In this guide
  1. Ecommerce email marketing: 7 tried-and-true tactics to sell your online products in 2021
  2. Find the right shipping options for your ecommerce business
  3. 6 ways an influencer marketing strategy sells your products
  4. Pros and cons of selling your products in an ecommerce marketplace
  5. Ecommerce KPIs and Metrics: The data that defines success
  6. 7 keys for successful Kickstarter campaigns
  7. Increase your conversions with abandoned cart emails

Experience this issue your way.

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

Download PDF

Issue #19

Increase your conversions with abandoned cart emails

Business Models Commerce
13 min read

How many times have you left an item in your own shopping cart?

It’s easy to feel like we need a specific product in the moment but when a distraction takes our eyes away from it, we forget about it altogether.

Abandoned shopping cartAs our attention spans continue to shrink, it’s more important than ever to nurture potential customers with strategic email marketing. It’s our best way to connect with leads who are interested in our products but haven’t hit the “buy now” button yet.

Not every customer is going to strike while the iron is hot, but that doesn’t mean they are lost forever when they abandon their shopping carts. This is where the art of following up comes in. It’s usually easier to incentivize the people who have already expressed an interest than to attract brand new customers, right?

To keep your abandoned cart from being a black hole where dozens of products go in but nothing ever comes out, we’ll refocus on getting your potential customer’s attention back through an abandoned cart email strategy.

How to create an abandoned cart email strategy

If you run an ecommerce business, you are no stranger to abandoned carts. A little over sixty-seven percent of online shoppers abandon their carts before completing a sale, meaning that most companies are only converting one-third of sales from interested buyers. And even that is a conservative number for some ecommerce shops.

With so many people abandoning their shopping carts, how do you point them back in the right direction? The easiest way to do this is through your email marketing.

Instead of trying to get their attention on noisy platforms like social media, email marketing allows you to recapture their interest by contacting them directly in their inbox. They may only need a reminder and slight nudge in order to convert them into a sale.

How to set up an abandoned cart email that converts

All of this talk about email marketing sounds nice, but how do you actually write emails that entice customer leads to purchase your products? That’s what we want to help you with today!

First, it’s important to understand the reasoning behind visitors abandoning their carts before you dive into your email marketing strategy.

A good thing to keep in mind is that not all of these actions are intentional. While most people abandon their carts because of unexpected costs (around 56% of people), 24% experienced a website crash and 15% said their window session had timed out.

Why people have abandoned cart

Once you’re ready to experiment with new strategies and dive into what will increase your conversions, you’ll be able to get started with some of our advice below.

Include a strong headline and email subject line

It won’t matter how great your email body copy is if your subscribers don’t click on the email. Your email subject line is one of the most important elements of your email marketing strategy, especially when it comes to increasing conversions with abandoned carts.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin to write your headline:

  • Include the name of the product they forgot when possible. This will help them instantly remember what they were thinking about purchasing and entice them to open the email with the product already in mind.
  • A/B test different email subject lines until you find the top performing headlines. You can never optimize your strategy too much, so keep experimenting over time and track what works and what doesn’t.
  • Add some personality to your headlines. No one wants to open an email with the subject line of “Abandoned Cart: Hand-drawn Illustration”. Have some fun with it! Revisit your brand voice and personality to see what subject lines feel like a natural fit.
  • Keep an eye on your character length so your email headline is fully revealed in your potential customer’s email inbox. Most email subject lines are around 40-50 characters long but 65 is often said to be a “sweet spot” for emails that get read.
  • Think about their purchase intent in order to create a more intriguing headline. Did they add the product to their cart because they are bookmarking it for the future, planning out their budget before they take the plunge, reflecting to see if they really need it or not, or saving it for a holiday purchase? The more you know about their intent, the more you can optimize your subject lines to persuade them to take action.

Make it fit your brand

Your email should match your brand’s personality and capture the attention of your buyers. Most companies send generic abandoned cart emails but you have the opportunity to stand out with something more unique.

The first thing to define is your brand voice. This will guide you through what specific language to use when talking to your customers (“dope” and “epic” vs. “awe-inspiring” and “memorable”) and what tone to have when writing or speaking (professional and polished vs. casual and upbeat).

We recommend documenting your brand voice guidelines so everyone on your team is on the same page with how to implement your brand voice. Once you understand your brand language and tone, you can put it into action with your emails.

Create ONE simple call-to-action

You want to use this email to convince your customer lead to do one thing: purchase the item they forgot in their shopping cart. Everything in this email should point to the “back to cart” shopping link or button.

If you give them too many options of what else they can buy, it’ll be too easy for them to get overwhelmed and you’ll lose out on the sale altogether. Instead, keep your email simple with only one CTA.
Abandoned cart CTA buttons

Talk about what specifically is in the cart

Personalization is no longer a trend but a prerequisite for businesses, especially those in ecommerce. Potential customers want to not only be reminded that they left something in their shopping cart but also see what they left in it.

You can do this easily through a platform like Shopify which has this feature integrated within their platform. If you sell products on Amazon, they also send general abandoned cart emails to leads, but remember that you don’t have the control over the rest of the sales copy like you do when you have your own email list.

When possible, add a photo or visual of the product the visitor left in their cart along with personalized copy around the product. Our brains register images 60,000 times faster than text, making photos a clear choice when crafting your email. Your copy should then support the image that is highlighted in the abandoned cart email.

