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The Best Subject Lines For Cart Abandonment Emails

Here’s a scary statistic for you: On average, three out of four carts are abandoned by shoppers.

But it’s not all bad news: Customers who initially abandon their carts, but respond successfully to cart abandonment emails end up spending 55 percent more on their order. Additionally, 45 percent of all shopping cart recovery emails are opened, and 50 percent of opened emails are then clicked on.

Considering these promising numbers, there’s no reason why B2C marketers should treat abandoned carts like lost causes. In fact, with a little bit of email wizardry, there’s still ample opportunity to save the sale. It all hinges on a well-executed email campaign that’s delivered at the right time and on the right channel with the right message.

Cart abandonment may be Email Marketing 101, but it’s always good to review the basics. These are powerful campaigns that can mean the difference between a successful purchase and a churned customer—so there’s no room to do it half-heartedly.

The subject line is king

Just like a first date, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression with your abandoned cart emails. And as one of the first points of contact a shopper has with your brand, the email subject line can make or break a potential customer’s decision to act on or ignore your message.

Because subject lines are so critical, we decided to take a closer look at the kinds of messages in cart abandonment emails that today’s top brands are sending their customers. Sure enough, a clear pattern came into view, as the emails we received fell into five distinct categories.

Using these successful subject lines as a guide, you’ll be on your way to writing your own fantastic emails that drive better open rates—and conversion rates—to complement your cart abandonment campaigns.

The ticking clock approach

“You left this… get it before it’s gone!” ….  “Only 24 hours left to save your bag!” …. “Time is running out!”

OK, the exclamation points might be a bit over-the-top. But you can’t argue with the effectiveness of injecting a sense of urgency into your subject lines (whether you choose to use exclamation points or not).

Why does urgency work as a tactic? For one, it helps customers realize they only have a limited time to make their purchase. Maybe the items in their cart are running out of stock, or perhaps a flash sale is coming down to its final hours. As the clock ticks on the items they’ve abandoned, shoppers will be incentivized to rethink their purchasing decision.

But more than that, this tactic plays into customers’ human nature. It’s no secret that people prefer immediate gratification over a delayed rewards, even if those rewards provide a higher value in the long run. That’s why ecommerce brands are wise to play up on the ticking clock approach to help drive demand, and ultimately close the sale.

Email inspiration

Brand: Brooklinen

Subject line: “Still available?”

Phrasing the subject line as a question is a smart way for Brooklinen to draw attention to this cart abandonment email, which uses the ticking clock approach to goad readers to take action before they get sold out.

The “just a friendly reminder” approach

“Hey, nice cart!” …. “Still interested in [name of abandoned cart product]?” …. “Good news! We’ve saved your cart.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but taking the exact opposite approach from the ticking clock method—that is, refraining from pressuring your customers instead of rushing them to make a purchase—can be super effective.

These types of subject lines show that you’re not just out to make a quick buck. In fact, you’re demonstrating that, whatever their needs might be, you’re there to make sure those needs are met in a low-pressure, browse-at-your-own-pace way.

Email inspiration

Brand: Jack Wills

Subject line: “Your basket is having abandonment issues.”

This pithy subject line, in conjunction with a reassuring email headline, helps to establish an easygoing camaraderie between Jack Wills and its cart abandonment email recipients. Plus, there’s an added element of personalization, so what’s not to love?

The “oops!” approach

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” …. “Forgotten, but not gone—yet!” …. “Oops! You forgot something.”

Speaking as ecommerce marketers who rarely abandon carts by accident, we find this approach a bit unusual in spite of its popularity. If a brand is seeking to understand and meet our needs, acting as if we simply forgot to finish our purchase seems like an odd way to do it.

Still, the “oops!” approach is by far the most popular with brands seeking to strike a fine line between friendliness and urgency. It’s also the type of email we’ve seen most frequently in our research, perhaps because it lets brands showcase their wit and flex their creative muscles.

Email inspiration

Brand: Adidas

Subject line: “Sorry to hear about your Wi-Fi”

Chances are your Wi-Fi is working just fine (and Adidas knows that). The real purpose of this cart abandonment email? To hype up the product (in this case, their classic shoes) the shopper abandoned. Adidas even goes a step further, giving readers the option to customize their shoes, just in case they weren’t wholly convinced by their first choice.

The humorous approach

“Did you forget your precioussss?” …. “‘Baby come back!’ – your cart” …. “Warning: Unattended items in your bag may be eaten by gnomes”

A joke might seem like little more than a cheap trick, but as research from Harvard Business Review points out, people who are able to successfully insert humor into business contexts are perceived as being more competent and approachable.

The same goes for ecommerce brands trying to re-engage their customers, as well. If you’re able to use humor in your cart abandonment campaigns and see success, the personality of your branding will only help strengthen your relationships with your customers.

Email inspiration

Brand: Whisky Loot

Subject line: “Your cart is sobering up.”

Every single one of these one-liners from Whisky Loot is gold. Even if we’re not confident readers would make it through the entire list (it’s pretty lengthy), we’re guessing the subject line alone is clever enough to make reconsider their purchase.

The incentive approach

“Your free gift awaits!” …. “Here’s something to sweeten the deal” …. “This one’s on us.”

While there’s certainly a wide range of writing styles and tones to choose from when addressing your customers in cart abandonment campaigns, nothing convinces shoppers quite like getting offered an incentive for completing their purchase.

From free samples to free shipping, people love a good deal. The latter option in particular is especially enticing when you consider the fact that 55% of customers abandon their carts because of shipping costs. (Not to mention 90 percent of shoppers count free shipping as the biggest incentive to shop online in the first place).

Email inspiration

Brand: Huckberry

Subject line: “Free shipping on your order”

Huckberry isn’t doing anything too groundbreaking here. But sometimes, all it takes is a simple, well-worded message with an enticing offer to coax a passive shopper into becoming a brand advocate.


Think we missed a subject line that works amazingly well in ecommerce? Let us know in the comments!

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