Strategies for Abandoned Cart Emails

abandoned cart email

By Nitu Sidhu, Persado Campaign Manager

Marketing teams work tirelessly to guide customers through the funnel — getting them to engage with omnichannel collateral such as social ads, emails, search and websites. But often, the process stalls when a customer adds something to the cart and then never clicks through to purchase. 

It’s tough to get a person to your web page, but how can you get them back? 

Many marketers rely on abandoned cart emails and for good reason. Customers open cart abandoned emails 144.85% more often than regular emails and click on them 317.5% more often, according to Persado research. But there’s room for improvement, as marketers want to nail this type of campaign all the way to conversion. 
What’s the secret? In order to get someone to make a purchase, you have to appeal to shoppers on an emotional level. At Persado, we find that emotional language contributes 60% to an abandoned cart email getting clicked, which is nearly three times higher than the offer or product description.  

“Every ad we come across generates an emotional response because everything in life generates an instinctual emotional response. Source: Millard Brown”

OK, so here comes the hard part: How should you frame your message? Should you evoke Achievement (“C’mon <first name>, you deserve those shoes?”) How about Urgency (“The deal on tees ends tonight!”)?   

There are many ways to tackle these messages, but as usual, we like to let insights drive the creative side of marketing. 


*This data is based on click metrics as it’s the best indicator of gauging someone’s intent on purchasing a product.

Language We Recommend


Safety-driven phrases like “We’ve saved this for you” and “You’re set with [product]” perform well in abandoned cart campaigns. Why? The shopper may be fuzzy on the details of why they left the item in the cart. Maybe they decided that they actually didn’t need it in the first place, or maybe they just truly forgot. Safety is used to eliminate any worries or doubts. In this instance, safety successfully shifts the shopper’s perspective on the item that they left behind and entices them to follow through with the order. 


We typically advise against using Urgency — it’s one of the least impactful emotions for promotional emails.  There are many ways to stand out in the inbox that don’t involve the customary “LAST CHANCE!” email.  But for abandoned cart messages, it’s different. Since shoppers already showed interest in the product, using urgency compels the shopper to make a purchase instead of putting it off and missing out on the product altogether. 


What we find is that positivity tends to win in abandon cart campaigns. Phrases like “good news” and “you’ll love this” have performed well in experiments. Where Safety does an effective job in subtly changing the shopper’s perspective, showing Excitement about the pending order is contagious from brand to the customer. Embrace it — they showed interest first! 

Language to Avoid


Since urgency does so well, it’s only natural to think that Guilt should be a high-performer also. That’s not the case. As usual, choosing this type of language (“don’t miss out)” can actually have a negative impact on your results for both clicks and opens. 

Here’s the reason why Urgency works and Guilt doesn’t in abandoned cart campaigns: Urgency provides an incentive (sale ending soon, limited ticket availability). Since the customer is already interested in the product, the nudge might be just what they needed.  Guilt implies to a shopper that they will regret not making a purchase. Typically we find that to be ineffective in inspiring someone to make a purchase when it comes to abandoned cart emails (or regular emails). 


Gratitude is traditionally a strong emotion so it is a surprise to see that it is a below average performer when it comes to clicks. Flattering shoppers with “you’ve got good taste” and similar lines can come off as insincere. Even using “thank you” in these subject lines only have average performance. Try using Excitement and Safety instead when creating your subject lines. 

Language to Watch


When we first started tracking emotional performance in abandoned cart campaigns, Anxiety had a negative impact on results. From October 2015  to November 2016, alerting shoppers on the importance of a message had a positive estimation only twice during that span. However, we are now starting to see an upward trend in the performance of Anxiety. From September 2017 to October 2018, Anxiety had a positive impact on 8 of the 11 months that we’ve tested the emotion. “Just checking in,” “please review” and “friendly reminder” are phrases that would fall into the this category. 

Bottom line: Emotions and language play a large part in the everyday decisions that we make and it’s important that we, as marketers, are aware of that. Each word contains a story and at Persado, we attach emotional relevance to that word and for the first time ever, developed a truly mathematical approach to something that hasn’t been done before for businesses.