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Browse Abandonment Emails: How To Bring Customers Back Again & Again

Thoughts by Farida Khan • Writer Bento

Thanks to the advent of ecommerce, window shopping has become more accessible than ever.

Our favourite brands and stores are just a few clicks away.

As an avid window-shopper myself, I love settling down with a glass of wine, some netflix in the background and just exploring the internet, looking for the latest deals and sales.

However, as a marketer, it can often be baffling when you seeing how much traffic a store is getting, yet the conversion rates aren’t where you expect them to be.

With the average attention span of a human these days being roughly 8 seconds long, it’s no wonder that those eyes on the store are not converting to sales.

People's attention is fleeting and we need to do more to retain it.

Whatever the reason a specific customer isn't buying, and trust me there will be plenty, most of your prospective buyers will browse and not buy. Yet most email marketing strategies are driven towards driving traffic existing customers back to your business and forget to leverage the traffic that already exists browsing around.

As a marketer you should be viewing those window shoppers as a large chunk of potential customers just begging to be converted!

A study by Cision shows that 92 percent of consumers visiting a retailer's website for the first time aren't there to buy anything. While that number may be off putting, there are several things you can do about this - one of them is to use browse abandonment emails. Here’s the 411 on browse abandonment emails as a marketing tool for your ecommerce business!

What is a browse abandonment email and why are they required?

A browse abandonment email is an email sent out by an online business or brand to specifically target shoppers that leave your website/app before they add anything to their carts and making a purchase. Understanding why people leave your website before they even add anything to the cart can be useful in crafting a targeted email for such browse abandonment patterns.

As mentioned earlier, there are several reasons for people to leave your website without so much as adding anything to their cart. Some common reasons are: them just possibly getting distracted, finding your website's navigation a bit unfriendly or not being able to find what they were looking for.

User behaviour and patterns regarding browse abandonment include doing things like this:

  • A shopper is just checking out your websites homepage and leaving before exploring or clicking on anything
  • A shopper reaching the homepage and using the search box to look for a particular product but not going beyond that
  • A shopper viewing just a specific category but not specific products in that category
  • A shopper getting to a specific product page but not adding anything to the cart and abandoning the site

Some more research suggested that the following are the likely culprits apart from clunky navigation, short attention spans and distractions:

Price Sensitivity A large proportion of your customers actually abandon items because after including things like shipping and taxes, the total price was just too high for them.

“According to research by the Baymard Institute, of the 67% of online shopping carts that are abandoned overall by website visitors, 46% are abandoned due to high shipping charges.“ Source: Baymard

While these numbers are actually pertaining to cart abandonment, the same data can be viewed in terms of browse abandonment as well. If your customer is price-sensitive, it will also affect the way they view the brand from the get-go and price-points will be just the triggers for them to look for less costly alternatives, potentially even driving them to your competitors. This might be something you want to examine from a marketing standpoint. With browse abandonment emails you could implement the usage of time-sensitive discounts codes to nudge reluctant customers towards conversion. The time-sensitivity angle just introduces that sense of urgency, which might just be what some shoppers need to make that purchase NOW!


“Personalizing the consumer experience can have a significant impact on the path to purchase, and the effects start the second a would-be shopper enters an e-Commerce site. Personalized home page promotions influence 85% of consumers, while personalized shopping cart recommendations influence 92% of shoppers to complete a purchase.” Source: Retails Touchpoints

Personalisation, to any extent, is a great way of showing your customers that you are in tune with their wants and needs and actually care about their experience. With this element missing from your website, shoppers might actually leave before they even add anything to the cart as they haven’t found that “connect’ with your brand through its website. Think of personalisation on your ecommerce site as the equivalent of an attentive salesperson showing you exactly which accessories would go well with a pair of shoes or great alternatives to that laptop you might have had your eye on, in a brick and mortar store. This is also a great opportunity for you to up-sell related products! Browse abandonment emails can certainly help with this aspect as it hinges on the momentum of the interest shown by the shopper initially - you can use these campaigns to showcase related products, entire product categories or using their data even the categories they spent most time browsing in.

Purchase Intent and Power

There is ofcourse a subset of customers that are more willing to engage with your brand right now yet might not be completely ready to purchase something. It is integral to understand the mindset behind browse abandonment and cart abandonment - some shoppers are truly just browsing and don’t have the same urgency or need to buy your product(s). Understanding where they stand with their purchase intent can help you craft a browse abandonment email campaign that may give them exactly what they need to convert them into customers with deliberate intent to buy. Here, their curiosity is the key, thus a campaign that includes more information about the products or product categories they were browsing, will help them make an informed decision on products and this in turn is more likely to drive them to make purchases, thus more revenue for you! This point also ties back to the personalisation angle and helps you create a long term engaged customer that is more likely to keep coming back.

