Best Cart Abandonment Subject Lines to Recover Sales (25 Examples)

Ryan Turner // June 15 // 0 Comments

For Ecommerce business owners, a highly effective way to attract new customers is simply by identifying people who are ‘almost’ customers, and helping them get over the line with purchase.

An email campaign aimed at shoppers who’ve abandoned their shopping cart at your website checkout is a simple (but surprisingly underutilized) way to bring in revenue and new customers to your Ecommerce brand.

Learning how to create lively, interesting, and in some cases funny cart abandonment emails is an essential skill to master when trying to attract those elusive buyers.

We’ll show you some great ways to start writing the best abandoned shopping cart subject lines possible for your brand, based on what we see working here at Ecommerce Intelligence.

Here’s everything we’ll cover in this detailed guide:

Abandoned Cart Subject Lines Are Some of The Most Important Ones You’ll Write

If you’re wondering when the best time is to implement an “abandoned cart” email campaign, here is your answer:


The statistics couldn’t be more striking: nearly 69% of all shopping carts on Ecommerce stores are abandoned by online shoppers, resulting in around $18Billion in lost sales annually.

For whatever reason—an interrupted session, a sudden case of cold feet, maybe some exploratory, comparison shopping by savvy customers—the vast majority of items that have been checked off for purchase in an online shopping basket never make it to the end stage.

Recovering even a fraction of those potential sales—remember, 69%!—could result in a huge boost to your company’s revenue and bottom line. And a simple follow up email series can do this.

If your company doesn’t have an abandoned cart email campaign strategy, you’re simple missing out on one of the simplest and most effective ways to reach buying customers.

Today we take a deep dive into abandoned cart email subject lines so you can get the highest possible open rates, create urgency, and recover lost revenue.

The Good News & Bad News About Shopping Cart Abandonment

Alright, let’s get this out of the way:

The bad news is that you’ve somehow lost customers in that crucial moment before they drag out their credit card and make a purchase of your product. For whatever reason—and there could be many—those potential customers have simply decided to give your company a pass.

The good news? They might not be totally lost.

You’ve already got them to your website, after all. You’ve engaged them enough that they’ve perused your products and made some cognitive decisions about what you offer. They’re here, they’re interested. This is a good thing.

They’ve shown more than a casual interest in your products and services, and now, with just a bit of prodding and some creative subject lines, you can compel them to complete their purchase and start to overcome some of the key reasons customers abandon, such as unexpected costs, technical issues, or unanswered questions.

This is when an expertly-crafted abandoned cart email strategy can make all the difference – and it all starts with the subject line.

Note: Cart Abandonement emails are different to Browse Abandonment emails. Serious Ecommerce brands should consider using both.

Picking The Best Abandoned Cart Subject Lines

One thing to remember is that even the most entertaining abandoned cart email won’t generate a single penny of revenue if no one opens it.

If your abandoned cart subject line is bland, or boring, or deceptive—forget it. You’re history. You’re not going to stop anyone from scrolling right past your earnest abandoned shopping cart email.

The good news though is that most brands do still use boring, predictable subject lines.

Remember, the average Ecommerce open rate for emails is just over 15%. That’s it. Fifteen percent. Those aren’t good odds for any Ecommerce business owner, but if you’re willing to be a little creative, there are ways to improve your chances of getting noticed.

Because an abandonment email is so well targeted you should expect to see more than 15%. But creative attention grabbing subject lines will be much higher.

Finding The Right Approach: How to Write Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

First of all, let’s play a quick game of “What Not to Do”:

In most cases it is best to stay away from any abandoned cart email subject line that is simply a boring reminder: “you didn’t complete your order” or “your cart has not been processed” is not going to compel anyone to stop in their tracks and open the email. It’s too inconsequential a line to be remembered, and, chances are, people have already forgotten it as soon as they’ve read it. 

You’re going to have to do be more creative than that with your subject lines to get attention.

But don’t be so creative that you start telling whoppers, either.

“Wanna go to Jamaica?” might be an engaging subject line, and could certainly get some traffic, but there’s a good chance you’re going to annoy or turn off potential customers when they open the email and realize you’re not offering a trip to Jamaica but are trying to get them to complete an order.

When a subject line has absolutely nothing to do with the body of the email, potential customers are going to feel that they’ve been duped, and that’s no way to build a bond with consumers on a personal level. You might even be building up some negative brand associations with that approach as well, and it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to get the sale.

A better approach would be using clever or maybe even funny subject lines that are engaging without being disingenuous.

“I stopped the truck JUST in time!” is a better abandoned cart subject line, for it’s interesting enough to make the customer stop scrolling through the customer’s inbox while still being able to tie into the content of your basket abandonment campaign.

Within the email itself, you could reveal another line of text that reinforces the theme, like “It was about to leave without your order!” with an accompanying button that prompts the recipient to complete their order: “Get Your Stuff on the Truck!”

