Email Retargeting: Definition, Examples & Best Practices

Instructor: Danielle Reed

Danielle works in digital marketing and advertising. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and an MBA.

In this lesson, we will learn about email retargeting. After defining it, we go through three standard email retargeting campaigns including an abandoned cart example. Finally we go through the best practices to implement in email retargeting.

Email Retargeting Defined


Check your email inbox right now. Do you have any emails from companies you signed up to receive? Compared to when you first signed up, you likely get content more relevant to your interests than you used to. This is because companies are sending you information, discounts, and deals through email retargeting. Email retargeting is using information already known about a specific customer to send more relevant, focused emails. Instead of getting a general email from Target, you might get one about children's clothing if you have purchased items like this on their site before.

Companies follow through with email retargeting because it helps with upsells, personalizes the user experience, and provides relevant offers to consumers. Why not better meet the needs of your consumers if possible?

Examples of Email Retargeting

According to Moz, an expert resource in online marketing, email retargeting conversion rates can be as high as 41% compared to the normal two to four percent ecommerce conversion rate. In fact, email retargeting can make up to four times the usual revenue! Let's look at a few examples of email retargeting.

Abandoned Cart Example

If you are signed in to and put something in your cart, they will email you a 'Did You Forget?' note. Whether the email is titled 'you've left something behind' or 'your cart misses you,' the goal is to get you to return to the site and purchase the item. A call to action is a line of text or an image to prompt visitors and customers to take an action.

A customer cancellation email follows this basic formula: Sentences about leaving something in the cart + image of item left behind + call to action.

Customer Return Example

Have you ever taken a break from online shopping and not made any purchases for a few months? To the companies you follow, this is a change in behavior worth tracking. This would activate a customer return email to incentivize you to make a purchase with this company once again. Typically, the email is titled 'We've missed you…' or a headline indicating they notice you are gone. Beyond that, the content should include a seemingly exclusive discount or sale for return customers.

A customer cancellation email follows this basic formula: Sentences about missing the customer + incentive/discount/sale announcement + call to action.

Customer Cancellation Example

Have you ever cancelled a subscription? After cancelling, it is fairly common for an organization to send an email confirming a cancellation and then asking you back. One company known for robust cancellation campaigns is Birchbox. Birchbox is a makeup subscription service which costs $10 a month for different samples of makeup. When a user cancels, the website requires going through several steps prior to the subscription ending.

After the subscription is cancelled, the user gets an email confirming the action and throughout the next several months receives incentives for rejoining. Some examples of incentives any company can use to get a customer to resubscribe or sign up include:

  • A free month of services/products
  • A discounted rate
  • A free consultation with a team member
  • Eliminated fees
  • Lowered annual cost
  • Giving away valuable information (ebook, white papers, etc…)

A customer cancellation email follows this basic formula: Sentence discussing how sorry the company is to see the customer go + a discount or deal offer + call to action for rejoining or resubscribing.

Best Practices for Email Retargeting

As with any form of marketing, there are certain best practices which you want to pay attention to when running a campaign. These practices apply to businesses of all types and sizes. It is important to keep these best practices in mind so efforts aren't duplicated, campaign success is measurable, and the customer base receives the right emails.

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