Are browse abandonment emails really effective, especially in comparison to cart abandonment emails?

Research suggests that abandoned cart emails are effective in making up for nearly 10% of lost sales. These emails work so well because they target customers that are further along the conversion funnel than most - these are highly engaged customers with the highest level of purchase intent, will and ability in comparison to other site visitors.

So while cart abandonment email campaigns have a higher conversion rate than that of a browse abandonment email series, the latter does have a larger pool of potential customers to fish from. Depending on how effective your campaign is, a higher conversion rate is absolutely possible!

“The average open rate of browse abandonment emails is 37%, with 14% of opens clicking through, and 11% of clicks converting to purchase. With some decent store traffic, this automation can have a significant impact on revenue.”


So when marketers focus only on cart abandonment, they lose out of key insights into product browsing behaviour which essentially give you a glimpse into every potential customer's purchase intent, likes and dislikes and what works for them on a fundamental level in regards with your websites UI/UX. If you’re focused only on crafting cart abandonment emails for the 10%, you’re missing out on a wealth of usable data and potential customers by ignoring the rest of the 90%. You can absolutely leverage this data to create personalised and targeted marketing strategies - such as browse abandonment emails and perhaps even fix the holes in your website layout, interface or processes if need be.

The types of browse abandonment emails

There are 4 types of browse abandonment that we generally see as mentioned above with user behavioural patterns. They are namely; homepage abandonment, category abandonment, product view abandonment and site search abandonment. Research suggests that working on retargeting shoppers that abandon at any of these points can get back upto 15% of the lost revenue.

Homepage Abandonment This occurs when a shopper is just checking out your website's homepage and leaving before exploring or clicking on anything. Browse abandonment emails that are triggered at this stage should ideally be focused more on imagery than copy/text as it provides a more generic and straight-forward messaging. These emails should also make the product the star and focus on them. The call to action should be clear, simple and effective and be aimed at bringing shoppers back to the website.

Examples of effective subject lines for such emails are:

  • “Our top 5 products of all time”
  • “These products are going, going, gone!”
  • “Our top picks for our favourite customer - you!”

According to, these are the stats for homepage abandonment emails:

  • Average open rate: 22%
  • Average CTR: 16%
  • Average revenue per email sent: $0.61*

Site Search Abandonment This occurs when a shopper reaches the homepage and uses the search box to look for a particular product but does not go beyond that. Browse abandonment emails that are triggered at this stage should ideally be focused on bringing shoppers back to their search history and results. At this stage the emails can be more personalised as you can leverage the keywords they used in the search to be added to the email copy, making it more customer oriented. Keep in mind that customers were looking for a very specific item and might just need extra support, which is why it would be useful to add a customer service number in the copy or somewhere it is visible. A simple call to action and additionally even related products to their search term would be effective tools.

Examples of effective subject lines for such emails are:

  • “Looking for this - (add search term here)?”
  • “Can’t find what you’re looking for?”
  • “Look no further for (add search term)!”

According to, these are the stats for homepage abandonment emails:

  • Average open rate: 52%
  • Average CTR: 28%
  • Average revenue per mail sent: $2.85

Category Abandonment This occurs when a shopper views just a specific category but not specific products in that category and then decides to leave the website. Browse abandonment emails that are triggered at this stage should ideally lead your shoppers back to categories that they were viewing as they likely had the most intent to make a purchase from there. Having image heavy emails with messaging that is straight-forward and a clear call to action is also a good idea. Additionally, these emails can be a good place to give specific product recommendations within the category that interested them the most. Basically, hand-hold them down your conversion funnel!

Examples of effective subject lines for such emails are:

  • “Why don’t you look at our (insert searched category here)?”
  • “Check out our latest (insert searched category here)!”
  • “Our (insert searched category here) are selling like hot-cakes!”

According to, these are the stats for homepage abandonment emails:

  • Average open rate: 42%
  • Average CTR: 27%
  • Average revenue per mail sent: $1.71

__Product Page Abandonment __ This occurs when a shopper gets to a specific product page but does not add anything to the cart and abandons the site. Browse abandonment emails that are triggered at this stage should be specific and crafted to be to-the-point. You want to make a sale on a specific product so ensure that it is highlighted in the email as the main image - always ensure that the images are high quality ones. Your call to action must be a gentle nudge and a softer approach such as “check it out again” instead of a “buy now”, just like the messaging too. Another tip to increase your click through rates is to leave the price out of the email, this seems to be a good way to atleast bring customers back to the website. Ofcourse, these emails can also be used to recommend related products as well. One fun fact about product page abandonment emails is that they can actually be over 200% more effective than cart abandonment emails! Who would have thought?!

