Effective Use Of Abandonment Emails in eCommerce

Recent research shows that nearly 74% of retail shoppers will abandon a purchase after adding an item to their online shopping cart – the highest abandonment rates being for consumer electrical products at 78%.

There are multiple reasons why this can occur, ranging from shipping rates, to the customer simply wanting to compare prices or deciding to buy in-store. Luckily, email is a great way to win these customers back. This type of email campaign can be fiddly to set up and monitor, largely due to the ambiguous levels of purchase intent, the customer journey and the need to integrate this with your on-site data, but it’s worth pursuing.

Clear call to action

First, think about what you want to achieve with your browse abandonment campaign.

Drive a purchase – your email will serve as a reminder of the items the consumer was interested in and hopefully tempt them back

Return to the site – your email will lure the consumer back to the site, even if they are not interested in the original product

Great customer service – your email will show the consumer you care and want to know “why”.

When creating your email campaign, there are six key elements to bear in mind.

Align with the customer intent

Before you start creating any emails, it’s important to establish exactly what you’re going to consider ‘browse abandonment’ to be.  Remember to set criteria that govern whether someone qualifies for your browse abandonment campaign such as:

looking at an item more than once

browsing several items in a specific category

clicking through from an email a specific product

using the site search to search for a specific product or category

It’s also important to try and look at purchase intent a little further such as, did the customer visit one product multiple times, or visit multiple pages? By looking at this data, it is possible to ensure that the tone of the email aligns with their level of investment.


Campaign Monitor’s recent study shows that emails with name personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Using this method, we can reference the person’s shopping journey in the abandonment emails but remembering to be not too direct. So instead of saying “Navy Leather Shopper is still in your basket”, try using a subject line like “Did you see something you liked?”. This may be enough to create intrigue and subtly prompt the user to open, without appearing overly intrusive.

Use related products

It’s also helpful to include product recommendations or alternative products to the one they looked at. Try including products in the email that are frequently bought together to widen their purchasing consideration and increase the order value.

This is an effective form of personalisation (your brand knows and cares about their tastes and preferences) and makes the message feel more relevant and timely.

Great customer service

As we have already discussed, there are many possible reasons why a customer may have abandoned a cart that the retailer has little control over such as the just browsing for price comparison, however, these is also the possibility that it was due to a perceived fault such as negative customer reviews, or a lack of payment and delivery options.

Create abandonment emails using customer-centric copy – to convey a caring and understanding attitude from the retailer and to reinforce the positive elements of a brand’s customer service such as fantastic reviews (both product and retailer), highlighted quick pay options (such as PayPal or Apple Pay), or free returns. Try using phrases such as ‘How can we help?’ in the subject line.

Provide an incentive

23% of shoppers say they have abandoned carts due to high shipping rates – it can therefore be effective to offer an incentive to entice them to return. This could be free shipping, or a more obvious incentive like a money-off discount. Again, remember subject lines are important, where including the offer is likely to increase click-through rates.

Great timing

When is the right time to send a browse abandonment email? Waiting too long will decrease the chance of conversion – so aim for sending out your emails within 2 hours of the cart being abandoned and a maximum of 24 hours. Try different timings and see what conversion results are generated.


If they have dropped off the radar, using a consumer’s on-site activity (plus as everything else you know about them if they are a subscriber) to personalise browse abandonment emails is a powerful way of getting them back.

Finally, remember to ensure that your browse abandonment campaign works within the context of the other emails that you send – make sure that there are checks and balances in place to stop a prospect from being overwhelmed with your emails.