2023] Best Abandoned Cart Email Examples & Subject Lines

January 21, 2023
Written by
Jesse Sumrak
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

[2023] Best Abandoned Cart Email Examples & Subject Lines

Abandoned cart emails are a nonnegotiable part of any ecommerce store’s marketing strategy. Or at least they should be.

Why? Because of these eye-opening abandoned cart email statistics:
  • Customers abandon over 77% of digital carts
  • Abandoned cart email open rates hover around 43%
  • Abandoned cart emails boast a nearly 9% conversion rate
Those are some pretty convincing numbers. A 43% open rate is nothing to sneeze at (especially compared to a 14.5% global aggregate open rate), and neither is a 9% conversion rate—that’s valuable lost revenue you don’t want to miss!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s define exactly “What an abandoned cart email is”—then we can share best practices, examples, and first-class subject lines to ensure top-notch engagement.

Here's what we'll cover:
  • What are abandoned cart emails?
  • Why are customers abandoning their carts?
  • Best abandoned cart email examples
  • Examples of cart abandonment emails that missed the mark
  • Abandoned cart email templates
  • How to write the best abandoned cart email subject lines
  • Abandon cart email best practices and compliance

What are abandoned cart emails?

abandoned cart emails

Let’s start by defining what an abandoned cart is—that’ll help us better understand the email side of things.

An abandoned cart is when a shopper adds a product or service to their digital cart but leaves the site without completing their purchase.

So let’s say a recipient visits your site after seeing a 50% off sale email in their inbox. They find the perfect pair of shoes at a super low price and add them to their cart. However, when they see the $10 shipping costs, they disappointingly exit the site and go back to browsing their inbox.

That’s an example of cart abandonment.

Now, let’s look at an abandoned cart email. 

An abandoned cart email is a follow-up email reminding a shopper that they didn’t complete a purchase.

For example, the shoe company reminds a recipient about the shoes they’re interested in, and then offers them a coupon for free shipping. The recipient returns to the site and happily buys the shoes.

In a nutshell, that’s how abandoned cart emails work.

Why are customers abandoning so many carts?

Great question! What’s happening to make 77% of interested digital buyers ditch their online shopping carts? You definitely don’t see cart abandonment numbers like that at the grocery store—it’d quickly become a chaotic obstacle course!

So, what’s happening? The answer(s) to that will really define how you create successful abandoned cart emails.

Let’s look at a few reasons why shoppers abandon their carts:

Source: Baymard Institute
  • 50% due to extra shipping costs, taxes, and fees tacked on at checkout
  • 28% because the site required the shopper to create an account
  • 21% because the checkout process was too long or complicated
  • 18% due to not being able to see the total costs upfront
  • 18% because the delivery was too slow 
Now don’t gloss over these reasons and move on. These reasons are what should shape your abandoned cart email strategy! Heck, they should even inform the strategy for your site’s ecommerce shopping experience.

Are you hiding your shipping costs until checkout? Do you require users to create an account before making a purchase? Are you featuring a discount code box but rarely—if ever—providing coupons (I’m looking at you, REI)?

If so, and you’re experiencing high cart abandonment rates, then these are issues you can tackle by upgrading your website experience or sending targeted abandon cart emails.

5 best abandoned cart email examples

Let’s look at some real-world abandoned cart email samples and break down what they did right. Oh, and if you want a headstart in your own abandon cart email design, check out our free downloadable templates.

1. Your free shipping is about to expire

This email does everything right:
  • Free shipping: If shipping costs were the issue, Rudy’s takes care of it here.
  • Cart expiring: Rudy’s does a great job of creating a sense of urgency by letting customers know the cart is about to expire, and so is the free shipping.
  • Coupon code: Rudy’s even includes a coupon code for a discount.
Free shipping, coupon codes, and a sense of urgency make for a perfect abandoned cart email recipe.

2. Forget something? Here's a discount.

Bonobos nails it here with a short-and-sweet email.

It has some brief, witty copy, and then it offers a 20% off coupon code.

“Don’t worry—fit happens.”

It’s straightforward, but it works very well.

The one improvement it could make is to include exactly what the customer forgot—an image of a product and a reminder of the price might incentivize a customer to return.

3. That gear you like? Its price just went down.

Columbia gets it right with this abandoned cart email.

It’s updating a customer that a product they were looking at has just had a price drop—which might inspire the customer to return.

