Using Email To Remarket To Customers

Email is a superior channel to drive sales, but it can also help you capture the next sale, the sale after that -- and even the sale that didn't happen.


Remarketing to customers is one of the benefits that email delivers once you begin to use the channel for more than sending yet another untargeted discount or free-shipping offer.


The emails you send in a remarketing program are highly personalized messages, which generate significantly higher response and conversion rates than broadcast emails.


With a branded sender line and a subject line that reflects the actions your recipient took on your site, a retargeting email stands out in an increasingly crowded inbox.


Remarketing requires an upgraded email program that integrates clickstream data generated by your email subscribers' activity on your Web site: which pages or products they view, whether they buy the items they put in their carts or leave without completing a purchase.




It's worth the effort, though. An effective remarketing program helps you retain customers and boost your bottom line. A 2005 JupiterResearch study found email messages that leverage clickstream data can return nine times the revenue and 32 times the net profit of a standard broadcast email campaign.


Recovering Abandoned Shopping Carts through Remarketing


Abandoned shopping carts represent a huge remarketing opportunity. A survey by U.K. marketing technology agency Amaze and the University of Glasgow found that 87% of British online shoppers actually abandon their carts before paying.


Cart reminders can also give you a competitive edge, because seven in 10 marketers never follow up with lost shoppers, according to a 2009 survey by Web analytics provider SeeWhy.


Shoppers abandon their carts for many reasons. Some get interrupted, find a better deal elsewhere, or just aren't ready to buy yet. Others get to the end of the process only to find they don't qualify for the discounts or shipping incentives that brought them to the site. 


Still, about 75% said they would go back to complete the purchase and in essence use the shopping cart as a wish list, according to the Amaze/University of Glasgow study. So, it pays to try to redeem as many of those product-laden carts as possible.


Creating an Effective Cart-Abandonment Email


Test every aspect of your email message to find the content and design approach that will work best with your customers. Consider these factors:


  • Timing. The longer you wait to send your email, the less effective your remarketing email becomes.


A 2008 Forrester study of a financial services provider measuring loan-application abandonment found the response rate hit a high of 89% on messages sent immediately after abandonment but fell to below 20% three days later.


  • Product Inclusion. Test whether to include the actual products your customer left in the cart or just use a generic reminder to come back and purchase them. Always link directly to the cart, however.


  • Incentives. Incentives to return aren't always necessary if shoppers abandoned for technical reasons or they got interrupted.


Incentives and discounts clearly will increase conversion rates, but test different types and levels of offers against no incentives to find the optimum balance of revenue and margins. Also, many consumers are waking up to cart abandonment offers and are seeking these additional discounts. Consider holding back discounts to those customers who show signs of abandonment discount abuse.


  • Message Design. Cart-abandonment emails might seem creepy or an invasion of privacy to some shoppers, even though they're already your email customers. Reassure recipients you are contacting them as a service, not just hounding them to buy. Include applicable terms such as duration (how long they have to complete the purchase).


Drive customer service, too. Include customer-support contact information (email links, live support or phone numbers) to allow shoppers to report technical problems with the sites or issues they had with the product or your checkout process.


As with any transactional email, make sure your marketing team owns them and designs them to reflect email best practices  (branding, rendering, usability, great content and deliverability).


An effective remarketing program, implemented using best email and Web best practices, could help you recover up to 25% to 50% of your abandoned shopping carts. It's another opportunity to demonstrate your email program's value to your customers and your company's bottom line.


What about your own remarketing experience? Please share your experiences -- good or bad -- in the comments area below.

3 comments about "Using Email To Remarket To Customers".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 11, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.

    2005 research? 2008 loan research ?

  2. Kurt Johansen from Johansen International, March 11, 2010 at 5:22 p.m.

    Hi Loren - I found this article to be one of your more profound (not that the others aren't). If a business really wished to increase sales, improve profits and add more to the bottom line they need to be able to follow the sales cycle. By re-marketing to people already in the sales cycle makes sense. You need to ask questions of them and discover their objections. When these are overcome; then and only then will a lasting sale be made. "If you don't ask the question, the answer is always no." Cheers Kurt - Email Mastery

  3. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud, March 12, 2010 at 1:04 p.m.

    Kurt - thanks for the nice comments.

    Paula - Ya, I know - some of the research I cited was both dated and not exactly on target - I fretted long and hard about whether to use it or not. Ultimately I decided to because I was not aware of any other more recent research or research exactly on target - and I was just trying to have some baseline around the value of remarketing. Do you have any more recent and relevant data you can share/are aware of?



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