If you’re not taking advantage of email retargeting, you’re likely missing out on lots of extra sales and revenue.

Retargeting focuses on visitors that have already expressed an interest in one or more products listed on your site. It takes far less effort to turn these potentials into paying customers than acquire new ones from scratch.

What’s more, retargeting is inexpensive and straightforward. You can run an email retargeting campaign with very little customer data and without spending vast amounts of money.

The real key to success lies in creating a strategy that is uniquely suited to your customer base, which involves taking advantage of the most significant sales opportunities for your store.

In this post, we’re going to define some terms before outlining specific strategies that you can use on your own store virtually straight away.

What will you find in this article?

What Is Email Retargeting and How Does it Work?
When Should You Use Email Retargeting?
What Metrics are Most Important for Email Retargeting?
15 Practical and Powerful Tips for Email Retargeting
1. Collect Email Addresses as Soon as Possible
2. Use Personalization in Emails
3. Send Discount Emails to First-Time Site Visitors
4. Send Emails to Customers After a Second Visit
5. Send Cart Abandonment Emails
6. Send Checkout Abandonment Emails
7. Send Emails to Inactive Visitors
8. Remind Customers About Specific Products
9. Cross Sell Customers With Personalized Offers
10. Segment Your Customer Base
11. Send Brand-Specific Emails
12. Alert Customers to Relevant Offers
13. Send Emails in Conjunction With Retargeting Ads
14. Retarget Customers After They Make a Return
15. Let Customers Set Retargeting Preferences
Summing Up Email Retargeting Strategies That Work

Sound good? Let’s dig in.

What Is Email Retargeting and How Does it Work?

Email retargeting involves emailing customers that have already interacted with your store. They might have visited your site once in the past, added a product to their basket, or even made a purchase.

There are many types of ecommerce retargeting emails: checkout abandonment emails, upsells, and personalized offers are all examples.

The central point to keep in mind is that retargeting emails are triggered by a previous event. This is what distinguishes them from other types of marketing emails. Fundamentally, you’re using information gained from a previous interaction to send highly targeted emails.

On a technical level, email retargeting is made possible by the use of visitor tracking. If a customer is logged into your site, it’s easy to follow their behavior and send emails accordingly. For those customers that aren’t logged in, there are often ways of matching information about visitors to their email address. Mailing list software with retargeting functionality will enable you to do this.

Whatever the case, you need to collect customers’ email addresses before you can send them any marketing content. For this reason, it’s important to prioritize building your mailing list as the first part of your retargeting strategy. You can have the best email retargeting plan in the world, but it won’t have the slightest impact if you don’t have any subscribers.

When Should You Use Email Retargeting?

So why should you use email retargeting?

The short answer? It works.

The #ConversionRate for email retargeting is 41%, much higher than the standard 2% ecommerce conversion rate. Click To Tweet

Personalized emails perform much better than generic emails. Recipients of retargeting emails have already shown interest in specific products, so you’re marketing to a group that’s already inclined to make purchases.

There are many reasons a customer might leave a product page or abandon their cart. They might run out of browsing time, become distracted, or be uncertain about competitor products and undertake further research. Retargeting emails shore up these funnel “drop off” points by making customers aware of products that they were previously interested in while prompting them to buy.

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What Metrics are Most Important for Email Retargeting?

If you’re committed to improving your email retargeting campaigns over the long-term, it’s essential to know which metrics to track.

It will probably come as no surprise that the most critical metrics are focused on email activity. By tracking a handful of key email interactions, you can measure the health of your campaigns and optimize going forward.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most important metrics for email retargeting:

  • Overall conversion rate – How often are retargeting emails resulting in a sale? This is the central metric by which you should measure the performance of your campaigns.
  • Open rate – How many recipients are opening your emails? You can improve this metric by testing send times, subject lines, and email quantity.
  • Click-through rate – How many recipients are clicking on links in retargeting emails? The next action you want customers to take after opening an email is to click on the link provided. This metric is tied to the quality of your copy, the degree of personalization, and the relevancy of your offers.
  • Landing page conversion rate – Once recipients have clicked through, the best possible outcome is for them to engage with the landing page they arrive on, whether it’s a product page, cart page, or a dedicated informational page. Accounting for the metrics above will ensure you have a full overview of all stages of your email retargeting funnel.

15 Practical and Powerful Tips for Email Retargeting

With the basics covered, let’s take a look at some practical tips for boosting the effectiveness of your email retargeting campaigns…

1. Collect Email Addresses as Soon as Possible

If you’re going to retarget customers via email, you need their email addresses.

Pretty obvious, right?

But you’d be amazed at how many retailers overlook this vital point.

