Georgie Vineeth Mathew
Mar 19, 2020 | 9 min read

Ecommerce brands lose up to $18 Billion in yearly sales revenue due to cart abandonment. In fact, $4 trillion worth of merchandise is predicted to be abandoned in digital carts next year. 

But, did you know 60% of shoppers who abandoned their carts return to the store after receiving a personalized cart recovery email? 

Yes, an email retargeting campaign is extremely powerful and beneficial in recovering your almost-lost revenue, but only if done right. 

While a cart recovery strategy is the  #1 way to encourage shoppers to complete purchases, there are 10 crucial factors that contribute to the success of an abandoned cart email

However, for these emails to work, they need to be opened. 

Email subject lines directly impact your open rates. They can make or break your efforts to convert the lost shoppers. 

According to a study published by Invespcro, 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line whereas  69% of recipients report an email as spam based on the subject line. 

Through this blog, I intend to shed light on important subject line types as well as various practices that will help you improve your chances to redeem your abandoned shoppers. 

Abandoned cart email subject lines: best practices & strategies

Writing email subject lines are hooks that aim to grab the recipients’ attention. You have hardly 3 seconds to pique a customer’s interest. This section features the golden rules of writing email headlines that move the recipients to take action. 

Keep it simple

Don’t choke your own email strategy with confusing subject lines; for this one line of text often determines whether an email should be opened or sent straight to trash.

One common misconception is that using CAPS in your subject line will help you get the recipients’ attention quickly. Guess what! CAPS signifies yelling, and no one prefers yelling.

The same applies to the use of punctuation in subject lines. Excessive punctuation will sabotage the readability, which will ultimately affect the open rate too. 

The bottom line is that the subject line of your abandoned cart email should be simple, direct, and to the point.

An ideal cart recovery email subject line should look like this:

Less is more

A minimalist approach is one of the best subject line strategies. 

Even though there is no correlation between the subject line length and open rate, brief subject lines tend to work better on mobile devices. 

Usually, if someone reads your email on a desktop computer, they will see about 60 characters of your subject line. When it comes to mobile devices that number drops to 30 characters. 

Instead of using a lengthy subject line like “We’ve noticed that you were interested in some of our products, but left without completing the purchase,” you can simply follow a short and crip approach as shown above. 

Get personal

Did you know almost 2.4 million emails are sent every second?

Not only that, an average email user receives about 88 emails a day. 

Yes, an automated email marketing strategy will enable you to send messages that reach the right people with the right message at the right moment, but smart personalization is the factor that sets your message apart from the rest. 

According to the research published by OneSpot and The Relevancy Group, brands who implemented personalization in their emails witnessed a 17% increase in revenue. 

Now, let’s get to the point. How do you personalize your abandoned cart email subject line?

Be as specific as possible. Let the shopper know what they’ve left behind through the subject line. Here’s an example:

Your favorite textured v-neck sweater is waiting for you in the cart 

Another tactic is to address the recipient by their name. 

David, we picked these for you

There are several other ways in which you can give a personalized touch to your email subject lines. As you read further you will find out more experimenting opportunities. 

Communicate visually

As I said before, abusive use of punctuation can hurt your subject line’s open rate and CTR. However, in recent years we’ve noticed something new: eCommerce marketing is increasingly embracing emojis. 

The idea does seem a little silly, but it actually makes sense. 

With emojis or emoticons, your subject lines are more expressive. By replacing words with emojis or complementing words with expressive icons, marketers unveiled a novel way to engage and connect with their recipients. 

According to Econsultancy, email emojis work “about 60% of the time”. When they work, they improve open rates by about 25% of a standard deviation.

Here’s how you can effectively use emoticons in your subject line: 

Anyway, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of understanding your subscribers’ age and preferences before implementing this kind of subject line strategy. Also, make sure you test your subject line emoji strategy to find whether it fits your brand’s personality.

Now that you know the basics of writing an email subject line, let’s explore different subject line variations that can be used to bring your abandoned cart emails to life. 

Don’t forget to

  • Segment your audience
  • A/B test different subject line variants
  • Optimize the subject lines for mobile devices
  • Avoid ‘no-reply’ sender name
  • Pay attention to the email preheader

8 abandoned cart email subject lines you can use right now

Writing an email subject line is analogous to creating a personality, through which you can communicate and exhibit different emotions such as fear, greed, pride, love, security, curiosity, and whatnot. 

Simple reminder subject lines

These are short, easy to grasp headlines that aim to remind the shoppers about the event of cart abandonment. The purpose of this type of subject line is to merely plant a thought inside the shoppers’ mind— that he/she has recently visited the brand’s online store and left some items in the cart. 

A reminder subject line is direct and should be somewhat similar to this: 

Example subject lines:

  • Your cart has abandonment issues
  • You left items in your shopping bag
  • Eddie, don’t walk away
  • Oy! Don’t let it slip away
  • Looks like you forgot something

Reminder email subject lines are based on assumptive close— where the retailer safely assumes that the shopper has already made up their mind to buy and was interrupted. 

‘Bargain hunting’ subject lines

A recent study on customer behavior and shopping preferences suggest that 90% of consumers use discount coupons. 

In fact, Baymard research suggests that 53% of shoppers abandon their cart during checkout because of extra costs such as shipping, tax, etc. 

To bring back such shoppers and redeem those almost-lost sales, you must address their pain point right away— in the subject lines itself. 

For instance, if shipping costs are a concern, you could use your subject line to offer free shipping. 

