What’s up with retargeting

Retargeting is a new buzzword that is quickly spreading through the marketing community. Many online business owners have heard the term recently but aren’t quite sure what it means. I spent some time researching this fast-growing marketing technique and wanted to share my findings with you.

Let’s start with a common definition of retargeting. Retargeting, also commonly known as “behavioral retargeting” or “behavioral remarketing”, essentially means targeting ads and marketing efforts at consumers and prospects who have previously visited your website, but did not convert.

The key here is that you target your ads only at users who have visited your site, have had some kind of experience with your brand, and who are now considered “lost” users. Retargeting aims to bring those lost users back to you, using ads that can skip the “introduction to your brand” phase.

Anyone who sells anything on the web understands that converting is the number one goal. Retargeting allows you to go after those lost conversions, and some studies show that retargeting can increase conversion rates by up to 125%.

Keys To Successful Retargeting Campaigns

  1. Granular targeting: Being able to segment your visitors into small, tightly focused groups enables precise retargeting. For example, by knowing exactly which specific products and services your visitors engaged with on your site, you can later deliver those same product ad to that group of users.
  2. Working with ad networks who have the technology to track and use the information obtained to present retargeted ads across a large network of sites is essential to making this work. When a user visits your site, a cookie is dropped to track that user’s interests on your site. You share that cookie with your ad network, who in turn, serves relevant ads to that same user as he or she lands on any other site that uses that ad network to serve ads.
  3. Personalization of the ad is critical. You’ll set business rules to determine which ads get displayed (using dynamic content insertion) based on various factors, such as whether the user is a registered user of your site and has supplied you with an email address in the past, what phase of the buying cycle she is likely to be in, how many times she has visited and left without converting, etc.
  4. Careful and continuous analysis of web analytics is a must to create successful retargeting campaigns. Knowing which ads work, and which ads the user has seen too many times are equally vital. A good campaign will provide a variety of ads aimed at promoting the same thing to measure success and frequency caps to avoid ad burnout.
  5. Dynamic, customized landing pages work well. If a retargeted ad is successful in bring a user back to your site, acknowledging her return can welcome her and personalize the experience for her.
  6. Once a retargeted user converts, the cookie is removed, and the user falls out of the retargeting group.
  7. You can also use the same concept of retargeting in the social realm, though with admittedly less control, since you won’t be able to drop a cookie. You’ll also be limited to a narrow online world, but one which your users are likely spending most of their time. One of the big advantages of utilizing Facebook ads, for example, is that the ads can be targeted to highly specific groups.You can set up ads to target only Facebook users who have a relevant interest (or is a fan of a competitor), and who aren’t fans of you yet. Send them to a specific landing page. If they don’t convert (they don’t click the Like button), you can continue to show them a variety of different ads to remind them of your offer. You’ll also need to be careful to avoid ad burnout here, and may need to create shorter-term campaigns when retargeting within a social network. If your retargeting efforts succeed and a user converts, she’ll drop out of the user pool that you’re targeting with this group of ads.

Add Retargeting To The Marketing Mix

Marketers always want to supply the right ad to the right user at the right time. Sometimes, that means showing a generic display ad that introduces your brand to users who have never heard of you. Other times, you may show ads to search engine users with relevant PPC ads. Now, with retargeting, you can also show personalized ads to users who have already visited your site and failed to convert. Your brand is one they are already familiar with, so you can skip the introductions and move right to the phase of reminding them that they had considered one of your products in the recent past. Reminding “lost” users of your brand – and specific products – enables you to reach an audience that the other types of ads aren’t designed to reach.