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Not all emails are created equal. That’s why different companies have such a range of open and click-through rates. Abandoned cart emails are no different. To ensure yours is going to bring you the best results and get that contact back to their cart, incorporate these best practices into your abandoned cart email strategy. Which of course should be part of your overall retention marketing strategy.

With that, let's get started!

Subject lines

This is the first thing users will see when you send them an abandoned cart email, so don't disappoint. Nearly half of all email recipients say they open an email based on the subject line. So, what should you say to get the open?

The best approach is to keep your subject line simple and to the point. Let them know exactly why they are receiving this message. Consumers receive hundreds of emails a day, so cut to the chase. 

Not sure what to include in your subject line? Try some of these components:

Here are more than 10 examples of subject lines that work:

Adding personalized information, like the shopper’s name or the item they left in their cart, will better catch their attention and clearly state this email is just for them.

Create a sense of urgency

Alerting potential customers they might lose the items they’ve placed in their carts is a great way to tap into the scarcity effect as a marketing tactic, as long as you’re being honest.

You can do that by incorporating one of these tactics into your email:

This email from Google is a great example of creating urgency:


From the headline, “Going, going, (almost) gone,” to the content saying their popular items sell out fast, this cart abandonment email is all about creating a sense of urgency. The email is short and to the point, which is a definite must for this type of message. 

They also include the company’s contact information, which consumers could use if they had any questions or issues. That’s great to include in case the original reason they didn’t make the purchase was because of an issue or question.


If your subject line does the trick, your potential customer will have made their way into the email body. Yay! Now that they are there, you’ll want to make sure your content makes these three points:

  1. They liked something enough to put it in their basket
  2. It was left in their online shopping cart
  3. They should return and complete their purchase

Everything you should include in your email is a means to that end. Basic elements to include in the email that will help you reach that goal include:

Your brand’s personality needs to shine through with every piece of marketing content, including your cart abandonment emails. That allows you to recover sales by being distinctive in a cluttered inbox.

This is a great example from Columbia:

Showcase product

The reason for your abandoned cart email is to get that shopper back to their cart to complete the purchase. One major part of doing that is showing them exactly what they’ve left behind. 

Using a large product image can turn a good abandoned cart email into a great one. Your abandoned cart email should be designed to reignite your customer’s excitement. There’s a reason the shopper added the item to the cart in the first place, so remind them of that.

People might not remember what products had them clicking the “add to cart” button in the first place. If they open your email and are still confused, they’re probably going to delete the email, and you’ve lost a potential sale. So, make the product image the main event.

Similar offerings

Maybe they didn’t complete the purchase because the product wasn’t the best one for them. To combat that issue, you can (sometimes) include an alternative product to the one in their cart. We say “sometimes” here because you might not want to do that with every abandonment email, since that could take away from the main one they really do want. They did add it to their cart, after all.

You could send them an email with the product in their cart as the main image. Then, include two or three similar product photos (with links) below that, in case one of those better catches their eye. 

This approach is similar to what you see on Amazon’s “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” section:


Or, you can try showing them related items to include in their cart that won’t distract from the primary product, such as:

You want to give them items of value, without taking away from the item they obviously like.

Address issues

There are several reasons why people might leave their cart, as we covered above. So, why not address a few of those possible problems or questions in your email? That will help you cover several bases and get them back to their cart.

Using your customer research and website usability testing (or some of the top reasons we mentioned above), create an email that shows you understand their concerns and will address those issues directly with this abandoned cart email. That’s exactly what Whisky Loot did in this fun email:

Whisky Loot

The brand stays true to its voice by sharing a lighthearted checklist of things customers can do with their product. The email also answers questions that might be holding up people from making the purchase. 

This is a great tactic you can easily incorporate into your message. You can use some of the top questions you hear from people on your:

Besides some of the top concerns — like shipping costs or returns — it can also help to include if you offer financing information for more expensive items. For example, if you provide 0% interest, include that in your abandoned cart email.

Big-ticket items require a significant commitment from an online shopper. These purchases are a big decision. It's your job to convince customers to trust in your brand, and the safety of financing without interest gives customers one less reason to bail out of the purchase. A large, “0% interest” banner is perfect for your price-conscious customers. 

(Bonus: For expensive items, incentives like an offer or free gift are great ways of enticing the customer to complete their purchase — especially if that gift is an accessory matching the abandoned item.)

Also, make sure to give them contact information for your company if they have other questions, in case you didn’t cover theirs.

Call to action

Let them know exactly what you want them to do once they open your email (i.e. purchase the items in their cart). Do that by making the CTA prominent in your design. The components of a good CTA for an abandonment email are:

Here’s an example from Bearsville Soap Company that uses the “Return to your cart” CTA:

The CTA emphasizes how easily they can finish the checkout process they started, without being pushy. We also like the bear emoji in the subject line, which helps the message stand out and reinforce branding.



You can set up a series that goes out all on its own – and wins back revenue that would otherwise have disappeared. Like we mentioned above, you’ll want to send the first email fairly soon after they leave their cart. You should also continue to follow up with them using a series of emails if they don’t complete their purchase after the initial email.

