Email Remarketing
If you’ve shopped at an online retailer recently and added an item to your shopping cart but then not completed your purchase, you’re likely to have started seeing ads for that retailer all over the web for the next few days.  The reason is a marketing technique called remarketing.


What is Remarketing?

Remarketing is an advertising technique wherein the online retailer targets customers who have completed some portion (but not all) of the buying process, with additional targeted advertising designed to “get them over the hump” and complete a purchase.


Remarketing, as an advertising technique, began by leveraging online advertising. Under this model, the online retailer would place a cookie on a visitor’s computer who entered their site, and if the customer had an abandoned shopping cart, the retailer would power customized ads (via a remarketing ad network) whenever that potential customer went elsewhere on the web.


The financial opportunity afforded by remarketing for abandoned shopping carts alone is very substantial, as an estimated 300 billion dollars are lost in e-commerce sales each year from the approximately 70% of online shopping carts which go abandoned.


Primary Reasons Shopping Carts Are Abandoned



Caption: Primary Reasons Shopping Carts Are Abandoned – Image Credit:


Moreover, the ROI on remarketing has been tremendous, delivering roughly 4x the sales for the same ad spend and 18x the net profit ( relative to other forms of online marketing such as untargeted email marketing.


How is Email Retargeting Different from Traditional Retargeting?

Having seen the benefits of traditional retargeting via display ads, large retailers are increasingly utilizing email retargeting to reach customers with abandoned shopping carts. The principle here is similar, when a customer abandons a shopping cart, instead of seeing targeted ads throughout the web as they would with traditional retargeting via display ads, they instead receive a targeted email either reminding them of their full shopping cart, touting the benefits of the product they abandoned, or, most effectively, by offering an inducement such as a coupon code to complete the abandoned sale.


Is Email Retargeting Effective?

The short answer is yes. As discussed above, remarketing as a general strategy has been shown to deliver 18x the net profit of less targeted online advertising. And within the sub-section of email remarketing, a recent study ( indicates that even a bare bones email remarketing campaign can expect to achieve 31% higher transaction rates for the retailer.


Given that email retargeting generally costs the retailer virtually nothing, as opposed to traditional retargeting which requires that the retailer purchase additional media, the ROI is tremendous.


How Does Email Retargeting Work?

Email retargeting works by placing a cookie on the customer’s computer, and then, after the customer has entered their email address, by tying that email address to the cookie, and tracking the potential customer’s behavior through the website.  If the potential customer abandons their shopping cart (or takes another action as specified by the eCommerce site) the customer, then receives an email (or series of emails) in an attempt to have that customer complete their purchase.


Typically, for small and mid-sized merchants in particular, this process is all managed by a third-party that specializes in providing email retargeting services.



Caption: Example Retargeting Email by – Image Credit:


Seven Steps to Get Started with Email Retargeting

Now that you understand the basics of what email retargeting is, and how it works, we’ll cover a few points to consider when creating an email retargeting campaign.


1. Pick a Platform to Manage the Process


There are a number of moving parts needed to make an email retargeting campaign effective. You’ll need to place cookies, have the ability to track cookies throughout the site, integrate with a shopping cart, gather emails, create customized emails on the fly, send emails, track email opens and clicks, and send follow up emails accordingly. Because of these many components, it makes sense for all but the largest online retailers to outsource email remarketing to a third-party platform. There are a number of these providers, such as Rejoiner ( or Cart Rescuer ( that each have unique advantages, disadvantages, and price points that you should examine closely.


2. Gather Customer Emails Creatively and Early


Placing cookie based tracking pixels on potential customer’s computers requires disclosures in your company’s privacy policy, but is otherwise automatic and painless to implement. By contrast, obtaining the email addresses of customers who haven’t completed a sale is an essential element to email retargeting that requires intent on the part of the eCommerce website.


Consider ways that you can incentivize potential customers to provide their email address early on when visiting your website. For example, by offering a free eBook or a coupon code usable on the customer’s first purchase when they provide their email address. The loss in potential revenue via those customers who would have made the purchase anyway without receiving the coupon code unsolicited is more than outweighed by the ability to retarget the approximately 70% of shopping carts that will go abandoned.


3. Get Your First Email Out Quickly


Once a customer abandons their shopping cart, studies indicate ( that you should send your first retargeting email out to them almost immediately, as you have that person’s attention in that moment.


4. Follow Up (But Not Too Much)


You’ve put a lot of effort into cultivating and protecting your company’s brand. You don’t want to throw that away by abusing a customer’s email address (even assuming you have permission to do so) by sending them dozens of follow ups. On the other hand, however, sending merely one follow up retargeting email isn’t sufficient. An Experian Marketing survey (  indicates that an additional 54% of customers can be recovered via a second email remarketing reminder.


5. Personalize Your Retargeting Emails


Your ability to personalize your retargeting emails depends in part on how much information you’ve gathered from the potential customer on the front end (e.g. do you have the customer’s name in addition to their email), as well as how granular your pixel tracking is (e.g. do you know the specific items that the customer has placed into their shopping cart).


But, in general, you want your retargeting emails to be as individualized and specific as possible. That means mentioning the customer by name, listing (or better yet displaying) the products that the customer abandoned in their shopping cart.  Why? Because the difference in recovered revenue lift your company will see by sending dynamic personalized retargeting emails is more than 10x what you’ll obtain by merely sending generic content in the abandoned shopping cart retargeting email.



Caption: The benefits to sending customized retargeting emails are clear. – Image Credit:


6. Create Incentives to Complete the Sale


The prospective customer has already indicated a willingness to walk from the sale before, presumably due to one of the reasons listed at the top of this article. In order to win the customer back, you need to attempt to address the concern of the customer had and create a sense of urgency to complete the purchase.  This can be achieved by explaining the features of the product along with a single use discount code that will expire within a relatively short time period, or, for an alternative that won’t cost your business anything, via a notice that you’ll only hold their shopping cart intact for a certain amount of time.


7. Make Call to Action Clear


The purpose of retargeting emails is to get customers who have recently strongly considered making a purchase over the proverbial hump by either informing them of the products or your company’s benefits, or otherwise addressing some concern of the customers. Given that ultimate goal, you need to make it very simple for the customer to actually complete the sale by having a clear call to action which leads directly back to the shopping cart.



Caption: Example Retargeting Email by Chubbies Shorts. – Image Credit:



Despite the obvious benefits of engaging in email retargeting, there is still a tremendous competitive advantage available by participating by your company. That’s because despite the percentage of companies using email retargeting increasing by approximately 30% year over year, it is still only a fraction (approximately 1 in 5) of large companies that use cart abandonment email retargeting ( and a much smaller percentage still of small retailers. That means not only will your company benefit from access to high ROI advertising, but you’ll also gain significant customer acquisition cost advantages over your competition.


About the Author

Brad Martin is the CMO of Soar Payments, a Houston based merchant services provider that specializes in high risk merchant accounts ( You can learn more about Soar Payments by visiting the company’s Google+ page (

Abandoned Shopping Cart


Did you know that 99% of first time visitors to an e-commerce site do not make a purchase at all? This figure is a combination of people who browsed for a while, then moved on and people who simply bounced straight off to some other place on the World Wide Web.

A study on Shopping Cart Abandonment by the Baymard Institute pegs the former figure at 67.91% of all visitors to your site. Now, isn’t this is a more heartening figure than the 99% one that we started with? It means nearly 68% of all people who landed on your site did find something that caught their eye on your site and they looked around for a while. But for one reason or another, they decided to leave you site.

So according to this number, if your website attracts 1000 visitors a day, 680 visitors abandon their shopping carts per day. If we assume an average value of $50 per cart, we’re staring at an annual loss of over $12 million!

The good news is that at least 75% of first time visitors who abandon their carts do so with the intention of returning in a while to complete their purchase.

Unfortunately, not all companies spend any time or efforts trying to win over a potential sale. According to a study by and eConsultancy, “Only 29% of companies currently analyze cart abandonment.”

Don’t be one of those companies that turn a blind eye to such a huge opportunity. Winning back customers who’ve abandoned their shopping carts is not easy, but it is definitely possible and entirely worth the work.

Let’s begin on our 7 step program to recover potential customers from the abyss of the abandoned shopping cart.

Reach out to the customer via email


Simple though it may sound, it is proven to be incredibly effective.

A customer who has abandoned their shopping cart mid-purchase would normally have registered their email IDs already with you. Use this information to send out emails to the customer reminding them about their recent search on your site.

Try and include the customer’s name as well as the product searched for in the subject line to push the open rates even higher.

This may need a dedicated effort to track abandoned carts and set up automated emails with personalized content, but trust me you’ll thank yourself for doing this.

Studies show that retailers earn $5 worth of revenue with every single cart abandonment email sent out.


revenue chart

Image source: GetElastic


In the image above, the chart on the left shows a conversion rate of over 20% among Cart Abandonment emails v/s less than 2.5% for loyalty emails or business as usual emails. The chart on the right shows that the revenue generated from Cart Abandonment emails is nearly 3 times higher than the revenue from regular email campaigns.

