Retargeting (or remarketing) is creepy, but it sure works

Retargeting has been described as “turning window shoppers into buyers,” something that every business craves.
But this actually isn’t the best analogy – perhaps more of an overeager sales clerk who helps you in the store, then accompanies you to several other stores, all the while telling you what you’re missing out on.

You may call it a little creepy. The sales associate may call it being pleasantly persistent. Digital marketing experts call it a smart, effective method to encourage customers to learn about a product or business, and then be reminded about it later, and once again for good measure.

For those aren’t entirely sure what retargeting is, the short version is that it’s the ability for an advertiser to “follow” you when you visit their site, and have their ads appear on other pages you visit after you’ve departed. The frequency varies, but it explains why ads reappear for places you just visited on the Web or social media, even though the site you’re currently connected to may not have anything to do with that particular topic.

Far more than mere coincidence, (or in case you might have envisioned an advertiser with an unlimited budget who is keenly aware of the sites you visit), retargeting is a way to constantly remind customers about a particular business.

It also works: according to CMO, Adobe’s marketing blog, businesses typically see a 2 percent rate of people visiting and buying. But when retargeting is in place, all sorts of good things can happen, including a 400 percent increase in ad response, and 3 out of 5 buyers saying they notice ads on other sites. Those are impressive results.

Retargeting also isn’t terribly annoying – 25 percent of people surveyed had a positive or very positive reaction to seeing extra ads, compared to 19 percent who dislike them, and 57 percent who are neutral on the notion of retargeting.

For marketers considering adding the practice to your greater digital strategy, here’s what you should know:

 

How retargeting works

The mechanics of retargeting ads are pretty simple. On your home page or any inside page, you include a bit of invisible Javascript code at the footer. When visitors arrive at your site, your script will send a browser cookie to their phones or desktops. When they visit other pages in the future, the cookie will instruct the page to call and display your ad in one of the page’s available ad slots.

Retargeting requires working with a remarketing company, which usually is a member of common digital ad exchanges, and can help you craft your message. Social media channels like Facebook have their own process for targeting or retargeting, which can include ads on the right –hand column, or in your news feed.

When you establish your retargeting campaign, you’re able to configure how often your ad is displayed, be it every time visitors go to another page; or possibly, every fifth site they visit; when a certain keyword shows up (such as shoes). This also begs the question, “Does that style of ads end if the customer goes back to your site and buys something, or does it expire after a week or longer?”

AdRoll, a popular online provider, has confirmed that different subjects can require different timing when setting-up your unique campaigns. It recommends that people seeking travel info should be retargeted immediately, while those who are more interested in specific retail goods may not need to see these ads as frequently.

Some retargeting services allow you to get even more hands-on in your ad. ReTargeter, another option, said some people prefer self-serve campaigns, where they design all the aspects of their program, from the sizes of ads to where they appear. This may be better for your budget, however it may elicit more of a technical challenge than seeking a full-serve provider. The following include different types of retargeting, with varying strategies for various industries:

Health Care Retargeting

Pew Research study stated that 72 percent of Internet users tried to find health info during the past year. To counter the sometimes “iffy” results on various sites, there are also a variety of useful resources that have a stake in providing searchers with adequate details, including community health providers, along with plenty of pharmaceutical companies who don’t want anyone to forget their product.

According to HealthCareCommunication, retargeting allows health info seekers to do their homework, while returning slightly more educated about a specific topic. For instance, an individual may visit a site for their local doctor or hospital to learn about a particular procedure, and then, in turn, visit other sites to explore the topic further. Following all of this research, seekers will be prepared to be return to their initial site, hopefully with more knowledge.

Providers are advised to include a call to action – ask people to do something – and not have a retargeting campaign last longer than 30 days.

Hospitality/Tourism Retargeting

We’re all familiar with the frugal traveler who goes out of his/her way to spend as little as possible when on the road. On the other hand, there are those who stimulate the local economy with plenty of purchases of food and lodging, car rentals, souvenirs, and other expenditures. Either way, much of a traveler’s research is performed online, especially when comparing prices and making reservations.

If you’re a travel business, Trooz, a travel marketing site, suggests that a retargeting service can help you partner with other related businesses, especially of the higher-priced variety. That way, if you represent an inexpensive B&B, you may still target customers who visit airfare or local travel sites. In addition, you might also consider a service that includes international visitors.

Restaurants, another part of the industry, also have the potential to reap benefits. Restaurantnews.com confirms that those who click on your ads will already be familiar with you and what you offer, resulting in a stronger lead, rather simply than trying to tell the world that your brand exists. Throw in a coupons or a deal, and position your company in an even more exciting manner to fellow restaurant fans.

Retail Retargeting

Here’s where retargeting/remarketing really is a winner. If an item catches a shoppper’s eye, but he/she say “better not,” retargeting gives brands a second, third, and even fourth chance to talk the potential buyer into their purchase. Since so much of shopping can be deemed an impulse buy, a merchant can retarget shoppers by frequency alone, with phrases such as, “Are you sure?”, or, “Are you still thinking about these snazzy boots?” In addition, retargeting can be used to highlight items in an online shopping cart that that a prospective purchaser may have abandoned. With a reminder that the items are still waiting to be purchased, it’s not as difficult to successfully complete the transaction.

Based on the popularity of retargeting, there’s plenty of potential to include it as component of your marketing plan. Some experts warn not to rely too much on this singular service at the expense of other marketing options, but it has the potential to help extend your reach and politely nudge your audience in a desired direction.

Still have questions about retargeting, and considering a potential partner to lend industry expertise to your campaign? Contact our team of digital marketing experts to help close more sales – and drive-up revenue – for your brand.

To check out more of our media planning strategies, visit our Media services page.