6 Abandoned Cart Subject Lines That Really Work

The latest cart abandonment rate statistics show that three out of four e-commerce customers abandon their carts. This equates to $4.6 trillion worth of potential purchases being left on the table.

These are eye-watering figures. And it’s easy to feel a little downbeat about it.

However, abandoned carts continue to present real opportunities. A study by Business Insider suggests up to $2.75 trillion is recoverable for savvy e-commerce stores. At MageMail, we have helped businesses recover over $60 million of revenue for our clients from automated emails alone.

So, it makes sense for your business to put email marketing at the heart of any strategy for recovering abandoned carts.

First Impressions Count

The subject line is one of the most important aspect of a successful email, and is quite often overlooked. It acts as a window and gives reasons for subscribers to open your email. And people may also be quick to judge.

In human interactions, scientists have found it can take just a tenth of a second for people to judge trustworthiness. Which is why you need to treat the subject line the same way.

Before we begin to look at real world examples, here’s a list of six principles that should apply to all subject lines:

  1. Personalize: This goes beyond simply using the recipient’s name. Ensure the subject line is tailored to their interests or purchase.
  2. Focused: A good subject line is a short one, so you need to be specific and captivating with it.  Focus on one aspect rather than trying to cram the entire content into a single line.
  3. Inform and Build Trust: It can be tempting to overhype your email with an exciting subject line. However, this can be misleading and turn off your subscribers, which will affect your open rate.
  4. Length Matters: As we increasingly use mobile devices to check emails, character count does come into play. Aim for a subject line with no more than six words to ensure it doesn’t get cut off by email providers.
  5. Give a Reason: With the average working adult receiving over 120 emails a day, people need a reason to open yours. The subject line is the perfect place to give them that reason.
  6. Test: As with every other element of email marketing, the best way to find out what works is testing. Segment your list so you can split-test your subject lines and see which has the higher open rate.

Each of those principles remain true for abandoned cart emails. They need to address any potential reason why the customer has left the checkout process before completing it. So it calls for a personal, focused, and informative approach.

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Why Do People Abandon Carts?

To create a winning subject line, we need to look at why customers have left their carts in the first place.

The overall open nature of e-commerce means that many people simply use different sites for research and price comparison. Which can be difficult for online retailers as many shoppers are typically looking for the best price.

However, there are plenty of other factors that are within your control. According to the Baynard Institute, once those “just browsing” shoppers are taken out, extra costs are the number one cause for abandoned carts.

Baynard Institute

(Source: Baynard.com)

The data above can be used to tailor your abandoned cart email strategy. For example, if the cost of shipping is an issue, you could highlight different delivery options. Even if you are not giving anything away for free, shoppers will appreciate an informative and friendly email.

Particularly with the first email, you should be thoughtful about whether to offer a discount or special offer as shoppers are smart and will soon learn to wait for a better deal. Though offering a discount would help make a great subject line, it could harm your business.

Along with this publicly available data, you should conduct your own research. Using tools like Google Analytics to explore the customer journey on your site, you may be able to identify a particular point where they are dropping off. You can also organize a survey targeting subscribers and let them answer questions to help gain further insight.

Also, take the opportunity to analyze your competitors. There are some great examples of brands using catchy, direct, and effective subject lines to recover abandoned carts. Now, let’s begin highlighting some great examples.

1. Bloomingdale’s – Don’t Forget: You’re a Click Away from Making it Yours

Bloomingdales Make it yours

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

Bloomingdale’s uses the subject line to emphasize how easy it is to complete the purchase. Just one, tantalizing click away. Sent within an hour of the cart being abandoned, it’s likely the recipient will remember exactly what the email is about.

The word “yours” gives a personal touch to the overall email. Without ever mentioning the name of the customer, Bloomingdale’s manages to make the email feel unique to the individual.

And that starts with the subject line. It’s yours.

Three reasons why we like this subject line:

  • Direct and clear message
  • Friendly tone
  • Consistent with the content of the email

2. Etsy – Whoa. You haven’t bought that yet?

Etsy You havent bought that yet

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

This subject line from Etsy walks a fine line between attention-grabbing and over-hyping. By using the word “Whoa,” it certainly catches the eye of the customer. What makes it work is that it’s followed up with “You’ve haven’t bought that yet?” which sets out what the email is about.