This example sequence is one that many brands, including Target, use following a cart abandonment. It starts on Day 3:

As you can see, an abandoned cart email strategy includes way more than just one message. You want to use the information you have on them, like what they’re interested in, to provide the most targeted emails possible.

Here’s an example of an email series Wayfair sent after we added curtains to our cart:

They sent a total of five abandoned cart emails spanning nearly two months. These are the subject lines they used:

This is the email they ended the campaign with, which was similar to the first one we got:

They not only showcased the product we had originally added to our cart (curtains), but they also included other popular home items.

Show proof

Show proof

What do you do before making a purchase? We’d venture to say the vast majority of you look at reviews to see what others have to say about a product first. We all want to see that social proof, so use that to your brand’s advantage by including reviews in your abandoned cart emails.

Go through your reviews, and pull out the best ones for the product or service they’ve looked at. If you don’t have any, reach out to your top customers for one. The subject line could be:


Like with any of your email marketing campaigns, you’ll need to include an Unsubscribe button or link somewhere in the body of your email. Make unsubscribing as easy as possible, so don’t try to hide it or make it super small.

It doesn’t help you or the shopper if they aren’t interested in receiving your emails, and they can always resubscribe later if they choose. If you try to force people into receiving your emails and buying your stuff, you’re destined for complaints, failures, and a struggle to maintain profitability. Let people opt-out before they start to distrust or dislike your brand.

An effective unsubscribe button usually is at the bottom of an email. That’s where readers will look. Try to use a different color, font, or even use italics to make an unsubscribe CTA stand out. You don't need to go overboard with font size. You can keep a smaller size font if you want, but make sure it’s readable.

In summary

Abandoned cart emails are about more than getting the shopper to complete their purchase. The email should also be helpful and answer questions so they can complete the purchase when they're ready.

Take this opportunity to create a lasting relationship with your customers and aim to convert your shopper into a loyal brand fan. You want them to become promoters of your business, not just a one-time customer.

While short-term profits from discounting and sales promotion are great, what happens when your promos run out and it’s just a regular day? If you have an effective email cart abandonment strategy in place, you won't have to worry about not having a sale to lure them in. 

  1. You'll know your customers agree with the price you sell your products for.
  2. They'll be willing to purchase for the full price.

You’ve seen the stats, best practices, and tons of examples. You have power and knowledge. We’ve given you everything you need to make your abandoned cart emails the best they can be.


Even if you follow these steps to a T, you might not be able to capture every single abandoned cart user. Not every shopper is serious about making a purchase, or maybe they are just comparing products. 

Even if you don’t close every sale, you’re creating a solid foundation that will help the visitor learn about your brand, that you care about current/prospective customers, and make it easier for them to find your products if and when they decide to make a purchase.

It takes several interactions with a consumer before they ever convert, and abandoned cart emails are a great way to start engaging with them. So, it’s time to get started, and add them to your marketing strategy!

Getting customers to visit your site and place items in their cart is only half the battle. According to Baymard Institute, cart abandonment rates average around 70% on most e-commerce sites. Re-engaging even a fraction of these customers can drastically increase a business's revenue. Luckily, there are numerous straightforward ways shopping sites can reclaim abandoned cart revenue.

How to reclaim abandoned cart revenue

Personalized abandoned cart emails

Abandoned cart emails are nothing new; you’ve likely received these emails from Amazon and other e-commerce sites you frequent. However, many abandoned cart emails feel more like advertisements than personalized messages.

Personalized abandoned cart emails drastically improve revenue potential, especially those acknowledging your customers’ shopping habits. For example, triggered emails that recognize first-time shoppers may read differently than those sent to long-time customers. Emails sent to new buyers can offer introductory gifts or how-to guides, whereas those sent to long-time customers may provide benefits for their loyalty.

Engage anonymous cart abandoners

Reclaiming abandoned cart revenue gets trickier when you realize how many of your customers are unidentified. In some cases, these customers aren’t on your email list. In other cases, they’re on your email list but aren’t logged in.

Sending emails to unidentified customers can be challenging. Luckily,’s CartID+ tool can use cookies to reach out to otherwise anonymous customers. CartID+ can even send abandoned cart emails to customers who haven’t opted into your newsletter.

SMS notifications

Emails aren’t the only way to get a customer’s attention; text messages can be a more engaging medium for retention marketing. Some sign up for website mailing lists using emails they’ve created to collect spam mail. Although abandoned cart emails aren’t spam, some of your contact attempts won’t be seen if you only use emails to engage cart abandoners.

SMS notifications can’t be flagged as spam and are more likely to be seen than emails. Additionally, some studies suggest mobile customers are more likely to abandon their carts than desktop users. Text messages are an ideal way to communicate with your mobile site users.

Learn more about your customers

Personalizing communication is an exercise in futility if you know nothing about your customers. Apps like’s Enrich tool can provide valuable information about the people visiting your site. Learning more about your shoppers’ demographics and interests can enhance your email-campaigning efforts.

Knowing whether a customer has a kid, a pet, or a specific hobby will improve your site’s product recommendations. The Enrich tool, combined with your abandoned cart information, is vital to building a customer profile to enhance your triggered emails.

