Browse Abandonment Emails: The Do's And Don'ts

There’s so much focus on promotional emails that brands can lose sight of an even more effective type of message: the browse abandonment email. Those are the ones you send when a customer has browsed a product page — and moved on.

Browse abandonment emails pull an average open rate of 52.79% and a click rate of 10.87%. And they generate $2.88 in revenue per recipient, according to a study by Klaviyo, a provider of ecommerce email automation services. Overall, they have a 62.9% higher open rate than traditional emails. 

But there’s an art to this (or rather, an artlessness). Subject lines need to be simple, as in these examples, accompanied by their average open rates:

  • Did you see something you like? — 56.82% (7% higher than the benchmark average). 
  • Recommended just for you — 53.82%
  • We saw you checking us out — 58.55%



One also has to avoid the "creepiness" factor. Lines that incorporate the product or category the person was browsing produce an open rate 21% below average, probably because they seem invasive.

It’s more difficult to determine the interest of a person who stops browsing than one who abandons a cart, the company notes.    

Emails that tout discounts in the subject line also don’t do well — their open rates are 18% below average. Those that feature symbols such as $, % and FREE can land you right in a spam filter. So avoid lines such as:

  • A whopping 25% discount for you (today only)
  • 10% off for 24 hours only!

Granted, some of these may seem counterintuitive. Discounts do work for retailers — but test them first. And you don’t have to specify a percentage — instead, use lines such as:

  • Deals that make us proud
  • Shop now. Save big. 

And don’t pressure your customer.

Subject lines with a time limit generate an open rate that is 27% below average. The  "Final notice…(4 hours left)" line pulls a 15% open rate.

Above all, don’t be fooled by long-held myths.   

“There are some browse abandonment subject lines that many people assume generate high open rates, but in reality, fall short of expectations,” states Phil Weltman, Content Marketing Manager at Klaviyo. “These include product personalization, incorporating discounts, and time limits.” 

Another factor is subject-line length. Subject lines with 40 characters or less perform 10% better than longer ones. 

“Successful subject lines have a few things in common,” Weltman says. “They talk directly to the recipient using ‘you’ and use simple language that anyone would use in everyday conversation.”

 Klaviyo recommends  that “browse abandonment email subject lines be short -- 30 characters or less -- which means save the use of emoji and puns for more relevant emails,” Weltman adds. That’s especially true, given that 68% of consumers open emails on mobile devices, lines longer than 25 to 30 characters are cut off.

Finally, watch your punctuation. Klaviyo insists that punctuation marks add character — curiosity, finality, excitement. Here are the winners and their open rates:

  • Question mark (?) — 56.19%
  • Period (.) — 56.19%
  • Exclamation point (!) —48.5%

Klaviyo analyzed 1,000 browse abandonment emails sent to one million recipients during a three-month period.




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