Email Personalization, Abandoned Carts and GDPR

There have been numerous scare stories about the impending death of email marketing once GDPR kicks in later this month on May 25th.

As you’ll know, you will be legally obligated to acquire consent (from existing customers, and new) in order to send your email marketing communications. This will no doubt see your email list reduce in size. But on the plus side, this means your email marketing database will only contain people who want to receive your emails. Providing you’re compliant with the new regulations, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to send personalized email campaigns and abandoned cart emails.

Regardless, there still seems to be a lot of confusion around the topic of GDPR and email marketing.

Abandoned cart emails

One of the areas that seems to have raised many questions is the topic of abandoned cart emails and their lawful basis. There has been some debate as to whether abandoned cart emails constitute transactional emails or marketing emails. Some have suggested that they are the former, arguing that legitimate interests can be your lawful basis for processing personal data to send these emails. Others have recommended getting consent and treating abandoned cart emails as marketing emails.

We believe consent is the best option here and in the best interests of customers. Legitimate interests is used as a lawful basis for when the processing is necessary and in ways that customers ‘would reasonably expect’. However, in the case of abandoned cart emails, it’s debatable as to whether a) they are necessary and b) whether a visitor landing on your site would expect such an email.

In this case, abandoned cart emails can then be sent to consumers who have opted-in.

Personalized emails

In much the same way, personalized marketing emails require consent. It’s important when using a personalization tool like Bunting to make sure your vendor is up to date with your email subscriptions.

It’s crucially important to make sure your recipients know that their data will be used for personalized marketing emails, and you’ll need to detail how and why.  This information should be displayed clearly and must be easily accessed. Remember consent needs to be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous”.

With all kinds of marketing emails it’s essential that recipients can opt-out – unsubscribe – just as easily as they can opt-in.


Only you are responsible for your GDPR compliance, meaning you need to check your vendors have the structures and processes in place to ensure your own compliance with the regulation.

You should now be in the process of getting consent from your customers – existing customers and new ones – to process their data in order to send them further marketing emails. It’s important that your vendors are also updated with your customers’ consent, which we are well prepared for at Bunting.

For Bunting users we’ve got a guide for how to update your email database in the tool. In this article you’ll find out how to automate this process and keep Bunting up to date with your opt-ins.

Good luck with the rest of your preparations, and if you’ve any questions, just drop us an email at gdpr [at] bunting [dot] com

Disclaimer: nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice. We strongly encourage you to get legal advice to aid your GDPR preparations!

How to create the perfect abandoned cart email

As any ecommerce merchant knows, abandoned carts are the most frustrating and ongoing source of lost revenue. A well cited statistic from Baymard Institute shows an average abandoned cart rate of a huge 68.53%.

The most frustrating part of this is that even when you have done all in your powers to completely optimize your site, visitors will still abandon carts. Frequently.

The good news is that, after website optimization, an effective abandoned cart campaign is quite simply the best way to get shoppers to return to your site and complete their order. Abandoned cart recovery emails have a high open rate and impressive click through rates. And, on average, a third of recipients go on to make a purchase after opening.

It is crucial, however, that you get each part of the email right.

I’m going to run through the 10 necessary ingredients to create a perfect abandoned cart recovery email.

1. Make sure your brand is clearly identifiable in the sender or subject line

This may seem obvious, but cannot be stressed enough. If a recipient is not sure of the sender, or if any trust issues arise, then the email will not be opened.

2. Make sure the subject line states the purpose of the email

Abandoned cart emails have a higher open rate than your typical sales email, but only if you make it clear to the recipient what the email is about. You heighten chances of the email being ignored if you don’t be clear about this in the subject line.

3. Display an image of the abandoned item/s

Make sure you show a good quality image of the items left behind. This serves as a reminder to the shopper and may re-spark interest in the product. After all, many carts are abandoned due to distractions, and a little reminder of what was left behind is sometimes all that is needed.

abandoned cart email

4. Have a clear call-to-action with a link to the cart

Make sure you make it as easy as possible for the customer to get back to their cart and proceed with their purchase. A clear call to action placed prominently near the image of the item is essential.

5. Add a sense of scarcity and urgency

Of course, not all shoppers will convert just by reminding them of their cart content. A little bit of scarcity and urgency can help here. For example, by showing the number of stocks left, or how much longer an item will be on sale, you can add a little nudge and an incentive to return.

6. Show customer reviews of the item

Further persuasion and trust can be added by throwing in a strong customer review of the item. If a customer is still undecided, let them know how much other people love the product.

7. Show recommendations of similar items

We know what product/s the shopper has shown an interest in, but an abandoned cart may be due to indecision as to whether the product in their basket is the ‘perfect’ one. For these undecided shoppers, product recommendations can be a great way to help the shopper find what they were looking for. Make sure you show these recommendations beneath the main image of the abandoned cart product/s.


8. Make all your shipping and returns policies and prices clearly visible

A common reason for cart abandonment is an unanswered question and a resulting lack of trust. Whilst it is crucial your site clearly provides shipping and returns information, so too should your emails. Trust is essential, and your shopper’s concerns should be addressed. Provide a clear link to your full policies.

9. Consider free delivery or a time-sensitive offer … but carefully

35.7% of abandoned carts occur once the shopper sees shipping costs (source: Business Insider) Free delivery is, therefore, a very effective means of enticing the shopper back to purchase. Likewise, time-sensitive offers can work well, too.

However, you don’t want to risk hurting your bottom line – there are online lists of retailers who offer abandoned cart coupons, and the savvy shopper may end up intentionally abandoning their cart to get an offer. So, use these cautiously.

Don’t necessarily give such offers and discounts to everyone, either. Segment your data carefully, and consider metrics such as ‘abandoned cart but did not return to site for 4 weeks’. For these indecisive users, an offer or free delivery coupon may be an effective incentive to return to your store.

10. Allow users to opt-out

Ok, so you’ve put together your email and you’re looking forward to seeing more shoppers return to complete their orders. However, unfortunately, there will be some of your buyers who just don’t want to receive these reminders.

According to Sherpa Research, while 51% of shoppers found cart recovery emails to be helpful, a further 38% found them to be annoying and wished they weren’t sent at all. The last thing you want is to irritate your shoppers, so by allowing them to unsubscribe from abandoned cart emails you will likely see a happier customer.


So, get creative, and remember to show your brand’s personality in your emails. By including these ingredients, you should be well on your way to perfecting your abandoned cart recovery emails. If you don’t have the technical capacity to leverage data and automate your own emails, consider a tool like Bunting to help you.

Whilst you will never be able to completely obliterate the pesky problem of abandoned carts, we expect that your email campaign will help you see massive improvements.  Let us know how it goes! 🙂