However, it doesn’t give away too much. They have a nice little “Reveal New Price” button to entice curious buyers to visit the site.

This way, Columbia has a chance of selling this plaid shirt, but it also gets an opportunity to market everything else after getting the customer back to the site.

4. Still thinking about London?

If you don’t have an offer to provide, you can at least create a sense of urgency—and that’s what London North Eastern Railway (LNER) does perfectly here.

“Fare at that price won’t be around for long, though, so now might be the time to choose your train—and book your seat.”

This passive-aggressive, limited-time offer works well in this email. It’d be nice if it offered some additional incentive, but urgency alone can be a powerful enough motivator.

5. Going, going (almost) gone

Google does a great job with this oh-so-subtle reminder that “our more popular items sell out fast.”

So if you want to guarantee you get this abandoned item, you might want to come back and finish checking out quickly.

It also promotes the “free shipping all orders” feature at the top of the page.

Examples of cart abandonment emails that missed the mark

While it’s important to study well-crafted emails, it’s also helpful to look at some not-so-good examples to learn from those mistakes. Here are a few we dissected.

No added value

Here, we see a clothing brand hitting up a recipient with a reminder email, but it hasn’t added any value to the customer. Remember the reasons people didn’t complete their digital purchases? It wasn’t because they forgot.

This brand could work to identify the reason for the cart abandonment, then provide a solution in the email. Yes, it did offer customer service as an option, but it missed the mark in this email.

Too long

This isn’t a newsletter—this is an abandoned cart email. Let recipients know what’s in the cart, and then let them know why they should go back and finish checking out.

There’s nothing wrong with a text-only email. These emails can do really well at times! However, this one drags on a bit too long, and it doesn’t provide anything new to the potential customer.

Abandoned cart email templates

Inspired but don’t want to go through the trouble of custom-making your own email? Download one of our abandoned cart email templates or other free email templates!

These templates are easy to download, personalize, and incorporate into your email marketing strategy. Plus, you’ll find tips and tricks to get the most out of each email campaign.

How to write the best abandoned cart subject lines

Like with every email, engagement begins with the subject line. Your abandon checkout subject line makes a big difference between an open and an ignore. It doesn’t matter how perfectly timed and curated your email is if the subject line misses the mark. 

Writing a top-notch abandoned cart subject line is easier said than done. However, we have some easy-to-follow do’s and don’ts to help you get the most bang for your buck:
  • Keep it short: Recipients like short-and-sweet emails. Our subject line data shows around 4 words is best.
    • Example: Did you forget something?
  • Offer value: Don’t just send to send. Make sure you’re offering real value—and make sure it’s in the subject line.
    • Example: Your item’s on sale!
  • Make it specific and urgent: Use action verbs and drive home the call to action (CTA).
    • Example: Claim free shipping for next 24 hours!
  • Personalize: Remind your recipient exactly what item you’re talking about.
    • Example: Last chance to save 50% on TC Pro Climbing Shoe!
If you need some subject line inspiration, check out 39 Email Subject Lines That Rocked Our Inbox.

Abandon cart email best practices and compliance

Abandon cart emails are great and all, but are these emails legit? Is it OK to send these kinds of emails to customers?

Well, it depends.

There are right and wrong ways to go about your abandoned cart email strategy.

The right way is by following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and compliance best practices. The wrong way is by ignoring laws and user preferences and doing whatever you please.

We’re all about doing things the right way. Here’s how:

Obtain permission

Here’s what you’ll need to do:
  • Obtain explicit permission before you email anyone. You’ll need to obtain that through a direct opt-in.
  • Provide your recipient with accurate expectations, and they’ll need to give you explicit consent.
  • Be clear about all the kinds of emails you’re going to send your recipient.
Your shoppers may have opted in when they made a previous purchase, created an account, or signed up for a newsletter. But just because they opt in to your email newsletter doesn’t mean you can send them product updates, company hiring positions, or even abandoned cart emails.

You need to obtain consent for everything.

And the best way to do that is with an email preference center.

An email preference center gives your subscribers the option to opt in and remove themselves from aspects of your marketing list—rather than only having a subscribe all or unsubscribe all option.

So, for example, your subscriber could opt into receiving your monthly newsletter but opt out of the weekly product updates.

Learn how to implement an email preference center by reading Email Preference Center Perfection.

Provide an opt-out

Your email preference center is one opt-out opportunity, but you should offer even more to your subscribers.