Offer discounts and alert customers when sales are live

Sometimes, people abandon their carts because they decide an item’s price is too high. Offering a discount can be an excellent way to reclaim abandoned cart revenue. As a matter of fact, some customers abandon their cart specifically because they think they’ll receive a discount.

Popular sites like LifeHacker teach customers to use cart abandonment as a method for buying products at a lower price. It isn’t uncommon for a customer to place a product in multiple carts across multiple sites and buy it from the one that sends them a coupon. Still, you don’t have to cut into your profits to engage customers.

Sites like Amazon observe products that customers leave in their carts and send them emails when they go on sale. This method lets you re-engage cart abandoners while making the most of your planned discount events.

Create a guest checkout page

Many customers abandon carts because they don’t want to waste time creating an account. Customer accounts are ideal for collecting emails, phone numbers, and addresses for future engagement campaigns. Still, customers who can’t buy your products without creating an account may choose to shop elsewhere. Guest checkout pages are a simple way to make it easier for customers to shop on your site.

Display shipping options on the product page

Some customers abandon their carts because the shipping costs catch them off guard. Some sales methodologies suggest obscuring a product’s price by hiding shipping costs until the customer is ready to check out. However, the modern consumer has grown tired of dishonest sales practices.

Although you may not be able to reduce shipping costs, being upfront about them can reduce your abandoned cart rates.

Stick with what works

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach in retention marketing. You shouldn’t spend time on campaigns that you run blindly. Monitoring your engagement campaigns and investing more time and effort into the methods yielding the best results is essential.

If you’re considering an application or service to help you with customer retention, you should ensure it offers in-depth reporting. tracks revenue and ROI weekly and monthly, making it easy to access your needed data. Additionally, has valuable insights into the domains, landing pages, and times of day that generate the most emails.

What Is customer retention?

Customer retention refers to the number of people who make repeat purchases from a business. Growth hackers will tell you that by increasing customer retention rates, you can often increase your revenue faster.

The thing is, customer retention can be difficult for e-commerce businesses because there are so many alternatives available for consumers. However, a retention marketing plan can help you improve customer retention and increase your bottom line.

Without retention marketing, you're constantly prospecting for potential customers rather than focusing on building a loyal customer base. The truth is you need to do both, but many e-commerce businesses focus on the new consumer.

Here we discuss retention marketing and industry technology and offer five solutions to keep customers coming back.

What Is Retention Marketing?

Retention marketing focuses on engaging returning customers rather than targeting new ones. The goal is to increase customer loyalty by consistently giving them added value and more opportunities to purchase your products.

McKinsey Insights reports in 2022, more US consumers switched brands and retailers, looking for value. What's more, a little over a third of consumers opted to buy from private labels.

While your business needs new and returning customers, retention marketing will increase customers' lifetime value and long-term profitability.

Retention Marketing Tools

Retention marketing is about communication with your customers and using available technology to leverage data for actionable insights. Technology is a driver in retention marketing.

It leverages strategies to keep customers engaged and loyal to your brand based on relevant data. Real-time reporting tools provide deep insights into:

Additionally, an integrated dashboard enables businesses to connect seamlessly to top email marketing applications, such as SalesForce and Marketo. Using technology to leverage insights and act on them is the foundation of customer retention.

5 Ways to Improve Customer Retention

If you want loyal customers, focus on building long-term relationships and delivering value throughout the customer journey.

1. Provide Friendly and Efficient Customer Support

Loyal customers spend more and will likely refer their friends and family to your brand. Reliable customer support is vital to building brand trust.

Today, customers expect to be able to reach customer support 24/7. Automation makes it possible to be there at all hours, and you can follow up if needed.

Provide customer service with easy access and accurate responses to solve customer issues. Listen and collect customer feedback. Then use it to improve customer experiences.

Nurturing customer relationships by providing ongoing service and support helps build lasting customer relationships that drive revenue.

2. Make it Personal

When your customers give social endorsements, it increases customer retention. Encourage current customers to share their thoughts on your product or service, or implement a refer-a-friend campaign encouraging customers to endorse your brand.

Communities increase customer retention. Share your vision, and talk about topics your customers are interested in that naturally relate to your products or services.

Retention marketing is all about knowing your customers. To that end, you can leverage customer data to understand their preferences and motivations. Customers will come back to make purchases if they're getting value from your brand.

Use the data to build buyer personas that represent the type of person who uses your product or service. Then create campaigns that add value for them.

3. Offer Loyalty Programs and Discounts

Loyalty programs reward your customers for buying your products and services. It can be anything from surprise swag to exclusive access that only loyal customers can purchase.

Loyalty programs and discounts show your repeat customers that you appreciate their business. Similarly, referral programs reward your customers when they send friends and family to your business.

E-commerce loyalty programs help brands build community and generate data to gain personalization insights. Consider implementing VIP benefits to increase customer lifetime value.

Social media contests encourage brand loyalty, build trust, and are a low-cost way to engage customers.

4. Dedicate More Attention to Email Campaigns

Email is an opt-in channel. Once they sign up, you can use customer emails to follow up, offer discounts, and find upsell opportunities.

To that end, it's essential to dedicate more attention to email campaigns to increase customer retention.

