Adding items to an online shopping cart is a crucial touchpoint in the customer journey because it indicates the website visitor is very interested in purchasing this particular ticket or product. However, it’s also a point at which many sales are lost – 69.9% to be exact. To recover these lost sales and re-engage customers and website visitors, marketers have turned to the abandoned cart email. There are still many questions about how to design an abandoned cart email that works, however, especially for the arts and culture industry, where consumers are purchasing an experience. Drive more sales with our design best practices and get inspiration from real abandoned cart email examples for arts and culture.

Start with your goals

The first step to designing a great abandoned cart email has nothing to do with design at all – it begins with outlining your goal. To create an email that will deliver the results you are looking to achieve, you need to identify the action you want your customers to take next. Most of the time the goal will be to get these customers to return to the cart items they abandoned and make a purchase, but you may also want customers to choose other dates, take advantage of a discount or offer, or browse other shows. Once you’ve identified the action you want to drive, you can choose the template and design that fits your goal.

Abandoned cart email examples for arts and culture

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Why this email works:
This abandoned cart email has all of the elements you must include. The show is personalized to this specific customer’s cart, and the link takes the patron directly back to the same performance they were browsing for a smooth path to purchase. There is also a large call to action reminding the customer about the show they are leaving behind, which creates a sense of fear that they are missing out. Another critical design element is the use of images. Using a large and recognizable photo helps to convey the experience in a way that copy cannot, and it increases the time consumers spend reading the email. The text that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has included is short, enabling the call to action to stand out. The “get tickets” button allows the customer to return directly to this show to purchase, and the copy outlines how they can buy over the phone.

Roundabout Theatre Company

Why this email works:
This email from Roundabout Theatre Company contains many of the same elements as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra example, with a large image, clear call to action, button enabling easy purchase, and short copy. It works well because it also supplements the abandoned cart message with personalized recommendations for this specific customer. It is important to note that the primary goal of driving purchase is still apparent; the most prominent elements of the email are focused on driving the customer back to their abandoned cart. A secondary message that includes recommendations helps drive more sales, however, because these recommendations may re-engage the customer if they changed their mind about the show in their cart. There is also a short description beside each show recommendation, enabling the patron to get more information about shows with which they may not be familiar. The show dates help the customer determine whether they can attend. Each show recommendation contains a link to the website for straightforward information gathering and purchase.

Stratford Festival

Why this email works:
This example from the Stratford Festival contains many of the elements we’ve already discussed – large images, clear call to actions, short copy, and recommendations. However, it also includes some other details worth noting. The call to action is huge and strategically drives a sense of urgency – by highlighting that the patron is going to miss out on the best seats if they wait to buy. The email itself contains almost no copy, which works well because these are well-known performances. The menu at the top of the email highlights “buy tickets,” which is the primary CTA, but also gives the customer the ability to take other actions. This email also uses consistent design across all of the show images, creating a more eye-catching and visually stimulating effect.

Stratford Festival

Why this email works:
This example from the Stratford Festival is a follow-up abandoned cart email, meaning that the patron has already received at least one abandoned cart reminder email. The template is similar to our previous example, but, as a secondary message, this version targets a price-sensitive segment with value propositions that would appeal most to them. Again, Stratford Festival uses consistent design and vibrant color that aligns with the brand in this section of the email. We recommend sending this type of offer-based email to a segment of customers that you identify as price-sensitive so that you aren’t leaving revenue on the table.

Queensland Theatre

Why this email works:
Queensland Theatre has broadened beyond ticket sales-focused abandoned cart emails and has addressed another re-engagement opportunity – gift card purchase. The email template itself uses many of the best practices we’ve discussed, including large, eye-catching imagery and short copy. It’s important to note that consumers purchasing gift cards may be a different persona from the typical performing arts patron, and the text and creative should reflect their needs. Queensland Theatre has done a great job of this, strategically focusing on a common challenge (finding a gift) in the tagline rather than the experience of the show. Queensland Theatre has also included other options for the email recipient as a secondary message, and the imagery is consistent across the email.

Abandoned cart email best practices and ideas

In addition to the details we discussed in these abandoned cart email examples for arts, you can also consider using:


Video is a much more immersive experience than images and copy, and it is a great way to showcase the experience of attending a performance. While you won’t be able to embed the video in the email itself, being playful with the creative will allow you can include an image with a “play” button that links the reader to a landing page where they can view the video.

Informational Content

Many patrons are interested in experiencing new forms of art, but they lack knowledge about specific performances, art-forms or experiences. Consider providing informational content that will help your patrons discover and learn about everything you have to offer.


Today’s consumers rely on reviews for decision making. Make it easy for them to find the information they are seeking by including reviews in the email. If the patron is already interested in purchasing, the positive reviews could be enough to sway them from “I’m not sure” to “Yes, let’s give this a try”.

Social Media Content

Is there content from your social channels that you could include? Exciting images or commentary from Instagram or Twitter may help your patrons decide to purchase.

Abandoned cart emails are a gateway to purchase, so you must consider all of the ways you can re-engage your patrons to encourage them to complete the buying cycle. Use these best practices and abandoned cart email examples for arts to guide your design process and create your own templates, and you’ll see better conversion rates from and higher engagement with your emails.