Abandoned Cart Subject Line: 10 Practical Approaches

28 July ~ 15 min read 485 views
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Claspo Blog Abandoned Cart Subject Line: 10 Practical Approaches

Visitors come, browse, like, add items to the cart, and then suddenly quit. Sparks fly, but they never transform into a flame. How can you make these people reconsider their decision? In most cases, a series of follow-up emails can patch up the situation.    

Cart abandonment subject lines significantly define the extent to which your recovery efforts are successful. Its influential capabilities determine the recipients’ answers to the eternal question, ‘Open or skip?’. Let’s see which writing techniques are viable enough to make the users click on your message.

Naturally, it is safe to presume that you are a busy person preoccupied with hundreds of tasks. You do not need another time-consuming thing on your to-do list (after all, you clearly have some emails to compose). Thus, feel free to skip the parts that are irrelevant to your search and navigate straight to the pertinent sections.  

Table of Contents

Cart Abandonment & Its Detrimental Effects

The Healing Powers of Follow-up Emails

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines

10 Irresistible Hooks for Your Cart Abandonment Subject Lines

Final Thoughts

Cart Abandonment & Its Detrimental Effects

Late in the evening. You are sitting on your comfy couch, casually browsing online stores to treat yourself after a long day of work. Vacation on the seaside, relaxing spa treatment, another funny print T-shirt, shiny party dress… You add these wonderful things to the cart but then doubts come crawling in. 

For this one, delivery takes too long. That one might not fit, and the return policy is too complicated. This deal is clearly wishful thinking. Most of the time, your hesitation wins, making you quit the store and abandon the items in the cart. 

This behavioral pattern is habitual to the majority of online shoppers, which makes cart abandonment a sneaky enemy. Most companies dismiss these unfinished purchases as insignificant and typical for buyers. However, such disregard can cost you a lifetime of problems. 

Baymard Institute reports that 69% of customers abandon their carts with no remorse. This means that digital space is occupied by 7 out of 10 virtual shopping carts. Imagine what it can do to your store in terms of:

  • Profits. Of course, these carts represent missed opportunities. Yet, the important thing is that you lose not only the immediate income, but you also say farewell to these shoppers’ future purchases altogether. Who knows, if they could have become your brand's enthusiasts?  
  • Inventory. These neglected baskets are stacked with the goods that the other visitors could have otherwise purchased. 
  • Budget and advertising. You are forced to spend additional funds on retargeting or invest in fruitless marketing campaigns.
  • Customer perception. Something drove the potential clients away, and if that something was your fault, they would not hesitate to spread the word about it. Hence, it is in your best interests to correct these fatal flaws.
  • Website performance. The overwhelming weight of data from these abandoned carts will inevitably slow down such essential parameters as page-load time & execution speed, and the necessity to wait irritates people like nothing else.
  • Statistical data. Robots are still not advanced enough to walk into a shop. Yet, bots activity in online stores is a common situation. All their actions that should not have been taken into account might seriously tangle your vital benchmarks.

Naturally, cart abandonment is a complex phenomenon with multidimensional influence that calls for dedicated research. You can explore the details of how it is deteriorating your prosperity and impeding your performance here & here.

The Healing Powers of Follow-up Emails

Every cart abandonment story starts the same way. But not all of them get their 'happily ever after' ending. These ‘losses’ are frequently regarded as instigated by ‘natural causes’ that could not be prevented or compensated for. Therefore, only 26% of business professionals take action to mitigate the damaging impact of cart abandonment. 

Those entrepreneurs are smart enough to notice an opportunity where others only see a dead end. What seems unimaginable today may become inevitable tomorrow. Shifting from the short-sighted perception of cart abandonment to developing a feasible recovery strategy is the first step toward improvement. Indeed, all the maiming effects are impossible to eradicate, but they can be tamed.

Cart abandonment recovery is a complex process that calls for a comprehensive approach. Usually, it starts with proactive measures. But there are too many of them to cover the subject in this piece of writing. If you want a deep dive, you can learn more about them here.  

Now, let’s touch upon the tricks that you can pull out of your sleeve when the shoppers have already decided to go. This list includes: 

  • Exit-intent popups. These messages are displayed when the users have already made up their minds and show the desire to hit the exit button. They can present the ‘quitters’ with a limited-time offer or ask if they want to save the cart’s content for later. With Claspo, building them is as easy as riding a bike (and it helps you get faster too).    
  • Follow-up emails. A carefully crafted letter allows you to achieve an unprecedented level of personalization and motivation. 
  • Retargeting. This is your preferred option in case you strive to approach the shoppes without contact info. Just use the data from their previous visits to display it to them as a reminder while they are surfing the web. 

