Abandoned Cart

The 4 Types of Emails to Convert Abandoned Carts

Every online retailer is challenged with converting shopping carts left abandoned by shoppers. In 2016 alone, e-commerce businesses lost $4.6 trillion worth of sales to abandoned carts during the buying process.

These happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases, an obstacle was thrown up in front of the consumer, be it an unexpected shipping cost, the requirement to create an account, or a site crash. Maybe the site wouldn’t accept their preferred payment method, or they just got distracted by something. Perhaps they were just doing some wishful thinking, never seriously intending to make a purchase.

Regardless, the fact is they left, and it’s maddening for the marketing team. You got them 99% of the way to a conversion, but you somehow lost them during that last 1%. And now it’s entirely possible they’ll never come back to buy what’s sitting in their abandoned carts.

If you know who they are, though, email is going to be your best bet for reaching back out to them and inviting them to complete their purchase, provided the data you’re using is synced up and ready to go. You’ve probably even received one of these yourself at some point.

There are four main types of abandoned carts emails you can consider using. Here’s a look at what they are, and how they differ:


In these emails, you offer the customer something to entice them to click back to the site and finish the purchase. Maybe you say they’ll get 10% for the next 24 hours, free shipping, or some sort of small free gift if they come back. This can be a powerful draw to get people to give you a second look. Obviously, they liked the item enough to put it in their cart to begin with, so it’s likely they’re open to making the purchase. That extra nudge might be enough to push them over the edge. Of course, some consumers have come to expect this from online retailers, adding things to their carts and purposefully waiting to get the discount emailed to them a day later.


Maybe you want to lean toward an empathetic message of help, particularly if you know there may have been a site crash or other problem that led to the cart abandonment. You can say you noticed they left an item in their cart, and you wanted to see if there was anything you could do to help them complete the purchase. Sometimes, they really did need help. Maybe you don’t take the credit card they wanted to use, or your navigation was confusing. Or perhaps they just needed a gentle reminder about a lingering purchase they’d forgotten to make.

Creation of urgency

It could be that the customer abandoned the cart because they were going to wait, for whatever reason. They’d considered the purchase, but figured there was no rush, and maybe they’d come back in a day, or a week, or a month — and there’s a reasonable likelihood they never will. So gently remind them the sale price expires Friday, that there are only a few of the item left, or that their cart will be emptied later that day. These sorts of reminders — if done carefully — might create the urgency the customer needs to return.

“Did you know?”

Sometimes, you might want to use the excuse of reminding the customer of information that could spur them to finish the purchase. Perhaps you remind them that you’ll match the price at any competitor, that returns are always free, or that you just added Paypal as an integrated payment option. It’s just a way to keep you on their mind, and make sure they know that your buying process is built to make it easy for them.

It’s hard to get a consumer to be aware of your brand, get to your website, find an item they like at a price they’re happy with, and add it to the cart. To accomplish that regularly takes an effective, coordinated strategy from marketing and I.T. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste at the very end of the process. Create abandoned cart emails that both delight your customers and make them look forward to seeing that box on their front porch in a few days.


Will Devlin

A 14-year veteran of the email marketing industry, Will has been focused on leading marketing strategy and execution for MessageGears since 2014. He has extensive experience on both the retail customer and service side of email marketing, and he’s interested in helping businesses better understand how they can make the most of the work they put into their email campaigns.