3 Tactics for Writing Better Abandoned Cart Emails

Ecommerce Best Practices | 9 mins

More than 3/4 of shoppers abandon their carts. Winning back these shoppers is key to increasing your profit. You have already spent money on helping these customers find your website, browse, and like items enough to put them in a cart. Maybe they’ve even ordered before. Sending an abandoned cart email campaign is a cost-effective way to win these customers back, especially compared to the money it takes to get new customers through the process of discovery.

The key to any email campaign will be your subject line. If it isn’t good, shoppers won’t open the email, they won’t go back to their carts, and they won’t purchase. In fact, subject lines are so important that 33% of customers will open emails based on a good subject line alone.

Crafting a great campaign with a killer email and subject line is easier than you think. Use the three tactics below to get creative with your campaign and entice customers to click on your emails and love what they read.

1. Use Humor: Funny Can Be Eye-Catching

Making your emails and abandoned cart subject lines humorous is a good way to stand out in a crowded inbox. It can be a refreshing change from all-caps “SALE” notifications that customers get by the dozen. When used correctly, lightheartedness can make your brand seem approachable and entice people to click — especially because people want to buy products from people or brands they like.

Golf Cart King

A great example is this full-on funny abandoned cart email from Golf Cart King. Their subject line uses old-timey language that plays off of their brand name, and it positions the shopper as someone on a quest, pulling them into the world of knights and kings. They follow this up with matching email copy that adds a twist to the usual “Do you still want this?” customers are used to.

This playful language works particularly well not just because it matches their brand, but also because their products can handle a humorous treatment — it doesn’t read as insensitive. Making the shopping experience into a medieval quest is playful and charming, not making light of something serious, which can get brands into trouble. Those buying golf accessories are likely shopping because they love golf as a leisure activity, and spicing things up is a great move for this brand.


Dyson’s abandoned cart campaign is a great reminder that the title of an email isn’t the only thing that people see in their inbox. The first line of an email is also previewed along with the subject line, and brands should use this to their advantage. The subject is a simple “Items in your basket at dyson.com,” but the opening of the email — which will appear in a shopper’s inbox — is “All is not lost.”

Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

This a playful way to reassure shoppers that their items are still available. Just like Dyson, you can still use humor to your advantage even when being informative. And don’t forget about the preview text when you’re crafting the first line of your win-back emails.

Key Takeaways For Using Humor

  • Humor and lightheartedness work when they complement your brand. Don’t be afraid to use the funnier side of your products, business name, or slogan to your advantage.
  • If you are going to start with a humorous subject line, be sure to follow it up in the body of the email. Continuing your tone throughout is an easy way to endear customers to you.
  • Know what type of humor your customers will enjoy: are you a nerdy niche where puns are appropriate? A cult brand that can use sarcasm? Whatever you do, your customers have to appreciate it or the humor will fall flat.

2. Up the Stakes: Scarcity Breeds Urgency

According to the Harvard Business Review, “scarcity encourages us to buy sooner and perhaps to buy more than normal.” A good way to attract people back to their carts is to impress upon them that time may be running out for them to make their purchase. This is a simple trick that can make a big difference in your email campaigns, especially when you put it in your abandoned cart subject lines.

Google Store

Google’s subject line says it all: “The Google Wifi in your cart is going fast.” If you had been planning on using Google’s products to get online, you’d probably be tempted to open this email. It’s a classic example of how to use scarcity, but Google goes one step further. They back it up in their copy, noting that their popular products “sell out fast.”

Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com
Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Another key point about this campaign is the specificity. The subject line doesn’t just say “Hurry!” — it notes specific items that are in danger of selling out. It also says the items are in “Your cart,” making the reader the de-facto owner. It’s a more personal touch than your run-of-the-mill “You forgot something…” These small details can make customers feel more connected to what they have in their carts and get them to open your emails and reconsider not purchasing.


Gilt’s cart abandonment campaign adds just enough pressure to get customers to check out, but not so much that it’s overbearing. Gilt sells luxury clothing and accessories purchased vendor inventory at a discount. This inventory is limited, so when their products are sold out, there is no guarantee that customers will be able to get the same item in the future. The subject line “[Product Name] is still available – Check Out Now!” emphasizes this in a positive way while still nudging consumers towards conversion.

Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com
Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com


In the body of their email, they do two excellent things to follow up on this subject line. First, Gilt includes related items that customers may have missed in the same email, displaying how much they’re marked down from the original price. Second, they show other active sales by product type and brand, increasing the chances that customers will see a new offer and add something else to their cart before checkout. Both get customers back onto their website, looking for the next deal.

Key Takeaways For Using Scarcity

  • Using scarcity is easy to do, regardless of your product or business. Simply emphasize that other people are buying the product or that you may run out of stock. Be sure to note if things are best-selling items.
  • Try pairing scarcity tactics with a small discount or perk (e.g., free shipping, double points if you order in the next 24 hours) to further entice buyers.
  • Make the customers feel like they own the items — your wifi, your cart — this will emphasize the feeling that they are losing something if they don’t buy.
  • Set a deadline to further increase urgency, e.g., “Your items will disappear from your cart in 24 hours.” Don’t be afraid to use a countdown timer in emails either.

3. Double Down: Personalization Works

According to Instapage, “Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates [than non-personalized ones],” and personalized emails have 29% higher open rates. Personalization helps build a connection between you and your customers. When a customer has abandoned their cart, personalization can help reconnect them with almost-purchased items or suggest alternatives that get them back on your webstore.

But the benefits of personalization can be experienced only when shoppers open their email. Great subject lines and personalized emails feed off each other, so mix up how you use personalization in your email campaigns.

Peak Design

Camera equipment supplier Peak Design hits the nail on the head when they use customer names in their email titles here. This is an easy way to personalize your abandoned cart email subject lines, but it’s surprising how many companies don’t use it. Even their simple “Did you forget something, Jason?” goes further than many companies.

Image source: Pinterest

They follow up with a high-quality photo of the items that Jason left in his cart, including the price and a clickable CTA stating “proceed to checkout.” What bumps this email to the extra mile is their offers for support—answering questions just takes replying to the email, and they remind Jason that there’s a lifetime guarantee on products. Personalization acts as the hook here and their clear value propositions are a smart followup.


This email from Worx cuts right to the chase: “Take another look” There’s no confusion, no question, just a call to action—which is both enticing, and refreshing. And when you do open, the email is still just as straightforward. It not only shows you the last product you viewed, it also offers a personalized selection of Worx items that the shopper might like based on what is already in their cart.

Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com
Image Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Adding personalized selections serves two purposes. One, it offers replacement items that customers might be interested in, in case the items left in their cart have sold out. It also pulls the shopper back into the Worx website and makes them feel like they’re being catered to in a more personal way. The email is also perfectly optimized for mobile browsing, drawing customers back to the site from wherever they might open it. It builds the connection between Worx and the customer by saying, Hey, we know you’re busy, but we’re paying attention to you and we care about what you like, which is a great way to connect through personalization.

Key Takeaways for using personalization

  • Start with the basics, like adding customer names to your subject line and showcasing the items they have in their cart in the email. This is more personalization than many companies use and it’s an effective and easy way to start using personalization.
  • But don’t stop there! Get creative with your subject line and pair it with an email that uses personalization to add value: helping customers picture themselves on their trip, helping customers find new products.
  • A great way to build intrigue and encourage customers to make it across the checkout finish line is by asking a question in your subject line that makes customers want to open the email.

Win customers back

Cart abandonment emails only work if people open them. Spending an extra few minutes on your email subject line and the text that appears in an email preview can improve open rates and drive people back to your site. Three easy ways to do this are:

  • Use humor that plays off of your brand, logo, and/or products to brighten up customers’ inboxes.
  • Try featuring scarcity that emphasizes your popularity and value to encourage customers not to wait to buy what they like.
  • Add personalization.

Get creative and try different approaches. See what entices your customers, and use your marketing personas to craft subject lines that speak to your shoppers. Standing out in a customer’s inbox can make all the difference in winning customers back and boosting your sales.