Follow-up emails have a tremendous mending effect. Statistically, 8% of visitors will return without your interference. However, when you decide to reach out to them with a real-time retargeting campaign, this number rises to 26%, demonstrating an impressive 18% increase. Thus, if your performance is feeling under the weather because of a high cart abandonment rate, a series of sincerely written follow-up emails can give you a solid second chance at conquering customers’ hearts.  

Naturally, indispensable components of a cart abandonment email:

  • Subject line; 
  • Content of the cart;
  • Call-to-action/link to check out.

For the additional section, you can select one of the components that coincides best with your purpose:

  • Offer/discount;
  • Alternative options as recommendations;
  • Reasons and motivation to complete a purchase;
  • Reviews or testimonials. 

The last two positions might sound insignificant, but when applied wisely, they can be quite compelling. Let’s take a cart abandonment email from Whisky Loot

Besides the obvious ones like ‘Try new whiskies every month’ or ‘Keep one in your back pocket for emergencies’, there are multiple product applications that would not have crossed your mind. Just look at them. ‘Take them to a dinner party and don’t share them’ or ‘Drink them while winning at Poker’. Irresistible, right? 


Retrieved from Really Good Emails

Casper also takes pride in its products and does not fail to demonstrate that its clients love them too. The confession, “I actually called out of work the day after my first night’s sleep because I was so comfortable and wanted to stay in bed all day”, just takes the concept of social proof to another level.


Retrieved from Really Good Emails

Still, naturally, the most powerful are tangible incentives. Shoppers expect you to present them with free/flat rate shipping or discounts and coupons. The majority votes for:

  • Free shipping for orders over $50 and flat rate shipping of $3.99 for those that are under that sum;
  • 10% discounts for the whole purchase;
  • $10 off every purchase over $100;
  • Coupons for 3-5% discount on your next purchase;
  • Free/easy returns.

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines

It might seem an exaggeration, but cart abandonment subject lines are pivotal to the success of your retargeting campaign. European scientists discovered that people’s ability to focus on information is narrowing down due to the abundance of incoming information. That is why habitually they take ‘shortcuts’ and read only titles, subject lines, or other variants of summarized content. This approach helps to identify and pick interesting or relevant materials. 

Plus, it has been repeated for decades that first impressions are meaningful, lasting, and affect all future encounters. This means that an appealing subject line will make the readers more inclined to open your letter and perceive its content favorably. 

There is no wonder that almost half of the recipients (47% to be exact) base their decision to open emails solely on a subject line. However, what are the dos & don'ts of the writing process? What ingredients comprise the recipe for success? Those are legitimate questions. 

Therefore, let’s take a look at the sidenotes on how to write the best abandoned cart subject lines. These practical guidelines, based on the statistical data, experience, and common sense, will help you rewrite the narrative in shoppers’ heads without alienating your audience.

  • Wait for the right time

Of course, it is hard to make people care about what you have to say when their schedules are insanely busy. Yet, remember that their day is subjected to almost the same routine as yours. Therefore, just keep in mind that:

  • Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays tend to be the least appropriate days to send emails, and this is perfectly understandable. Let people enjoy their weekend in peace. 
  • People are more inclined to open your emails in the early morning (shockingly, starting at 4 a.m.). Because they wake up, turn off the alarm, check their notifications, and open the overnight mail, right? 

You can send follow-up emails for various purposes. For instance, you can inform users that you saved the content of their baskets or offer them a discount/promotion. Therefore, you do not need to stop after the first attempt. How many times should you try before giving up? Of course, there are no strict limits, but you know what they say, “Third time's a charm”. 

Empirical evidence confirms that buyers who receive multiple emails are more likely to complete the purchase and generate more revenue for your company. Furthermore, real-time reaction to the event is crucial for your profits and recovery rate. The most effective algorithm looks like this:

  1. 1-12 hours after the abandonment. 
  2. 24 hours after the first one.
  3. Days and weeks later.     

You can craft a drip campaign to automatically trigger the sending of these emails. The most important rule here is to refrain from being coaxing or intrusive. 

  • Add a call-to-action

Use action-oriented verbs to trigger the imagination. You do not just sell goods, you sell dreams, visions of a sunny beach, tasty pies, fancy clothes, and even stress-free work process automation. 