Customer reviews

Have you seen other entrepreneurs include testimonials, case studies, and customer reviews on their website? That’s because social proof is one of the best ways to increase your conversions. When buyers give a company an endorsement and allow them to use their image, it shows that they trust the company and other buyers should too.

It also creates a more personal connection with the brand. Any company can say they are the best in the business in their sales copy, but do their reviews reflect the same sentiment?

It’s been said that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as their friends, showing that the power of customer testimonials is alive and well. You can grab customer reviews from social media, send a survey, or ask past customers directly.

Only feature the most relevant customer reviews in your email. It’s even better if you have reviews on specific products (depending on how large your inventory is, of course). The more targeted, the better!

Timing of the email

Abandoned cart email timingMost companies have seen an increase in conversions when these emails are sent a few hours after a visitor leaves their shopping cart, but it’s not recommended to send more than one reminder email within the first 24 hours. This can overwhelm the customer and lead to complaints.

Instead, send one automated email a few hours after to lightly suggest taking a look back at their cart and explain how you might help them further. A day or two after the original email, you can send another more sales-driven email with a stronger CTA.

This will help your product stay top of mind without sending too many follow up emails to your customer lead. Just like we recommended with subject headlines, try experimenting with the timing of your emails. Test what works best and keep optimizing from there.

Sweeten the deal for incentivized purchasing

Depending on your earning goals and what your profit margins are, you may want to consider offering a discount. Nothing gets people excited like saving money!

If you do decide to offer a discount, we recommend creating a one-time only coupon code so your customers don’t get used to abandoning their cart just to get the discount.

When customers are reminded multiple times of what’s inside their shopping cart but don’t make the purchase, it might signal that it’s time to focus on downselling another similar product. Maybe the price point for their original product is a bit too high for them right now but they’re open to other options. This can be a great way to increase your conversions!

You can also point to related items when you send a multiple-email sequence, but just make sure they aren’t highlighted in the first email since it should be more centered around your single CTA. Otherwise you can follow up with related products that might be a better fit. Track your progress with these emails through your email marketing software and make tweaks where needed.

Setting up your abandoned cart email in ConvertKit

It doesn’t matter if you use a digital teaching platform like Thinkific or Teachable, or an ecommerce platform like Shopify or Squarespace, you can set up an abandoned cart email sequence easily within ConvertKit.

Our automatic link triggers, segmentations, email sequences, and visual automation tool will help you automate every step in one central place so you can set up your abandoned cart emails once and know they will run on autopilot.

Here are the things you’ll need in order to get started:

Step 1: Integrate your ecommerce platform with ConvertKit

You can do this easily by clicking the Automations tab at the top right of your ConvertKit dashboard and then the Integrations tab in the secondary navigation right below it.

Then you can click on your desired platform and follow the steps in order to successfully connect and integrate your accounts. After you do so, it’s time to get into the fun part: setting up your sequence and tags!

Step 2: Set up your abandoned cart email sequence and email segment tags

When adding an email sequence, you’ll hit the Sequences tab at the top of your ConvertKit dashboard and click the Create Sequence button in the top right. Then you can customize the title of your sequence along with other features like its timing, title, and beyond. (Psst, we’ll come back that!)

Now we want to focus on how you are going to tag and segment your customer leads. This can be done by clicking the Subscribers tab in the top navigation and looking at the right-hand side of your screen. Below the Tags header, you’ll see a link that says Create a Tag. You’ll click on this and create preferrably two tag titles: Interest and Purchase.

Step 3: Create a “zap” using Zapier

Now it’s time to shift your attention to Zapier which is one of our favorite tools. It’s also highly addictive because of how easy it is to create automations. You’ve been warned!

Once you’re in your Zapier dashboard, you can click Make a Zap and follow the instructions on the left-hand side to title your zap as well as set up the trigger and action. The trigger will be hooked up with your ecommerce platform and the action will be determined by what tag you have within ConvertKit (ours is Interest in this case) that you want to use for potential customer leads.

If your ConvertKit account hasn’t been set up in Zapier before, it will prompt you to add your ConvertKit API key and secret key to the platform.

Once you have gone through all of the steps and everything is integrated and connected through Zapier, you can return to the ConvertKit dashboard for one of our last steps.

Step 4: Completing your email automations with link triggers

Link triggers are one of my favorite things about the ConvertKit platform and after completing these few steps, I’m sure it’ll be one of yours too.

First, click the Automations tab in the top navigation again and you’ll see the Rules screen automatically pop up. Stay here and click the blue Add Rule button.

This works really similar to Zapier so you can add your trigger (which will be done whenever a subscriber is tagged with Interest) and the corresponding action (which is subscribing them to your automation sequence). And then you’re done!

How to write an abandoned cart email template

Now that you know the ins and outs of this type of email strategy and how to set it up with ConvertKit, we want to end with some examples that are done right. It’s better to have more than one example to look at, so here are a few of our favorites:

Need more help with creating an abandoned cart email? Download our easy-to-use abandoned cart email template below with fill-in-the-blank formulas for writing your next email.

Get Your Abandoned Cart Email Templates Today

Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

The future belongs to creators

ConvertKit helps creators like you take their projects from idea to reality. It's never been easier to build an audience and grow a business. And you can do it all for free.

Launch your next project