It’s an off-beat approach, but often the off-beat approach is the one that cuts through all the inbox noise, gets you noticed, and gives you the best chance of bringing a potential customer back to your checkout page.

Funny abandoned cart subject lines can be especially effective. “It’s not you—it’s us!” might get your almost-customer to take a second look at your email, especially if a mildly whimsical subject line is consistent with your brand’s tone.

A word to the wise: if you’re aiming for humor, make sure you’re actually being funny in a way that’s relevant to your market and your customers.

There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of a joke that falls flat. Before you commit 100% to a humorous Shopify abandoned cart subject line, run it by a few of your friends and coworkers to ensure it’s actually as witty as you think it is.

Finding The Right Abandoned Cart Email Subject Lines For Your Brand

The best subject lines do three things:

  1. Stand out in the inbox
  2. Are consistent with your brand’s tone
  3. Tie into your email’s content

If your email subject line accomplishes all three, you’re well on your way to building a successful strategy. Keep all these things in mind when you’re writing subject lines of your very own and don’t feel overly constrained by the format of the email.

While it will inevitably feature the product(s) the recipient added to their cart and a call to action button, you’re still afforded some creative leeway.

If your Ecommerce store sells clothing, you could try to write subject lines that mimics a conversation one might have while shopping with friends in the real world: 

“This would look SO good on you”, or variations on that wording would be subject lines example worth split testing.

Not only are these likely get a higher open rate than the typical boring subject line examples we all see every day, they will also help get the recipient thinking positively about the products languishing in their cart.

If you’re worried about losing customers who’ve suddenly developed “cold feet” and aren’t ready to make a purchase, you can always try to warm their feet up for them, so to speak.

Once you’ve gotten their attention and they’ve opened your email, consider offering a discount or free shipping on their previously abandoned order, and place it right next to the “Order Now” button. 

You might want to save any kind of discount, or waiving shipping costs, until email number two or three in your sequence though, unless your brand heavily relies on discounting.

Or just use discounts to target new customers who haven’t purchased from you before.

Most email service providers make it easy to segregate new purchasers and repeat buyers into separate abandoned cart campaigns, so you can ensure that you’re only offering discounts to these potential new customers who might need a little extra incentive to place their orders.

Klaviyo’s abandoned cart flow makes this incredibly easy to set up, so you can use a different subject style or offer for new versus existing customers.

cart abandonment email flow in Klaviyo
Klaviyo abandoned cart flow with default subject lines

By restricting the flow in Klaviyo to recipients who have never ordered before, you can ensure that your discount offer is only reaching the people most likely to need it.

It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to lead with an offer – oftentimes people, even first-time buyers, don’t complete a purchase simply because they suddenly got busy or had a technical issue. A nice gentle reminder email with friendly subject line is often all it customers need to come back and complete purchases.

To try to capture their business at full price, then place your coupon or free shipping offer in the second email of your abandoned cart email series.

If the recipient places their order after the first email, you capture the sale without having to offer a discount. If they don’t, they’ll receive a second email with a discount that might provide the incentive they need to purchase.  

Note: If you’re not already using Klaviyo for email and SMS, it’s our go-to recommendation for most Ecommerce brands. You can see a full breakdown of the Klaviyo pricing plans here.

You’ll be surprised at how many abandoned carts can be recovered with no discounts or free shipping offers – just a timely message giving customers a friendly reminder of what they were browsing is often enough.

We’ve seen some very high performing abandoned cart campaigns which simply remind customers what’s in their shopping carts for the first one or two messages.

After this you can change the tone to more of a “final call” if it fits your brand. But be careful using phrases like “cart expiring” or “we’ve reserved this for you” when that’s not actually the case. Potential customers are fairly savvy to most of these strategies which have become overused by online stores.

Testing Your Abandoned Checkout Email Subject Lines is Everything

So, you’ve started an abandoned cart email campaign for your Ecommerce business, and you’ve come up with some killer subject lines for the various emails. Your job is finished, right? You’re ready to sit back and watch that new revenue stream into your coffers, right?


The only way to discover the best abandonment subject lines for your business specifically is through extensive testing. Any good email platform offers access to excellent analytics that can quantify exactly how effectively your individual subject lines are performing.

You need to begin to split-test (A/B) the different subject lines you’re using to determine which option is getting the best results. Try different, contrasting styles in the tests: funny abandoned cart subject lines vs. serious abandoned cart subject lines, copy that uses emojis vs. copy that doesn’t, even changing the “from” name.

split testing abandoned cart emails

Ongoing subject line split-test rom the third email in a client’s Klaviyo abandoned cart email series.

After you’ve put your tests in place, give the analytics ample time to collate the data and prove, conclusively, which approach is working the best. And then: do it again. Rinse and repeat. Keep running the tests.