Email represents 50% of Latico Leathers' total revenue, and they wanted to dramatically increase their email list, drive a positive ROI, and maintain or increase their sending reputation. The company integrated Resolve with Klaviyo and experienced a 45% open rate from Resolve contacts.

You can customize email marketing campaigns and messaging for your audience. Analytics reveal which emails your customers open and don't open.

The data allows you to refine your email campaigns to suit your customers' preferences. Retention emails help build your email list, and you can segment it according to the most engaged to the least active recipients.

5. Re-engage Abandonment Revenue

First, use data analytics to measure your cart abandonment rate. If it's high, revisit your email marketing campaigns to determine why they don't resonate with your audience.

Cart abandonment could also be website related. For example, checkout may not be a user-friendly experience. Once you gather insights into why customers abandon their carts, you can set out to re-engage them.

Leverage industry-leading identity technology to increase cart abandonment revenue. For example, GetEmails enables businesses to send abandoned cart emails to users, even if they still need to opt into your newsletter.

Work With Retention Marketing Professionals specializes in retention marketing and e-commerce solutions, including cart abandonment and re-engaging potentially lost customers. We provide one-click integrations with leading marketing automation platforms.

Our dashboard features a user-friendly interface to easily connect to any email marketing application in under a minute. Retention's integrations automatically update and suppress contacts daily.

We can help you reclaim up to ten times more abandonment revenue by leveraging industry-leading Identity Resolution technology. When an unidentified customer abandons a cart, we identify them. Then a personalized flow automatically triggers in the messaging platform.

Scale up your abandonment flows and improve your retention marketing strategy. Get in touch with today to find out how we can help.

7 out of 10 online shoppers abandon their carts, representing billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Imagine if you could instead reliably recoup even some of those lost sales.

Using retention marketing tactics, you can re-engage customers who have abandoned their carts and bring them back to your shop.

Read on to understand everything you need to start putting that lost revenue back in your pocket where it belongs.

What is Retention Marketing?

Retention marketing encourages customers to return to your website or store to make repeat purchases. It means focusing on the customer's experience and building brand loyalty to boost word-of-mouth advertising.

At its core, retention marketing means keeping the customers you already have and increasing their spending on future purchases.

Your business can utilize many effective retention marketing strategies, including reclaiming abandoned cart revenue.

The bottom line is to create engagement and loyalty in the customers you have already converted.

This loyalty also leads to reaching new customers or clients through word of mouth.

The Goal of Retention Marketing

Retention marketing aims to keep customers engaged with your company and product to increase their lifetime value to your business. The end goal of retention marketing is to increase your profits. For example, in a recent article, American Express noted that it costs 6 to 7x more to get new customers than to retain old ones.

By changing the focus to keeping customers interested and engaged with your brand, you can spend less to make more profit in a shorter time.

Why is Retention Marketing Important?

Spending less on marketing while making more sales is a dream come true. This is why retention marketing is essential to any modern business.

In addition, advertising on every platform has become much more expensive. According to Digital Information World and Business Insider, we are seeing huge increases in social media marketing costs.

For example, Facebook ads rose 89%, while advertisements on YouTube now cost 108% more than last year.

Clearly, the cost of acquiring new customers is only going up, so retention marketing is becoming even more critical.

Benefits of Retention Marketing

There are many benefits to retention marketing.

One of the most significant benefits, besides the increase in profit margins, is that it increases the lifetime value of your customers.

Happy and loyal customers will buy more, come back more often and tell others about you.

When you make efforts to engage with old customers, they reward you with increased sales. As a result, you will have to spend less on advertising.

Challenges of Retention Marketing

Understanding your customer's wants and needs deeply enough that you can keep them happy and engaged takes some work.

Likewise, setting up the required metrics to accurately measure your campaigns' results can take time.

Making sure your customers have a positive experience with your brand takes time and effort.

Customer service can be expensive and hard to get right if customers have unrealistic expectations.

It can also be challenging to show customers over time that they are still appreciated.

Retention Marketing vs. Acquisition Marketing: What's the Difference?

Retention marketing and acquisition marketing are two very different types of marketing. They have different goals and employ different tactics.

Acquisition marketing is more direct and easier to measure.

In contrast, retention marketing is often concerned with subjects such as loyalty, which is more of an indirect result of many combined efforts.

Main Differences Between Retention and Acquisition Marketing

The most significant difference between these tactics is the type of customer they focus on.

Retention marketing focuses on customers you already have, while acquisition marketing focuses on getting new customers.

The actions taken in Retention marketing campaigns ensure that customers continue purchasing products in the long term.

Retention marketing tactics build loyalty and connection with your customers.

In contrast, acquisition marketing strategies focus on advertising to gain new customers.

How Should You Divide Your Marketing Spend Between Retention and Acquisition

Deciding how to divide your marketing budget between retention and acquisition depends on your current customer profile.

Brandalyzer does a great job of breaking down the mathematics of this complicated formula.

However, you can't go too far wrong if you spend 75% of your marketing budget on retention.

However much you decide to spend, it is clear that focusing more on retention than on acquisition will lead to greater success for your business.

Forbes recently conducted a study, and one of the notable findings was that merchants that spent more on retention in the last 1-3 years had close to a 200% more likelihood of being successful than their counterparts who spent more on acquisition.