Examples of effective subject lines for such emails are:

  • “(Insert item name) is/are nearly sold out!”
  • “Why don’t you take another look at (inset item name)”
  • “Quick reminder…”

According to, these are the stats for homepage abandonment emails:

  • Average open rate: 52%
  • Average CTR: 26%
  • Average revenue per mail sent: $3.42

Examples of good browse abandonment emails

Here are some examples of good browse abandonment emails by brands!

Timberland Subject: Thanks for visiting Timberland uses the scarcity principle very effectively in their email through the copy. By saying that the item that the customer was browsing is in limited stock, they invoke a sense of urgency which is just the little nudge that a customer may need to go through with their purchase. They also include other related products in the email, thus effectively using the upselling techniques.

Converse Subject: We think you have terrific taste Converse is a great example of a brand that uses targeted messaging in conjunction with a promotional discount that has a time frame on it. The subject and copy makes the shopper feel good about their taste when used with images of the products they may have viewed and the brand achieves its goal of connecting with the customer on a more personal level. The high quality images with more relevant product recommendations are a hit when coupled with the promotional discounts!


Hydro Flask Subject: Let us help you quench that thirst, Richard I love the Hydro Flask browse abandonment email’s playful subject and copy. They provide links to more than just the products in their email. For example the “our story” button is a nice way to try to get the customer interested in the backstory of the brand. They use their colourful products as their main focus and use the customer’s name in both the subject and the body to display a degree of personalisation. They have also nicely given the products that are mostly sold together, thus implementing upselling techniques effectively here too.


Airbnb Subject: Travel Tip - Book your Seattle trip at least 1 month in advance Airbnb really nails the subject line to include a targeted messaging based on the users specific search. Several travel companies actually pull this off really well. This email is triggered and sent within 3 hours of the search, thus their search is still very fresh in the customers mind. They provide specific recommendations and a soft yet clear call to action. Customers are bound to come back to the site pretty quickly!


Parachute Home Subject: I noticed you noticing me Again, a witty and quirky subject and email copy will nudge the customer to click on the CTA button more often. Parachute Home is playful with their words and as a home products retailer, I love that their CTA button says “Take me home” - a fantastic example of a soft call to action. They highlight the product that the user was searching for as well as provide other curated options - and all of this is done within 24 hours of browsing.

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While creating and crafting the perfect browse abandonment email campaign is definitely one way to go, another would be to try to avoid browse abandonment in the first place. Here are some tips for better websites processes and strategies that might help:

  • Always make sure you’re in the competition! If your prices aren’t competitive, chances are that shoppers will take one look at them and head elsewhere. Even if you don’t want to change your prices, find a way to communicate the value and quality of your products or services.
  • Speaking of prices, ensure that you’re always transparent with your customers about shipping costs, extra hidden fees/taxes, return policies and their payment options. Customers might really like what they see but might also be deterred by these other factors. Simplify it for them as much as you can!
  • I’ve mentioned this before already but personalisation can play a big part in customer retention. Make use of personalisation tools that may be on offer to you - including things like a “related products” section right under a product they are currently viewing or even “matching accessories” might make a big difference. Add to this, dynamic graphics and features such as timers and count-down clocks for sales or discounts and they will be pretty hooked!
  • Providing your customers with a wonderful visual shopping experience should also be high on your list of to-do’s. Shopping online means that users can’t depend on their tactile senses so it’s even more important to play up the visual elements - adding features such as 360 degree videos, videos of models wearing a piece or even virtual dressing rooms will help enhance the user experience. Make sure that your product descriptions are accurate and detailed, yet to the point.
  • Using social proof is a great way to build customer trust and discourage them to leave your site without shopping. Nearly 76% of all customers rely on social proof through user generated content, ratings and reviews to make an informed decision. Include snippets of these on your website along with a social media embedded feed to show what people are saying in real time. Use hashtags to engage and tie into other marketing strategies!
  • Make the purchase process is as simple as possible. Keep performing regular checks on navigation and search functions. Mobile friendly websites and websites that don't take ages to load are also incredibly important to make sure that users don’t just leave out of frustration - especially since the majority of online transactions now happen through mobile devices.

Now that you’re armed with all this information and data about browse abandonment emails and campaigns, go ahead and reclaim that lost revenue!