Customers come to your website for a reason, but not all of them stick around to make a purchase.

Many eCommerce businesses use retargeting advertising via Facebook and Google’s Display Network in the hope of bringing a customer back to complete their purchase.

You’ve likely experienced it yourself as a consumer. You spend the evening browsing a few websites and the next thing you know you’ve been stalked around the web by a multi-pack of bin bags.

Retargeting advertising definitely has its place in the marketing mix, but there is a far more cost effective method that many eCommerce businesses are neglecting – browse abandonment emails.

They’re similar to abandoned basket emails but reach a far larger audience. And they can be sent at the very start of the customer journey to turn casual browsing into buying.

In our essential guide to browse abandonment emails we look at why every eCommerce marketer needs a browse abandonment campaign. We’ll explain what they are, how to use them and how they can transform your eCommerce business.

What are browse abandonment emails?

Most people have heard of cart abandonment emails. They’re the emails that shoppers are automatically sent when they put an item in their basket but don’t actually purchase. But what surprises us is how many retailers don’t use browse abandonment emails.

Browse abandonment emails retarget people who’ve browsed your site but didn’t put anything in their basket. And let’s be honest – that’s the vast majority of people.

They feature the category or products that the person looked at and are sent shortly after they leave. And the end goal is to get the recipient to take another look and nudge them towards buying.

Browse abandonment emails and the purchase funnel

By sending browse abandonment emails you’re contacting people at the top of the purchase funnel. They’ve found your brand, visited your site but aren’t quite ready to put something in their basket. But that’s no reason to ignore them.

In fact by sending browse abandonment emails you’re contacting a much larger pool of potential customers. And you know more about them than you might think. By using behavioural targeting technology you can track what they’ve browsed or clicked on. You can then recapture their attention with a timely message featuring the very products they’ve just looked at.

And by doing this you’ll push them that little bit closer to a purchase. You can help them with the research phase of their customer journey and move them one step closer to buying.

Who should I send browse abandonment emails to?

Be choosy when t comes to sending browse and abandonment emails. You need to make sure they work alongside the other automated emails you send. And don’t send them to absolutely everyone, every time. If you do you’ll risk bombarding and annoying recipients. Instead retarget the people who are most likely to move on to buying from browsing. These are people who might:

  • Visit your site more than once
  • Spend a certain length of time on site
  • Have browsed several items in a specific category
  • Spent a certain amount of time on a specific product page
  • Use your on-site search to look for products on your website
  • Have viewed an out-of-stock product
  • Be high value customers who are likely to buy again

You can also choose your own criteria – a set of rules that you think warrant triggering a browse abandonment email.

When should I send browse abandonment emails?

Generally the sooner the better as people’s interest tends to dwindle over time. And the longer you leave it the more chance they’ll start looking at one of your competitors!

It’s always best to contact them within 24 hours of leaving your site. Send the email 20 minutes after, at lunchtime or in the evening when they’re more likely be online. Test to see what works best – perform a simple A/B test to see which gets the most engagement.

Don’t just give it one shot either. Browse abandonment emails can be used to create an ongoing email campaign. If you don’t get a response then send a follow-up but be careful not to pester people. If they don’t show interest then drop it before you start stalking them!

And don’t send an abandonment email if they returned and bought or if the item is out of stock. It might sound like common sense but these things can easily be forgotten!

You don’t need to restrict the content to one campaign either. You can feature their recent browsing history on newsletters or even a personalised homepage. Including relevant snippets of their recent behaviour will increase conversion – just ask Amazon!

What content should I feature in my browse abandonment campaign?

Some brands send simple messages asking customers to come back if they’ve abandoned a site. They might not even feature any products but simply ask whether the recipient was looking for something. These are great customer service messages – they reinforce that you’re interested in helping the customer.

But if you have more information on their behaviour then use it. Feature the products they looked at and clicked on to recapture their attention. The more relevant you can make your browse abandonment email the better.

And if they’ve browsed lots of items in a session then don’t feature everything – it will overwhelm them. Look at what they did most recently or which products or categories they spent longest on. You might want to prioritise products that have a high conversion rate – like bestsellers.

You could also tie browse abandon campaigns to stock levels. For example, sending an email when stock levels are running low. Or highlighting when recently browsed items that were out of stock are available again.

Browse abandonment email examples and inspiration

When it comes creating eye-catching content then we’ve got a few best practice pointers. We’ve taken a look at the browse abandonment campaigns we love, to give you some inspiration. Always consider including the following:

A simple acknowledgement

You don’t need to include lots of details in your browse abandonment email – a simple acknowledgment of their actions will do. The Dollar Club’s email shows us how simple can still be effective.

Great product pictures

Graze do a great job of maximising the appeal of their products with good imagery.

Updates on availability

Pacsun give customers the heads up that they might need to take action soon. A little sense of urgency might prompt some action but don’t be too pushy.

Cross-sells and upsells

Shoppe inspire the recipient with tempting upsell and cross-sell suggestions.


Kate Spade love a catchy call-to-action and send this on-trend email featuring their bestsellers.

Wisdom of the crowd

William Sonoma use the product the recipient browsed to make recommendations based on what similar customers liked.


Personalised product recommendations

We really like how Pottery Barn have based their suggestions around what the recipient browsed.

Customer reviews

John Lewis nudge visitors a little bit closer to conversion with some positive reinforcement about a potential purchase.

Converse shows us there’s no reason why you can’t alert people to offers on products they’ve looked at which are expiring.

Customer support

If someone hasn’t put a product in their basket there might be a good reason. It might be that they couldn’t find what they were looking for and need some help. Illy show how it’s done by signposting recipients to their customer service team.

And whatever you feature make sure it’s mobile friendly. More than ever people are using their smartphones to browse during downtime.

How do I set up browse abandonment emails?

You can send these emails to anyone you have an email address for and permission to market to. To execute browse abandonment emails you’ll need behavioural targeting technology.

Our own behavioural targeting platform, PureTargeting, will let you target known customers regardless of whether they’re logged in. Which makes sense right? People are more likely to be browsing while not logged in as they haven’t yet made the commitment to complete a purchase.

Being able to target customer who aren’t logged in will dramatically increase the reach of your abandonment emails. Our own customers are able to send 400% more emails when compared with other providers.

Once you’ve set your browse abandonment campaign up then you can sit back and relax. These emails will be automatically sent without having to manage them on an ongoing basis. They’ll be driving continual revenue.

Of course, there are always improvements to be made. You should regularly check on the performance of your browse abandonment campaigns. A/B testing can help you understand what tactics work best for your own customers.


Abandonment emails are a timely, relevant and engaging way of connecting with potential customers instantly. And by doing so you can start pushing them gently down the path-to-purchase.

And browse abandonment emails are a great addition to any customer lifestyle strategy. They’ll make your site stickier, generate traffic and help you strike up a relationship with browsers.

If all that sounds appealing then we’re here to help. We can get you up and running with best practice browse abandonment emails easily. You can use all these tactics with our technology to make the most of every visit from the word ‘Go!’.

Capture every online sales opportunity by booking a free demo of our platform today.