Types of Retention Marketing

There are many types of retention marketing, and you can choose the tactics that resonate most with your business.

For example, an online coaching portal could send personalized messages to encourage clients through SMS messaging.

Here are some other types of retention marketing campaigns:

What Are the Most Effective Retention Marketing Tactics?

Retention marketing tactics don't have to be expensive. However, the most effective strategies are thoughtful to engage repeat customers.

Email marketing to recapture abandoned cart revenue is one of the most profitable and effective strategies.

According to the Harvard Business Review, It is best to concentrate on the initial experiences a customer has with you in your retention marketing efforts.

Focusing on the first purchase experience statistically brings the most ROI and should be taken care of first in a retention marketing campaign.

Personalization as an Effective Retention Marketing Campaign

Personalization can be used to enhance any of the other highly effective tactics mentioned above. You can employ personalization as a tactic through the many stages of the customer's journey.

Personalization as a retention marketing strategy has been shown to increase the number of customers a business gains and their lifetime value to you.

This personalization tactic provides valuable content across channels like email, social media, or even (SMS) text messages!

Which Retention Marketing Tactics are Right for Your Business?

Finding the right tactics for your business can depend on your niche. Make data-driven decisions to decide on the best customer retention strategy.

First, find the right tools and formulas and measure your customer's data.

Then find out what successful metrics are for your business.

Looking at what successful metrics are for your industry is an effective way to begin. Then measure your customer data.

With the data in hand, you can see where you fall short. This will empower you to create the best retention marketing tactics for your business.

How to Create an Effective Retention Marketing Strategy

Decide what tactics will bring you the most profit and quickest returns. Target these first to create an effective retention marketing strategy.

Using the right tools is integral to creating an effective retention strategy. They will help you determine your goals and inform your strategy.

For example, if you recognize that you have a lot of dead emails on your list and want to bring these lost customers back, you can utilize Retention.Com's Reactivate campaign. This can help you increase your email opening rate from 2-3% all the way up to 40%.

What Tools Should be Implemented?

Having Customer Retention Management tools and identity resolution software can make all the data about your customer base easily accessible.

Another way to increase customer satisfaction while gathering data about them is to install a chatbot on your website.

When you have the information you need about your customers, it is much easier to tailor content for them.

Steps to Creating Your Retention Marketing Strategy

To create an effective retention marketing strategy, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Determine your churn rate.
  2. Make a User Journey Map.
  3. Focus on the first purchase experience and onboarding to begin.
  4. Use behavior analysis tools.
  5. Create personalized customer communications using data.
  6. Implement an easy way to collect feedback from your customers.

It is a great idea to concentrate first on the projects that will give you the most significant return and then go to the less profitable but still rewarding projects. For example, focus on the first purchase.

How to Measure the Success of Your Retention Marketing Efforts

Measuring the success of your marketing efforts with cutting-edge tools that give you accurate data will bring you the most accurate results.

Use mathematical formulas that allow you to accurately pinpoint your statistics.

You can find many of these on the Appcues Blog, where they explain the different statistics you can measure along with the formulas.

For example, churn rate = (number of customers at the end of the year - new customers)/number of customers at the beginning of the year.

Here are some of the ways you can measure your success with your retention marketing efforts:

Why are Success Measurements Important?

Peter Drucker, the first thought leader in business management, famously said, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."

To guide your strategy, measure which tactics work best with your customers. This way, you can direct your budget to the most effective campaigns.

The Best Success Measurements for Retention Marketing

In retention marketing, some of the most profitable success measures are product return rate, ROI, revenue and customer churn, customer lifetime value, repeat purchase ratio, and time between purchases.

It is best to find the measures that mean success for your niche. For example, in some niches, buying only one or two products in a lifetime is common.

Comparing the repeat purchase ratio for that business to the ratio desirable for most stores would create unrealistic expectations.

Finding out what metrics are considered successful for your niche is worthwhile.

Tools to Measure the Results of Your Campaign

Every website needs tools that measure your marketing data. These tools will let you know the ROI of your retention efforts.

Some of the essential tools are Google Analytics and

Combining these two tools will give you the information you need to gather the statistics to measure your retention marketing efforts.

For example, with Retention.Com, you can measure and keep track of your cart abandonment rate and the abandoned cart recovery rate.

On your dashboard, you get real-time reporting. For example, you can easily see your revenue and ROI tracking and how many people have added to the cart, all in one place.

Re-engage with Your Customers and Reclaim Abandoned Cart Revenue

Now that you know how to start measuring your data and how you can utilize retention marketing to 5- 10x your current profit margins, nothing can stop you!

If you're still unsure how to re-engage with your customers and reclaim those abandoned carts, then book a demo with We can show you how easy it is.

What Does identifies up to 35% of your website’s anonymous traffic via a code snippet that’s placed on your website.

How Does it Work?

There are two parts to Email-Based Retargeting:

  1. Identification. We use cookies, but this can also be done with cross-device ID.
  2. A contact database. We have a large network of over 15,000 websites that we are partnered with that generate around a million records a day in total.