‘Cozy pillow waits for you…’, just whispers in your ear, tempting you to come and get it. ‘Run up that hill in new sneakers’, infuses you with enthusiasm. 

  • Make them curious & intrigued

Sometimes, direct ‘don’t abandon cart’ subject lines simply do not cut it. Hence, you have to become a bit ambiguous and create a mystery. Of course, you will not reach the level of excitement comparable to unboxing presents on Christmas morning or a thrilling detective story. But it might still be enough to bewitch your readers. 

Casper’s ‘Zzz what’s inside’ is a perfect example of this tactic. First, it tickles the recipient’s curiosity. Plus, it coincides with the company’s specialty (‘Zzz’ = ‘see’, got it?).

  • Lure them in with a ‘candy’

Now, when the economic situation is turbulent, sales and promotions dominate the list of reasons for making a purchase once again. Luckily, there is no shortage of options in that department. Present users with discounts, coupons, free shipping, or easy return options.

Psst…do you want a discount?

Liked it? Don’t pay for shipping.   

Afraid it won’t fit? No problem, just return it.

However, both material and immaterial inducements can strike a chord with your customers. Help them envisage the image of how better their life would be with your product to make them crave it. 

Sweet cakes for a sweet girl. A match made in heaven.

Dress to impress us and everyone around.

  • Try to create a bond

Make the experience personal, and 80% of the shoppers will gladly buy from you. Individually crafted subject lines have 22.2% more chances of getting opened than standard ones. Thus, using personalization tokens like names or locations can make your way into people’s hearts much shorter. 

Hey, Sunny, we saved your cart/have a gift for you.

The summer’s hot in California. Need sunscreen?

  • Be relevant

Statistically, 46% of users would appreciate their data from their past shopping experience being used to provide them with the recommendations, ads, and promotions that are relevant to their interests. Therefore, your recipients are likely to appreciate the references to their browsed items or other aspects that might be to the point. 

House with a view? Turn dreams into bookings.

  • Stay simple and polite

In a world where setting your mind into concentration resources saving mode by default is a survival mechanism, you do not have the luxury of being sophisticated with your subject line. Your task is to convey the essence of the message, not to test the viewers’ brain capacity. 

Naturally, you do not have to be as courteous as if it is an invitation to an official ceremony. All you need to do is to be friendly, but without overstepping the users’ personal boundaries. 

  • Keep it concise and mobile-friendly

Open your email box and take a look at your incoming letters. If all of them contained more than 15 words, how long would it take for you to check your mail? Do you have that amount of spare time? Probably not. 

Stop Losing Your Customers!

Various sources recommend different preferable lengths for your subject line. Some say that the magic number is 7. Others claim that users prefer the range of 6-10 words. Anyway, try not to forget that the number of words is not as powerful as the meaning behind them. 

Although during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic most of the time people were locked at home with their computers, by the end of the 2020 mobile devices reclaimed their leading position when it comes to the users’ preferences to read emails (43.5%). Meanwhile, 84% and 78% of carts initiated on smartphones and tablets respectively get canceled. Most likely, it has something to do with poor mobile optimization. Therefore, do not neglect the needs of this huge part of your demographic and stay inclusive of all devices.      

  • Segment your email list

Dissecting your leads, prospects, or clients can help you figure out a more individual approach to various groups of your demographic. For instance, you can brainstorm different concepts depending on:

  1. visitors’ status (newcomers or loyal customers);
  2. cart total cost;
  3. number of items in the cart;
  4. whether it is a first follow-up email or reminders that you send later;
  5. other criteria (e.g., age, gender, occupation, purpose, etc.). 
  • Check that it matches the content inside

Identify the purpose of the email and customers’ expectations correctly. Do not be misleading. Of course, you can promote your seasonal sale with cart abandonment reminders. Yet, your task is to show people what they left behind, not your spring collection (unless it’s relevant to the basket’s content). Plus, in case you promised viewers a personal/exclusive offer, you should provide them with one.   

  • Avoid being confusing

The ability to grasp the meaning of the message right away brings the viewers a sense of immediate satisfaction. Now they know what the content is about, so the decision-making process is simple. If your intentions are obscure or your words do not make sense, readers will dismiss the nonsensical message. Naturally, this rule does not apply to the intriguing subject lines, where the evasive manner of speech is intentional.  