Time it right


As in most other areas of life, promptness pays rich dividends.

A study of over 60,000 abandoned carts by SeeWhy showed that emailing a customer within the first few hours of cart abandonment is the most efficient way to win back the customer.

  • 54% of all customers who are won back, receive emails in the first few hours of cart abandonment. This number fell to 10% when an email sent 48 hours after cart abandonment.
  • Open rates are also higher for real-time triggered emails – 60% vs. 55% after 24 hours and 50% after 7 days.
  • Revenue per email is $11, $4, and $3, respectively for real-time, 24 hours and post 7 day periods.
  • Conversion rates for real-time recovery emails are 11% compared to 6% and 3% for 24 hours and 7 days, respectively.


Create urgency, include images


The need to not miss out on a great deal is very deeply ingrained in all of us. Tap into this primal instinct by creating a sense of urgency through the email message.

Make sure you include images as well as a link to the item the customer left unpurchased. The visual cue is a strong one and will push an uncertain customer closer to the finish line.

This email scores on both creating a sense of urgency and pushing the unpurchased product in an effective manner:



Image source: Doggyloot


Follow up with an exclusive goodie


Much as we would like it, not every customer will respond to your first recovery email.

However, that does not mean that the customer is a lost cause.

Email the customer again reminding them of their unfinished shopping. Sweeten the deal by offering something exclusive to the customer to encourage the purchase. Take a look at this Neiman Marcus recovery email that employs a coupon to convert the customer:




Some other options are:

  • Free shipping for this particular purchase – according to a ComScore study, 61% of consumers are likely to cancel their complete purchase if free shipping is not offered.
  • Price off or percentage off coupons
  • Free membership to your loyalty program
  • A bonus item along with the paid purchase


Customer testimonials


A glowing testimonial from a satisfied customer means a world more than any number of paid advertisements you may create.

A testimonial by a customer is basically a vote of confidence in your favor. It makes great sense to include some genuine praise from happy customers in your abandoned cart email. Another cool way to bring the customer closer to buying the specific item is to include positive product reviews left behind by other customers for this item.

A study by Econsultancy showed that 70% of customers trust recommendations from other users while just 14% trust advertising directly from the brand. Another study found that conversions grew by over 20% thanks to positive customer reviews.

Last Viewed items on return visit


As mentioned earlier in this article, 75% of customers who abandon their shopping carts return to the site for completing the purchase.


online shooes

Image source: OnlineShoes


A great way to ensure the repeat visit results in a sale for you is to remind them of their last viewed item(s) using cookies or by tracking the repeat visit through the username with which they logged in. You could also suggest items similar to what they searched for last to nudge along the shopping process.

Retargeting using display ads


So what if a customer has left your website? You can still reach them and try to change their minds about your products/services by advertising your business on the other websites that they move on to.

In the past, online advertising was a lot less sophisticated. But since the late 2000s, major online ad networks have been allowing businesses to specifically reach out to customers who have visited their website at least once before. You can choose from a plethora of ad networks including the Google ad network, AdRoll, Rocketfuel, even Facebook Exchange. Each of these has its own benefits and caters to specific audiences. You can pick and choose a network based on your industry niche, your customers’ preferences and your marketing dollars.

Your ads follow the customer to the other websites that they visit across the web using cookie-driven technology. The hypothesis is, if a customer has shown interest in your product once by visiting your site, targeting such a customer has a higher chance of conversion than spending advertising budgets on potential customers who have never visited your site yet.

Retargeting is not very different from traditional display advertising in the sense that all the fundamentals and dynamics of banner ads, landing pages and ad networks remain unchanged. The only difference is that the ads assist the user in recognition more than cognition.

According to Greg Coleman, CEO of Criteo, a display advertising company regular display ads get click through rates of 0.07% on an average. A retargeted ad gets an average click through rate of 0.7% – ten times higher!

A business that is committed to making the most of the marketing budget it spends would think twice before ignoring a customer who dropped off the site without making a purchase. After all, research shows that Average Order Value is 34% higher for an abandoned cart recovery purchase than a regular purchase.

Apply these 7 simple steps to recapture lost customers and watch your business derive value from every penny of marketing money you’ve spent on it.


About author:

Tracy Vides is a content strategist who likes to keep her finger on the pulse of the latest small business products, services, and apps. Hit her up on Google+ for a chat. She’s @TracyVides on Twitter.