A beginner’s guide to remarketing

What is remarketing?

Remarketing is a method used in ecommerce that aims to win back visitors who do not make a desired action, most often  when they abandon their shopping carts.

If a visitor to a retailers’ site does not end up making a purchase, there can be a number of reasons for this.

According to data from SaleCycle, cart abandonment is on the rise (by 15% to 75.6% this year).

The reasons for these abandonments?

  • A whopping 28% of these abandonments are caused due to unexpected shipping costs.
  • 23% due to having to create an account before purchasing.
  • 16% because the path to purchase was just conducted as research.
  • 13% because of payment security concerned.
  • 12% because of a confusing checkout process.

Now retailers can improve certain aspects of the sales and checkout process to address some of these issues. They can be more upfront with shipping costs, ensure that customers have a guest checkout option, and address usability issues.

Other solutions may be less obvious. Some customers just aren’t ready to buy, some may be researching for later possible purchases.

This is where remarketing can help. It can provide a push to nudge a visitor into making a purchase, or else provide an incentive for them to return to buy items in future.

Let’s look at some common remarketing techniques which can help to tempt visitors back:

Basket abandonment emails

One way of winning customers back who abandon a purchase is through basket abandonment emails.

These emails remind a user of the items they were planning to buy (or at least added to their shopping basket) and encourage them to complete their purchase.

Stats show that these kinds of emails can generate a 4.1% sales uplift, with a 47% open rate and 31% conversion from click rate.

This is an example from Ralph Lauren:


What should a remarketing email look like?

  • It should have a clear subject line (so it doesn’t get lost within all the other marketing emails).
  • It should show the abandoned items in the email (you could also reveal how many are left in stock to encourage a speedy purchase).
  • They can emphasise the site’s (hopefully great) returns policy.
  • Most importantly: these emails should provide a link that goes directly to the checkout to make the process as smooth as possible,

It’s also really important to personalise. Forever 21’s remarketing emails are a great example of this:




On-site remarketing

Another way of remarketing is on-site. This is more of a preventative measure which involves the use of on-screen messages to help visitors continue their journey to purchase.

This is a way that brands can deliver effective customer service-oriented messages to engage and help visitors along the buying journey.

Examples include customer reviews, recommendations, live chat, call back and “email my basket” messages.




Which method is more effective, and why?

Does on-site remarketing have an advantage over basket abandonment emails? I asked SaleCycle’s head of marketing Chris Sheen for some answers:

“I’m going to sit on the fence and say that to run a really successful remarketing campaign, brands need to use a combination of both on-site and email remarketing!

Cart abandonment emails have been in the mainstream for a number of years now and are typically a brand’s most successful email campaign when it comes to driving revenue. These are hot prospects (!) – people who’ve shown real buying intent without hitting the all important purchase button… so it’s virtually a no-brainer to send them a timely email to tempt them back.

Brands see conversion rates (from send) upwards of 5% for these emails which is simply off the charts when compared to typical newsletter or promotion driven email campaigns.

And yet… of all those cart abandoners… email is only able to target around 10-15% of them. The 10-15% who’ve left an email behind.

This is where on-site remarketing plays well into the mix. Helping to influence the remainder of the abandoners to go ahead with their purchase there and then (by adding a bit of urgency or incentivising with an offer perhaps) or providing their email address so they can come back to their purchase later.


Put it all together and it’s a pretty effective way of remarketing to those people who have gone a long way through the buying cycle but maybe just need a little nudge…”


7 useful cart abandonment facts and statistics

According to SaleCycle, who have tracked more than one billion online cart abandonments over a period of 5 years:

Abandonment is on the rise
Since 2010, online abandonment has risen by nearly 15% (from 61.4% in 2010 to 75.6% in 2015)

Travel has the highest abandonment rate
…at 80.1%, followed by retail (70.4%) and fashion (67.6%)

Abandonment is lowest at Christmas
…and during other sale periods like Black Friday

Most abandonments happen on a Tuesday, between 8-9pm
…28% of those abandonments were made because of unexpected shipping costs and 23% were made because users had to create an account

On-site remarketing reduces abandonments
…and generates a 3.1% sales uplift

Email remarketing recovers abandonments
…and generates a 4.1% sales uplift

A sale is never lost
In 2013, one customer waited 18 months after abandoning before clicking on the remarketing email and completing their purchase.

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