How to Maximize Sales with a Successful Abandoned Checkout Email Strategy

Abandoned cart email strategy

Imagine this: You’re at work browsing the web and have just managed to find the perfect gift for a friend's upcoming birthday. You place the item in your shopping cart, enter your name, email, address, and then… Your boss walks in.

Your mouse immediately moves up towards the big red X. Click. You close the window. And, just like that, you’ve abandoned your shopping cart. Poof. That’s a lost sale for the merchant.

While this is just an example, the numbers are real. Studies show that the average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes, while the average employee gets interrupted 56 times a day.

According to Baynard Institute, over 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. As a marketer, this number should make you cringe. This essentially means that you need 312 visitors to start the checkout process in order to have just 100 of them complete it.

What if your business was able to convert a portion of these abandoned checkouts into actual customers? Wouldn’t that be great? Well, this is where checkout abandonment emails come into play. By sending out one or more emails, companies can typically recover between 5% and 11% of otherwise lost sales.

Let do a quick impact analysis to calculate how much money your company is (potentially) losing if you’re not sending checkout abandonment emails.

Imagine you sell 100 shaving kits a day. With 68% of your carts being abandoned this means that around 200 sales are lost daily. If your company can recover 9% of these 200 sales, at an average order value of $75, then you would be making an extra $1,350 a day, $40,500 a month, and a staggering $486,000 more per year.

As you can see, the value of checkout abandonment emails quickly add up. Next we’ll develop a checkout abandonment email plan by analyzing what other companies are doing.

How Chubbies Treat Checkout Abandoners

Let’s begin by analyzing Chubbies Shorts. They have a great approach with their checkout abandonment emails, providing all the right information in a personal, casual, and upbeat way.

Here’s the Chubbies email journey map for checkout abandoners:

Chubbies journey map


Notice they send 2 checkout abandonment emails:

  • One 2 hours after the checkout was abandoned
  • Another one 2 days later

2 hours later email

Email sent 2 hours after checkout abandonment

2 days later email

Email sent 2 days later

It’s interesting to note that the Chubbies checkout abandonment emails do not include a discount. Instead, they focus on great copywriting that is fun-loving and relaxed.

This brings us to a very important question: Should you discount in your checkout abandonment emails? Check out these cart abandonment email examples to see the different approach each company takes.

Should You Discount?

While distractions are a big reason why prospective customers abandon their shopping checkout, sometimes a price shock happens at the final stage of the checkout process. This can be due to taxes and shipping costs being added to the purchase. In order to counter this, and to provide additional incentives, online retailers often include a discount in their checkout abandonment emails.

If you decide to create a multi-email checkout abandonment series (which I recommend), it is a good idea not to include discounts in the first few mailers. You can mention the discount in later emails.

This can be beneficial because, assuming the prospective customer abandoned their checkout due to an interruption, all that may be needed is a little nudge to get them to come back and complete the transaction. If the checkout was abandoned due to price, then a discount will certainly help. The challenge is that you generally won’t know the specific reason why someone abandoned their checkout. Saving the discount for future emails helps you keep your healthy margins.

So yes to discount, but no to immediate discount.

How PrideBites Reclaims Lost Sales

PrideBites has a clear checkout abandonment email strategy that evolves over time. They send 6 recovery emails, which allows them to offer larger discounts as time passes in an attempt to convince the potential buyer to complete the purchase. Keep in mind that, up to a certain extent, the more checkout abandonment emails you send the more likely you are to regain lost sales. That being said, make sure you’re not overly aggressive.

Here is PrideBites’ email journey map for checkout abandoners:

PrideBites journey map


Notice how PrideBites begins by sending an email reminding the person that there are items left in their cart. The email offers a 10% discount for 5 days.

Before the 5 days expire, PrideBites sends two follow up emails which include the discount, days remaining for the promotion, and a clear purchase call to action. Once the 5 days have passed they send an email qualifying the checkout abandonner for a 25% discount. This is followed by two additional reminder emails.

A quick word of caution: Sending 6 checkout abandonment emails can be much — or totally fine —  depending on your audience. This is something you should test and optimize accordingly.

It is worth mentioning that most businesses give a very clear and limited time frame when offering discounts, alongside mentions of “limited stock” or “only 3 left”. This creates a sense of urgency and leads to higher sales.

If you’re just getting started, a good rule of thumb is to send 3 emails over the course of a week.

Just get it done: The Brother Moto way.

While PrideBite has a very fancy checkout abandonment email strategy, building such program takes time. And, as we say earlier, if you’re selling anything online it is crucial for you to leverage the power of checkout abandonment emails.

So what do you do when you’re resource constrained? You just ship one, simple, checkout abandonment email.

Let's repeat this: sending a checkout abandonment email, no matter how simple, is much better than not sending anything at all. Don’t wait until things are “perfect”.

You can always optimize your checkout abandonment email strategy down the line. For now, simply write a friendly and welcoming email and set it live. This is exactly the path Brother Moto took.

Brother Moto abandoned email

Brother Moto sends this email 6 hours after a checkout is abandoned. Notice how simple this email is. They did not wait on having the “perfect” email. Instead, they send a plain-text email that includes everything you need: the items forgotten, a link back to the checkout page, a sense of urgency — all while remaining friendly and casual.

This gets the job done and it’s 100 times better than not sending anything. As the Facebook motto goes: “Done is better than perfect.”

Increasing your Checkout Abandonment Efficiency

Before optimizing your checkout abandonment email strategy, it is important that you first analyze your purchasing funnel to understand where you’re losing would-be customers. Ideally, you would prevent visitors from abandoning their checkout in the first place.

If you’re looking to dive a little deeper, I recommend installing a mouse tracking software such as Mouseflow. This allows you to see exactly how prospective customers interact with your checkout flow so you can find areas that need improvement.

Once you’ve optimized your checkout process, you can then focus on your checkout abandonment email strategy and make the necessary adjustments. For starters, the timing of your checkout abandonment email is really important. Do not wait too long before sending the first reminder email: 1 to 2 hours after abandonment is a great starting point.

Furthermore, to increase your checkout abandonment conversion, send more than one email and are always creating a sense of urgency — all without nagging subscribers. A great initial plan includes the following emails:

  • One within the hour after abandonment
  • One two days later
  • And the last one four days later

Remember that sending more than one email means your initial one doesn’t need to contain a discount — allowing you to regain customers without hurting your margins. Feel free to include the discount in the second and third email.

If you are one of the many online retailers who do not utilize checkout abandonment emails then you are leaving money on the table. By optimizing your website and checkout flow, you will see a drop in the percentage of shoppers abandoning their checkouts. That being said, there will always be people who don’t complete their transaction — and this is why you need to send checkout abandonment emails. Don’t be too aggressive, but don’t let all those potential sales walk away from your store.

If you have any other tips let us know in the comments.

Carl Sednaoui

About The Author

Carl Sednaoui is the Director of Marketing at MailCharts, the tool e-commerce marketers use to plan their email campaigns and track their competitors.