When a live body that we’ve previously cookied shows up on your website, we take the hashed email address in the cookie and see if it matches any hashed email addresses in our database. Hashed is a fancy word for saying the email has been encoded for privacy.

If it does, we give you the entire, unencrypted contact record. Email, first, last, postal record, and landing page.

Is the data any good?

Yes! The magic of Email-Based Retargeting is that the identification piece brings what would otherwise be worthless, untargeted data to life.


If an email address is in a cookie in someone’s browser, and that person hits your website, there is a live body that is still connected with that email address.

Those live bodies open emails. We know because we have several hundred customers using the technology. They are getting strong open rates with low complaints and unsubscribes.

How Does the Code Snippet Work?

The Javascript code snippet is added, by you or your webmaster, to the webpage where you want to collect emails. These email addresses belong to real people who have opted in via third party websites for email marketing offers. For examples of these offers, click here. When one of these contacts visits your website, our script matches them to a database of more than 500 million contacts and we give you those records daily, in a downloadable CSV file.

What Data Do I Get?

The email addresses that we identify are personal, not business, email addresses. You will get First Name, Last Name, Email address, postal address (address, city, state, zip), first seen date (opt in date), last seen date (when they hit your website), the landing page URL they hit, and the landing page domain.

How is this legal? Is it CAN-SPAM Compliant?

Yes, is both legal and CAN-SPAM compliant. For more information, click here.

How do I mail to it? What do I do once I get the record?

Even though the prospect left your website without subscribing, we recommend you send them a welcome series of three to five emails. Then, once that’s done, add them to your regular mailing program.

Lead with as much value as possible, and keep in mind it’s a different journey from someone who has raised their hand and subscribed to your newsletter.

We provide you with the landing page of the contact record, and through our “complex integrations,” you have the ability to send records from a given landing page to a given list in your ESP and trigger automations accordingly.

It’s critically important to send to these contacts as soon as possible.

The only complaint problems we have ever observed have been from our customers who have accumulated contacts over several weeks, waited to send to them, and sent a normal newsletter, all at once.

For more about how to have success with Email-Based Retargeting, click here.

5 Steps to Properly Test works for most e-commerce businesses, but it’s important that appropriate expectations are in place going into the test, and that the test is executed properly for success.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when you are testing for your brand.

1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) generally comes in close to Facebook

Under our current setup, we’ve generally seen people achieve $20 to $40 CAC with Email-Based Retargeting.

While that’s not a Christmas Miracle (I’m writing this in December), it’s another high-quality source of traffic that you can monetize at a comparable price to your other channels.

2. Give it 60 days; this is COLD traffic

Unlike the rest of your e-commerce email marketing list,’s email addresses didn’t purchase from you or raise their hand to be contacted. They are further up the funnel than your current list members are, so you’ll need to warm them up before they will buy.

The rules of marketing and sales funnels apply.

Once you’ve installed, take your first day’s volume and multiply it by 20. That should give you an approximate monthly estimate for your lead count.

This will help you determine which plan is best for your brand. Put yourself on that plan and run the test.

3. Put them in an e-commerce welcome series IMMEDIATELY

From what we’ve observed so far, sending to these recipients as quickly as possible is the goal. Most e-comm brands add their leads into an existing welcome series, which seems to work just fine.

The only problems we’ve seen are when people wait to email these contacts — over a week or so — then blast them with a normal newsletter.

Based on our years running an ESP (Robly), we believe that the current state of email is shifting. For the most part, if someone hits a website and then receives an email from that business, it’s not weird, infuriating, or altogether unexpected — as long as the brand is recognized by the person.

What is infuriating is when you receive email from a brand that you do not recognize whatsoever.

Email them quickly. Then once the welcome flow has finished, drop them into your regular emailing program.

We give you the landing page they hit, so you can get as sophisticated as you want in terms of targeting. We don’t think that’s necessary though. Just hit them quickly, with something.

4. When real-time collection comes, use it

We don’t have a real-time collection feature yet, but in 2020 we will be able to deliver you the records immediately as they come in.

Since we don’t have the feature yet, we can’t tell you how much it will benefit your e-commerce business. But with marketing and advertising in general, the sooner you can contact someone who’s visited your website or reached out in some way, the better. So intuitively, real-time collection will be beneficial, so you should plan to do it.

We’ll also be lowering the price of a lead to a starting cost of 15¢ (vs 25¢ now) if you don’t need a postal record.

That will lower CAC, and should make Email-Based Retargeting more efficient for you.

5. Tag the email addresses “,” and evaluate after 60 days

The last thing you need to make sure you do is label the addresses inside your ESP.

You’ll be able to look back over 60 days and see whether Email-Based Retargeting was profitable for you or not.

Feel free to email me any time about your test at adam[at]retention[dot]com.

We launched a month ago, so we’re still in learning mode. Any intel from you really helps.

The Two Whys of Email-Based Retargeting - Why We Created A New Category

“How do you get to be the leader? Be the first-est with the most-est.”

Jack Trout, Positioning 

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” 

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk

When explaining why we’re creating the Email-Based Retargeting category, there are two different whys to address:

  1. The Simon Sinek Why. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” In this case that means, aside from marketing advantages, why we’re doing what we’re doing with and Email-Based Retargeting in the first place.
  2. The Category Why. Why do the great marketers of our past think it’s accretive to revenue and enterprise value to create a category when creating and launching a product?