  • Highlight the offer’s exclusivity

Exclusive treatment can be a real open rate booster, allowing you to get 22% more clicks. People love feeling special, so tell them that they are. 

  • Show them your love

Recent studies confirm that instigating emotional response is an effective marketing tool. An emotional imprint will make your subject line attention-grabbing and memorable. Declare your genuinely loving, caring, or grateful attitude, and readers will be smitten by your affection.

Thanks for checking us out

-20% as a sign of our love

Winter is coming. But we can keep you warm

  • Bring in urgency, scarcity, and numbers

Emails that emphasize the necessity to act here and now can provide people with a motivational impulse. Therefore, it can be beneficial to your open rate. A 22% growth is not something you want to miss out on. 

Your propositions have value because they represent a limited-time opportunity. The items in the cart will not stay there forever. Still, be careful not to overuse this tactic, the scarcity has no value when it is in abundance. 

In addition, 36% of readers prefer to click on the headlines with numbers because they bring them a sense of clarity. The same rule applies to the subject lines. A special offer is sweet, but when people see that it is a 10% discount, they say, ‘Now we’re talking’.   

  • Start with a question

Questions imply answers. First, it is considered impolite to ignore a direct question. In addition, you almost instinctively respond to them, it is a force of habit. 

‘Yes, I did forget that I wanted to buy those shorts’. 

If you do not come up with an instant reply, you start thinking it over. This sequence of thoughts can lead you to the decision to complete the purchase. 

‘Did I miss those cupcakes? Yeah, they look delicious. I should check them out someday soon’.

  • Don’t shy away from humor, wit, and experiments

Figures of speech, word puns, and metaphors are your best friends when you want to spice up your message. You do not want to repeat your competitors or sound like a broken record, right? So, go ahead and jazz it up. 

Moreover, generic content can be exasperating. Being tired of low-effort content, shoppers will be pleasantly surprised that you have exerted extra effort to impress them. 

But avoid sounding vulgar at all costs. Use the tropes with caution and do not take creativity too far. Being bold and unorthodox can be rewarding in multiple respects. Yet, remember that the line between being charismatic and vulgar or cringy is incredibly thin.  

  • Be careful with punctuation & emotions

Of course, you long to infuse your readers with excitement or highlight the urgency of your message. So, here are some recommendations on how you can escape vexing or distressing your readers:

  1. Capitalization is also a tricky issue. All caps will not pass spam filters. Low-case words & letters will sound more friendly. 
  2. Exclamation points (even a single one) or repeated question marks might leave an impression that you yell at the recipients.
  3. Using emojis can have a positive impact on viewers’ perception of your subject line. It adds visibility and excitement. Other subject lines are tarnished, while yours will (almost literally) sparkle. 

In addition, it provokes emotional responses, helps you outsmart spam filters, and makes your line fit better on the screens of mobile devices. Just remember that one emoji is cool, but more will unlikely seem acceptable.

There is a inside.

For our customer

Don’t miss this bliss  

  • Choose your words carefully

A suspicious or displeasing subject line will motivate 69% of people to mark your email as spam. Plus, spam filters become more advanced with time. The only solution is to sound like a human, not a bot or a scammer, and avoid the usage of the triggering words and expressions from the table below. 


Retrieved from Yesware.

  • Elaborate on the matter with a preview text

Naturally, the preview text should be an extension of your subject line. It is a challenging task to express everything you have to say in 10-15 words. So, use the next part of your email to continue your thoughts.  

  • Write & test multiple options 

Regardless of how experienced you are as a writer, you still will not be able to create something unique, short, and catchy every time. Therefore, here are some tips you can use to polish your writing skills:

  1. Ask your colleagues for feedback. After all, in the digital age, almost everyone has an online shopping experience and therefore deals with emails from e-commerce retailers. Do not send the unfitting iterations straight to the bin, they might be suitable for other messages. 
  2. Monitor your statistics (open rates, click-through rates, and click-to-open rates) and conduct A/B testing to spot the problematic aspects or define the most clickable phrases. You can also compare your benchmarks to the published statistics and determine whether your state of affairs calls for some urgent improvements. 
  • Don’t be afraid to collect feedback

Some carts are just beyond recovery, and there is no need to dwell on that. However, Fonolo gathered the recent statistics and concluded that 77% of consumers would be eager to share their opinions or concerns when asked. This is your chance to work on your mistakes and save the seemingly hopeless abandonment cases. You can insert a brief questionnaire into an email, or you can use Claspo to build a feedback form that will be displayed if those shoppers return to your platform.