Here’s an example: 

Example subject lines:

  • Redeem your cart with 10% off
  • We care for you. Empty your cart with 15% off
  • 20% off on your entire order for 24 hours only!
  • Free shipping, just for you Lorene
  • You deserve something special, Chloe. Get 10% off today!

Subject lines with a sense of humor

Humor can be very effective as a sales technique. Yes, I do know what you’re thinking: There is nothing funny about abandoned carts. But, guess what! If you never try, you’ll never know. 

However, the challenge is to figure out how well your brand or product can adapt to a funny approach and how high the stakes are if it fails. If you are promoting products that are fairly benign—say, fashion apparel or artifacts—a humorous approach might not cause you much harm even if it goes down. On the other hand, for retailers who sell something more serious— like mobility aids and equipment, humor is a dicier proposition. 

Here’s a good example of how 321 Kiteboarding strategically injected humor into their abandoned cart email copy as well as the subject line. 

Do whatever is necessary. Cross your limits if that is what it takes to bring back a lost shopper, but without compromising on business ideals. 

There is always a risk in pushing a joke until it almost breaks, but sometimes it can be a lot of fun and is highly rewarding too. In order to succeed in using humor as bait, you need to know your audience very well. Also, make sure you test the waters before diving in headfirst. 

Curiosity-driven subject lines

James Cameron said, and I quote “Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own.” Humans are innately curious creatures; whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly seeking out novel and challenging information and experiences. Maybe this will be the reason why successful sales professionals sometimes use a ‘curiosity-induced approach’ to get the attention of their prospects. 

Let’s say you own a Shopify store. From an end-goal perspective, your Shopify abandoned cart email is like an adamant salesperson who is keen on securing a deal. Your email subject lines reflect your sales pitch. By inducing some curiosity into your subject lines, you can encourage your recipients to open your message and take action. 

Here is an example that can help you get your prospects to click through by piquing their interest:

Example subject lines:

  • A gift for you
  • You earned it
  • Your absolute favorites
  • Is it your lucky day?
  • Simon, I’ve got something for you

‘One last chance’ subject lines

Everyone is susceptible to the fear of missing out, and this fright or sense of regret is what retailers are leveraging to drive more opens, clicks, and conversions in their emails. 

If done correctly,  infusing urgency or scarcity into your email subject lines will nudge the customers to complete their purchase. 

Terms like “last chance” or “X hours left” are often used in this kind of scenario.

Example subject lines:

  • Still interested? Your cart is about to expire
  • Hurry! Get 15% off and save your cart now
  • Last chance
  • 5 hours only! 20% off on your favorite items. Go!
  • Hurry Kevin, the items in your cart are selling fast. 

‘No muss, no fuss’ subject lines

Again, deciding a subject line strategy is strictly based on your audiences’ common interests and behavior. 

This approach works based on the power of consistency and recognition. These subject lines mention the abandoned product in the subject line itself— pointing, and resurfacing the want or need the customer originally had when they added that specific item to their shopping cart. 

This type of subject lines harness the benefits of personalization, reminds the users about what they’ve missed, also lure them into a purchase decision (add a sense of urgency or scarcity to achieve this). 

Example subject lines:

  • Your [product name] misses you
  • Hold on tight, don’t let [product name] go!
  • Still can’t make up your mind? Your [Product name] is almost gone
  • You left [product name] in your cart. Only [number] left
  • Last chance to get your [product name]

Subject lines with a friendly, conversational tone

Customers don’t always appreciate the hard sell. With a casual and conversational tone, you can display the human side of your abandoned cart email. Adding a tinge of personalization to your email recipe is a great way to boost your open rates and click-through.

Here’s an example in action. 

Email subject line examples:

  • Howdy!
  • Where’d you go?!
  • Hi there

Customer service subject lines

As stated by Brennan Loh, head of business development for Shopify—“Customer engagement is the future of e-commerce.” 

One of the major aspects to customer service is reaching out to the shoppers, getting feedback and working towards enhancing the overall customer experience. 

This logic can be applied to abandoned cart emails. 

It’s important to engage with shoppers to understand what triggered them to abandon their carts and accordingly help them overcome the difficulties that they faced. 

Customer service subject lines aim to address the pain points of a customer while creating an impression that the brands care about their customers. 

Email subject line examples:

  • Having trouble completing the purchase?
  • Was there an issue checking out?
  • How can we help?
  • Don’t worry, we’re here for you! 
  • Don’t worry about it, we’ve saved your cart. 

Final thoughts

Like Daniel Pink mentioned in his book To Sell is Human, “We sometimes forget: Every email subject line is a pitch.”

Even though we often consider subject lines as mere afterthoughts, in many ways they are more important than your email copy. After all, even the world’s best email is worthless if it never gets opened. So, don’t leave your email subject lines to chance, for they give the recipient a reason to explore your message further.

Remember, every customer who abandoned your store has a reason to do so, an abandoned cart email subject line is your earliest opportunity to give them a better cause to come back and pick it up from where they left off. 

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One comment

  1. I read in a blog that a/c to Listrak, a firm that tracks shopping cart abandonment rate, the average consumer rate at which the visitor abandons the shopping cart is a whopping 81%. For eCommerce stores, shopping cart abandonment is the biggest problem they face. Sadly, everyone has to deal with this problem one way or another. It’s not possible to eliminate the problem, but surely shopping cart abandonment can be decreased by following a few tips and tricks and email has got to be one of the finest ways to do it.

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