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The 3-Part Email Series Every Growing Ecommerce Brand Needs To Nail


What was the last thing you added to your cart but didn’t actually buy?

Mine was this amazing leather tote from a Philly-based company. It has copper grommets, the leather is hand-dyed and the designer is hyper-focused on sourcing her materials locally. I’m still thinking about this bag…

So what kept me from checking out?

One, I was in a rush and didn’t want to make a purchase without giving it a little more thought. Two, part of me was hoping that if I abandoned my cart I’d get an email with a discount code. And three, I kept thinking “Do you actually need this?”

The point is: there are SO many reasons people add items to their cart and don’t follow through with the purchase. It might even be a combination of things like it was for me.

But if you’re not sending anything to follow up, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

If I had received an email, any email, discount code or not, after adding that bag to my cart, I don’t think I would have been able to keep myself from buying.

In fact, if I got an email from them tomorrow, I know I’d make the purchase.

So if you run an ecommerce business and you’re worried about losing customers for similar reasons, here’s an abandoned cart playbook for you. It includes three emails that we’ve learned from helping 400,000+ brands here at Privy.

Email #1

Name: The Primer

⏰ When To Send: 1 Hour LaterYour first email should go out 1 hour after they ditched their cart. You’ve probably seen this email 1,000 times. The one that usually has a subject line similar to, “Did you forget something?” (you can do better than this, but this is a topic for another post).

Largely these emails feel really impersonal. They usually have an image of the item you added to your cart and a button with a link back to the item or a way to complete the purchase.

This is an opportunity for you to stand out. Make people like you and your brand by being authentic and focusing on customer service in this email.

For example, the bag company could have sent me an email like this:Email #1 v2-1It would be even better if this email included a picture of Bri in the factory.

If you’re struggling to come up with something to say, I pulled most of this info from the ‘About’ section of their website. This shouldn’t be a time-consuming exercise.

Notice that this email didn’t include a coupon or feel overly salesy. The goal is to generate a response (if you have questions about the right size for you) and/or remind them to go back to the site (with the link to the item).

Never send your best email first. That’s why this one shouldn’t include a discount code – that’s your hook to get people to come back.

This is just a primer so when you do send that discount code the next day, they’re already thinking, “Just take my money.”

Email #2


Name: The Hook⏰ When To Send: 24 Hours LaterThe next email goes out 24 hours later. This one includes a coupon, your hook to get the customer to come back. It says something like:Email #2-1-1Notice how this doesn’t just include a discount code. It also creates urgency. I only have 24 hours to make a decision. It would be even better if it included something like we only have enough leather to make a couple more of the bag you want, so click here to complete your purchase.

My reaction to that? OMG, there’s only a little leather left?! And I only have 24 hours to decide? I need it. Done.

It’s also worth noting that the discount code isn’t a generic Welcome10 or something like that. People know that’s going to work more than 24 hours later. Make it feel personal.

Email #3

Name: The Last Call Reminder

⏰ When To Send: 48 Hours Later

This email only goes out if a purchase wasn’t made. Let’s say Jenny is a harder sell than I am and that second email with the discount code didn’t work. 48 hours after she initially abandoned her cart, send her something like:
Email #3-1-1It’s that straightforward. A reminder that her coupon code is expiring with that continued hint of customer service – ‘Seriously, let me know how I can help you make a decision.’

If this all seems simple, it’s because it is. But the reality is that a lot of brands aren’t sending these emails. Any they’re missing out.

People are leaving items in their carts all the time. And if you’re not doing anything to try to get them back, you’re leaving the ball in their court. And they’re probably not coming back.

Anything is Better Than Nothing; Start By Sending One of These Emails


Maybe this feels like too much. And you know what? That’s OK. You don’t have to start off with a 3-part series. Start with one email. Keep it really simple and once you’re more comfortable you can get more advanced with it.

The truth is, you have the power to give people that brand experience from the very beginning. Tell them your story. Give them a reason to want to choose you over the competition. Send emails that keep them thinking about you.

If you don’t, someone else will. And by then, they’ve forgotten about you entirely.

This article originally appeared in the Privy blog and has been published here with permission.

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