Email consent and abandon cart emails


In the past, our ecommerce site used to prompt guest customers to enter their email addresses before letting them advance to checkout. This was done so that if customers abandoned their checkout, we would then send them abandon cart emails. However, we never did asked for their consent. I understand that when a customer buys from you, there is implied consent but in our case, the transaction was never completed. Am I correct to say that our previous practice was not legit and if we decide to continue such practice, the customer needs to be aware and consents to receiving emails?

You are correct.

If you follow bigger ecommerce practices, who have the lawyers to build the “right consent”, you’ll notice email is asked during the first checkout step with a expressed consent checkbox. Once the checkbox is clicked, it should be fair game for you to send abandoned cart emails. And I only say this for guest users who haven’t bought or logged in.

Perfect! Thanks for confirming, Eddie.

Hey @n8.tango – Good question! Did you find any conversion drop-off at the enter email stage?

I know as a consumer, sometimes I’ll hit this point with an unknown retailer (hasn’t built up trust) and just balk instead of continuing because I’ve lost the mood. Suddenly I’m thinking about whether they’re going to spam me, and whether they value my email address over my business, and… ugh. That said, I think I suffer from working in the field too much – I’m way too cynical. :smile:

I’ve been trying to encourage a client to try moving their email address collection to after the visitor fills out a How’s Your Business Doing With X? questionnaire. They’re worried about missing out on emails. I’m pointing out that at the moment, they’re not collecting the emails anyway – people are taking one look at the request and bouncing.

Hi @naomi_kramer . Following best practices, I removed that interstitial page (asking customers for their email or login or create an account) and our checkout conversions increased.

I agree with you about asking for emails or account registrations until the end of the checkout. This year I will be implementing it on the confirmation page. I’m surprised that the two major ecom platforms that I’ve worked on don’t have this as a standard feature and clients need to invest in adding it. However, I didn’t think about hitting customers again with our Net Promoter Score survey. Thanks for the suggestion!

We’re a big ecom and brick and mortar retailer but an old one. Our PDP, cart and checkouts were not updated since 2014. Since I came in we’ve updated them all just in the last year. We’ve also added BOPIS along the way, recently launched a marketplace and I’ve implemented a CRO practice. It’s been a “change management” challenge working in these older institutions but seeing how much progress we’ve made and receiving the budget approval to continue evolving the sites are very gratifying.

It’s a pleasure meeting a fellow ecom person. Thanks for your comment, Naomi. Cheers!


@n8.tango I figured that was likely! :smile: I’m glad you had good results with it. There are probably situations where it makes sense to be asking for an email address up front. I’ve seen it more in the higher end of the SaaS field, where companies have found that testing the enthusiasm of potentials before even adding them as leads creates a tighter sales funnel with less wasted time and better ROI.

Your point about change management – especially in older organizations – is a really good one. Proving the value of CRO and testing can make all the difference in getting the budget for doing more, hey.


Hey @jessica_best Wondered what your thoughts on this are?

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It’s probably worth pointing out, in a bigger-picture context for people that might wander into this discussion, that we’re talking about good practice in ecommerce, not the legal requirements.

Legalities around collecting email addresses and using them to send emails will vary by:

  • Where you are.
  • Where your customers are.
  • Possibly where your store is physically hosted – maybe?

Laws I can think of that might apply:

  • GDPR: Applies for European visitors regardless of where your store is located.
  • Australia: Applies to Australian businesses and for Australian visitors.

I’m sure the US has privacy laws around this too, although they’re probably state by state rather than federal?

Interesting use case and perspective here! I agree that it’s a point of friction, but it helps to make it clear that you’re offering them the OPTION to opt in for marketing support. Wherever you capture email addresses, make it clear that they have to take an additional action (like check a box) to get “spam” (aka offers and free education).


As for legal considerations (I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice!), it’s starting to get murky with state-by-state privacy laws that look an awful lot like GDPR (CCPA/CPRA in California is/was the first).

But ultimately, it’s true that in the U.S. for now, it’s not illegal to use an email address given to you (or frankly that you purchased…) until they tell you to STOP. You have to honor an unsubscribe.

But in California, Colorado, Virginia and more (and in Canada!) the legal intent (not much precedence yet) is that you will give consumers or prospects the OPTION to opt in for email. No assumed opt ins, regardless of whether they’ve made a purchase yet or not.

The only time you can send an email to a customer that supersedes the law is if it’s in relation to the relationship, aka Transactional Emails. And even then, a receipt can’t be more than 50% marketing otherwise, it still falls prey to CAN-SPAM.

More than you ask for, but that’s what I know :slight_smile: