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Retargeting for 2016 Digital Marketing

Wouldn’t it be nice if customer buying patterns were simple?

A person sees something he likes, he thinks it over, but eventually buys it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. People may come to a store just to visit, or someone may leave your website but has every intention to purchase in the future. Different customers mean different buying patterns. As marketers, it’s our job to analyze what those patterns are, and then promote relevant products based on those behaviors.

Thanks to the Web and social media, connecting with our target market is now easier – albeit more complicated. Customers now have other factors that could influence (and even delay) their final buying decision. Retargeting could be the solution. But is it the ‘miracle marketing tactic’ we’re looking for?

Retargeting Defined

The concept isn’t new. It was a pretty hot topic with digital marketers when MOZ wrote about it in 2011. Although there are different approaches now, retargeting is still being used today.

To put it simply, ‘retargeting’ is just re-attracting users who seem to have shown interest in your product or service. Back then, there was only retargeting to customers who have visited your website (but strangely abandoned it before being converted). Nowadays though, we can also retarget using social media and search engines.

This strategy is good for two things: 

• To remind target users to complete their former desire to purchase; OR

• To create brand awareness through repetitive exposure.

Face it: no matter how awesome your site is, you’d be lucky to convert even two percent of Web traffic into paying customers. Since this is usually NOT the case, we need retargeting to reach the remaining 98 percent who may need a little push.

In 2012, consumer packaged goods company Kimberly-Clark reported a 50-60 percent conversion rate increase using retargeting techniques. It’s no surprise really: It’s easier to convince people who have showed interest in your products than those who haven’t. Kimberly-Clark is not the only big name that uses retargeting; Zappos, Intercontinental Hotels, and Hewlett-Packard, all leverage this strategy to get ahead in the digital marketing game.

Over time, retargeting has also evolved to include search and social, along with site retargeting.

• Site retargeting is the original form of retargeting. An invisible JavaScript tag is placed either in all or certain sections of a webpage. When a user visits that page, he is ‘cookied.’ He will see your ads on websites where you are running retargeting. If this user makes a purchase, he is treated as a ‘converted audience’ and a burn pixel will take him out of your list. You can then choose to show him a different set of ads, OR you can focus on unconverted audiences.

• Search retargeting is considered by most marketers as ‘behavioral retargeting’ because the user doesn’t need to visit your site to be retargeted. You’re ads will be based on the keywords (search queries) he typed into a search engine.

• Social retargeting is fairly innovative thanks to the popularity of social media networks today. Unlike traditional ads, this type of retargeting connects with audiences as they browse on their favorite social media platforms. Facebook’s retargeting features, for instance, can help businesses reach out to people who have previously visited their site either on desktop or mobile.

• E-mail retargeting is more straightforward. From the name itself, an e-mail will be sent to a user who has not completed a task on a website.

Knowing the different forms of retargeting is essential before choosing which one to use for your campaign. Don’t just jump in: ask plenty of questions from experts OR pair up with a knowledgeable digital marketing agency for better results.

5 Key Points of Retargeting

If you go through several retargeting articles from marketers, you’ll notice two things: one, they’re impressed with the results they got; second, they also warn against ‘too much’ retargeting.

Your results will eventually be based on five key aspects:

1. The chosen retargeting strategy

2. The target audience

3. Retargeting content

4. The duration of the campaign

5. Metrics used for measurement

The four retargeting methods briefly discussed earlier will produce varying results. Whichever you choose though, make sure you’re clear on your GOALS first. Why do you want to integrate retargeting into your digital marketing? Is it because you want to introduce a new product? Are your sales stuck? Are you aiming to increase returning customers? Once you’re focused, you may now ponder on the retargeting strategy to use.

Knowing WHO you’re retargeting is also essential. For instance: if your market is mostly working millennials, then you must understand how tech savvy they are and they can see right through your marketing tactic. They will most likely be annoyed at repetitive, generic ads that don’t add much value in their Web browsing experience. Here’s where points three and four come into play.

There are ads, and then there are ADS. The difference is HOW you make it worth someone’s time. When KLM Royal Dutch Airlines realized there was huge potential for customers leaving their site without booking, they employed the services of digital marketing agency Webtrends for a retargeting campaign. Using targeted e-mail, people who left the site received an e-mail within an hour to encourage completing the booking process. The results were astounding: KLM markets in Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany saw a conversion rate of up to 400 percent.

Meanwhile, online marketing company Nebo suggests telling a story when retargeting. Think about it: an average user sees dozens of ads in a few hours on the Web; wouldn’t it annoy you too if you saw the same thing again and again? Aside from regular ads, you can hook audiences using videos, coupons, news articles and other promotions.

Next, map out WHEN you’re going to switch tactics once a person has been successfully converted. It’s up to you whether you plan on bombarding him with more retargeting ads, OR you up-sell. Christopher Ratcliff of Methods Unsound had an awkward experience with retargeting in 2014 as he was planning on proposing to his girlfriend. It was stressful enough trying to keep a proposal a secret, but jewelers thought it was nice to attack him with ads at every bookmarked site (even though he didn’t like those particular products).

Retargeting company Retargeter, suggests using a burn pixel to remove converted users from your retargeting list. This code snippet will be placed on your post-transaction page, so it un-tags customers who have completed an action (i.e. a purchase). This is the perfect time to think about up-selling or cross-selling to them.

Last, never forget to MEASURE metrics. Although you become successful with your retargeting campaign, you’ll have difficulty repeating that good fortune if you have no data to back it up. One important metric is measuring view through conversions. These are people who saw OR skipped your ad, but then return to your site and convert. Why is this important? While conversion is the cake, understanding why people click or skip your ad is the icing to help improve your overall retargeting approach.

Retargeting the Future

Have you ever heard of the famous ‘Jam Theory’? In 1995, Professor Iyengar and her team set up an experiment that involved Wilkin & Sons jams. In a California market, they had a booth that switched between 24 and six jams every few hours. To make a long story short, they found out that a lot of people (about 60 percent) were attracted to the 24-jam selection – however, three percent bought a jar. Meanwhile, 30 percent out of 40 percent of people who saw six jams bought at least one jar.

The theory goes that when given too many choices, people feel paralyzed and decide on not buying anything at all. Right now, we’re experiencing an influx of choices: from local restaurants, clothing stores, to snack brands. With more and more millennials looking into being entrepreneurs themselves, we can expect more selections in the future. This is where retargeting becomes indispensable.

People, nowadays, rely on a lot of things (such as online reviews, friend referrals, or free samples) before making a final purchasing decision. During this ‘gap,’ retargeting could be a great tool to showcase WHY they should choose you over the competition. Future retargeting shouldn’t just be a means to re-attract interested users – rather, it should act as their helping hand in making informed choices. In fact, 21 percent of consumers are open to retargeted ads because they want to find out more about certain product offers.

At the end of the day, it’s all about integrating your goals with your customers’ needs.

By Al Gomez