Best Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines and 12 Tips to Win Back Sales

CM Commerce Team

In ecommerce, cart abandonment happens all the time, with shoppers abandoning an estimated 70% of carts.  

But it’s not all bad news: Setting up automated abandoned cart emails can help you win back a huge chunk of those sales. 

Effective emails start with the subject line. Read on to discover how to write engaging and friendly abandoned cart email subject lines, as well as the best examples we could find for inspiration.

What’s an abandoned cart email, and why do you need them?

Abandoned cart emails work because, when done well, they remind people why they added items to their cart in the first place. The best ones include a little incentive too. 

When a shopper adds items to their cart, but exits your website, your email tools like CM Commerce notice. After a certain amount of time—such as an hour, 12 hours, or a day—the shopper receives an automated email reminding them about the cart. 

You can design these emails ahead of time, so they go out automatically. 

Typically, abandoned cart emails contain images of the products from their cart with a link to complete the checkout process. Brands often include discount codes or coupons in the email, as well, to entice shoppers to follow through with the sale.

You need abandoned cart emails in your digital marketing strategy because they work. According to a study by Barilliance, cart abandonment emails had an average conversion rate of around 18.64%.

But, before you can write abandoned cart email subject lines that win the inbox, you have to cover the basics first.

Why do people abandon their carts? 

For many reasons. Think of why you’ve decided against checking out at the last minute. Some reasons include:

  • Shipping is too expensive
  • Unexpected fees
  • Invalid discount codes
  • Shipping will take too long
  • Having to re-enter credit card or shipping info
  • Requiring a registered account (no guest checkout option)
What should you fix before tweaking your abandoned cart email subject lines?
Source: Statista

Before optimizing your abandoned cart email subject lines and copy, you’ll want to create a frictionless checkout process. 

The UX experts at Nielsen-Norman Group recommend following mobile best practices. Creating a seamless mobile checkout experience benefits everyone, no matter their device.

  • Make it easy to update and remove items in their cart from the checkout screen
  • Provide a guest checkout option and make sure it’s visible
  • Integrate autofill features for addresses and credit card info
  • Automatically update location-specific shipping and tax before they add items to their cart
  • Make sure items added to a cart on mobile will still be there when the same customer opens your site on a laptop

15 of the best abandoned cart email subject lines for inspiration

These are some of the best abandoned cart email subject lines we could find. They’re friendly, interesting, and not at all aggressive.

Oooh good choice! We set it aside for you! — Food52

Don’t let free shipping go to waste — Rudy’s

Quick heads up… — Beardbrand  

Your basket has abandonment issues… ☹ — Jack Wills

You’re nearly there — Virgin Atlantic

The Google WiFi in your cart is going fast — Google Store

Still thinking it over? — PEEL

You left something behind — Moschino 

Forgot something? — Chewy  

Don’t get left in the dust — Brooks Running

You left something comfortable in your cart — Mack Weldon

Something just happened in your shopping bag — J. Crew

Hey, forgot something? Here’s 20% off — Bonobos 

Where did you go? — Dollar Shave Club

Wait up. Your order is not complete. — Blu Dot

How to craft winning abandoned cart email subject lines: 12 tips

Follow some of these strategies to grab attention and give shoppers that extra nudge at the inbox. 

1. Keep it concise.

Most email clients will only display the first 30-40 characters on a smartphone screen push notification. Plus, it’s easier for folks to get the point when you keep your copy nice and short. Beardbrand’s subject line “Quick heads up” grabs attention without saying much at all, and their abandoned cart email below is a great example of copy that gets straight to the point.

Be concise in your abandoned cart email subject lines
Source: Really Good Emails

2. Avoid a creepy or condescending tone.

Abandoned cart email subject lines like “Did your WiFi go out?” are kind of condescending. Their WiFi didn’t go out; they had a genuine reason for not finishing the sale.

Likewise, creepy subject lines like “We’re taking notes” just remind the shopper that they’re being watched everywhere online. About half of individuals are willing to trade some privacy for personalization, but keep it subtle.  

3. Offer a discount or coupon in your abandoned cart email subject lines.

Offering discounts or free shipping is an awesome tactic for winning over sales that brands normally don’t use at brick-and-mortar stores.

