Re-targeting emails to notify customers about filled but not checked out shopping baskets in online shops are a popular tool in email marketing of retail companies. However, employed in the wrong way, they can put off customers instead of reactivating them. A shopping basket, which is not checked out, yet, does not necessarily mean a cancellation of the purchase.
According to a Google study, 84% of online shoppers use more than one terminal devices for a single purchase. They may, e.g. put a pre-selection of products in a shopping basket on their laptop during their lunch break, make the final selection on their way home via smartphone and conclude the purchase at home in the evening on their tablet. A re-targeting email directly after the “cancellation” would probably have an adverse effect on these customers.

Use Re-targeting Emails Correctly

Nevertheless, re-targeting emails are an effective tool when they are used properly. This is about identifying customers whose purchase process stretches over several stations and measuring how long the period between the last “shopping basket abandonment” and the purchase is. By aggregating the measured periods, you can determine on an individual customer base as well as on a distributor level how much time should have passed before you send a re-targeting email. You should refer to the top quarter of the periods considered. IMPORTANT: When the top quarter is, e.g. 8 hours, “8 hours after shopping basket abandonment” does not necessarily mean it is the optimal send time now, as it could be, e.g. during the night. You can find tips on how to optimise your send time in the article Send Time Optimisation for Higher Open Rates in Email Marketing.
Generally, re-targeting emails should not be intrusive. Subject lines, such as “Come back! You have forgotten something!” seem rather pushy to customers who had already planned to come back. An additional incentive to conclude a purchase may be a voucher. However, you should pay attention that customers do not use this incentive to purposely leave their shopping baskets in order to receive vouchers. It may be sensible to promote similar products in the context of the re-targeting. Perhaps the customer has searched for something in particular and was not happy with what he found.