Self-evident truth, bounce rates (visitor leaving after viewing less than 1 page) and cart abandonment rates (visitor initiating the purchasing process but leaves the funnel) are high. In fact, the average abandonment rate is 67.4%, according to a Hubspot study.

Still, abandoners are very valuable. They have showed interest in your products and are, compared to first-time visitors, more likely to buy to convert. To bring them back, marketers have a myriad of tools (Google, Criteo and so many more) at their disposal to remarket (or retarget) them.

Although visitors sometimes find them annoying, retargeting ads actually work: they show an average click-through rate 10x higher than display ads and the chances of a retargeted visitor to convert increases by 70%.

Retargeting email campaigns (like cart recovery emails) also seem to yield good results. Triggered email open rates (around 50%) are four times higher than newsletter open rates.

These kinds of off-site retargeting campaigns are widely used by marketers. Off the beaten track, however, lies on-site remarketing.

What is on-site remarketing?

As opposed to off-site remarketing, on-site remarketing occurs during navigation, before a visitor has left. The idea is simple: instead of waiting for a visitor to leave (triggering remarketing), messages and content is added to the session in order to reduce abandonment rate in the first place.

On-site remarketing can come in many shapes and forms: pop-ins, banners, tooltips, product recommendation, etc. On-exit intent pop-ins, triggered when visitors are about to leave (i.e. cursor moves outside the upper page boundary), are prime examples of on-site re-engagement, as an ultimate attempt to keep them on the website. Nevertheless, there are many other ways to remarket visitors earlier in the navigation - and in a less disturbing way.

Here are a few examples you can adopt and easily adapt to different industries and businesses:

Boost cross-selling and special operations

Say you are running a special operation on a specific product category: “For every 1 item purchased, get 50% off the second”. If a product of the category is added to the basket, display the discount offer in a pop-in or on the basket page.

Create urgency with a countdown banner

It’s no secret that the fear of missing out on a bargain is a powerful way of increasing sales and reducing cart abandonment. Only display on product pages when there are less than 10 hours left.

Email recuperation on exit intent

If basket value is above £70 and the visitor is unknown, display a pop-in when the visitor is about to leave the website. Ask for an email address to get a basket summary by email. This will allow you to keep the conversation going.

What are the benefits?

Take action earlier in the customer journey

The earlier the better! Say traffic is water and the funnel is like a leaky bucket. The earlier you fix a leak, the more water/traffic, and subsequently conversions, is saved. At the end of the day, a 1% increase in conversion rates now is better than 1% later.

Changes are also more sustainable: whereas the added value of off-site remarketing stops as soon as you stop a campaign, website improvements will last longer.

Message is displayed in context

Off-site retargeted ads are displayed externally. They appear as ads, are often disliked by visitors and sometimes even blocked. As a matter of fact, 20.3% of display ads were blocked in the UK in 2015. Sounds huge but it’s actually the average in Europe.

On the contrary, on-site messages are pushed in your branded environment and echo better with visitor expectation. They are helpful and can even facilitate the purchasing process. Their appearance is therefore considered as more relevant, legitimate and less disturbing. If they are an integral part of the customer experience, rest assured they will never be blocked.

On-site remarketing has a comparatively low impact on budget

Whereas off-site campaigns are conditioned to a budget, on-site remarketing campaigns don’t imply any variable costs. 

How to start on-site remarketing?

Write the hypothesis - Just like with every testing or personalisation campaign, write down a hypothesis and set up accurate goals and KPIs. Be clear with what the problem is and how the new message/content is going to help solve the problem.

Create the design - Depending on tools at your disposal and the complexity of the project, time spent on creating the design varies.

Find the appropriate targeting - Just like classic off-site remarketing, targeting plays a huge role in building successful campaigns. Timely triggered remarketing messages are much more likely to be perceived as relevant and produce good yields. On the contrary, pop-ins that blow up in your face as soon as you land on a page, are extremely irritating and would often backfire (partly because their content and targeting conditions are too generic).

Targeting should take specific behaviours and contexts into account. Personalisation is not just about content, it’s very much about timing. A lot of criteria are available and can be crossed into a virtually infinite number of combinations: number of page views, time spent, click on a specific link, cart value, number of products added to cart, etc. Advanced users can reuse CRM and DMP data or even code their own conditions.

The point here is not to get rid of off-site remarketing. No, off-site and on-site remarketing are very complementary concepts and one does not replace the other: they occur at different stages in the purchase process, when visitors are more or less sensitive to one or the other, etc. To a certain extent, they even have different purposes. For example, off-site remarketing serves brand awareness – which could never be achieved through on-site remarketing. Both techniques aim to re-engage visitors and work hand in hand to boost conversion rates.


By Arthur Rabier, marketer at AB Tasty


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