How to Build an Award-Winning* Abandoned Cart Email Flow

Article detail for Actionable insights for your store:

*Winner of the Shopify Commerce Award for Best Abandoned Cart Recovery Experience

"THANK YOU for sending me abandoned cart emails - you're the absolute best!"

Your customer would never say that in a million years. Right?!

Well, actually, think again.

If you want to receive this sort of adoring response from your store visitors, keep on reading. We are going to flip your idea of abandoned carts upside down.

Instead of intrusive, salesy, obnoxious, unwanted messages, by the end of this article, you’ll recognize these emails are your chance to be someone's hero.

Why send abandoned cart emails?

An abandoned cart email has one goal, and it's pretty simple: to close a hot lead.

On average, nearly seven out of 10 carts are deserted - a staggering 69 per cent! If you're not winning those customers back, you're losing money.

The good news here is that your carts can be salvaged! On average, Klaviyo found that businesses recover anywhere from three to five per cent of their abandoned carts. At Fuel Made, we have boosted that recovery percentage all the way up to 16% for most of our customers. All it takes is a good email sequence and we're about to show you one.

The award-winning, lead-crushing, abandoned cart flow

Let's look a real example we created for Inked Gaming, which won a Shopify Commerce Award for the Best Abandoned Cart Recovery Experience. We'll walk you through the email results, but most importantly, we'll tell you why they are successful at recovering 16% of carts!

Then, you'll see how you can apply these tactics to your own emails.

So... let's dive in.

Abandoned Cart Email #1

Inked Gaming Abandoned Cart Email

Subject Line: “Did you get distracted?” OR “Did you need help?”
Open Rate: 59%
Conversion Rate: 8.8%
Sending Time: Two hours after abandonment

The Strategy

We start with a brief, helpful, plain text email sent two hours after cart abandonment, and we opted for a plain text email to increase chances of it landing in the reader’s inbox.

One key goal is to subtly remind shoppers to finish what they started, in case they got distracted and we do this by including a direct link back to their cart.

This email is also the first step in building a human connection with customers. We send this email from Mitch (a human!) to create a personal and friendly environment where customers feel comfortable reaching out. This plain text format implies Mitch sat down at his computer to write them a personal note and encourages customer responses.

These products are not the easiest items to purchase. Customers have the option of customizing their items by uploading a design. Then, they need to edit it to fit the right proportions. Many customers need a little help with this process, so offering a hand in this first email has proven to be highly effective. The return address gives customers the comfort of knowing their email is sent to the right person if they need extra support.

Finally, this is an opportunity to collect valuable customer feedback and data in case they experience a glitch that needs fixing.

Abandoned Cart Emails #2 and #3

Subject Line: We want to give you 10% off your cart!
Open Rate: 
Conversion Rate: 3.8%
Sending Time: 48-hours after cart abandonment

Subject Line: We have some good news and some bad news
Open Rate:
Conversion Rate: 2.3%
Sending Time: 72-hours after cart abandonment

The Strategy

The second and third emails are sent one and two days after a customer has abandoned their items.

These emails target customers who need a push to buy, so we offer them a 10% discount as an incentive. For better results, we add an expiration time to this discount and we grab the reader's attention with a story to justify the urgency.

We visually illustrate this story with fun creatures taken from Inked Gaming's artwork collection submitted by their gaming community, which adds some entertainment! This helps connect with our target audience by appealing to their interests in games and fantasy worlds. The artist attribution included in the artwork is a subtle detail that builds trust with the brand and adds a sense of community.

Finally, we also include images of the abandoned products to quickly and vividly remind the customer of how excited they were about these. An image is much more emotional than just a product title!  

Abandoned Cart Email #4

Inked Gaming abandoned cart eamils

Subject Line: “I hope you didn't have any issues?” OR “Happy to give you a hand if you need it!”
Open Rate: 38.5%
Conversion Rate: 2.4%
Sending Time: 7-days after abandonment

The Strategy

The fourth message is our final chance at converting the toughest customers. This email is a plain text email sent directly from the CEO, to show readers they are valued.

This is a very personal and friendly message which apologizes for any inconvenience. He adds humor into the mix (i.e. “My marketing guy tells me that brings chaos.”) and both extends and increases the discount to 15%. This helps establish a stronger connection with readers. As a result, customers feel comfortable enough to reach out and provide feedback.


Just to prove you can really get adoring responses from your customers, here are a few messages they received:

Abandoned Cart Email Response

Abandoned Cart Email Response

Abandoned Cart Email Response

So, how do I create emails that work?

Hopefully, the examples above got your wheels turning and ideas flowing. You'll need to adapt the examples above to your voice and your audience, but here is a list of tips that will help you keep track of the most important elements:

    • Include multiple links back to the cart.
      You can phrase and format them differently, so if one version doesn't quite grab the reader, perhaps the next will. 
    • Don't include other calls-to-action.
      Having too many different options in the email can overwhelm and distract the customer from taking the one action we need them to take: checking out. You could even consider removing menu items at the top.
    • Show the abandoned products. 
      If your reader isn't in the mood to read, their eyes will at least catch the images of products they singled out. Images can remind them in a split second of their initial excitement.

    • Offer help and useful information.
      Make it very easy for the customer to find what they need. If you have a customer support number, include it. Offer your help and give the reader permission to ask you anything.    
    • Make your email personal and friendly. 
      The more human you can be, the better. Your customers will feel more connected and are more likely to trust you. You can close some of your emails with a human's signature and even consider including a headshot.
    • Don’t give a discount immediately, and use a discount ladder. 
      Giving a discount immediately will probably boost your first email's conversion rate, but you'd be throwing away margin and training customers to expect coupons. Try to recover customers first through reminders, information and warmth. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that your audience doesn't need discounts to buy.

    You are now armed to reclaim a huge sum that is currently being left on the table.

    Good luck, and if you to need any assistance, we are here to help!