The surprising data behind abandoned cart email subject lines

abandoned cart subject lines

Crafting the perfect email takes time. You put hours into developing the content, placing the call-to-action, hunting down the perfect images, and hyperlinking the text. But what’s the point if no one’s opening your emails?

A few weeks ago, we launched our new ecommerce benchmark report on abandoned cart emails. In the report, we determined the best performing subject lines, how emojis performed, and whether or not adding your discount to the subject line increased sales.

With so much data at our fingertips, why not take it one step further? We decided to dig into the data and see which subjects lines are the most common, which subject lines didn’t meet our expectations, and which findings could be used to help increase your performance.

So without further ado — here is everything you need to know about abandoned cart subject lines.

Abandoned cart benchmarks

To start, let’s talk a little about the data. We looked at almost 3,000 US-based companies, who sent out around 3,127 distinct messages to over 60 million people who abandoned a cart, culminating an average open rate of 41.18%.

Our best performing email subject line was “You left something behind,” which achieved an average open rate of 47.67%, while subject lines that included an emoji or the discount came in right under the benchmark average.

abandoned cart subject lines

While emojis, discounts, and simplicity help drive opens, there’s a lot more you can do to increase your abandoned cart open rates.

Tips for abandoned cart subject lines

To help you drive more opens from your abandoned cart subject lines, here are a few tips we uncovered after rolling up our sleeves and diving head first into our data.

Personalization

Adding a bit of personalization to your subject by using the subscriber’s first name helped boost open rates to 41.67%, less than 1% above the average.

Keep in mind, you’ll want to include a default setting in case you don’t have your subscriber’s first name in your database. A good example would be using “there.” So if there is no first name on file, it would default to “Hey there”. Companies that used this default tag in their subject lines received an open rate of 52%.

Exclamation point

There’s nothing like adding a little bit of excitement using an exclamation point, am I right?! But don’t go overboard. A single exclamation point yielded a 42.35% open rate, over 1.17% higher than the average. But those who used more than one saw their average drop to 36%.

Having a lower open rate is only one of your problems when using too much punctuation. First, too many exclamation points can make it come off as you’re yelling at your subscriber. Second and more importantly, too much punctuation can trigger the spam filter and hurt your deliverability.

So keep it simple. Use one exclamation point where appropriate to help boost open rates!

Count characters

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all subject line length that will suit everyone. In fact, the ideal length of your subject line depends on a variety of factors — like the device your subscriber is reading it on, your past subject line performance, and what your audience responds to. But that won’t stop us from looking at the data to see what has been working for our customers.

abandoned cart subject lines

74.93% of our subject lines were subject lines were between 21-50 characters in length, with the highest performing length being between 1-10 characters (50.57% open rate). Although open rates stay relatively similar across the board, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your character count.

There are two reasons you should be cognizant of your character count:

You only have so long to capture the attention of the subscriber. A long subject line might deter them from opening.

A typical desktop inbox displays about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while mobile devices show just 25-30 characters. If your audience is primarily reading your emails on smartphones, you’ll want to keep your subject lines on the shorter side to give them a chance to read the entire line.

Now that you know what works, let’s cover some tactics that didn’t live up to expectations.

Mythbusters for abandoned cart subject lines

What exactly is a mythbusters? They’re subject lines that many people assume generate high open rates, but in reality, fall short of expectations.

They’re the abandoned cart subject lines that were commonly used because people think they work — but when compared to the average, DON’T! A few subject line myths include:

Limited time only: Putting a little pressure on your subscriber with a vague time limit didn’t perform as well as they thought it would. Instead of causing a sense of urgency, it caused people to just move on. Over 100 ecommerce stores used “Limited time only” in their subject line and saw an open rate of 29.3%.

Last chance: Over 400 people used “Last chance” in their subject line and saw an open rate of 34.27%, almost 7% below the average.

Expire: Over 1,000 people incorporated “expire” in their subject line and yielded an open rate of 37.14%. People being sent an email about an expiring discount are probably ones who didn’t respond to the first email about the discount. With abandoned cart emails, the more times that passes the less likely your subscriber is going to come back to reclaim their cart.

24 hours left: Sent to over 350 people, including how much time the person has left to reclaim their abandoned cart achieved an open rate of 36%.

Do you notice any correlation between these mythbusters? They all involve putting pressure on the subscriber to come back and complete their purchase. Putting a time limit on your discount or warning your subscriber that it’s their last chance to recover their cart simply doesn’t work as well as people would assume.Merely reminding your customer that they left something in their cart seemed to work the best.
Ideas for abandoned cart email subject lines

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, I’m here to help. Here are 20 subject line ideas for you abandoned cart series:

Ideas for abandoned cart email subject lines

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, I’m here to help. Here are 20 subject line ideas for you abandoned cart series:

Simple yet effective

1. I think you left something behind…
2. You forgot something
3. What can I help you with?
4. Don’t miss out!
5. Your simple reminder…

Personalized

6. Phil, you left your bags at checkout!
7. You left your super comfortable jeans behind
8. Hey Phil, you left something behind
9. Did you forget something, Phil?
10. I saw you checking out those jeans

Discount-focused

11. Here’s $10 on us
12. Hi Phil, would $20 help?
13. Recover your cart for $10 today
14. Hey Phil, how about 15% off, just because.
15. We found $10 for you!

Creative

16. Your shopping cart is lonely!
17. An Ethical “Bribe” ?
18. Ship happens…
19. On the fence? Maybe this will help
20. You order is NOT on the way

Conclusion

Let the findings above be a guide for you when crafting abandoned cart subject lines. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something new from time to time. Get creative. If you have a good idea, test it.

What works for abandoned carts might not work for other emails. So If you’re struggling to come up with subject lines for your campaign newsletters, here are 5 data-backed best practices for email subject lines.

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