The Simon Sinek Why

We’re Democratizing Identification Monetization 

If you know what actually does (we identify anonymous web traffic and give you their email and postal address), the first question you probably have is, “Is that legal?” 

(The answer is yes, in the USA. Not anywhere else.)

Shortly thereafter you probably thought, “I’m emailing someone who was on my site but didn’t give me their info. Isn’t that too invasive?”

To answer this question, I would like to draw your attention to the data that Google collects about you every minute of every day.

We live in a world where invasiveness is so extreme that it’s difficult to get your head around it.

Here’s what Google can access and monetize*:

It’s hard to internalize just how invasive this is, but as a society, we seem to be fine with it. And that’s not even including Facebook or any other social media site that collects data about you.

Legally emailing someone to monetize a visit to your website isn’t nearly as invasive as monetizing even one of the bullet points listed above, let alone all of them at once, 24/7/365.

Not only that, Google and Facebook are monetizing visits to your website with the exact same technology we’re using to track visitors.

They’re making you pay over and over again for the same display and search retargeting clicks.

It’s time for you and your business to take advantage of that exact same identification technology, and monetize those visits for yourself. 

It’s time for you to start doing Email-Based Retargeting.

Now we’ll address the other why.

The Category Why

If you can create a category, do it

The best book on creating a category and why you should do so if you can is Positioning, by Al Reis and Jack Trout.

They write: “The easiest way into someone’s mind is to be first.” 

They defend their statement by asking if you know who the second person was to step foot on the moon or fly across the Atlantic, or what the second highest mountain in the world is. 

Point taken. 

What’s the easiest way to be first? 

To introduce a completely new thing, or way of doing something, and to introduce your product or service as the first product or service to do that thing.

Seth Godin addresses category creation in a slightly different way, but in my opinion, it’s just semantics. 

As Seth hypothesizes in The Dip, it’s imperative to be the “best in the world” at something. 

Creating a narrative that you’re the best in the world at something is simply creating a narrow category for your company or product to dominate.

Why did we think deserved its own category?

It’s new, it’s different, and no one has ever heard of it

Anthony Kennada, the founder of Gainsight, a category creator in the Customer Success space, made a checklist for deciding if your industry is right for category creation in his book called... you guessed it! Category Creation.

In his words, if you answer yes to all or even a few of these items on this checklist, category creation is right for you. 

  1. Little or no competitors in your space: check
  2. Low search volume/cheaper ad inventory: check
  3. No press or media coverage: check
  4. A marginalized buyer no company is paying attention to: this doesn’t really apply to us
  5. Small but passionate niche of people who get it: check
  6. Larger population of people who don’t get it (right away): check

Despite Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) becoming increasingly commoditized, actually does something completely new and different that no one has ever heard of.

At the same time, people are excited to hear about it. 

When they put the code on their website, it works. We send them email addresses they don’t have yet, of real people.

Those are the perfect ingredients for category creation, so we created Email-Based Retargeting.

4 Benefits of Category Creation

1. You get more market share

The most straightforward benefit of creating a category is that if you can continue to dominate that category, and not be dethroned by a “fast follower,” market share accrues to you.

The Harvard Business Review says companies that create categories enjoy 53 percent higher revenue growth and 74 percent higher market capitalization growth than their counterparts that “disrupt.”

2. If you develop the category properly, you can own a term in the mind of the market

In Positioning, the authors say that if you own a term in the mind of the market, the #2 brand that comes to mind will win half the market share, and #3 will be another half still. 

Today’s examples are actually even more profound than that. They’re completely monopolistic. 

Google for Search. Amazon for e-Commerce. Uber for Ride Sharing. Twitter for Tweeting. 

Examples that are closer to home for what we’re trying to do at are HubSpot for Inbound Marketing, Drift for Conversational Marketing, ClickFunnels for Sales Funnels, and MailChimp for Email Marketing. 

What about if you’re entering a crowded, established category? 

You can still own a term (or phrase) in the mind of the market by resegmenting the market.

Some great examples of recent niche plays by companies that I follow who have done a great job at resegmenting a crowded space are Convertkit (Email Marketing for Professional Bloggers), and Klaviyo (Email Marketing for Ecommerce). 

The beautiful part of owning a term in the mind of the market (or not-so-beautiful, depending on which side of it you’re on) is you don’t necessarily have to be the company that invented the product to own the term. But if you do own the term, your prospects are likely to think you were the innovator.

3. Publicity is easier in a new category than in a mature, crowded space

Publicity is easier for a category creator because journalists are always looking for something new to share with their audience.  

The proof seems to be in the pudding for this one. As of now, we’ve been able to line up appearances on 10 podcasts in a week, a co-promotion with AppSumo, and several help-a-reporter-out placements. 

I’m convinced there’s no way we could have lined up those appearances with our product in the email marketing space, which has been around for 15 years with more than 150 vendors.

4. You can cultivate a community that evangelizes your brand for you

Cultivating a community of brand champions who agree that you’re solving a valuable problem will help validate your category and grow the industry. 

