Abandoned cart email subject lines: Turn missed opportunities into sales (23 strategies + examples)

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines and email examples You Can Use to Turn Missed Opportunities into Future Sales

Many ecommerce marketers already know that sending abandoned cart emails to customers who add a product or products to their cart without completing checkout is one of the most effective ways to turn considerations into conversions.

But even the most incredible abandoned cart email is only as good as its open rate. So how do you get shoppers to open your abandoned cart emails in the first place?

Try a marketing automation tool for email marketing

The key is your abandoned cart email subject line. 

Read on to discover:

Why are abandoned cart email subject lines important?

Though the subject line of your abandoned cart email may seem like a minor detail, they can make or break your open rate—and thus your ability to convert casual shoppers into customers. 

Think about it: You may have scrutinized every single detail of your abandoned cart email from the copy to the call-to-action (CTA) button, but if nobody opens it, then all your hard work strategizing won’t pay off.

Abandoned cart subject lines draw shoppers in, pique their interest, and entice them to click into an email to find out more. 

Not convinced? Here are a few statistics that prove just how valuable a smart subject line can be to your abandoned cart recovery strategy:

  • Forty-seven percent of email recipients open emails based on the subject line
  • The average office worker receives around 121 emails every workday, and there’s a lot of competition when it comes to standing out in shoppers’ inboxes
  • Abandoned cart emails received a 40 percent open rate on average in 2020, which signals that shoppers are more likely to open emails with abandoned cart subject lines than typical marketing emails (which receive a 12 percent open rate on average)

While it might seem daunting to craft the perfect subject line, the good news is that consumers are evidently already interested in hearing what you have to say in your abandoned cart email. 

And it makes sense—they’ve already shown an intent to buy by placing a product in their shopping cart. Often, all you have to do is give them a little push to complete their purchase.

Cart abandonment benchmarks and best practices

Abandoned cart subject line tips and tricks

Before you start drafting subject lines for your abandoned cart emails, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Consider these four tips to create effective subject lines before you begin:

1 | Personalize your cart abandonment subject lines

It’s no secret that using personalization in your email marketing strategy is one of the best ways to engage your audience. But did you know that you can personalize your subject lines as well?

There are two main ways to personalize your abandoned cart subject lines: Through profile properties and email segmentation. 

Profile properties allow you to insert collected properties, like a shopper’s first name or the product they added to their cart, directly into your subject line. 

For example, using profile properties, you could ensure that all of your abandoned cart emails start with the shopper’s first name and say something like “Alex, you left this behind.”

Email segmentation, on the other hand, allows you to split your abandoned cart emails based on the lists your subscribers belong to. By using email segmentation, you can send completely different emails to people based on the conditions they qualify for. 

For example, if you own an outdoor apparel store, you could send two versions of your abandoned cart email based on where someone lives. One might say “Keep warm with the items you left in your cart” for consumers who live in the north during the winter while the other might say “Stay dry with the items you left in your cart” for consumers who live in the south.

Whether you reference someone’s location, use gender targeting, reference the product in their cart, or just use their name, personalizing your subject lines through audience segmentation can help you grab a shopper’s attention. In fact, shoppers are 22 percent more likely to open an email with a personalized subject line than an email with no personalization.

Start customizing your abandoned cart emails at scale

2 | Consider the length of your email subject lines

The length, or the word and character count, of your subject lines will likely affect your open rates. 

You might have to embody your inner Goldilocks for this one—while you don’t want your subject line to be too long, something too short might not relay enough information about the content of the email. You need to find something that’s just right. 

You also have to consider how your subject lines will read on mobile, since 68 percent of people read emails on their smartphones. If your subject line is too long, it’s more likely to get cut off if someone’s scrolling through their mobile inbox.

Keep your subject lines around six to 10 words and less than 43 characters (the cut-off for most mobile inboxes) to maximize your reach with shoppers, no matter how they’re consuming your brand’s email content.

Email subject line best practice

3 | Use preview for the abandoned cart email text to your advantage

You can’t talk about subject lines without also discussing preview text, or the text the displays after the subject line in an inbox. 

abandoned cart email subject lines preview text

You can either choose your preview text like you do your subject line or the preview text will automatically generate by pulling from the first line of text within the body of your email.