Therefore, Etsy does not run the risk of disappointing its subscribers by over-hyping. It also conveys a gentle sense of urgency, with the term “one-of-a-kind” within the main body supporting the subject line.

Three reasons why we like this subject line:

  • Balanced use of dramatic language
  • A sense of urgency
  • Short and mobile friendly

3. Frogger – Oops, you forgot something.

Frogger Abandoned cart email

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

In the midst of comparing prices and doing research, the shopper may have simply forgotten about your product. Sometimes a simple reminder email does the trick.

Golf accessories retailer, Frogger, takes this approach with its subject line “Oops, you forgot something.” It reflects the way people shop online, and if they have genuinely forgotten then it carries a hint of intrigue. This is a great example of playing it safe with your customers.

The main body of the email uses humor to work with the subject line. “Maybe a round of 18” leading the shopper to forget their purchase? It’s a perfect line for Frogger’s customers.

Three reasons why we like this subject line:

  • Open and engaging
  • A hint of intrigue
  • Use of friendly, everyday language

4. PenFactory – Still Interested In: Vista Rollerball GT?

PenFactory Abandoned cart

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

PenFactory goes straight to the point with its subject line, mentioning the product left in the cart. There’s no doubting what this message is about, yet it still manages to retain the friendly tone. By starting with “Still interested,” the store is giving control to the customer.

After opening the email, you find the check out tab alongside useful contact details for further details.

Three reasons why we like this subject line:

  • Simple, direct, and informative
  • Gives control to the customer
  • Email itself offers useful contact details

5. Chubbies – Clocking in

Chubbies abandoned cart email

(Author’s screenshot)

If your brand is all about being casual and following the dream, then you can get away with alternative subject lines. Chubbies Shorts is a Californian brand which celebrates the beach lifestyle. “Clocking in” is a short but intriguing line, which forces the recipient to open the email to find out more.

Once opened, the content fits in with the idea of “clocking in.” It’s a brief, simple, and in this case, humorous message from one of the Chubbies team.

Three reasons we like this subject line:

  • Works well with the Chubbies brand
  • Unusual and will stand out from other promotional emails
  • Leaves the recipient no choice but to open the email to find out more

6. Ghurka – We want to hear from you

Ghurka Abandoned Cart email

(Author’s screenshot)

Compared to Chubbies, leather goods brand Ghurka is far more formal in its approach to marketing. As you can see in the content of the email, Ghurka covers all the bases it can in order to help the potential buyer.

It starts in the subject line, “We want to hear from you.” This carries connotations of a brand ready to listen and respond to your feedback or questions. Each element of the email fits in with the luxury and sophisticated market Ghurka operates in.

Three reasons why we like about this subject line:

  • Invites the customer to the Ghurka brand
  • Personal without being too intruding
  • Suggests support and help is simply a click away


There’s no such thing as a “perfect” subject line. However, you can always distinguish a good subject line from a bad one. The key is to know your audience, understand your message, and figure out how outline it using as few words as possible.

In this day and age, there’s no excuse not to personalize the subject line. Making it relevant to the recipient will ensure a higher open rate which will lead to more purchases being completed.

The message needs to be clear and concise. Avoid trying to cram in a summary of the email into one line, and leave some room for curiosity. After all, you want the potential buyer to open and click the email in order to complete the checkout.

However, don’t overpromise. Though you want to get the email opened, an overhyped subject line will lead to disappointment for your potential customers. The important factor here is to create a great email to match or even exceed expectations.

Remember to always retain a friendly and helpful tone, which is true for all brands. As we have seen, there are different ways of doing this, depending on your audience, but the rule remains constant. Ghurka takes a more formal approach than Chubbies for example, yet they both essentially offer the same thing – support.

With a well-thought-out subject line, it is possible to convey this message. These potential buyers are your hottest leads. They are nearly there. The job of the cart recovery email is to nudge them over the finish line.

Like what you're reading?

Download our FREE PDF with our 10 Mind-Blowing Abandoned Cart Statistics!


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