The Insightful Media Series 7 – Email Retargeting

In our last blog, we introduced the technique of Email Retargeting and outlined how it can be used as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy. This week in the Insightful Media Series, we break down the theory behind the technique, and examine how it can be applied to re-engage lapsed customers and reinforce your brand’s message.


                                                       What is Email Retargeting?

Email retargeting is a data driven, lower funnel, performance marketing technique used to find potential customers online and reach out to them with precisely targeted advertising campaigns. It works on the same basic premise as other performance marketing strategies such as Search or Site Retargeting – using cookies dropped on a browser to identify potential customers to retarget elsewhere online. It differs however, in the way it is triggered. While search retargeting is initiated by a specific search term being entered, and site retargeting is dependent on the customer visiting your site, email retargeting is based on a customer’s response to your company’s email communications.

Why Email?

For both customers and marketers alike, email remains the most popular channel for online promotion. A recent study by Exact Target found that 77% of respondents chose email as their preferred choice for receiving promotional material. Email was also selected as the most likely method of driving sales with 66% of those surveyed having made purchases based on promotional emails received.

Research by Custora carried out in June supports these findings, indicating that email is the number 3 source of customer acquisition, having quadrupled its acquisition rate over the past four years, and now accounting for 7% of all acquisitions. It also discovered that email contacts are 11% more valuable than average customers based on their lifetime customer value.

Likewise, 84% of marketers consider email to be either an important or very important component of their overall communications strategy. This figure represents a growth on previous years results: suggesting that its role is taking on further significance within marketing departments.

Considering the platforms prevalence in the industry, there has been surprisingly little attention given to advancing or refining the practice. Click through rates for mail campaigns still tend to be low, meaning only a small proportion of those who open the mail actually find their way to your site. Email retargeting allows you to supplement mailout activity with display adverting – giving you another chance to reach customers who may have slipped through the net.

How does it Work?

Email retargeting allows you to target potential customers from your mailing database online based on their level of engagement with marketing emails. These customers can be segmented based on a specific action, be it opening the mail, forwarding it or clicking on a link. They can then be served relevant display ads depending on how they respond.

When the subscriber opens a mailout, a tracking cookie is dropped on their browser. This is then used to identify them online, ensuring that when they visit a website with retargeted ads, they will be shown advertisements from your brand based on their previous brand interactions and predicted future behaviours.

Leading retargeting companies can access 98% of the the internet’s ad inventory: meaning they can reach subscribers virtually anywhere they are online. This process allows for additional touches with customers who have previously engaged with the brand by email and provides a new opportunity to convert buyers.

These ads can be used to reinforce promotions from the original mail or add additional details to the campaign, thus supplementing email marketing activities, and increasing the chance of your message being heard by the end consumer.

When applied correctly, the technique offers clearer customer insights and reduces the uncertainty in display advertising. It allows the brand to tighten its digital marketing spend, minimising wasted resources, while creating a focus on the customers who matter most to the business: those who are most likely to convert.


Functions of Email Retargeting

There are a number of excellent examples explained in detail on Retargeter and ConversionXL. Here we have just selected a handful of the most frequently used applications of email retargeting to demonstrate how the technique can be leveraged to enhance email campaigns and re-engage prospects.

1. Refined Targeting

Using an Email Forking strategy, subscribers are divided into segments based on their responses to promotional emails. These customers can then by retargeted with advertising which caters to their specific tastes.

A clothing retailer offers new sign ups a 20% discount and encourages them to use it within a relevant category. By clicking links that correspond to a particular product category or line, the user triggers a retargeting ad. The retailer can then target these customers elsewhere on the net with more informed advertising based on the selections they’ve made.

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2. Shopping Cart Abandonment

A research paper by data marketing company See Why found that an average of 71% of visitors abandon their online shopping cart before completing transactions.

While these customers have shown buying intent, and should be considered strong leads, they have not carried through with their purchase intentions. Perhaps they’re not yet ready to buy or are still shopping around for alternatives. Email retargeting allows the brand to position itself at the forefront of the customers minds and reach out to to them before their final decision is made.

By combining triggered emails with email retargeting, brands have been able to convince 29% of cart abandoners to return and complete purchase, thus elevating sales and improving ROI.

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3. Limited time promotions

Offering exclusive and limited time offers to mail subscribers is a great way of keeping leads engaged. An email promoting an offer can be used to trigger the campaign. This can then be supplemented by display advertising maximising the campaign’s effectiveness across multiple channels – building on the engagement to create one consistent marketing message for the promotion.

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4. Opportunity to Upsell

Your email subscriber base typically includes a variety of customer types: from repeat buyers to those who have only a casual interest in the brand. Email retargeting allows you to segment campaigns, and in turn, target different groups with advertising tailored to play into a specific interest. This affords you the opportunity to reach out to loyal customers with creatives that promote the up-selling of related products to their past purchases.

Based on a customer’s purchasing history, there may be a range of products which complement their past orders or that represent a good match with their buying behavior. These users can be retargeted with ads based on these preference and shown products which tap into an already existing interest.

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To discuss Email Retargeting options with Insightful Media, contact Lee on (01) 703 0406 or email



Search Engine Watch:
6 Types of Retargeting Every Marketer Should Know

Direct Marketing News:
Email retargeting: no-brainer for brands

Marketing Sherpa:
Shopping Cart Recovery: Triggered emails recapture 29% of abandoned carts

Concersion XL:
Email Retargeting: Not Just For Websites & Display Networks Networks Anymore
Remarketing is more like Email than you think

Retargeting for Email Marketers

Marketing Land:
77 percent of us want to get marketing messages via email & there’s no close second place

Email Retargeting Use Cases

Marketing Institute of Ireland:
What’s a top go-to channel for result-driven marketers?

See Why:
Highest ROI in eCommerce?

The Rise Of Email Retargeting

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