You’ve fine-tuned your conversion process. You’ve A/B Tested your unique value proposition.  You’ve optimized your landing page and have clear call to action buttons. And still, you’ve got customers who are abandoning your checkout page before buying. It’s a problem that almost all online marketers have faced and it’s called shopping cart abandonment.

According to industry experts, online shoppers abandon carts anywhere between 50% and 80% of the time. As consumers, we know we’ve all done it.

What’s more surprising is that more than two-thirds (69.3%) of the Top 100 online retailers from Epsilon’s Abandoned Shopping Cart Email Strategies Report said that they do not send regular abandoned cart emails to potential customers.

It’s simple math. You spread your marketing budget across various channels to try and get more site traffic.  When potential customers fall out of the checkout process, you’re losing valuable leads. These folks were really close to buying from you and even felt compelled to start the process.

Thankfully, there’s good news. By following a few simple rules, you can start an abandoned cart remarketing program and get back 5%-15% of these potential customers.  We were inspired to write this article by the guys over at Gaspedal. They posted a great example of an abandoned cart email from Crutchfield.


Timing of your abandoned cart email is crucial to the success of your campaign. 33% of the retailers in Epsilon’s study sent the recovery email within 72 hours of the abandon.  We recommend you send it within the first 24 hours. You don’t want your potential customers to feel like you’re invading their privacy, but if you wait too long they may move to another merchant. Connect with them when the interaction with your brand is fresh in their mind.


Another interesting point from Epsilon’s study was that only 16% of the retailers surveyed used a special offer to try and encourage the sale.  After all, a coupon for a free shipping offer could go a long way to convert some one who was so close to buying. We’re not entirely sure why most of these merchants don’t incentivize, but our guess is that it has to do with people abusing the system. Make sure your abandoned order tracking system is equipped with logic to recognize repeat abandoners or only serve discounts to a random subset of potential customers.


The more context you can provide for your potential customers the better. Populate the email with the items that they had in their cart. Use photographs. Better yet, when they click on the link to complete their order, have their cart prepopulated with the items they originally abandoned. Make your re-engagement process frictionless and you’ll see big gains in conversion.


It’s very important that your recovery email uses customer service messaging instead of sales messaging.  Using subject lines like, “How can we help?” or “Was there a problem?” will go a long way to make your potential customers feel as though you’re following up in a genuine way. If your message is too sales-oriented, your potential customers may feel like you’re trying to strong-arm them. Make sure you have clear links to support documentation, FAQs, and your toll-free number visible in case people have questions.


16% of the retailers who were surveyed said they sent more than one abandoned cart email to their customers. The other 84% are missing a huge opportunity. We live in a world where people receive hundreds and even thousands of emails per week. Your potential customers could easily miss your company’s follow up email and forget you even exist. By establishing an automated series of follow up emails, you can continue to engage with potential prospects over time. Be careful to have tracking in place that removes people from the remarketing campaign if they convert and have a clear one-click unsubscribe button in case people want to opt-out.

How do you handle your abandoned carts? Did we miss anything?

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hallmark, eTix, Liftopia, and Vtech Electronics to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.