Because if a subscriber can’t find the “Unsubscribe” button, they’re going to push the “Mark as Spam” button instead—and that’s going to hurt your email deliverability.

Unsubscribes aren’t a bad thing. Far from it.

“Don’t take unsubscribes personally,” says Koryn DelPrince, Lifecycle Marketing Specialist at Twilio. “As senders, we spend a lot of time editing and perfecting our messaging. And when recipients unsubscribe, it’s easy to feel rejected. However, the unsubscriber is actually doing you a favor by saying goodbye. They ensure you are sending to recipients who actually want your messages.”

So don’t hide your “Unsubscribe” button in a teeny-weeny font in your footer. Make it easy and obvious to find. 

The footer is fine, but keep the text legible and easy to find. Also, consider adding a “List-Unsubscribe” button to your header.

Collect the right data

To send the right messages to the right person, at the right time, on the right channel (that’s a mouthful), you’re going to need to collect accurate first-party data.

That’s where a tool like Segment can help.

Segment helps you collect, store, and unify your customer touchpoints from across the internet, empowering you to create personalized, consistent, and real-time customer experiences.

Real-time data enables you to act fast to send an email or show an ad within minutes of a user performing an action. That means you can contact your customer immediately while their paused purchase is still top of mind.

It also means you can contact them on the right channel. In some cases, it may be more effective to retarget your audience with an ad via social media, Google ads, or in-product marketing—and Segment can help you make it happen.

P.S. Segment can also help you automate and streamline your compliance efforts so you’re fully complying with GDPR and CCPA.


When is the best time to send abandoned cart emails?

There’s no best-time-serves-all recommendation. You’ll have to experiment and see what works best for your audience. Here are some different timing strategies to consider:
  • Immediately: Let your customer know as soon as possible they’ve left something in their cart. They’ve made it so far in the buyer’s journey—now give them the push they need to cross the finish line.
  • Delayed: Send a reminder a day or week later prompting them to go and finish their purchase. This gives them space to think about it, and it also gives you time to offer a promotion that’ll win them over.
  • Update: Let your potential buyer know if anything has changed. If stock is running low or there’s been a price update, send them an email notification.
  • Last call: If the item is about to go out of stock and not come back, give your customer a final chance to come back and seal the deal. Or if a coupon code they applied is about to expire, give them a final call.
Remember, don’t just send to send—add value. If your shopper left something in their cart, they likely didn’t forget (it’s possible, but less likely). They had a reason. Identify that reason and provide the solution.

If there’s no solution, don’t send an abandoned cart email.

What is a good abandoned cart email conversion rate?

It depends. Your industry and products will all impact conversion. For example, if you send a follow-up free shipping offer on a $30 watch, it’ll likely make a bigger impact than a free shipping offer on a $500 gaming console.

Industry averages are good to look at, but your historical email conversion rate is the main metric you should evaluate. Compare the conversion rate to past campaigns and keep looking to drive that number up.

Can you send abandoned cart text messages?

Yes. Check out this application that sends Voice, SMS, and WhatsApp notifications via Twilio when a customer triggers an event on your site—such as abandoning their shopping cart.

Are abandoned cart emails transactional?

Technically, yes. A transactional email is triggered when a customer initiates an action. Sometimes, that’s requesting a password receipt or making a purchase and receiving a receipt. In this case, the customer trigger is adding an item to their virtual cart.

Learn more in Marketing Email vs. Transactional Email: What’s the Difference?

How many abandoned cart emails should I send?

This goes back to providing value. How many emails you send isn’t as important as the quality. For example, you may send an immediate promotion to a potential customer with a free shipping offer. A week later, you might send them a 50% discount. And then, a week after that, you may send them a final reminder that inventory is low on the item and it’s about to sell out for good.

However, remember not to bombard your recipients. You’re not the only one sending them emails. If you overdo it, you’re in the fast lane toward the spam folder, and that’s not good for you, your customer, or your program’s deliverability.

Check out Fighting Email Fatigue: When is Your Email Frequency Too High? to learn the Goldilocks-approved amount of email to send.

How to set up abandoned cart emails

Want to start sending abandoned cart emails? Check out this detailed documentation to see the step-by-step process for setting up your campaigns with Twilio SendGrid.

It'll show you what extensions to install and how to use a dynamic transactional template for all your reminders.

Start sending cart abandonment emails

Ready to add abandoned cart emails to your marketing repertoire? 

Welcome aboard.

Here are a few resources to help you get started:

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