After a series of completed tests, you’ll have identified the best subject lines for your customers and prospects, and the data will help you decide what style, tone, graphics, grammar, etc., should be used in the future. This data is essential in guaranteeing that you will only be using the most effective and highest performing subjects in your abandonment campaigns.

As well as testing your abandoned cart email subject lines, you can also test the offer and content. You’ll want to determine if it is actually worth it to offer free shipping to first time shoppers, or whether this doesn’t make a huge difference.

Recover More Carts: Don’t Be Afraid to Take Chances With Your Subject Line Ideas

The average email user in 2019 receives about 88 emails every day, which is a lot of info to take in and a lot of subject lines to glance through. Trying to get someone’s attention amidst all that noise is a real challenge for any email marketer. One advantage to the abandoned cart email campaign is that the customer already knows who you are; they’ve been on your site and know what you offer.

Now, it’s up to you to write that winning subject line that will get your customers to return to your website. Don’t be afraid to take some chances; use humor, or some off-beat approach, or something that’s highly stylistic or quirky but is still consistent with your brand’s tone. Don’t settle for some placid or boring subject line that will get the “Delete” button used immediately.

Getting The Right Balance With Your Basket Abandonment Subject Line Tests

You should try to remember that your potential customers out there are probably just like you, in many ways. Don’t condescend to them. Try to remember that they’re smart, just like you. That they’re funny, just like you. That they’re savvy, just like you. Remembering that will make it easier for you to craft the abandoned cart subject lines that will resonate with your most loyal customers.

You can try things like FOMO subject lines if there is some truth to them. For example, if you have bestsellers which often to go out of stock, then using terms like “selling fast” or “act fast” are fine. Just don’t use too much hype or too many exclamation points, otherwise you could see the opposite effect to what you intended.

Abandoned Cart Email Subject Line Ideas and Examples

Need some inspiration to get you started? No problem.

Below you’ll see 20 subject lines which are proven to effectively recover lost sales in various e-commerce markets.

These were some of the top performers in an abandoned cart study by the e-commerce ESP Klaviyo.

Use the following subject line ideas as inspiration, but remember a lot of people are using these. So don’t just copy them verbatim.

The point is to stand out in the inbox.

split testing abandoned cart subject line ideas
Subject lines from Klaviyo’s abandoned cart study.

You might want to use these as starting points when coming up with your own tests, just remember to adapt them based on how you typically talk to customers.

Finding More Abandoned Cart Subject Line Examples

One tool we love for email and subject line inspiration is MailCharts. They monitor the email strategy of many leading online stores and save all of their email templates and subject lines in a searchable library which makes a great swipe file!

Below you’ll see a few examples of how different abandoned cart email subject lines appear in the inbox. These are just a few ideas – their database contains hundreds of subject line examples with their corresponding emails.

abandoned cart subject line examples in
Email subject lines as they appear in the inbox from MailCharts.

Product Related Subject Lines For Abandoned Cart Campaigns

One of the best things you can do to improve the performance of your cart abandonment email strategy is use personalization, and try to treat the shopper as an individual.

This could be as simple as using personalized subject lines with a prospect’s first name, or taking the time to drill down and create separate abandonment campaigns for your bestselling products and categories.

When to Use Specific Product Related Subject Lines to Get People Back to Your Checkout

If you have a “hero product” or a small subsection of your overall catalogue that is responsible for a large percentage of your overall Ecommerce sales, it would make sense to build out multiple abandoned cart campaigns.

You could do this for your top 3-5 individual products, or bestselling categories.

Not only does this allow you to call out the specific product or type of product someone has in their cart, it also lets you personalize the email content itself and focus in the specific benefits or USPs of the item/s in question.

This leads to higher open rates, but also higher conversion rates on the overall abandoned cart email sequence.

Also, read our complete Ecommerce email marketing strategy guide for more on effective subject lines, and how abandonment fits into an overall strategy for your brand.

Working With An Ecommerce Agency To Create The Best Abandoned Cart Emails

We know that recovering more online shopping carts can be hugely valuable, but there is a lot that goes into it. From the subject lines, to the offer and the copy. Working with an experience agency such as our team can make the whole process much easier.

Here at our specialist email marketing agency for Ecommerce stores we’ll help you design, write, and send abandoned cart emails that gently encourage customers to continue shopping without immediately giving away huge discounts or waiving shipping costs.

We’ll help you identify the most common reasons a customer abandoned and put together a series of email campaigns to overcome them. Book a call with our team today and we can discuss creating a comprehensive email marketing strategy specifically for your brand.

Lastly, if you want to learn how to build a world class email marketing system yourself take a look at our Klaviyo email training course for Ecommerce brands. It contains over 40 hours of time tested strategies, with over the shoulder videos.

About the Author Ryan Turner

Ryan Turner is the lead strategist here at Ecommerce Intelligence with over 6 years experience growing Ecommerce brands using proven Klaviyo email marketing strategies.

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