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The Best Abandoned Cart Subject Lines That Customers Can’t Resist


The abandoned shopping cart . . . it’s a tough pill to swallow, and it happens more than we’d care to admit (about 70 percent of customers abandon their shopping carts). Consumers are fickle, and there’s a plethora of reasons why they don’t buy. And while you can’t control if someone clicks “Buy,” you can control how you respond when they don’t.

We recently covered tips for writing abandoned cart emails to win back potential customers. In this post, we’ll focus on how to get them to open that email with a catchy email subject line. Because while getting those emails out is a good start, it counts for nothing if no one opens them.

The power of subject lines

From the time I started my ride to work today to when I sat down at my desk, I received more than 30 promotional emails (FYI: I have a two-hour commute). But I only opened three of those emails. If you think that’s bad, consider that, according to a report by the Radicati Group, the average office worker receives about 90 emails a day.

With so much noise, it really is a constant struggle to get your emails opened and read. That’s where a short, punchy, attention-grabbing headline pays dividends. It’s the difference between having your email opened at first glance or buried deep in the depths of in-box purgatory, never to be seen again.

Subject lines for abandoned cart emails need extra attention because they represent the last chance to pitch your prospective customers and lure them back into the sale. Below are five tips for crafting abandoned cart subject lines that excite, shock, and entice people to open your email.

1. Convey a sense of urgency

People are motivated by the thought of missing out. Similar to your abandoned cart emails, it’s important to convey a sense of urgency in your subject lines and capitalize on this emotion. If the offer you’re giving potential customers is for a limited time only, share it in the subject line!

Barnes & Noble does this to great effect. In the example below, the company establishes immediacy in the subject line by letting recipients know that there’s only one day left to get a significant discount. Then, the urgency is heightened by including a countdown timer in the body of the email. Nothing gets the heart racing like a ticking clock!


2. Pique curiosity

It’s no secret: to get your prospective customers to pay attention to your email in their over-flowing in-boxes, you have to be different and interesting. Pique your audience’s curiosity by asking questions in the subject line—whether they’re directed at the products they’ve left behind, as in “Did you mean to leave this behind?”—or speaking more generally about your brand itself, as in “Are you making the same mistakes as celebrities?” Questions entice readers to open emails to get answers.

Cosmetics companies dominate my in-box with messages reminding me of the products I was looking at earlier on the web. Here’s one I received earlier this week for a product I was looking at, and eventually bought, from Tarte.


3. Character counts . . . count

Nothing is worse than crafting the perfect subject line only to have it get cut off in the email browser for being too long. Also, consider that the best subject lines out there are often short, sweet, and to the point. Going too long with your subject lines can mean getting ignored in people’s in-boxes. And you want to stand out for being interesting, witty, and exciting, not for doing something wrong.

Keep your subject lines to 41 characters, or seven words. According to Marketo, this is the ideal length for email subject lines in 2019. Here’s a list of tester tools put together by Hubspot that you can use to measure the length of your subject lines so you don’t get caught in this conundrum.

4. Be visually captivating

Keep subject lines short, but don’t let the limited amount of character space stop you from adding some flare. Adding elements such as brackets, punctuation, numbers, or quotations will attract readers’ attention to your emails.

Emojis can also be a great draw, and according to Business Wire, subject lines that featured them saw a higher open rate when compared to subject lines that were text-only. Just remember to test your emojis on different devices before hitting “Send.”


5. Remember your goal

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of crafting the perfect subject line, but remember that the purpose of your email is to get readers back to their shopping carts and complete the sale. So, make sure this is clear. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to let them know you want them back!

What if you’re still building your email list?

Are you ready to put these tips to good use but still working on your email list? Fear not! AddThis offers a free List Builder tool that helps you compile emails from your website visitors. Use the tool across your site to make it easy for visitors to enter their email addresses and sign up to receive your messages.

An abandoned cart isn’t the end of the sale

It’s not 100 percent up to you to decide whether prospective customers buy something or abandon their carts, but certain actions you take can make all the difference. While writing a subject line, think about your audience and what you can say to get their attention. Use that and the tips above to write something that stands out amid all the in-box noise . . . because when your subject lines are crafted the right way, there’s no doubt that your abandoned cart emails will be opened and read.

Learn more about the free tools that AddThis offers to re-engage with your prospective customers today.

Last modified:  April 8th, 2019