This community takes time to develop, and starts with appealing to the human side of early adopters. 

Gainsight Founder Anthony Kennada points out that if you can cultivate a group of early adopters via educational content on your blog, featuring successful customers on your website, and hosting live events and conferences featuring early adopters as speakers. “Their support can create a network effect that propels category awareness and thought leadership into the marketplace, sparking a flywheel that will compound and gain momentum as time goes on.”

What can go wrong: Beware the “fast follower”

Pioneers often die with arrows in their backs.

Creating a category is the easy part. Developing it and defending your leadership position over the years is the hard part. 

Google has 91 percent market share in Search. They most certainly did not create the Search category.

Mailchimp is a great example in Email Marketing. They have become synonymous with the term over the years through building a great company and brand with a freemium strategy. But Constant Contact was the pioneer.

An innovative “fast-follower” can take advantage of the effort and capital you have invested in creating a category. With an educated market, it’s much easier to move quickly and take market share with innovative “us vs. them” marketing.

How do you defend your leadership position? 

Jack Trout and Al Ries say that you do it through brand. Position your product to be the standard by which every new product is compared to.

“The essential ingredient in securing the leadership position is getting into the mind first,” they write. “The essential ingredient in keeping the position is reinforcing the original concept.” 

The example they use is Coca-Cola. “The Real Thing” is a strategy every leader can employ. It immediately forces the prospect to judge any competitor by the standard Coca-Cola has set.

What’s the reality of actually doing that in today’s world? 

There’s an infinite supply of everything, new vendors are popping up left and right with newer, better products, and there are more low-cost ways to get initial virality to get products off the ground.

I believe the answer is still brand, but the definition has changed. 

Today, securing positioning takes so much more than a great tagline. Your brand is the value provided to your market through content, the community you cultivate around your product, your ability to attract talent and stay innovative, and the connection you can create between the people behind your product and the people behind the logos you’re selling to. 

Like most worthwhile things in life, it’s a slow, day-in and day-out grind that you can’t really tell is working in the short run, but something beautiful will ensue over the long term.

*courtesy of Dylan Curran at The Guardian

Listen to me and Helen talk about Email-Based Retargeting:

The Complete Guide to Email-Based Retargeting

At, we define Email-Based Retargeting as the following: 

Email-Based Retargeting uses identification technology - usually cookies or cross-device ID - to identify anonymous website visitors. 

Those visitors are matched to a partner network database of contact records (with opt-ins), and the end user is sent email addresses of people who are not already on their list.

Email-Based RetargetingThe last part of the definition - “... of people who are not already on your list” is what separates Email-Based Retargeting from all technology before it, such as Cart Abandonment, Category Abandonment, and Behaviorally Triggered Email. 

With Email-Based Retargeting (unlike display retargeting), the end user pays once and owns the contact record forever. As long as there is an opt-out link in the email, the end-user can email that contact record for as long as they wish.

Email-Based Retargeting is a new, incremental acquisition channel. 

EBR works behind the scenes. Most businesses can easily add EBR to the Email and Direct Mail Marketing that you are currently doing to grow customer acquisition.

FAQsHere are the answers to the 10 questions we get asked the most:

  1. Q: Is Retargeting legal? 
    A: Yes, in the USA. Not only is it legal, it’s aligned with Spamhaus’ best practices. Read more about that here.
  2. Q: Does the technology work outside the US?
    A: No, it does not. There are only US email addresses in our database.
  3. Q: How is this different than BounceX?
    A: BounceX sends more real-time emails to people on your list. Email-Based Retargeting sends you customer records of prospects, once a day, who are not yet on your list.
  4. Q: How should I initially engage with these prospects?
    A: A fairly simple welcome series (3-5 emails) is necessary to warm them up to your brand. Tell your story and be as human as possible. If you are an eCommerce brand, offer a store-wide discount. After the warm-up process, add them to your standard newsletter flow. We give you the landing page the prospect landed on, so you can be as sophisticated as you’d like.
  5. Q: How long does it usually take people to convert these emails into customers?
    A: These prospects are much higher up the sales funnel than the rest of your email list, who either opted-in or purchased something. It’s going to take more time to warm them up to your brand and convert them. It’s different for every company, but we encourage people to evaluate Email-Based Retargeting over a 45-60 day period.
  6. Q: What is the approximate customer acquisition cost from the Email-Based Retargeting channel?
    This varies dramatically from business to business. However, generically our eCommerce customers report around a $20-25 CAC from Email-Based Retargeting, in line with their CAC from social.
  7. Q: How much does Email-Based Retargeting cost?
    A: has plans starting at $19, which is around $25c per contact.
  8. Q: Do I have to pay for emails already on my list?
    A: No, you do not. You can upload a suppression list. We will do this automatically with your ESP integration.
  9. Q: What percentage of my traffic will you be able to identify through Email-Based Retargeting? How many emails will I get each day?
    A: We generally identify around 35% of all US-based traffic. We match a large percentage of that to our database, but it varies greatly by business.
  10. Q: What ESP’s do you integrate with?
    A: We are building out integrations to all major ESPs, and Zapier and Segment. If you don’t see your ESP here, shoot us a note at support [at] retention [dot] com.