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What’s The Difference Between Cart Abandonment Retargeting and Remarketing

What’s The Difference Between Cart Abandonment Retargeting and Remarketing


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*Spoiler alert*  There is no difference. Let us explain why.
Cart abandonment can pose a challenge for online businesses. Our latest abandonment stats show that around 79% of people who add an item to their shopping cart don’t complete their purchase in that session.

Now, the first thing to say is that some of this 79% are may never buy, or certainly aren’t looking to buy on that visit.
However, for the majority of the people who abandon on your website, they are putting their hand up and confessing to an interest in your products in general, or specific items they may have browsed.
This kind behavioral data is the stuff of marketer’s dreams, and this is why so many brands use remarketing and retargeting campaigns to reconnect with people who haven’t purchased yet.
As the market develops, it’s at risk of becoming more complicated… with email retargeting and display remarketing… and email remarketing and display retargeting… but what’s the difference?
Well, the two terms (remarketing and retargeting) have been confused over the years.
Some have sought to define remarketing as email-based, while retargeting refers to the use of display ads and networks, but in truth there are no obvious distinctions. Both terms refer to the targeting of shoppers who abandon purchases, using behavioral data from their site visit.
The term remarketing covers more than just abandoned cart emails, while even Google refers to its own product (which uses display) using the term remarketing.
One understanding is that retargeting is serving ads to visitors on third party sites based on cookies, while remarketing is usually carried out via email marketing.
In this blog I will attempt to answer what is remarketing, and any subtle differences between remarketing and retargeting. For the sake of repetition (and typing pain), I’ll take Google’s lead and call it remarketing.

So, what is cart abandonment retargeting and remarketing?

Put simply. Retargeting or remarketing is the process of re-engaging with visitors to your website who show an interest in your products, service or solution.
The basic premise is that having spent a countless amount of time, money and effort to attract visitors to your website, it makes sense to engage the 95-99% who don’t convert on that visit (stats below).
After all, and forgive me for using a SaleCycle tagline here, ‘they came to your site for a reason.’

So, allow me to introduce you to the remarketing toolset to re-engage with visitors to your website. I’ll start with the most commonly associated type:

Display Remarketing (aka Display Retargeting)

Display remarketing is the process of showing ads to people who have visited your website and leave without buying.
These shoppers can be shown display ads showing the product viewed, sometimes with a discount or special offer, to tempt the customer back to the site.
Here’s an example from Virgin Atlantic, where visitors who have left without booking are shown ads on third party websites which are viewed later.

Banner/display ads have gained a bad reputation, and they don’t always perform well but retargeting increases their effectiveness, thanks to the relevance of the product shown to the person viewing the ad.
The average click through rate for display ads is around 0.07%. For retargeted ads, it’s 0.7%.

Remarketing Abandoned Cart Emails

Email remarketing is the process of reconnecting with someone via email, once they have abandoned your website.
The most common use-case is cart abandonment emails, providing a handy route back to customers who add items to their shopping cart and then leave without completing their purchase.
The concept works equally well for non-traditional shopping carts too, be it an abandoned credit card form, or abandoned bookings.
Sent around an hour after a booking is abandoned, it reminds customers that they are ‘so close’ to finishing their booking and makes it as easy as possible for them to secure their seat.

With a 59% open rate and $29 generated from every single email sent, these are not your average fire and forget bulk email send.

On-Site Remarketing (aka On-Site Retargeting)

On-site remarketing is the process of identifying or anticipating the moment someone is about to abandon while still on your website and displaying a message to either tempt them to stay and make purchase there and then, or to make it easier for them to come back in the future.
Triggered by mouse movements exiting the website frame (desktop) or a pre-defined idle time (tablets and mobile) the message you can see below tempts customers to either continue where they’ve left off – or enter their email address and receive a handy reminder for when it’s more convenient (remember those email stats?).
on-site conversion messaging

SMS Remarketing

Much like email retargeting, SMS Remarketing targets shoppers who leave without completing a booking or purchase. The difference is that these messages are delivered by SMS.
With so many people now wedded to their mobile phones, SMS is a highly responsive channel, which can out-perform email in terms of CTR.
SMS remarketing messages are opened within 90 seconds on average, compared to 90 minutes for email. These messages have an open rate of 98% with 90% of messages opened within three minutes.
By sending SMS messages 30 minutes after an abandoned booking, Thorpe Park increased its online sales by 5%.

32% of SMS recipients clicked on the messages, and almost 7% returned to complete their purchase.

So in conclusion, what is the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

The same answer as in the first stanza applies here, there is no difference. However, when done well, remarketing can be a pretty damn effective technique and form an important part of the customer buying journey.

Whether you decide to call it remarketing or retargeting, the principle is the same.

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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.