When you’ve interacted with a web page in one way or another, it’s likely that you will be subjected to the site’s retargeting strategy. Most of us have noticed that after we’ve visited and left a website suddenly an ad from that website has appeared on the side of our Facebook newsfeed or on our Google search or on a completely unrelated news website. That pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing seems to be following you all over the web. Maybe it’s a sign you should buy them…or maybe it’s retargeting. Whether you’ve been online shopping recently for new shoes, cars, loans or even insurance, chances are you’ve been retargeted. But why is this happening and how does it work? And, more importantly, how can it help you drive traffic to your website and improve your conversion rates?
Retargeting is achieved primarily by using cookies on a web user’s device that are read and retrieved in different ways by scripts embedded in a website. Here are the different types of retargeting and what you need to know about them for your business:
- Site Retargeting – by placing a simple web code on your website you can enable an anonymous cookie to be dropped into a visitor’s browser. Now your retargeting provider will know where and when to place an ad the next time the visitor goes on the web.
- Search Retargeting – when people search in Google (or any search engine) using keywords that relate to your business, assumptions about the visitor’s purchasing behavior and intentions are made. Obviously, just because someone searches for “Lexus” doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to buy a Lexus, but as online shopping rates continue to climb so does the need for Search Retargeting.
- Email Retargeting – it is important with Email Retargeting to differentiate the recipients who merely open the email from those who open the email and then click on a call-to-action or landing page. Just because someone opens the email doesn’t mean they are interested.
- CRM Retargeting (Data Onboarding) – CRM Retargeting utilizes your offline customer data to reach customers through online ads any time they are online, rather than just after a visit to your website.
- Dynamic Retargeting – uses search terms that the visitor used before getting to your site and then which areas on your site they visited. This can help create assumptions on the reason for visiting.
- Social Retargeting – social retargeting is most prevalently done with Facebook and targets visitors who have interacted with your company page somehow using keywords.
Since visitors have expressed an interest in a company’s service or similar products, on some level, retargeting can be highly effective if done right with the proper marketing strategy. However, it is critical to develop an effective customer use case for when, how, and why to deploy retargeting campaigns – and when you should stop.
For example, retargeting campaigns highlighting items that have been abandoned in a website’s shopping cart can be highly effective reminders to make a purchase… But once the customer has already made their purchase, remember to turn off that campaign or let it hibernate if the product is something that should be repurchased at regular intervals, like a coupon for an oil change. Or, in a B2B context, changing ad creative to feature different white papers based on what a web visitor may have already consumed.
Finally, be careful not to cross the line into appearing creepy. No one wants to be stalked, so capping impression frequencies is important. Similarly, if a website doesn’t have a concrete conversion process such as an online purchase, avoiding assumptions about visitor behavior that are too broad, can help you steer clear of poor reactions from visitors such as, “Good grief, I went to that home page once by accident, and now they follow me everywhere.”
Yes, there are horror stories, but there are also some terrific examples of how well retargeting can work. With some careful planning of how your customers and prospects engage with you online and offline, retargeting becomes a very effective weapon in your multichannel marketing arsenal.