30 min read

Abandoned Cart Email Strategy And Optimization

Written by Andriy Boychuk
30 min read

The cart abandonment flow (aka automation) in the eCommerce industry is one of the most profitable funnels.

According to Klaviyo’s benchmark, the average open rate of the abandoned cart emails is 41.18%, the click rate is 9.50%, and the conversion rate is 10.7%, according to MooSend.

This means if you do not have the proper abandoned cart email strategy setup, you are losing at least one sale for every ten abandoned carts. In this post, I will show you how to create an abandoned cart email strategy and how to optimize it.


What Is Cart Abandonment and How Does It Work?

The abandoned cart is the process when a potential buyer adds at least one of your products to their cart.

After that, they click on check out, enter their personal information, such as email, and continue to the next step – to enter their payment information.

After they arrive on the payment information page, they leave the site without purchasing the product.

Here is how it looks:
Your potential buyer is on the product page, and clicks on “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” (the meaning is the same, but different stores have different names).
The abandoned cart is the process when a potential buyer adds at least one of your products to their cart. After that, they click on check out, enter their personal information, such as email, and continue to the next step – to enter their payment information. After they arrive on the payment information page, they leave the site without purchasing the product. Here is how it looks:

Your potential buyer is on the product page, and clicks on “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” (meaning is the same, but different stores have different names).

Now, in the cart they can review their potential order, and the next step is to click on “Checkout Now”.

This step is the most important, since we want to capture their email. If they do not buy (they abandon the cart) we can retarget them. Hence, they fill out the form, and click “Continue” to shipping method.

This is a very important part.

After they click “Continue to shipping method”, we capture their email address, their shipping address, and their phone number (if available).

And even if they do not buy, we have their email address, so we can retarget them with personalized emails.

The Abandoned Cart Email Strategies

The possibilities with an abandonment cart are endless. The limit is only your or your team’s creativity. However, we would like to cover the following 6 abandoned cart email strategies we use for our clients.

So here is the list before we start:

  • Basic
  • Subscription
  • Returning Customer
  • High vs Low Cart Value
  • Loyalty
  • Wholesale
  • Advanced

The Basic Abandoned Cart Email Strategy

Now, we understand how the abandoned cart works and how to build it. Let’s talk about what we need to include there.

As the famous quote says: “The fortune is in the follow-up”. 

  • The customer visits your site 
  • They check out specific product(s) 
  • Then, they add those products to their cart and start the checkout process 
  • And then, they disappear

In my point of view, as well as the majority of marketers and salespeople, this potential customer is a “hot lead”.

Our job now is to convert this potential customer into an existing customer. I personally use four emails for the abandonment cart:

  • Email #1 – Reminder
  • Email #2 – Objection
  • Email #3 – Discount with 48hr deadline
  • Email #4 – Last chance to get discount

Let’s break down each email. 

Email #1 – Reminder

We send out this email four hours after a customer abandoned the cart. The purpose of this email is just to remind. In today’s world, it is very easy to distract somebody. You might receive a text message or Facebook notification, or something else happens, and you forget what you were doing a few seconds ago.

Let’s be honest—it happens to you and me all the time. I bet it happens to your potential customers as well. Your job is to remind them about the product they wanted to purchase.

Email #2 – Objection

This email we send within 24 hours after they abandon the cart. Also, we continue sending those emails and stop only after they make a purchase. In those emails, we want to cover why they should finish their purchase, why you are the right brand for them, and why your product is the best on the market.

Email #3 – Discount With a 48 Hour Deadline

Only in this third email, we offer them a discount for the product they left in their cart. We do not want to offer the discount earlier because we are not sure if they abandoned the cart because they did not want to buy or got distracted. This email we send within 24 hours after the last one, which is enough time for them to make decision after email #1 and email #2.

If they did not make the purchase, it means they are not as motivated as we want them to be. That’s why we offer them a discount for the product they left in the cart. However, we add 48 hour urgency to this offer.