When you choose your own preview text, you have more control over what the reader actually sees. For example, if the preview pulls copy from the email, it could use the navigation bar, header, or other areas that you don’t necessarily want to showcase alongside your subject line.

Instead, choosing a preview text to complement your subject line can emphasize the main message of your subject line.

Alternatively, if you really want to keep things concise, you can hide the preview text altogether.

4 | Keep the abandoned cart email subject line simple

When consumers see an email in their inbox with a subject line that overuses caps lock, exclamation points, and emojis, what happens? Sure, the email may get their attention, but this can also come across as aggressive and overbearing.

I was recently asked how I feel about emojis in subject lines. I think this is waaaay too much. #emailgeeks #UseEmojisSparingly #WayTooManyEmojis pic.twitter.com/2Ym9G1531e

— Anne Tomlin (@pompeii79) June 25, 2020

You don’t send emails to your colleagues, friends, and family that say “HEY!! OPEN THIS NOW!!!!!!” So why would you do so for your customers?

There’s a fine line between making your email stand out and overdoing it—and you definitely don’t want to risk shoppers marking your email, which could hurt your sender reputation.

Keep the tone of your messaging conversational, approachable, and compliant with your brand voice in order to resonate with more consumers. 

Start personalizing your email strategy

5 | A/B test every abandoned cart email

You can follow all the tips, tricks, and best practices for cart abandonment subject lines in the world, but the success of your emails will depend on your brand’s audience.

For example, one brand’s customer demographic might skew younger and respond to emojis and acronyms, while another brand might target an older audience where the same strategy might not resonate as well. 

The best way to understand what your audience responds to is to A/B test your subject lines. By differentiating the language you use in subject lines and seeing which version your recipients respond to more, you can use those learnings to continuously iterate and improve your subject line strategy.

A/B test your subject lines for conversion

Subject line strategies for cart recovery

While you should feel inspired to come up with your own one-of-a-kind abandoned cart email subject lines, there are a few tried-and-true methods you can use that many brands have found successful in the past.

Still want to know more about abandoned cart emails?

Here are nine common strategies for abandoned cart subject lines that ecommerce marketers use in their emails:

1 | Set up email subject lines that are a reminder

Many abandoned cart subject lines will make some kind of suggestion for the shopper to continue their checkout experience and complete their purchase. These subject lines typically imply that the shopper forgot to checkout, accidentally left the brand’s website, or got distracted before completing their purchase.

Brands often use subject lines with language like “You left something behind” or “Did you forget something?” to remind the customer of the product they’ve already shown an interest in.

2 | Add abandoned cart email Subject lines with urgency

Creating a sense of urgency through your subject line can draw a shopper’s attention and get someone who’s on the fence to act fast at the risk of losing out on a certain deal or the product they’re considering.

Consider using messaging like “Your shopping cart is about to expire,” “Your item is almost sold out,” or “Finish checking out before our sale ends” to let consumers know that they have a limited time to make their purchase. 

3 | FOMO-inducing subject lines work for cart abandonment

Similarly to subject lines that portray a sense of urgency, subject lines that induce FOMO, or the fear of missing out, focus on how popular your product is with other customers in order to help draw shoppers back to your website.

These subject lines show tentative purchasers that your items are in high demand. Just like telling someone they might miss out on an item, when you show shoppers that other people are interested in your products, it’ll make them more difficult to resist. 

Use language like “Other shoppers are eying the items in your cart” or “Find out what customers love about the item in your cart” and follow-up with social proof to seal the deal. 

4 | Try subject lines in your email that offer an incentive

Who can resist a good discount or freebie? 

Many marketers offer a discount, such as a dollar amount or percentage off, in order to get people to make their first purchase with the brand. Alternatively, offers such as free shipping or a free gift with purchase can be effective with new customers, as well.

As a result, including these offers in your subject line can give shoppers just the right amount of push they need to open the email to get a code and complete their purchase. 

Of course, this method isn’t ideal for every brand. Some direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, especially, avoid offering discounts to new customers.

