The 6 Golden Rules of Recovering Abandoned Carts

The 6 Golden Rules of Recovering Abandoned Carts

A guest article written by Soma Toth of Recart app, an app developed to sell more with your Shopify store.

Table of Contents:

After recovering 900,000 abandoned carts with $26,000,000 value, I think it’s about time we summarized the Golden Rules of recovering abandoned carts.

Over the last 18 months, we detected a whopping 6.6 million abandoned carts. That’s a lot of potential customers being lost.

On our quest to recover almost 1 million of them, we sent more than 7 million emails and 150,000 push notifications. Around 2,500 Shopify & WooCommerce stores were involved in this great recovery. It’s been a big team effort.

The whole process taught us a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Through it all, we’ve been able to boost the average abandoned cart to recovered cart conversion rate from 9% to 13.6%.

Not too bad, even if I say so myself.

Here’s the truth:

We want nothing more than for you to succeed.

So in order to get the most out of your abandoned carts and maximize your revenue, you need to keep the following 6 Golden Rules in mind:

1) Cart abandonment happens, and you have to do something

Step number one is acceptance:

Cart abandonment is a part of eCommerce.

Always has been, and always will be.

Need proof? Just take a look at the rising stats:

Cart abandonment is on the rise, no question about it.

Back in 2009, the average was at 61%.

Today, it’s at 79% and is predicted to reach 85% by 2019!

Listrak’s live cart abandonment stats prove that it’s a huge issue for your business, and no matter how good your website is, you can’t stop it completely.

The lowest abandonment rate I’ve seen in a scaled Shopify store is 55%. They have the perfect product, happy customers, an incredible store and they still lose an incredible amount of money every day.

The good news:

All is not lost.

With abandoned cart messages, you can mitigate a fair chunk of the damage.

2) ANY cart abandonment email is better than no cart abandonment email

The first question I usually receive from merchants:

“What’s the best cart abandonment app?”

There is no easy answer for that. It all depends on your goals and the current pain-points of your store.

Your shop might need:

  • More emails to be captured in the first place.
  • A higher volume of emails to be sent.
  • Higher converting copy in your emails.
  • Better incentives and discounts for your abandoners.

It might even need all of the above.

So where do you start?

The truth is that there’s no need to overcomplicate things in the early stages.

Just set up a basic email capture and send out at least one email to your cart abandoners. We’ll get to multi-email campaigns later on, but let’s start with the real basics.

Because one is way better than none, and alone can lead to a big change in lost revenue. Some clients we’ve worked with find that just one email leads to the biggest increase in revenue.

Soon, you’ll inevitably taste the power of cart abandonment emails, and most likely you’ll tweak it further and add a follow-up sequence.

But that won’t ever happen if you don’t get started in the first place.

3) Send the first abandoned message in 60 minutes or less

The harsh reality is this:

Cart abandoners usually go cold after 60 minutes.

So if you set your first email to be sent out after 6 hours using the standard Shopify settings, you’re losing a huge part of your recoverable revenue.

Don’t just take my word for it:

MIT’s and Marketingsherpa’s studies say the same thing.

Web-generated leads go cold after 60 minutes. Cart abandoners included.

So make sure that first email goes out in 60 minutes or less.

The sooner you send, the higher open rate and the more lost sales you recover.

I dug up some data to show you the average differences between sending the first email right away and waiting 6 hours.

With an average cart value of $100:

  • Scenario 1: Sending the 1st email in 6 hours: 500 abandoned cart, 32% open rate, 4% conversion rate, $2,000 recovered sales
  • Scenario 2: Sending the 1st email in 10 minutes: 500 abandoned cart, 51% open rate, 7% conversion rate, $3,500 recovered sales
4) Send at least 3 recovery emails

I know 3 might sound pushy, but believe it or not, there are merchants out there who send 8-10 cart abandonment emails for a single cart abandoner…

Surprisingly, it works pretty well if done right.


There’s a huge amount of noise out there. Your typical customers receive promotional emails at least 50 times a day. I usually receive 100-150.

If you’re only sending me 1-2 emails, am I likely to pick up on them and take action? Probably not.

But what if I’m seeing your company name all over my inbox?

Some merchants decide to go with 10 emails, building a detailed, step-by-step campaign for their abandoners.

But 3 is a great place to start.

We typically set ours to 10 minutes, 24 hours and 72 hours.

The beauty of it all is that over time, you can experiment and create efficient campaigns that work for your business and your customers.

5) Make sure there’s a GOOD reason to come back

Most merchants make this huge mistake:

They completely forget to give an incentive for the customer to complete the purchase.

An incentive can be anything from:

  • Urgency – Your cart is reserved for only 24 hours!
  • Scarcity – Something you like is selling out super fast!
  • Savings – Use the IAMAWESOME code for 10% off your purchase – only today!

Pro tip: Don’t put discount codes in your first email.

People abandon their carts for many different reasons. Maybe their boss jumped in or they had to run an errand and couldn’t complete their purchase.

If you send them a coupon code right away, you’ll lose revenue.

That’s why I usually advise to put the coupon code in the second email and repeat that in the third.

You can thank me later.

6) Get your open/click rate above 50/11%

Not seeing the desired results from your abandoned cart email campaign?

Take a look at your open and click rates.

The usual 3-email cart abandonment campaign should deliver you an average 50% open rate and an 11% click rate.

Use these stats as a benchmark. If you’re missing them for some reason, tweak your copy (or hire someone to do it) it as soon as you can.

Not hitting a 40-50% open rate? 

Typically, the fault lies in the email subject lines. I don’t have a silver bullet since there’s no one-size-fits-all here, but my merchants usually succeed when I advise these:

  • About your order…
  • Oops… Was there a problem during checkout?
  • Here’s your cart at MyStore
  • Looks like you left something behind

Of course, the best is to craft something unique that resonates well with your customers, but you can use the above as a good foundation to build upon.

Getting less than an 11% click through?

That’s usually a sign that something’s amiss with your email body copy. Remember back to rule #5:

Make sure you give a reason to your abandoners to come back. On the top of that, you can shoot for even better numbers by creating unique content.

If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s a great Pinterest board of cart abandonment emails that’ll come in handy.

What’s a good conversion rate for abandoned carts?

What you can measure, you can manage. So it’s important to know what’s considered a decent conversion rate amongst abandoned cart campaigns.

Your typical Shopify merchant using Recart’s basic 3-email abandonment campaign currently converts around the 11% of captured abandoned carts to recovered cart.

That’s the gold standard to aim for.

What does it look like?

An 11% conversion rate is when you capture 100 abandoned carts (meaning you have an email address you can reach out) and you recover 11 carts.

If you’re missing this conversion rate, take another good look at the steps already mentioned throughout the article.

I promise, if all points are followed and delivered, the results will come. And if you’re still not getting the results you want, get in touch and we’ll provide you with any ideas that we think will help.


When you succeed, we succeed. So we want nothing more than for these tips to work for you!

I really hope you found this post useful and that it makes a bunch more sales for your store.

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