Many store owners make a mistake by offering just a discount without any kind of deadline. After receiving this kind of discount offer, it gives the person the right to procrastinate with the order. They might say that they have higher priorities now, and one day they will use the code. You do not want that to happen.

That’s why you should add urgency. 48 hours is good, but you can make it 24.

Email #4 – Last Chance to Get Discount

We send this email on the day of discount code expiration. We want to remind our customers about the offer we gave them and add urgency by reminding them that the offer is expiring in a few hours. 

Abandoned Cart Email Strategy for Subscription Products

If you have a subscription product, should you create a different version of the abandonment cart? You might use a similar strategy to the basic abandonment cart, but the content of emails should be different.

First of all, they might have different sets of objectives. Second, the offer for one time buyer might be much different than for the subscribers.

Also, at the end of the automation, you might want to offer them a NON Paid subscription product. You should spin it from the “test it before you subscribe” prospective.

Abandoned Cart Email Strategy for Returning Customers

You do not want to talk to your returning customers the same way as a new customer. You should personalize the emails for returning customers.

How can you do it? 

Personalizing the Copy

Here are few ideas. First of all, you can personalize the content and the offer. You can say something like, “Thank you for coming back to our store and checking out XYZ products. Since you are existing customers and we value our relationship, we would like to offer you $10 towards the products you left in your cart”. 

Dynamic Recommendation Product Block

If your email marketing service provider allows you to add dynamic personalized product recommendations, you should do it. You already collected some data about what the customer likes at your store, so the product recommendation block will show more products they might be interested in.

Here is an example of how West Elm does it. After I purchased a piece of furniture from their Mid-Century collection, they personalized all my emails with recommendations from the same collection. 

High vs Low Cart Value Abandoned Cart Email Strategy

Once we did a simple test without changing anything else except splitting subscribers into two automations. The emails and the offers were the same. The only one difference was the value of their cart.

Anybody who has a value of $100 left in their cart went into one automation, and somebody who had less than $100 went to another automation.

We found some interesting results.

In the first column, you see how much revenue in total the automation brought, and in the second how much revenue per recipient it brought. So the high value abandonment cart brought almost 5 times more revenue per recipient than the low value.

So the conclusion is that you should make the high value automation more attractive and maybe offer higher incentives to those customers. They will spend with you 4-5 times more than the low value cart customers.

Leveraging Loyalty Program for Abandoned Cart Email Strategy

If you have a loyalty program, you should leverage the loyalty program in the abandonment cart instead of the % or $ discount. It will help with the customer retention.

In case you do not have the loyalty program and are still debating if you should do it or not, I highly recommend checking this deep dive study we did Loyalty Program – Challenges, Solutions and Results.

There are two strategies we recommend to use around the loyalty program.

Incentivise them with the points offer

If they are not currently loyalty members, you should spin your 3rd and 4th abandonment cart email around the loyalty program. Your loyalty program should offer some points for only signing up for it. Here is an example: 

So in this example, I would craft the message in the email like: Get 100 points towards the product you left in your cart if you sign up for the rewards program today (for free).

In this strategy, we are killing 2 birds with one stone.

We are trying to convert the abandoned cart user into a customer, and we are signing them up for the loyalty program. Based on our study, the loyalty members spend 4 times more than the non-loyalty members.

Leverage your VIP loyalty program

You should have different tiers in your loyalty program (aka VIP program).

Each tier offers the customers some kind of different set of benefits. In the abandonment cart email, you can tell them how many points they will get after they complete their purchase and how close they will become to reaching the next VIP level.

This strategy might not work for everybody, but it will definitely work for your true fans.


If you have a wholesale side of your business, you should develop an automatic abandonment cart email strategy as well.

It is a much simpler strategy than the B2B side of the business.


From my personal point of view, the B2B should be more one-on-one communication vs the automatic emails. However, you can automate certain parts of the funnel.