If this sounds like you, consider offering a discount after a first-time customer receives a series of abandoned cart emails without purchasing—you might not want to use an incentive in your first effort to convert the customer, but it might be worth it to offer one as a last resort if they still haven’t made a purchase after receiving two or three abandoned cart messages.

5 | Intrigue users with vague email subject lines

Vague subject lines tend to use fewer words and characters to create a sense of intrigue and mystery. 

When done right, this strategy can pique a shopper’s attention just enough to get them to click into your abandoned cart email—not to mention, it’s typically mobile-friendly since it’s short and sweet.

Brief subject lines like “Oops…” “Wait up!” or “So close” stand out in shoppers’ inboxes and leave them curious about what your brand has to say.

6 | Flattery in subject lines create clicks

Another common way to get customers to reconsider their purchase is through flattery—sometimes offering a small compliment goes a long way.

For example, subject lines that say “You have great taste!” or “We love your style…” are great ways to show customers that they’re making the right decision with their product picks. 

These types of subject lines can be especially effective with brands that sell lifestyle products, such as beauty and cosmetics or apparel.  

7 | Abandoned cart subject lines with favor or service for shoppers

Many ecommerce marketers will position their abandoned cart emails as a favor or service to shoppers through the subject line. Similar to how a retail associate might allow shoppers to put a product on hold and come back for it, these subject lines let the reader know that the website is virtually reserving the items they put in their cart instead of clearing it.

For example, subject lines like “We saved your cart for you” or “Don’t worry—we held onto this for you” show the shopper that their items are still waiting for them at checkout if they choose to return.

8 | Timely subject lines for commerce emails

If your brand is seasonal, celebrates certain holidays, or holds promotions during certain times of the year, why not update your abandoned cart subject lines to reflect these events?

For example, if you sold flowers, you could adjust your abandoned cart emails during February to say something to the extent of “Don’t show up empty-handed on Valentine’s Day. Finish checking out now.” 

Timely subject lines can be extremely compelling for shoppers who are keeping their eyes out for gift ideas, deals, and special offers around special dates.

9 | The up-sell subject line for more sales

If you have a “go big or go home” mentality, consider using your abandoned cart email to up-sell your potential customers and increase your average order value (AOV). This strategy pairs well with including product recommendations in the email itself.

This method might not work for every brand, but if done tactfully, it can be game-changing. 

Take this abandoned checkout email automation from Jacob Sappington, manager of retention at 4×400, for example. With the subject line “You’re thiiiiiiiiis close to free shipping,” Jacob not only motivates shoppers with a free shipping offer, but he also encourages them to spend more with the brand. 

Plus, Jacob segmented this email so that only people whose checkout value was $40-$59.99 receive this specific abandoned cart email to ensure the messaging is relevant.

And with an open rate of 59 percent, this method is clearly a success.

Easiest email win ever pic.twitter.com/Mnm8shkYGK

— Jacob Sappington (@jsappington) January 6, 2021

Abandoned cart email subject line examples

What do the different types of abandoned cart subject lines look like in practice?

Check out nine abandoned cart email subject lines from top ecommerce brands and discover how they go hand-in-hand with following email content.

1 | Mejuri sets up a reminder in their abandoned cart email

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines mejuri

Subject line: Don’t forget your Pave Diamond Thin Dome Ring

Character count: 45

Fine jewelry brand Mejuri combines a simple reminder subject line with personalization for a winning combination in their abandoned cart email.

This subject line features a direct mention of the item the customer added to their cart, which is helpful to jog the memory of shoppers who may not remember what exactly they were considering. 

The subject line also efficiently introduces the rest of the email, which asks, “Remember this? Looks like something shiny caught your eye” and includes an image of the product mentioned with a CTA to shop.

2 | Parachute creates urgency with the email subject line

Subject line: Our Sale’s Ending, Your Cart’s Calling

Character count: 38

Home goods brand Parachute expertly creates a sense of urgency in their abandoned cart email subject line to let shoppers know that they only have a limited time until their sale ends.

The email itself features a countdown timer to let the recipient know exactly how much time they have left to shop, plus Parachute shows the item in the cart with the new sale price to show shoppers that the deal is too good to miss out on—and if they wait, they will.