A good retargeting campaign starts with the fundamental recognition that you need to do everything humanly possible to collect email addresses from your site visitors.

Forever 21 shows a pop up to new customers, offering them 5 pound off in exchange for an email address

Forever 21 shows a pop up to new customers, offering them 5 pound off in exchange for an email address

Forever 21 shows a pop up to new customers, offering them 5 pound off in exchange for an email address

Forever 21 shows a pop up to new customers, offering them 5 pounds off in exchange for an email
address. This pop up is also accessible from the bottom right corner of the screen after the pop has been closed.

Specifically, there are two places you should ask visitors to subscribe to your mailing list:

  1. Through a pop-up when customers arrive on your site.
  2. As the first step when completing checkout.

It’s important to collect email addresses at the beginning of checkout so you can contact customers that don’t finish the process (and usually anything between 60 and 80% don’t).

2. Use Personalization in Emails

Personalization lies at the core of email retargeting. Offers, suggestions, and reminders that are tied to an individual desire or pain-point are much more likely to resonate with customers.

What’s more, the data is crystal clear on this point. Customers love personalization. 82% of marketers reported higher open rates for personalized emails, while 75% reported an increase in click-through rates.

There are many opportunities for customization, from specific product suggestions, to content based on seasonality, gender, location, past purchases, and more.

Oh, and don’t forget to cover the basics. Refer to customers by their name and ensure you account for language and country.

Check out our dedicated post on the topic for more info: 27 Great Ecommerce Personalization Examples to Boost Conversions.

3. Send Discount Emails to First-Time Site Visitors

If a first-time visitor comes to your site, then leaves without making a purchase, that isn’t necessarily the end of the story. One of the best ways to re-engage new visitors is by offering an incentive to make their first order.

It’s safe to assume that they came to your site because they had at least some level of interest, either in a specific product or in your brand more generally. And there’s nothing better at persuading people to make the jump than a discount code or gift voucher.

Matches Fashion provides new customers with a 10% off your first order

Matches Fashion provides new customers with a “10% Off Your First Order” voucher. Note
how they provide direct links to men’s and women’s sections of the site, thus reducing friction.

If you have any extra information – such as which products customers viewed or which categories they were interested in – tailor your emails accordingly.

4. Send Emails to Customers After a Second Visit

In conjunction with the strategy described above, you should also send emails to customers after a second visit, if they don’t make a purchase on that occasion.

The fact that they have returned to your store twice is a reliable indicator of interest, and many potential customers will only need a little nudge over the line.

If you have already sent these visitors a first-time purchase incentive, remind them of the offer. If there is a time-limit attached, emphasize this point. You might even consider sweetening the deal further by increasing the amount of the discount or money-off voucher.

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5. Send Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment is a big problem in ecommerce. The global cart abandonment rate is 75.52% and costs retailers between two to four trillion dollars per year. Click To Tweet

There are many effective on-site changes you can make to reduce your cart abandonment rate, but even with the best strategy in the world, some customers are still going to leave without completing their purchase.

Sephora sends emails prompting customers to purchase items left in their cart

Sephora sends emails prompting customers to purchase items left in their cart.

This is where the abandoned cart email templates come in. Because customers have shown interest in specific products, they present an ideal opportunity for making personalized suggestions that you know they’ll be interested in.

6. Send Checkout Abandonment Emails

You probably hear a lot about cart abandonment. But what about checkout abandonment?

Checkout abandonment happens in the very last stage of the customer journey. On average, around 25% of customers will leave an ecommerce site after having begun the checkout process.

Few retailers make the difference between cart and checkout abandonment. But it’s an important one from a retargeting perspective.

Visitors that leave during checkout represent a segment of potential customers that are highly inclined to make a purchase. Sending a reminder email with a direct link to your checkout page is often all that’s needed to push them over the line.

7. Send Emails to Inactive Visitors

It costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one (read how to increase customers’ purchase frequency). Similarly, the success rate of selling to existing customers is 60% to 70%, compared to 5% to 20% for new customers.

Inactive customers represent an excellent opportunity to boost sales. They've already proven that they like your brand. Equally, most retailers will have data about former customers that they can use to personalize marketing materials. Click To Tweet

Saks Fifth Avenue sends emails to inactive customers, encouraging them to shop

Saks Fifth Avenue sends emails to inactive customers, encouraging them to shop.

It’s best practice to send some kind of re-engagement offer, whether a discount or gift voucher. But if you’re unable to do this, a simple reminder will suffice.

8. Remind Customers About Specific Products

If people visit your store and view products, use this information to send them targeted emails. They likely visited a product page because they had at least some level of interest in one or multiple items.

