Making Your Cart Abandonment Emails CANSPAM Compliant

BY: Carolyn Meyer Senior Email Strategist

PUBLISHED: 5/15/2015

Shopping Cart Abandonment describes the activity of adding items to a virtual shopping cart on an eCommerce website and leaving the site before completing a transaction.


Cart abandonment emails are considered “transactional” in the sense that a transaction has been initiated, and in adding items to a virtual cart, a customer has indicated an intent to purchase.

Did you know that approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year*? About 63% of this revenue is considered “recoverable” by marketers.

Customers may abandon their shopping carts for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they aren’t ready to make their purchase, but they want an idea of what the total cost will be. Or maybe they are short on time, but they wish to return to the website later.


Sometimes customers cart items they are interested in to see if they qualify for free shipping, but are turned off when they see the final shipping cost. Customers may also abandon because they are simply “browsing” and comparing prices across multiple websites.


In some instances, site navigation can be too difficult and/or too time-consuming so the customer loses interest. Ensuring that the path to purchase isn’t too cumbersome can keep users from abandoning their carts.

Marketers should retarget customers who have abandoned their carts with a series of Shopping Cart Abandonment emails.


According to a study conducted by Marketing Sherpa, more than half of adults surveyed would always or occasionally complete their purchase after receiving a Cart Abandonment email. Additional studies show that Cart Abandonment emails perform significantly better than traditional marketing emails.

In summary, if you want to ensure that your Cart Abandonment emails are CANSPAM compliant...



  • Include a valid physical address
  • Use clear “from” and “reply-to” language that accurately represents your brand
  • Provide an obvious unsubscribe link and instructions for opting out
  • Honor unsubscribe requests in a timely manner (the law requires 10 business days)
  • Use descriptive subject lines that express the intent of the email
  • Ensure that the privacy policy on your website speaks directly to the type of information being collected, and the ways in which it will be used
  • Design the email with transactional messaging as the primary content; any promotional content must be secondary



  • Sell or transfer email addresses collected on site
  • Hide or complicate the unsubscribe option
  • Use deceptive subject lines or misrepresent the primary purpose of your email
  • Utilize promotional messaging as the primary content within your email


*Business Insider: Shopping cart abandonment: online retailers’ biggest headache is actually a huge opportunity by Cooper Smith, 3/4/2015