Add a countdown timer to your email

4 | Nomad showcases a time limit for its cart abandonment email

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines nomad goods

Subject line: Nomad Gear Is Selling Out Quick

Character count: 31

This subject line from electronic accessories brand Nomad Goods uses a FOMO-inducing messageto let the shopper know there’s only a limited amount of stock available for the item they have their eye on. 

Not to mention, the clever copy inside the email that asks “Did your Wi-Fi crash?” and encourages them to “seal the deal” by completing checkout makes it hard to resist the headphone case they were “ogling.”

5 | Cole Haan features personalization in the email subject line

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines cole haan

Subject line: Open to see the styles curated for you

Character count: 38

Footwear brand Cole Haan uses their subject line to give hints about the content of their abandoned cart email. Inside, the content displays the product that the shopper abandoned on the website along with other product recommendations based on the original item.

This email also feels direct and actionable. Cole Haan doesn’t use questions, proposals, or implications—they just tell you to open the email in order to see more suggestions from the brand.

For online stores that offer many products, this can help introduce consumers to options they may not have come across the first time they shopped.

6 | Everlane creates favor and flattery for the users

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines everlane

Subject line: You have great taste.

Character count: 21

This email from DTC apparel brand Everlane features a subject line that aims to flatter shoppers into opening their abandoned shopping cart email. 

Based on the item or items in the recipient’s cart, Everlane uses their abandoned cart email as an opportunity to suggest more styles that they might like. 

This streamlined version of product recommendations includes detailed descriptions of each product. Altogether, this email does a fantastic job of hooking the reader and then leading them back to Everlane’s website.

7 | Beardbrand opts for a subject line that is intriguing

Subject line: Quick head’s up…

Character count: 16

This email from men’s DTC grooming brand Beardbrand is a great example of an abandoned cart campaign that uses a vague subject line to entice readers to open it. 

This works for the brand because the subject line does two things really well: It sounds like Beardbrand is talking directly to the recipient, and it implies that they have more to say inside the email. And it sounds like it could be important.

Once you do open the email, Beardbrand creates a sense of urgency by letting the shopper know that their cart is about to expire with a CTA to “Reclaim my cart!”

8 | Alex Mill provides a discount in the email subject line

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines alex mill

Subject line: Get Them for 15% Off!

Character count: 21

This subject line from apparel brand Alex Mill is about as straightforward as it gets. By touting their 15 percent discount in the subject line, it’s obvious to the reader that there’s an exclusive offer in store if they click into the email.

The email confirms that the website saved the items in the shopper’s cart and is offering them a percentage off their purchase. Additionally, the email features each product the user added to their cart to remind them of what they were browsing, and the CTA makes it easy to complete their purchase.

9 | Ugmonk makes it personal with the email

Subject line: Offering you my personal email

Character count: 30

Apparel brand Ugmonk takes a unique approach to the abandoned cart email and subject line.

First off, the subject line immediately sounds like it’s coming directly from another person—in fact, it sounds like the founder themselves is reaching out about the recipient’s shopping cart.

The email complements the subject line with a note from Ugmonk’s owner and designer, Jeff Sheldon, observing that the shopper added items to their cart without checking out. The email invites the reader to respond with any questions or concerns they might have about the products in case there’s a specific reason they haven’t made a purchase and includes a CTA that takes them back to their cart.

When brands use plain-text emails from a founder, CEO, or owner like Ugmonk does, it creates an unparalleled experience for consumers. This abandoned cart strategy also alleviates any worries the shopper might have had about purchasing by creating complete transparency between them and the brand’s team.

Abandoned cart subject lines: The next step to customers completing checkout

There are many factors that go into a successful abandoned cart email and subject lines are just one part of a more cohesive strategy to convert potential customers. But without a thoughtful abandoned cart subject line, you might as well be sending into the void of emails shoppers are likely going through on a daily basis.

By considering what abandoned cart email subject lines will be most relevant to and impactful with your shoppers, increased on-site conversion rates will follow closely behind.  

Interested in discovering more cart abandonment recovery strategies? Find out how to retarget shoppers through email.

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