Anatomy of a Cart Recovery Email

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In my opinion, cart recovery is a necessity for anyone selling online with almost half of abandoned cart emails opened, over a third of which resulting in completed transactions. However, crafting the correct message within your email makes all the difference for creating a successful cart recovery programme. Here are my top tips for getting it right:

Subject Line

So we have sent them an email 1 hour after they have left our site without completing their purchase and we want maximum impact in the inbox – what is the best way to do this? A cart recovery email should be very personal, so we recommend including personalised information about the purchase, including the product name and if you have captured it, the customer’s name.


Today might have been the first time they have heard of your company so making sure that the email clearly states the company name in the from line. Additionally, your branding should be clear with your logo prominently displayed.

Contact Details

Have they abandoned the purchase process because they need more help? Leaving your contact details clearly displayed, and if you offer it, a link through to live chat can make all the difference in encouraging the customer to contact you with any queries they have before completing their purchase.


Cart Recovery emails that include the products in the shopping basket dramatically outperform those that do not. A lot of marketers simply include the grid of products towards the bottom of the email. However we recommend you test including one product at the top of the email, so it is immediately visible ‘above the fold’ when opening the email.


Make it clear and obvious how to return to your basket with big buttons. Colour and text are key here, and testing different options can really help find a winning combination.

In regards to colour, a high contrast colour is thought of as best – which is why orange wins so many tests.

For copy, avoid a ‘Click here’ style generic text – think about what is most appropriate for the stage of the purchase cycle. In this case we are at the end of that cycle so we might go towards a ‘Complete your purchase’ take on the copy.

Unique Discount Codes

Your first email is likely to be sent very quickly, so probably won’t include a discount code. However, after that you will want to incentivise the completion of the cart by a discount. If you use a standard discount code it is likely to be added to a voucher code site. Therefore use one-time discount codes which are personal to each customer.

Your Credentials

There might be a set of concerns your customer has about your purchase – can I return the item for free, will the order arrive on time, and can I trust you? This is where your credentials and appropriate logos come in to give confidence to your customers.

Clutter – or lack of it

We can’t draw a line to point to on the chart by this one as this is what not to include. With your cart recovery emails you have a single focussed objective. Therefore remove any distractions and clutter that do not aid this objective including links to other parts of your website.

For more information and advice about your cart recovery campaigns, speak to one of our experts today.

About Nick Everitt

Senior Campaign Executive at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP.