Practical Ecommerce

Remarketing 101, Part 2: Targeted Emails

Remarketing is an advertising concept to bring back consumers who have visited ecommerce sites and left without purchasing. In general, the remarketing services fall into two camps. We discussed the first remarketing camp, targeted banner ads, in “Remarketing 101, Part 1: Targeted Banner Ads.” In this article, we’ll look at the second camp: targeted emails. A few of the popular software companies that have rolled out remarketing email products are SeeWhy.com, RevenueExpect, and SaleCycle.

Targeted Email Remarketing

Email remarketing takes the traditional email-marketing concept and just dials it up a few notches. Here’s how it works: Assume a consumer visits an ecommerce site and places some items into his or her shopping cart for purchase. But then, before completing sale, the consumer leaves the store and never finishes buying the goods. In years past, that would be the end of the story. But, if the merchant is using an email remarketing service, that service acquires the email address from the abandoned shopping cart and the merchant can then choose to send an email to that lost shopper in an attempt to entice him or her back.

The email may be a simple reminder that the shopper has items in a shopping cart or it may be a coupon offering a discount on the current purchase to try to grab them back. SaleCycle and RevenueExpect are designed to integrate with an email service providers like MailChimp or Constant Contact newsletter services. The remarketing emails generated with these platforms could retain the style that merchants are already comfortable with.

The targeted email used in this regard is a much more specific communication with a potential customer, which can be good or bad, depending on the make-up of that customer. If the shoppers happen to make regular purchases and get emails often from a given merchant, those customers may not even notice that they have been remarketed to. Or if they do notice, they’ll see it as friendly reminder from a store they already trust.

But, for new shoppers, those that have just visited a site for the first time and abandon shopping carts because, say, they felt the information wasn’t secure, and then they get an email a half hour to an hour later reminding them they have some shopping left to do, it may not be as well received.

Privacy Concerns

There are privacy concerns regarding this email solution because there is no explicit consent by the shoppers, i.e. a checkbox that clearly states that the email address entered is approved to be used for marketing purposes – even though by the time they have reached the shopping cart and input the email address, many merchant stores force some kind of acknowledgement of this use.

Consent to email advertising is an issue that is always up for debate and remains relatively unsolved leaving individual merchants forced to decide for themselves whether they feel marketing to customers, without explicit consent, is appropriate. And, as usual, the answer to that lies only in the particular merchant’s consumers – regardless of any percentages of increased conversions or captured revenue.

Conversion Rates and Cost of Email Remarketing

The good news about email remarketing is that it is, generally speaking, affordable for smaller merchants. RevenueExpect’s email remarketing solution base package starts at $50 per month (per domain).

And although remarketing solutions using banner ads have been available since 2008 from pioneer companies like FetchBack and Veruta, targeted email remarketing has not been widely used until 2010, so reliable conversion data is difficult to find. The difficult thing to measure is the purchase conversion rates that email remarketing may generate for a given merchant; it all depends on the popularity of the product and the brand – remarketing can increase traffic flow back to the site and purchase conversions could follow, but there’s no guarantee a shopper will then finish a purchase that was started.

Josh Pierry, founder and CEO of RevenueExpect, which is newly launched and does not have a lot of hard data, had this to say about conversion rates for its clients, “It varies, but [in our experience] the general rule of thumb is a 10-25 percent conversion rate based on amount of emails sent. If a merchant sends 100 emails, 10-25 generally produce conversions. If you also follow up with a phone call, that rate can almost double.”

Ecommerce merchants should consider their stores individually when thinking of using an email-remarketing tool. They should gauge how many shoppers they get daily, how many sales they get daily and what the tolerance level of their customer base is for email communication.

Remarketing Companies and Their Clients

Here is a list of email remarketing companies mentioned in this article and clients that use their email services:

  • “SaleCycle” works with large-sized businesses like Hotel Du Vin & Bistro, MandMDirect and Malmaison. Pricing: 15 percent commission on all recovered sales.

  • “SeeWhy” works with a wide-variety of large-sized businesses as well as smaller ecommerce companies including Guthy-Renker, Char-Broil and PlaySpan. Pricing: 30-day free trial and $15,000 annually, for a suite of comprehensive tools and targeting services using the company’s Conversion Manager.

  • “RevenueExpect” works with small-to-large sized businesses, including Eddie Bauer, L.L.Bean, Extranomical Tours and Better World Books. Pricing: $50 monthly per domain and $50 monthly per each additional domain. No long-term contract and no setup fee.

Sample of a remarketing email from Eddie Bauer. (Image courtesy of RevenueExpect.)

Sample of a remarketing email from Eddie Bauer. (Image courtesy of RevenueExpect.)

Sample of a remarketing email from L.L.Bean. (Image courtesy of RevenueExpect.)

Sample of a remarketing email from L.L.Bean. (Image courtesy of RevenueExpect.)

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. cord November 22, 2010 Reply

    Matt, a very good overview what we shop owner can do to bring customers back who left without a purchase!

    For storeowners running on ZenCart, CRE Loaded and other forks of osCommerce there are some opensource addons available doing a similar thing – not that advanced but a first step.
    We are using the free addon "MailBeez" for automation of follow-up emails together with a custom developed Module which finds the customers with an open cart and sends them a reminder together with a coupon for free shipping and some special products. Due to the integration with Google Analytics we are also able to track the result of the campaigns.