Let subscribers know about the deal right away in your abandoned cart email subject lines. In terms of open rates:

  • Percent-based discounts deliver 37% open rates on average
  • Dollar-based, 43%
  • Free shipping, 43%

Dollar-based discounts provide the highest revenue per recipient too.

Provide an incentive in your abandoned cart email subject lines
Source: Orchard Agency

4. Spark their curiosity.

Subject lines like “Forgot something?” or “Here’s your gift” get shoppers thinking and pique their sense of curiosity. Depending upon the nature of your store, it may be helpful to utilize this strategy to entice them into opening and seeing what you have to say or offer.

5. Personalize with the product in your abandoned cart email subject lines.

You could also include a reference to a specific product or feature in your abandoned cart email subject lines to remind shoppers of why they liked the item in the first place. Note how the Mack Weldon example uses the word “comfortable” to reference what the customer had in their cart prior to abandoning.

6. Add an emoji.

Utilizing emoji in your subject lines can make a huge impact on your open rates. Whether or not an emoji will boost your open rate often depends on your industry, but it’s definitely worth giving a shot, when appropriate. Depending on your audience and brand voice, you could use a ☹ or an emoji of the product.

7. Skip generic or vague abandoned cart email subject lines.

The definition of “generic” changes over time, as marketers start using the same tactics and customers get annoyed. It’s all part of the constant Tom and Jerry game we play as marketers. 

That’s why things like “Limited time only,” “Last chance,” and “24 hours left” aren’t warm or personal enough to encourage action. Keep your subject lines unique and personalized to prevent customers from ignoring them.

8. Write like a friend.

You’ve already interested shoppers enough to add items to their cart. There’s no need to keep the business mask on. Use a conversational tone in your abandoned cart email subject lines. 

Options like “Hey, wait!,” “Yeah, we love those too,” “You have awesome taste,” or “Want these speakers by Friday?” are much more personal and far more likely to encourage the shopper to follow through on purchasing.

Be clever and friendly in your abandoned cart email subject lines
Source: RedRokk

9. Use playful branding.

Where appropriate, you could include references to your brand name, motto, or theme. “We shaved a few $$ off your cart” would be perfect for a razor company, for example. It might not make them chuckle, but it does get them thinking about the product and your brand and increases the possibility of them completing the purchase.

10. Ask a question.

Questions demand answers. Ask a question and your shoppers will feel compelled to open the email and find the answer. “Is it something we said?” is a great conversation starter for leading into a joke in the preview text or copy.

11. Keep it urgent or time sensitive.

You want to add some kind of urgency to your abandoned cart email subject lines, but you also don’t want to be rude. Something simple like “We’re holding the items in your cart for 48 hours” lets shoppers know they must decide soon. Likewise, “You just unlocked free shipping for the rest of the week!” works well too.

Add urgency to abandoned cart email subject lines
Source: Society6

12. Don’t forget the preview text.

Be sure to avoid repeating yourself between the subject line, preview text, and first few lines of body copy. Since email clients will display all three if a subscriber pulls down the push notification on their device, this will force them to read the same message more than once.

Your subject line and preview text should flow seamlessly, so try creating a series of sentences or phrases that build upon each other and might generate interest in opening the email.

Extra tips beyond your abandoned cart email subject line

Now that your abandoned cart subject lines are getting shoppers to open your emails, you’ll need to win their trust and get the sale. Keep these tips in mind when designing your copy:

  • Embed relevant reviews
  • Include user-generated images of the products
  • Make the email body look like the shopping cart
  • Include applicable taxes, fees, and shipping in the final price
  • Offer a dedicated landing page, so shoppers don’t have to load your full site
  • Give them a discount

Wrap up

If you don’t have an abandoned cart strategy, you’re only earning 30% of potential sales. An email series with optimized and personalized abandoned cart subject lines can help you win back some of that 70% of missing income. 

When drafting your subject lines, remember to:

  • Spark their interest
  • Add a discount
  • Ask a question
  • Keep it short
  • Sound like a friend
  • Don’t be condescending

Looking for more tips to automate your ecommerce email marketing? Check out these 9 must-have automation tools for growing your store.