Email Retargeting Tips + How Not to be Creepy with Data

Customers can be a fickle bunch especially when browsing for deals online. Many times you will find that customers tend to abandon purchase carts just before they make a purchase. There are many reasons why shoppers abandon their carts.

The Scenario

For example, 25 years old, Sara, is shopping for clothes online, she sees a pair of shoes that is on sale, and she loves them. She adds the pair of shoes to the cart..

30 mins later, after adding a variety of items to the cart, she finds out on that she has went over budget. So she decided that she doesn’t need those pair of shoes right now so she removes the pair of shoes from the cart. She also realises that she needs to prepare dinner, and in mids of running errands, she didn’t get ahead with the purchase.

As an online store owner, knowing that Sara loves those pair of shoes is good data, and understanding that Sara has an intend to purchase is valuable.

What you can do next is to give some incentives and discounts to Sara the next time she comes back to your site. While giving discounts is a sure method to win a customer’s heart, here are a few pointers to take note when offering them in an email.

1. A ‘comeback’ discount

Sending an email to a customer a ‘comeback’ discount is a great way to incentivise purchase. This can be done a day after a customer has ‘abandon’ the cart online. You can send a sample discount of additional 10% off for purchase over the next 24 hours for example.

2. Time-framed discounts: ’24-hours’ vs ‘1-week’ coupons

However, if you discover from your analytics data that 24-hour time framed coupons are not as effective, you might want to extend the time frame for the discount to a week. Sometimes, respecting your customers buying decision time-frame might be better off in the long run. Perhaps your customers are a busy bunch of professionals and only have the time to shop online during the weekends.

Zalora, for example, has a 3-day “private-sale” to name the campaign, pretty slick and smart if you ask me 🙂


3. Personalised your discount offering message

Personalisation goes a long way when it comes to online shopping. If you know that Sara already have intentions to buy shoes, you might want to send her an email on new stocks of shoes similar to her choices, e.g. flat pumps, wedges, or heels

4. Price sensitive buyers vs Not Price sensitive buyers

Sara might not be lured by discounts alone, and considering that shoes are not her priority at the moment, she is probably not easily swayed by ‘impulsed purchases’ (unless it’s a 70% knock-off). Sara would probably prefer to ‘shop-around’ a bit more for shoes, over a period of time. With this knowledge (backed by data), you might want to send her a ‘suggestion’ type of email on the type of shoes that would be suitable for work or play, over the next couple of weeks. Be sure however not to come across as ‘pushy’ or ‘spamming’.

5. How not to come across as creepy with all those data


As an online store owner/manager/marketer, there are a lot of data that is provided at your disposition. These data can be put to good use when providing incentives to customers when they are making purchase decisions. However, the caveat is, how do you not comes across as ‘creepy’, and ‘big-brother-ish’.

The key here is balance in ‘timing’ and ‘frequency’ when sending out the emails. There is no magic answer, so be sure to experiment on what works, and when.

It also depends on what you are selling online. For fashion items such as ‘shoes’ which can be categorised as ‘impulse-purchase’ items, of which shoppers go online frequently to buy, you can send emails more frequently.

For items which require more ‘thoughts’ and ‘time’ for purchase, such as a camera, it might be wise to exercise less frequency in email sent. For example, I would consider it spam if a company were to send me email newsletters on ink cartridges everyday knowing that I would only need them once every couple of months.

It is worth thinking about the price of the item, the time it takes for someone to make a purchase decision, and how often does one need to use the item. Best to put yourself in the customer’s ‘shoes’ when planning your next email retargeting campaign 🙂 .

Zee Ng

Zee is a digital strategist who have worked in a number of online enterprise. She believes in technology and creativity that change lives for the better. When not blogging, she enjoys cafe-hopping, nature trails, being near the ocean and discovering films. Get in touch, for collaboration.