Over the last few years, advertising for online retailers has undergone something of a sea change. In the past, e-commerce sites were fairly limited in their choice of paid advertising strategies. The standard display media buys allowed sites to reach out to customers, but only at the first stages of the e-commerce funnel. Regardless of where your ads were featured, you still had to introduce yourself, engage the customer’s interest, and entice them to your website. This is still the foundation of many good advertising campaigns. But, regular display advertising really only targets new customers, and ignores the “warm” field that is your existing customer base. What if you could reach out directly to your existing customers, connect with them one on one, and speak to their interests and needs? Retargeting allows you to do just that.
What is Retargeting?
By now we have all experienced retargeting to some degree. You’re browsing, say Amazon.com and looking at a new pair of shoes or the latest tech gadget. Perhaps you added these items into your cart, thinking you might come back later to finalize your purchase. Later in the day, you may be on Facebook or looking up the weather on Yahoo, when you notice an ad from the site that you were shopping on earlier. Plus, the ad is promoting the very items you were considering buying! How?! That’s retargeting in action, and it allows e-commerce websites to sustain an ongoing connection with their customers. In effect, you place a targeted ad in front of your past and present customers, reminding them of your website and reinforcing their interest in a particular item. But, retargeting is not just for e-commerce. You can also use this same tactic with your business site to re-promote your services.
How Does Retargeting Work?
In essence, retargeting is relatively simple. In tech lingo, a pixel is placed on a product page, or at the point of checkout, and when a visitor lands on that page a cookie is deployed. When that same customer visits another website on which you are running a retargeting ad campaign, your ads are featured. Pixels can be placed on any part of your website, either on individual pages (referred to as segments) or across your entire site. Retargeting allows for a great deal of flexibility in how you connect with your repeat customers, and in what types of ads you present to them. Typically, you would be running a banner ad to your audience. You can also dictate when the cookie will expire (eg. 10-90 days) as not to annoy your visitors, or set it to 1 day only for a special you’re running on your site.
Measuring Your Retargeting ROI
There are a number of different retargeting services, and your initial investment will greatly depend on the company you choose and the scale of your advertising campaign. A few companies have emerged as leaders in the field, most notably AdRoll and Dispop. They both offer analytics that cover both click-through and view-through conversions. Click-through conversions are any sale that occurs as a direct result of the customer clicking on a retargeted ad. View-through conversions can be seen as a long term investment, and are counted when any customer who has been exposed to a retargeting ad ultimately returns to your site to complete a transaction. These metrics can be used to help refine your retargeting advertising campaign, making it more effective as it progresses. Both also offer display advertising and Facebook re-targeting campaign ability. With Dispop, you have an added benefit of also doing “direct” targeting to capture new audiences.
Retargeting has helped to change the way online retailers maintain an ongoing relationship with their customer base. While classic display media buys still serve to bring new customers into the fold, retargeting allows you to keep your brand in front of those customers once they have become a part of your base. It is no longer necessary for online retailers to simply wait for customers to return to their site. Through retargeting, you can reach out to your customer base on a one to one basis and remind them of the products and services that drew their attention to you in the first place.