How to Create an Abandoned Cart SMS Strategy [8 Best Practices]

January 05, 2023
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abandoned cart sms

Abandoned carts are a huge opportunity for businesses.

That’s right—there’s still a chance to win over a customer after they add an item to their cart, change their mind, and don’t complete the purchase.

If you’re an optimistic marketer, you’ll recognize this as an opportunity to send a personalized message that can turn an almost-lost sale into a conversion.

Need more reasons to pay attention to abandoned carts? About 70% of shoppers abandon their carts before completing a purchase. And the top reason for doing so, according to shoppers, is that the extra costs, like shipping and taxes, are too high.

However, a well-crafted text message with the right incentive can bring these customers back. This post will cover why and how to add abandoned cart texts to your marketing strategy.

Why use SMS for abandoned cart messages?

Abandoned cart emails are an effective way to remarket to shoppers who don’t complete their purchase. But you can also leverage SMS, an increasingly popular marketing channel among customers, to further boost conversions.

As a marketing channel, SMS gets results: marketing texts have an 82% open rate and 36% click-through rate. It’s also one of customers’ preferred channels—in our Global Messaging Engagement Report, respondents said SMS was the number 2 channel they prefer to interact with, following email.

Finally, a growing number of ecommerce sales—currently 72.9%—happen on mobile devices. And communicating with customers on the device where they prefer to shop makes it easier for them to pick up where they left off with their purchase.

Tips and best practices for abandoned cart SMS

Now that you have a better idea of why you should use abandoned cart texts, let’s look at how to ensure these are effective to drive conversions.

1. Offer added value

A simple “You left this item in your cart” message is typically not enough to bring back a lost customer. After all, they decided not to check out for a reason—unless something interrupted them and they forgot to return to their purchase. To bring them back, you must give them an incentive. In other words, you need to sweeten the deal.

As we discussed above, added costs like shipping and fees can quickly turn customers away. So a great tactic to bring customers back to complete a purchase is to offer free shipping or a discount.

For example, a text message like “Get free shipping when you order in the next 48 hours” gives the recipient an incentive to return to the purchase they abandoned.

2. Pair SMS and email

Some customers prefer getting an email, while others respond better to SMS. So how do you know which one to use? Provide both options in your sign-up forms so that when new customers join your communication lists, they can choose to receive emails, text messages, or both.

For customers who choose both, use these channels strategically by playing to the strengths of each. Email is best for longer messages and offers that recipients can return to when they’re ready. On the other hand, SMS is best for short, time-sensitive messages that customers should act on soon.

For example, after a customer abandons their cart, send them an email that features the product and includes a discount code valid for a week. Then, when the code is about to expire, send the customer a reminder text message to create a sense of urgency or fear of missing out (FOMO).

Learn more about how to use SMS and email marketing together.

3. Consider the timing

The timing of your abandoned cart message can have a significant impact on conversions. One study found that sending a message within an hour of cart abandonment resulted in a 20.3% conversion rate.

SMS is the perfect channel for this time frame because it’s more immediate than email, and 90% of recipients read messages within 3 minutes of receiving them. Leverage this immediacy by sending a reminder while the product is fresh on the customer’s mind.

4. Offer real-time help

One of the main advantages of SMS is it allows you to engage in conversation. Maybe the customer has questions about the product, holding them back from making a purchase. You can address this by offering real-time assistance via text message.

Let customers know they can reply to your text with any questions, and leverage a chatbot or live agent to help resolve their doubts and move them toward a conversion.

5. Include multimedia elements

Text messages give you limited space to convey your message, but you can tap into the power of images by sending MMS with photos of the items in the customer’s cart. Seeing the item that caught their attention in the first place can entice the recipient to finalize the purchase.

You can also try emojis that align with your brand voice to showcase your business’ personality. Just keep emojis to a minimum so as not to distract from the message or make your text look spammy.

6. Create a sense of urgency

Every text message should include a call to action (CTA) that drives the recipient toward a conversion. And the CTA is an opportunity to convey a sense of urgency through compelling verbs and phrases that encourage the reader to act.

Terms like “today,” “now,” and “soon” can help you generate FOMO as you build on the sense of urgency. If the text includes a discount code, let the recipient know when it expires. Or if the item in their cart is low in stock, use a phrase like “Get it before it sells out.”

7. Provide an opt-out

The ideal scenario is that recipients are grateful for the reminder to finalize their purchase and the additional incentives in your abandoned cart texts.

But that won’t always be the case. Some recipients abandoned the cart for a reason and don’t want to return. Give these recipients the opportunity to opt out of your SMS communications.

Providing a way to unsubscribe is a vital best practice of SMS marketing. It helps generate trust in your brand and can stop recipients from blocking your number when they don’t want to receive your communications, which can affect your reputation with carriers.

8. Stay in compliance

If you’re sending cart reminders to United States consumers, carriers require that you only send one SMS message per unique abandoned cart, and you must do it within 48 hours of the abandonment.

For example, if a shopper on your website adds three items to their cart and then abandons it, you could send them one SMS within the next 48 hours. If the same shopper came back later and made changes such as removing or adding items to their cart, that would be a new cart and you could send another cart abandonment message within 48 hours of those changes.

Abandoned cart SMS examples

Let’s look at a few examples of abandoned cart text messages and the best practices employed.

Victoria Beckham Beauty

Victoria Beckham Beauty sent me an abandoned cart text message about an hour after I added an item to my cart, leveraging the immediacy of the channel. Additionally, the message contains a time-sensitive CTA, “Complete your checkout today.” However, it doesn’t include a value-add like a discount code.

abandoned cart - vb beauty


UpWest creates a sense of urgency in this text message by letting me know it’ll only hold the items in my cart for 48 hours. Plus, it offers real-time assistance with the phrase “Text back with any questions!” and increases personalization by signing the message with an employee’s name.

abandoned cart - upwest

Abandoned cart SMS templates

Ready to start sending abandoned cart texts but need a little inspiration? Use one of these templates as a jumping-off point, then customize the content with personalized details and your brand voice.

Template 1: [Brand name]: Looks like you forgot something in your cart. Use code [discount code] for [percentage] off when you check out today. [URL]

Template 2: [Brand name]: [Customer name], this item is selling fast. Finish your order using [discount code] before it’s too late! Offer expires tomorrow. [URL]

Template 3: [Brand name]: [Customer name], your discount code is about to expire! Finalize your order today to get [percentage] off. [URL]

Pro tip: Ensure your hyperlinks include your branded domain. This improves URL appearance, increases the likelihood of clicks, and reduces the risk of carriers filtering your messages. Need a link shortener? Try Twilio's new link shortening with click tracking feature.

Send cart abandonment reminders with Twilio

Now that you have the best practices and creative assets figured out, it’s time to consider the technical side of your SMS strategy—namely, the right platform to send marketing text messages.

Enter Twilio. We have all the tools you need to create automated, personalized campaigns that engage customers and increase conversions.

If you’re ready to begin sending abandoned cart text messages, sign up for a free Twilio account to get started today.