Retargeting: What Is It and Should You Be Using It?


retargeting ads onlineIf you market your products and services online, then you are going to be interested in retargeting, particularly, when you hear how effective it can be.  Retargeted ads…

  • …show engagement rates 2.5 to 3 times higher than non-targeted ad campaigns among the same customer base.
  • …to be the most effective method of driving prospects back to a website.

Couple these results with the facts that only about 2% of your website visitors take any action on the first visit, retargeting can be a way for you to reconnect with the remaining 98%.

BUT before you dive head first into the tactics of retargeting, you need to understand the mechanics and requirements so retargeting works for you and not against you.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is exactly what the name implies…you re-market yourself to previous website visitors.

Through advertising you continue to follow previous website visitors until they take a desired action, until you no longer are running the ads or drop this audience from your campaign.

If you spend any time or purchase anything online, then you’ve seen retargeting ads.  You’ll have this sense that a particular ad is following all of your online moves.

How does Retargeting work?

Retargeting is pretty simple.  It uses cookie tags that you place on select web pages or on your entire website.  As visitors visit your site, that tag creates a ‘cookie’ in visitors’ browser.  Your visitors are then followed to other sites that are included in your selected retargeting network and your ads appear when your previous visitors visit these sites.

When your visitor does convert, a “burn pixel” fires and this individual is taken out of the retargeting audience.

How is Retargeting Measured?

Retargeting uses ‘click-through’ and ‘view-through’ conversions.  Click-through conversions happen when your target clicks on a retargeted ad that has been served to them.  View-through conversions are those who were served your retargeted ad at one point, but delayed taking action.

Upside of Retargeting

The distinct advantage that retargeting advertising has over online banner advertising is that it is truly targeted.  These folks visited your website, but for whatever reason, where not enticed to take action.  The reappearance of you (your ad) acts as a gentle reminder that you are still a possible option.

This repeated exposure works for retargeting just as it has worked for all forms of traditional advertising.  Remember, it often takes between 7 – 10 exposures before your audience actually become aware of your ad.

Another pro is that you can tailor your ads to follow the typical purchasing process.  As an example, you can tailor a set of ads to build brand awareness t targeting first time visitors and another set of ads to present more frequent visitors with coupon offers or additional products.

Plus you can control which sites carry your retargeting ads.  If a site isn’t working, you can drop it off the list.  You have a lot of control over who does or does not see your ads.

Downside of Retargeting

Retargeting campaigns are time intensive to do right.  You need to constantly be testing and tweaking the ads, the landing pages, the formats, etc. for it to deliver the best results.  If you don’t have the time to do retargeting correctly, wait until you do.  Otherwise, you run the risk of your efforts falling flat.

Retargeting also takes time to work.  The reported sweet spot of retargeting campaigns are those where your previous visitors see your add 7 – 10 times over a 30 day period, but there is a delicate balance.  Repeated exposure to the same ad, over and over, can become irritating to your audience.

It also requires customized landing pages and tailored messages.  This type of advertising requires ‘branded’ creative versus the typical call to action ads you might associate with Facebook advertising.

Retargeting seems to work best with large audiences.  This means you need to have a lot of visitors to your website (ballpark of 1,000 a day) in order to have this technique be effective.

Should you be using Retargeting for your marketing ?

There is no doubt that retargeting works.

The question is, as it always with any marketing; do you have the bandwidth to do it correctly?  If not, wait until you do.

In the meantime, make certain you have all of the online basics up-to-snuff.

  • A website that works
  • Email opt-ins that build your subscriber base
  • Fresh content that speaks to your audience and that helps build more traffic

After you have the basics nailed down, then take a hard look at retargeting and follow the proven best practices for all marketing:

  • Have a clear goal
  • Understand who you are trying to reach and what matters to them
  • Have content, creative that speaks to directly to that audience in a compelling way
  • Have a pretty good idea of which sites they will most likely visit
  • Track, measure and tweak so you can improve your efforts

Your Turn

Are you ready to start a retargeting campaign?

Have you used this approach in the past?  What were your results?

What questions do you have about retargeting that I didn’t address?

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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