Showing product images via email will often re-spark a desire to buy. Reminding customers about the specific products they’ve viewed is one of the best ways of piquing their interest after they’ve left your site.

Timbuk 2 reminds customers of items they previously viewed and offers a 10% discount

Timbuk 2 reminds customers of items they previously viewed and offers a 10% discount.

To take this strategy to the next level, include a discount for products that recipients have previously viewed.

9. Cross Sell Customers With Personalized Offers

Email retargeting works just as well for existing customers as it does for new ones.

After a customer has bought an item, whether it’s a first-time purchase or a repeat purchase, you have an opportunity to send them suggestions about related items.

You can do this directly, by sending a dedicated email showcasing related or complementary products based on their previous purchase, or you can leverage other types of communication, like order confirmation and delivery update emails, to make suggestions.

When you send order confirmation emails, for example, do you include a section with recommended products that customers can purchase to be shipped with the original item?

10. Segment Your Customer Base

As an online retailer, it’s absolutely essential to segment your customer base.

Segmentation improves pretty much every major email marketing metric, whether you’re talking about opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, and so on.

UGG segments its audience and sends offers accordingly

UGG segments its audience and sends offers accordingly.

You can go quite deep with ecommerce segmentation, and our experience at Growcode is that most retailers haven’t tapped the full potential of this strategy.

You should always cover the basics of segmentation, like gender and location, for example. But have you thought about segmenting your mailing list by past browsing and purchasing behavior, age, device, and likes and dislikes?

11. Send Brand-Specific Emails

If visitors have shown interest in a particular brand, either by browsing a brand-specific category page or multiple product pages for items of the same brand, then use this information to show them relevant items via email.

This is a fantastic strategy because it takes advantage of existing brand loyalty. By showcasing related items in your inventory, you’re making customers aware of branded products they might not have known about.

Equally, you’re building longer-term loyalty to your store by letting customers know you’re an outlet for their favorite items. Highlight any exclusive or limited edition ranges that you stock.

12. Alert Customers to Relevant Offers

Whenever price reductions, discounts, or offers are applied to items that a visitor has shown interest in, you should send them a notification email.

You can apply this strategy to any items that a customer has interacted with. These include product pages that customers previously viewed, “Wish List” items, or items saved for later in their basket.

UNI QLO alerts customers to discounts on products they are interested in

UNI QLO alerts customers to discounts on products they’re interested in.

If there is a time limit associated with a discount, emphasize this point to create urgency. When combined with feelings of scarcity, product discounts are even more effective at convincing customers to buy.

13. Send Emails in Conjunction With Retargeting Ads

If you haven’t considered using email retargeting in conjunction with retargeting ads, you could be losing out on potential sales.

The idea behind this strategy is a simple one. Ads are served to customers on platforms like Facebook based on email behavior. Subscribers that open or click on a link in an email, for example, will then be served ads around the web.

Suppose you send a retargeting email pitching an upsell to a customer. They click on the link you provided but don’t make a purchase. This behavior indicates interest in the item. They’ll now see advertisements for that product on social media.

It’s easy to track this behavior with tools like the Facebook pixel, and it’s a strategy that can be immensely effective when done correctly.

14. Retarget Customers After They Make a Return

What should you do after a customer has returned a product?

Don’t assume that just because a buyer has returned an item, they’re no longer interested in it.

After the return has been processed, you should send an email with suggestions for different sizes, features, or similar items.

It is also often the case that delivery has failed, either because the customer wasn’t at home or the delivery details were entered incorrectly. Sending a notification to customers alerting them to this issue will enable them to correct any mistakes or choose an alternative shipping method.

15. Let Customers Set Retargeting Preferences

To finish off here’s a simple but important tip: let customers set retargeting preferences.

If customers want to provide you with information, let them!

You should provide a dedicated area in customer accounts to let subscribers select which types of emails and notifications they want to receive, and set any preferences related to product types, promotions, interests, and so on.

Summing Up Email Retargeting Strategies That Work

Email retargeting is an invaluable weapon in your ecommerce arsenal.

But there’s an essential point to keep in mind: don’t overdo it.

People hate being bombarded with emails. The key to a successful retargeting strategy is moderation. The aim is to find the right balance between sending too few emails and appearing as spammy.

If you do that, you’ll ensure customers don’t needlessly slip through the net.

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A robust retargeting strategy is only half the battle when it comes to boosting sales.

You also need to ensure that your site is optimized for maximum conversions.

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of on-site optimization tips for all of your pages, from product pages to your “About Us” page.

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Growcode Ecommerce Blog / Ecommerce Strategy / Email Retargeting: 15 Ways to Boost Sales From Subscribers and Customers

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