abandoned cart

One of the great inevitabilities in e-commerce is the abandoned cart. It is also a significant annoyance to businesses, who have got that customer so far through the funnel only for them to leave.

Surveys suggest that over 75% of shoppers put items in an online cart and then leave without completing the sale. At Christmas, when the time is short to convert this potential revenue, timing the email to the customer and getting the message right couldn’t be more critical. The abandoned cart email is one of the most effective communication tools in your arsenal. 

Here we explore the four ways to maximize the success of this abandoned cart email. The hope is that this will increase your bottom line at a time when every click on buy is essential.

Use Gentle Calls to Actions

A conspicuous component of your email is the call to action. You want to tell your customer clearly and assertively what to do next. However, getting the tone of this instruction right in your abandoned cart email is challenging. You don’t want to appear desperate or bossy, especially if this is a first-time customer. By clicking “purchase,” the customer is showing a commitment to your promises for the right product and service. Therefore, being gently encouraging while being clear in your intent is essential.

Avoiding using the word “buy” might sound counterintuitive, but it works. Instead of buying, you could ask your potential customer to “Visit your Cart” or “Take another look” and so remind them that there is unfinished business waiting for them.

In short, you need to demand a lower commitment from your customer, so they know there is a need to act without a feeling of pressure or being chased.

Personalize the Email

If you want the customer to feel valued, then you need to speak directly to them. Sure, you know their name and can use your content management software to insert this field. However, better still, you should personalise the email with the content that the customer left behind. You should remind them of what they almost bought and offer your best images and incentivize in the subject line. 

You might want to include some humor if it is part of your brand voice. You could gently tease the customer with comments about being forgetful. You need a creative copywriter to pull it off, but it is a great way to build a relationship.

What is more important is that this text is kept simple. Keep the message to, ‘here is what you have forgotten, here is why you should convert and here is what to do next.’ The shorter the content, the more likely it will work its magic. The impact should be more visual than require a commitment to respond to copy.

Use Scarcity

The idea that the item is popular, and there are few items left is  one of the most effective psychological triggers in eCommerce marketing. Nobody wants to miss out. Therefore, informing your customer that the product is about to go out of stock serves many purposes. First, it gives the impression that this is a must-have item, and the customer was right to desire this enough to put it in their cart. If you matched this with examples of customer testimonials and ratings, you would heighten that sense of desire.

Second, the longer the time the cart is left unconverted, the more it will be abandoned for good. Consequently, this offers an incentive to the customer to act quickly – when they might not act at all. Finally, in a period leading up to Christmas, you have a finite period to convert this sale before it becomes irrelevant.

Obviously, you do not want to use this approach indiscriminately. It could give the impression that you have limited control over your supply chain.

Offer an Incentive

Working out when to offer a discount or a promo code to convert a sale is challenging, especially for a small business. You do not want to give the impression to your customers that if they wait, they will get the item cheaper. Therefore, although it is tempting to try and close the deal with a lower price, you will want to use this approach sparingly. In the period before Christmas, you have an opportunity to use the holiday season as an excuse to sweeten the deal for the customer. You could veil it in the language of “gifts” and “kindness”, as fitting with the festivities.

Incentives to complete the purchase can be more imaginative. It might be that the customer needs additional ideas on how to use the purchase or make the most of the item. Therefore, as well as reminding the customer that they have forgotten the items in their cart, you could suggest products that up-level the experience with the original product they selected.

Alternatively, you could use the phrase “not exactly what you are looking for” and then suggest closely related items that could be more tempting to the customer. This shows you are continually trying to meet their personal needs, and with the right copy will not appear too pressing.


The abandoned cart email is one of the jobs of the marketer that has the most impact on the bottom line of a company. Get it right, and you can turn some of that 75% of customers that click away into converted sales. Get it wrong, and you can ruin the reputation of your business, as you are perceived to be too aggressive or persistent. 

Any intrusion into a customer’s email inbox needs to be efficient, taking only as much time as is required to encourage them to continue the relationship with your company. The strategies offered here allow you to make your customer feel known and incentivise clear and simple action – the sweet spot for the marketer.

Laura McLoughlin is a Digital PR based in Armagh, Northern Ireland. She has previous experience as a website editor and journalist, and currently works with Chorus Commerce.

Abandoned cart stock photo by CalypsoArt/Shutterstock