10 Irresistible Hooks for Your Cart Abandonment Subject Lines

All shoppers are human beings. Thus, the most efficient marketing strategy is to approach them as such. So, let’s examine what buttons you can push to make people go from diffusive to focused attention mode after they read your subject lines.

  1. Appeal for Sympathy

Being left behind is always hurtful. The items in the cart are great, and they did not deserve this kind of treatment. So, you have a right to feel like this deal should get another shot.

Don't give up on us.

Take another look at your picks.

Feeling remorse? Give them a loving home. 

Why not take another pick?


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D.S. & Durga

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Whisky Loot 

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2. Helping Hand

As a retailer, you are aware that people often have a change of heart. Hence, your visitors can always rely on you to save their carts for later.  

Worry not, we have your back.

Phew, your bag is saved.

All is not lost.

Don’t worry, we saved your cart.


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3. A compliment to the Taste

Nothing melts people’s hearts like flattery. Reaffirm that the selected items are the best choice they could have made to set their minds on completing the purchase. 

That’s a good-looking cart. Return to it.

You left something awesome in your cart (or ‘You left something pawesome behind’ if you sell pet food).

United By Blue

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  1. ‘We are All Humans’ Card

Of course, the chances that your visitors simply forgot to complete the checkout are extremely low. Yet, when you compare the situation with the common case of leaving an umbrella in a car on a rainy cab drive, your message sounds more casual and relatable. 

Oops…did you forget something?

There is something in your cart.

Homes Alive

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  1. Unfinished Business

Naturally, it is not like the goods you did not buy will haunt you in the middle of the night. Still, completing the process that you started will bring you a sense of closure and satisfaction. 

Still thinking about it?

Finish what you carted.

You’re just a click away.

Would it fit? Find out for yourself.

You’re so close.

Virgin Atlantic

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National Mattress Outlet

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Le Tote

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  1. Friendly Reminder

Unfortunately, you cannot keep the cart full forever. But you are not a businessperson concerned about the profits. You are just a friend who does not want people to come back to an empty basket. 

Good ones never wait.

It’s still in stock…for now.

Seal the deal.

Almost there…finish checkout now.

Hurry up before your cart expires.

Still available. But for how long?

Going, going…(almost) gone.

Ready to check out?

Just a heads-up. These items are in demand.

Order before your cart expires.

Remember that skirt you wanted?


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  1. The promise of a Better Life

This is the approach where you unleash the power of a fresh start & new beginnings. Furthermore, here you can paint a picture that vividly portrays how beneficial your products & services can be. 

Still dreaming about it?

Don’t forget your dreams.

Next stop: dreamland.

Destination: happiness.

Adventure time. Your perfect journey awaits.


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  1. Exclusive Perks & Incentives

Plenty of buyers come to your store, but you took the time to create an offer exclusively for these people because you care about them and consider them special. This kind of treatment would definitely take up their self-esteem. 

And a 20% discount goes…right in your cart.

Don’t miss out on your personal offer.

Good news. The price just dropped.

Still on the fence? Take a -15% coupon.

Consider this a sign. 10% discount inside.

New price alert. Time to check out.

What’s inside? Something pleasant just for you

Psst…how about an exclusive offer?

A pleasant surprise for our beloved customer.

For our favorite client only.

We love you, so we brought you a gift.


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Pulp & Press

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United By Blue

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  1. Positive Affirmations

Sometimes you need to reassure customers that your product is worth the money, and they should not deny themselves an opportunity to improve their quality of life.

You deserve it, treat yourself. 

So…did you love it? Then get it.  

These shoes are meant for walking. Take the first step. 

Take a step forward, not back.

‘You deserve something Better’, from BetterBrand fits into this concept as well.

  1. ‘Thank You’ Note

Let the shoppers know that you appreciate the attention they paid to your store. Out of hundreds of platforms, they visited yours, and you are grateful for it. This display of respect might induce them to come again and stay.

Thanks for checking us out. See you soon?


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Pulp & Press

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Just a reminder

Those examples can make excellent opening lines for the exit-intent/shopping cart abandonment popups you will construct with Claspo

Final Thoughts

Overall, the best abandoned cart subject lines are short, simple, emotionally impactful, and get straight to the point. The important thing is to remember that aggressive marketing is not a viable solution. Stay calm, friendly, and polite to conquer readers’ hearts. 

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