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Digital Marketing

When Remarketing Goes Wrong

Disclaimer: I take every opportunity I can to talk about my dog.

I have a dog named Payton who is allergic to just about everything and eats a dog food prescribed by her vet as a result.


Prescription dog food isn’t cheap, but I have found a great website (that I will refer to as for their privacy) that offers it at a reasonable rate. To make things even better, I recently received a promotional email from them prompting me to “Time for a Reorder: Get 17% Off Your Reorder!”

At first I thought, Nice marketing,, you are aware I am due for a purchase and giving me a discount before I even think about checking other sites for prices.

I opened the email, saw an image of my Payton’s food, along with the name of it listed, and clicked through to the site to reorder it.

However, when I went to enter my “reorder” discount code to the shopping cart, I was notified that the code does not apply to prescription dog food…I figured there was a mistake since the email had shown me a picture of the prescription dog food alongside the coupon code.

I contacted, and sure enough – the code does not apply to prescription food. Their reasoning for the image was “automatic advertising.”

This episode is a prime example of both the positive and negative potential outcomes of “targeted automatic advertising” that we can learn from:

Positive: the email successfully converted me to a repeat customer (I had my Visa ready to go at check out!)

  • Add remarketing code to your site to safely cookie and target your visitors
  • Personalize remarketing emails and ads with timing, images, etc.
  • Offer discounts as an reward for loyalty

Negative: the mismatched email content and promo gave me a bad experience and did not result in a purchase

  • Ensure the remarketed ad content matches the promotion (automatic/mass advertising can make this challenging)
  • Ensure ad content is targeted to the user (organize your cookied visitors into targeted lists and audiences)
  • Ensure 100% functionality (test!)
  • Ensure ad matches delivery medium (the sites your ads appear on should be fitting, consider when users will see them)

My recent experience is just one of many mishaps a remarketing campaign can experience. So step back and think twice before investing in an “email blast” with a link to a non-mobile site knowing that a large portion of people check their emails on their phone!

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Allie Kelly

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