Freelance UX Consultant & Designer

Reimagining Email Remarketing with Ve Interactive


At a glance

Research lead our team to use a mix of 1) personas, 2) Jobs to be Done, and 3) the Laws of Persuasion to frame two ideation workshops aimed at innovating Ve’s cart recovery email template. By addressing broad cart abandonment themes (not specific persona cases), we designed email componentes that were A/B tested and refined over time.


Services I provided

Workshop facilitation
Visual design
Project planning

Project Type

Product design


SaaS Platform


Email remarketing (or cart recovery emails) are a great tool for recovering lost online revenue. It’s safe to assume that we’re all familiar with this strategy, as it’s a cornerstone for big online retailers like Urban Outfitters or Asos, and small businesses like Holstee, Chubbies, or Bonobos. For context: 70% of online carts are abandoned.


Email remarketing, in a nutshell, is a series of emails that trigger when a user puts a few items in their online basket, proceeds to checkout, and then abandons the web page (before completing their transaction). An hour (or day) later, an email’s delivered to that client’s inbox reminding them of the ‘2 items left in your cart.’


We discovered two main strategies when trying to combat abandonment: 1) preventing someone from abandoning their cart (proactively), or 2) trying to recapture them after they’ve abandoned (reactively). Here at Ve, we focused on the latter-- as this project was designed to innovate our cart recovery email template (reactively).


Bringing someone back to their cart takes an understanding of why they’ve left. We began by analysing the five key eCommerce personas put forward by the Nielsen Norman Group:


  1. Browsers - these are leisurely shoppers looking for new products, or killing time online

  2. One time shoppers - these shoppers have no intention to visit the site after their initial purchase (think: shopping with a gift card)

  3. Product focused - these shoppers know exactly what they want, and have a clear goal in mind

  4. Researchers - these shoppers are collecting information for a future purchase

  5. Bargain hunters - these shoppers are hunting for the best possible deal


We then focused on two specific stages of the eCommerce buying cycle: the ‘decision’ and ‘purchasing’ stages. Our persona’s behaviour was analysed within those specific situations.


We noticed decisions are emotional, everyone goes about their process in a personal way. But actually making a purchase is clinical; there are very standard and straightforward steps to go through to complete checkout. Consider the following scenario:


You’re shopping at your local supermarket-- you grab a few apples, a bag of cashews, browse the shelves, and make your way to self-checkout (how you browse is emotional and persona focused). You’ve scanned your items, reach for your wallet, and just before sliding your card (the payment process is clinical and Jobs to be Done focused) you suddenly leave the store.


Every persona needs to cross the ‘decision threshold,’ and once they do they’re very focused on the job at hand (which is checkout). With that in mind, we asked ourselves why a job would fail? What specific things would make someone leave the supermarket?

Ideation and workshops

There are a million reasons. All unique cases. All very specific instances. Rather than focusing on the detail, we abstracted up a layer to find common themes. Within an hour workshop, we individually listed detailed reasons why each persona might abandon their cart, and found commonalities by affinity mapping.


This helped us design for every case (on a higher level) than addressing very persona-specific pain points. Again, we’re designing a single email template that helps get the job done.


The top five themes of cart abandonment:

  • Price
  • Lack of commitment
  • Security concerns
  • Poor technology
  • Human Interruption

Understanding these broad themes helped streamline our one-day ideation workshop. We weren’t designing for individual personas, but designing a vehicle that helps get the job done.


Our workshop consisted of four product designers. We began by understanding the background research, agreed on our five reasons for abandonment, and underwent an extensive competitor analysis (seeing how well do other emails address our five main abandonment issues).


Ultimately we’re trying to persuade a purchase-- that’s what success looks like for our email design. So we ideated using the Six Laws of Persuasion:


  1. Law of reciprocity - doing someone a favour, means they’ll want to pay you back

  2. Law of commitment and consistency - people want their actions to mimic their beliefs and self-image (they want to do what they’ll say they’ll do)

  3. Law of liking - the most successful salespeople are those that’re liked

  4. Law of scarcity - the lower the supply, the higher the demand

  5. Law of authority - people respect those with an important message, an effective style, and a platform from which to speak

  6. Law of social proof - people like to do what others are doing around them


The rest of our ideation workshop consisted of the following exercises:

  • Crazy eights: each theme for abandonment was solved using a law of persuasion (or multiple laws of persuasion)

  • Group sharing: each workshop member presented their solutions to the group, while other group members took note of approaches / ideas they liked

  • Individual email creation: each workshop member created a full email using their own persuasion components and those they noted from the prior round (ending with four individual email designs)

  • Group email creation: coming together as a group, we crafted one solid design using the ideas, components, and thinking of the entire workshop


Why this helped: using the proven Laws of Persuasion, our solutions were rooted in effective psychological tactics. This gave us a strong business case when presenting our solutions back to the Product Manager and Developers


Testing and implementation

Post workshop, with wireframes and designs in hand we approached our Product Manager and Development team. Rather than testing the entire new template, we resorted back to our individual components. We’re injecting an individual component into every recovery email over the course of the next three months. By taking a systematic approach, our A/B testing will help us which specific component was successful, and which need rethinking.


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