So here is the strategy:

In the first email, you want to simply remind them what they left in the cart, and you want to leave your contact information in case they want to contact you with any questions. Also, it is a good idea to add a link to your wholesaler FAQ page.

In email #2, we want to overcome the possible objections they might have and tell them the reasons they should buy from you.

Ok, the first two emails were automatic.

If they did not take any action, in other words, did not complete their purchase, we want to start the manual follow-up. At this stage, you want to add them to your sales CRM. By the way, people usually confuse email marketing, CRM, and marketing automation. In case you want to understand the difference between them, please check this video.

So, the third action is to create a deal automatically in your CRM. Now, you need to start following up with the prospect manually. You can do it via email, phone, text, or any other communication media you prefer or most importantly the client might prefer.

Other Abandoned Cart Strategies and Communication Medium

There are few other strategies which you can use to improve your conversion rate for abandonment carts. I will describe them briefly below and provide some additional resources via links: 

Direct Mail

Since you collect their shipping information during the checkouts process, you are able to send them an automatic postcard or letter vial physical mail. This is a very expensive method to do the follow-up, but it is effective. 


If you collect their phone numbers and collect consent to be able to send them marketing SMS, you can follow up with SMS. This method is not as expensive as direct mail, but it will cost you extra (around 3 cents per SMS) .

Manual Follow Up

You can manually follow up with high value abandonment cart users. This is a very labor intensive process, but it will increase your conversion rate and build a personalized relationship with your customers.

The Abandoned Cart Optimization

By having all or some of those strategies implemented, you should be good with the abandoned cart email automation. However, there are ways to optimize the performance of it even further.

Abandoned Cart Emails Optimization

Typically, all email templates have a logo in the header. If the logo has a link attached, it directs the receiver to the home page after they click on it.

It is standard practice, and not many people think about it. Based on my experience, the higher conversion rate is in the emails where you add the checkout page link vs the home page link. This way, there are less steps for the receiver to finish their purchase. Here is a short video where I explain it further.

In addition to the logo, you want to add a product image and description in the body of the email. This way, it reminds them visually what exactly they left in their cart.

In addition to the images and the title, you always should have a “call to action” (CTA). You should tell them what to do. Something like: “Complete Your Order” or “Continue Shopping”. 

The Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines

Moreover, the emails’ subject lines are as important as the messages in them. If people do not open the email, they will not read what is inside it. Thus, you should focus on your emails’ subject lines, and test them at least every 30-60 days. Here are few subject lines from our library:

  • Oops… {{ first_name|default:” }} it looks like you forgot something!
  • Sorry! Something went wrong
  • We’re going to make a great team
  • {{ first_name|default:” }}, you can still save your headphones!
  • We’re still holding them for you. Act fast if you want it.
  • Forgot something? Make it count now …
  • You forgot something unforgettable.
  • Let there be wine!
  • You left something behind
  • Left something behind
  • Your basket is having abandonment issues… 🙁
  • Still available?
  • Where did you go?
  • Hey {{ first_name }} , you left this ??

The first two subject lines in the list are the winners, based on our experience and split testing experiments. 

How to set an abandoned cart email automation?

There are many tools on the market dedicated to building the automation specifically for abandoned cart emails. All my customers use Klaviyo, and it has built-in features. Here is a short video of how to do it in Klaviyo. However, I will explain how to do it in other software as well.

To build an abandoned cart flow (automation) in other software than Klaviyo, we need to set up the trigger “Checkout Started”. Consequently, your automation should be triggered when a person starts checkout by entering their email, and the filter for that automation should be – “Did not buy”.

It can be worded differently in every software, but you should understand the general idea. The checkout process should start, but they changed their mind about placing the order. In other words, they abandoned the cart.


In conclusion, the abandoned cart email strategy is simple. It is the follow up technique with the hot leads (potential customers who expressed the interest to buy). By following up with them, and offering the product they wanted to buy, you provide a better customer experience for them as well as increase sales for your business.


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