12 min read

Abandoned Cart Email Strategy And Optimization

Written by Andriy Boychuk
12 min read
Table of Contents

    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 according to MooSend, the conversion rate is 10.7%.

    This means if you do not have the proper abandoned cart 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, click on check out, enter their personal information, such as email, enter their payment information, and then… leave the site without purchasing the product.

    There may be tons of reasons why the user didn’t end up buying your product, such as:

    • Unexpected costs
    • His favourite payment option wasn’t available
    • He changed his mind
    • He is still thinking
    • He is searching for a lower price somewhere else
    • He was distracted
    • Etc.

    Here is how it happens from the customer’s point of view and the key moments to prepare our abandoned cart strategy.

    Cart Abandonment Analysis

    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).

    Abandoned cart email strategy analysis.

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

    Abandoned cart strategy: analyse of checkout abandonment.

    This step is the most important since we want to capture his email. If he does not buy (abandon the cart) we can retarget him. Hence, he fills out the form and clicks “Continue” to the shipping method.

    Analysis of the abandoned cart strategy.

    This is a very important part.

    After he clicks “Continue to shipping method”, we capture his email address, his shipping address, and his phone number (if available).

    And even if he does not buy, we have his email address, so we can retarget him 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 a discount.

    Recover customers with a great abandoned cart strategy.

    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 him of the item he was interested in.

    In today’s world, it is very easy to be distracted. 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

    As a part of our abandoned cart strategy, we send this email within 24 hours after a visitor abandons his cart. The timing is important.

    Also, we continue sending those emails and stop only after he makes a purchase.

    In those emails, we want to cover why the user should finish his purchase, why you are the right brand for him, 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 clients 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.

    We send this email within 24 hours after the last one, which is enough time for them to make a 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 a Discount

    We send this email on the day of the 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 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 buyers 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” perspective.

    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.

    Recover abandoned carts with email strategies.

    High vs Low Cart Value Abandoned Cart Email Strategy

    Once we did a simple test without changing anything else except splitting subscribers into two automation.

    The emails and the offers were the same. The only difference was the value of their cart.

    Anybody who had 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.

    There are different abandoned cart strategies to increase sales.

    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 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 customer retention.

    There are two strategies we recommend using 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:

    Collect points is a good abandoned cart strategy.

    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).

    With this abandoned cart 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.

    Abandoned Cart Strategy for Wholesale

    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 abandoned cart strategy than the B2B side of the business.


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

    So here is the strategy:

    The abandoned cart strategy for wholesales.

    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 Advanced Abandoned Cart Strategies and Communication Medium

    There are few other strategies that 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 labour-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 its performance even further.

    Abandoned Cart Emails Optimization: Best Practices

    The best abandoned cart email optimization practices include:

    • Adding a checkout page link and a home page link
    • Adding a product image
    • Adding a product description
    • Adding a call to action (CTA).

    → Get inspiration with our abandoned cart email examples.

    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, but 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 fewer steps for the receiver to finish their purchase.

    In addition to the logo, you want to add a product image and description in the body of the email. It is a good abandoned cart strategy as it reminds them visually what exactly they left in their cart.

    Example of an email for abandoned cart strategy.

    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”.

    Add calls to action in your abandoned cart email strategy.

    The Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines

    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 automation specifically for abandoned cart emails. All my customers use Klaviyo for its built-in features.

    To build an abandoned cart flow (automation) in other software than Klaviyo, you will 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”.

    Set Up an Abandoned Cart Flow in Klaviyo

    We will illustrate the step by step process of setting up an abandoned cart email automation in Klaviyo.

    You can watch the YouTube video to help you visualize.

    Step 1: Create a Flow in Klaviyo

    When you log in to Klaviyo, first of all, you have to have your Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, or whatever shopping cart you use integrated with Klaviyo.

    After you logged in, you go to flows, create a flow and call it Cart test. So the logic you use is Take action, Checkout Started.

    Then you go to flow filters, and you add Ordered product, zero times, since starting this flow.

    So basically it will trigger this automation every time somebody starts checking out. But it will continue only for those who did not make any purchase.

    Step 2: Add a Time delay

    The next thing to do is add a time delay.

    Typically, it’s between one and four hours. You can sometimes choose a longer or shorter period, but I would recommend between two and four hours.

    Step 3: Create the First Email

    Go to Configure email and pick a template.

    Then, set up the dynamic codes for:

    • The abandoned product image
    • Its title
    • Its price
    • Etc.

    Abandoned Cart Strategy: Conclusion

    In conclusion, the abandoned cart email strategy is quite simple in its essence. It is a follow-up technique for hot leads (potential customers who expressed interest to buy).

    By following up with these almost customers and reminding them about the product they wanted to buy, you ameliorate customer experience as well as increase sales for your business.

    Learn More

    Cart Abandonment: Prevention and Recovery

    Cart Abandonment Solutions That Can Really Improve Your Sales

    Abandoned Cart Emails Under GDPR: What Changed

    Abandoned Cart Email Benchmarks: What You Should Expect


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why are abandoned cart emails so important?

    The customer already started the purchase funnel before abandoning its cart. It shows that he has an interest in your product. Maybe he had a problem during the checkout? Maybe he gave himself some time to reconsider the purchase? You don’t know. So you should try to remind him about his interest. The abandoned cart email is a huge conversion opportunity.

    When is the best time to send an abandoned cart email?

    The first abandoned cart email should be sent one hour after the cart was abandoned. This is enough time to fix any checkout problems, and not enough time to forget about the product. The second and third abandoned cart emails should follow after one day, and then after 2-3 days.

    How many emails should my abandoned cart series have?

    It’s all up to your preferences. The norm is between 1 and 4 emails. More than that would be considered spam. But only one email one hour after the cart was abandoned is also not always enough, as the customer may have not decided yet if he/she wants the item.

    Talk email strategy with an expert
    Request free email marketing audit from our experts!