By Linda Bustos
Director of Ecommerce Research, Elastic Path Software
Have you ever visited a website and suddenly ads for the site are virtually EVERYWHERE you go on the web? Chances are, the website hasn’t purchased ad space on all your favorite sites, it’s simply retargeting you.
Retargeting (also known as “remarketing” and “remessaging”) is a close cousin to paid search advertising. But rather than being a tool for driving traffic, remarketing provides an opportunity to win back site abandoners (an average website may have goal abandonment upwards of 98%). Targeting web users who have already interacted with your site allows advertisers to get better results from display ads, strategically messaging visitors based on their site behavior and expressed intent.
While some may feel such targeting is akin to cyber-stalking, when done correctly, retargeting campaigns can provide stellar ROI for marketers. How does it work? How do you know if it’s right for you and how can you get started?
How Remarketing / Retargeting Works
When tracked visitors arrive on publisher sites in the ad network, ads are shown based on what audience they belong to (audiences can be prioritized with higher bids). Google’s Remarketing program uses bids and Quality Score to determine “rankings” and impressions, just like with search marketing. Other vendors may use different methods of determining reach and charging advertisers, whether with a CPC, CPM or CPA model.
Is Remarketing Right For You?
While the benefits for online retailers are obvious, retargeting is not just for chasing down cart abandoners. Use it to improve any type of conversion, whether it be a site membership, blog subscription, content download, email sign-up, webinar registration or contest entry. It can also be used simply for branding, or keeping site visitors up to date with what’s new on your site.
Like search marketing (PPC), you must have a realistic budget to play with as well as in-house or outsourced help that can manage and optimize the campaign.
With search marketing, your traffic level is irrelevant. But remarketing requires a certain traffic level to “work.” Google Remarketing requires 500 cookied members of an audience before ads begin to appear. (Some networks recommend 1,000, others don’t have minimums.) If Google’s your tool of choice, it’s important that your site gets enough traffic to “fill the bucket” within a relevant time frame. If it takes 4 weeks to build a list of 500 abandoned carts, and 25% of them were added to the audience in the first week, the ads will likely be irrelevant for an abandoned cart campaign, depending on how long a user typically takes to complete a purchase. (Also consider that up to 30% of your visitors may be deleting cookies and effectively dropping out of your audience.)
How Can You Get Started?
If you’re already using Google Adwords, getting started with Google’s Remarketing tool is explained step-by-step here. http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=1302483&parent=1713922&ctx=topic Even if you are not intending to launch a campaign right away, building up your audience list as early as possible ensures you are reaching as many site abandoners as possible when you do run a campaign. Google’s product plays nicely with other Google marketing tools, so it’s a good get-your-feet-wet tool if you’re just getting started.
However, Google Remarketing has its limitations. It has less publisher inventory than other networks (limited to Google’s Display Network), so you may not be targeting all the outlets you want. It also lacks dynamic personalization of ad creative (such as showing a rotating carousel of recently viewed items or content). Running more than one remarketing tool at once is not a good idea, and audiences take time to build up. So, if you anticipate that Google will not meet your targeting wish list long term, consider launching with a vendor like Criteo, Adroll, Retargeter or Fetchback right off the bat.
But before you make any moves, you want to nail down your remarketing strategy. Part 2 of this article will discuss how to design retargeting scenarios based on your conversion goals and what you know about customer behavior.
About the Author
Linda Bustos is the director of ecommerce research for Elastic Path Software and the author of the Get Elastic Ecommerce blog. As an ecommerce consultant, Linda has helped some of the world’s largest online retailers and technology brands improve their conversion rates and user experience. An online retailer herself, Linda moonlights as a jewelry designer for Robin Hood Couture, her line of handmade accessories.
Meet Linda in Person!
Linda will be presenting a session on “Many Happy Returns: Remarketing Strategies for Converting Site Abandoners” at Conversion Conference West 2012 in San Francisco, California. See the full agenda and read more about this session.
Want to save on your Conversion Conference Registration? Follow Linda on Twitter @roxyyo and @getelastic to touch base and request for a discount code!