Retargeting, like so many other aspects of marketing, data and targeting, if done well, is simply good customer service. But those who do it badly create an impression of something much more sinister.
On average, 98% of first-time visitors to a website leave without making a purchase. That’s a huge number – in fact, it’s nearly everyone – so converting as large a portion as possible of the 98% is a significant strategic objective for a broad range of businesses.
That’s where retargeting comes in. It is an increasingly widespread, highly targeted online conversion tool which allows you to keep your products or brand in front of potential customers who have visited your website, but left during the buying process before purchasing any product. It is an important strategic component for any online retailers and, similarly, for those businesses which use websites to attract customers.
What is retargeting?
Though retargeting has evolved into a number of different forms, this blog focuses primarily on site retargeting.
The retargeting process works through a simple piece of code that sits, unseen by visitors, on your website, or possibly on your newsletter or digital ads. This code (“retargeting pixel”) has no effect on your website’s performance, but simply drops a cookie onto your new visitor’s browser.
This browser cookie is the vital element of technology that allows you to “follow” your non-buying prospect across the internet. Once they have left your site, when they go back on line and browse the internet, the cookie lets your retargeter know that they have appeared on another site. If there is available ad space on that site, your retargeter will bid for the space, and, if they are the highest bidder, the ad will run.
Though it sounds cumbersome, the whole automated process occurs in real-time so it takes just a fraction of a second for the ad space to be bought. Your ad then appears immediately on the third party’s website as the page loads up.
Clearly the same process can be adopted for those of your visitors who have actually purchased something from your site – in which case your strategy is to get them back to your website to buy more from you.
Are there any data compliance issues?
If you are using site retargeting, it is essential that your website is cookie compliant. The retargeting cookie will store the site visit data, but does not store any sensitive information, such as the visitor’s name or address. In other words, the browser cookie is anonymous (the IP address – for now at any rate – is not considered personal data).
However, to be compliant, your website must, as a minimum, inform and all visitors that cookies are used, and explain the purposes for which those cookies are used – including the fact that they are used to target advertising material.
Who can use retargeting
Clearly retargeting is a great tool for e-commerce. But any business which uses a website to attract visitors with the intent of gaining engagement of some form should consider retargeting as part of their prospect conversion strategy.
For example, it’s a terrific tool for B2B marketing, where the sales process may take some time. Making sure that a prospect continues to see ads for your website while they are going through their own reviews and evaluations is a great way to stay in the front of their minds.
It is also helpful for charities who can continue to keep their causes very much in the forefront of their visitors’ minds even after they have left the website. Schools marketing is a little like B2B in that the parents take somewhat longer to consider the best school for their child – so it is a helpful branding tool and opportunity to remind parents of your particular USPs, and keep them at the front of their minds.
Basically retargeting works well for any business who relies on a website to gain customers, donors or sales.
Key considerations for retargeting success or failure
There are a number of key factors which must be considered and optimised when setting up a retargeting campaign. The main points are summarised below:
- Generally we advise that clients use different ads for different pages of the website to ensure appropriate ads and offers are made
- Creative approach needs to be
- Concise, clear and clickable to ensure maximum engagement
- Consistent branding keeps your brand fresh in the prospect’s mind
- Ongoing fresh or rotated creative approach avoids response wear-out
- Number and frequency of advertisements is critical
- Too many will annoy and / or worry your visitors
- Too few will not serve the purpose of keeping you in the forefront of visitors’ minds
- Retargeting customers who have already bought the product you are advertising is sure to aggravate and alienate your customer. So, once a customer has bought from you, either change the creative or omit them from your retargeting campaign.
- Choose the right retargeting provider
- One provider is better than many as you won’t be competing with yourself for ad space and driving prices up accordingly
- Test and measure results for future retargeting refinements
- Repeat visitor rates
- Sales analysis
- ROI analysis – which should be broken down by campaign and tests, for example (as illustrated below):
- Creative tests
- Frequency tests
- Price and offer tests
What makes retargeting so effective?
It has always been relatively expensive to gain a new customer, and far less so to persuade an existing customer or warm prospect to convert. That’s why retargeting is so effective in ROI terms. The cost relates to people who have already deliberately chosen to look at your brand, products, prices or offers. This means that you are simply targeting those who have a demonstrated interest in something you are offering, but for some reason have hesitated before actually making the purchase. Retargeting is a means of tipping them over the edge and persuading them to buy. The usual marketing tactics continue to apply – such as the use of discounts, free delivery and so on.
Retargeting is just one piece of the total marketing strategy
Of course, there’s no point in having a clever conversion strategy if you do not have the volume of website visitors to convert. Retargeting is a great conversion tool, but unless people can actually find your website, they won’t visit and you can’t target them. So there is still a need to drive visitors to your site through appropriate channels – affiliates, newsletter, press, social, TV, radio, content, Adwords, keywords, direct mail, leaflets, email and so on – as illustrated below.
So what do think? There’s a fine line between good customer service and the concept of individual lack of privacy, combined with a feeling that large corporations are spying on us when we use our computers.
My own view is that if retargeting is handled compliantly and sensibly, it can only make sense to offer people goods or services that are of interest. And I genuinely believe that if businesses have not yet started looking at retargeting themselves, they will be missing out on activity that has significant ROI benefits.
Whether you agree or disagree, or if you have a story to tell, just reply below and let’s start a conversation.
© Victoria Tuffill July 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Illustrations may not be used without written consent.