a little extra weight. 

As a final touch, Huckberry added an email address and phone number for customers to contact if they come across any issues when checking out. 

The follow-up

The second email in the sequence should follow up with the customer if they don’t complete their purchase after your first email.

Keep in mind, if a customer doesn’t react to your first email, they probably aren’t ready to finalize their transaction at this moment. With that said, you can use the second email to remind the prospective customer about their abandoned products once again, while increasing the sense of urgency in your tone. 

If customers don’t react to this email, try sending a third, final email with a little extra incentive. Consider adding:

  • A discount
  • Free samples
  • Buy-one-get-one-free deals

Additionally, your third email should use the power of scarcity much more than your first and second emails. When offering the product at a lower price, give the customers a set timeframe to receive that discount. 

You can also use this opportunity to pitch alternative products that function similarly, but cheaper. This way, you can help the customer find a product that’s more closely aligned to their needs and expectations.

If a prospective customer won’t finalize their purchase right now, but you suspect they will in the future, give them the option of adding items to a wish list. Doing this lets them unsubscribe from your cart abandonment emails, while still remaining in the loop regarding price changes and available stock.


Abandoned carts email sequences enable you to address and re-engage prospects effectively. This is done with well-timed touchpoints designed to reassure customers while addressing any problems they may face.

Adopting a customer-centric approach that seeks to solve your customers’ problems is the first step towards recouping those abandoned carts.

“Keep your copy to the point and avoid writing too much stuff. Remember your goal –get a customer (or a group of customers) to complete the purchase. You shouldn’t be aiming to promote your brand, increase retention, or anything else of that sort.” 

- BackToCart

Finally, use UTM parameters to monitor the efficiency of your abandoned cart campaign. And to really maximize your success rate, use A/B testing to assess all the elements within your abandoned emails.

That way, you have a better sense of what does and doesn’t work when recovering carts.

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