Have you ever noticed when a product you’re interested in seems to follow you around the internet? Or worse, when you continue to see ads for an item you’ve already purchased?
It’s happened to all of us. And we’re willing to bet that experience was one of the first times you encountered retargeting in online advertising, even if it was poorly executed. These useless reminders often irk shoppers, destroy brand affinity, and waste ad budget. No one wants retargeting like this.
But, when executed correctly, retargeting is a superhero marketing tactic that saves brands from abandoned carts that might otherwise result in lost sales. As more consumers migrate to online shopping, it’s more important than ever for brands to master the art of retargeting and tap into its full potential.
Let’s take a closer look at how retargeting can supplement brands’ digital marketing strategies:
Wait, What’s Retargeting?
Retargeting is an effective online marketing strategy that displays ads related to products and services shoppers have viewed on a brand’s website but haven’t purchased yet. These ads can appear on websites as banner ads or within apps and search. Recently, retargeting opportunities in mobile and social have seen the largest growth.
Marketers use retargeting to encourage customers at the bottom of the funnel to convert, as well as to build awareness among consumers higher up. It has become a must-have strategy to not only win over customers but also to understand shopper intent.
How Does Retargeting Work?
Retargeting is possible thanks to a pixel, which collects visitor data on brand websites, such as the pages they visit and the duration of their stays. The pixel then leaves a retargeting cookie in visitors’ browsers, which allows brands to serve display ads to those consumers elsewhere on the internet. If that ad reaches the right consumer on the right device at the right moment, it serves as a reminder to finalize a purchase.
A word of caution: An effective retargeting strategy will first segment consumers based on traits and/or behaviors. This helps ensure each potential customer sees the most relevant ad — and not an ad for something they just bought.
Why Is Retargeting a Valuable Strategy?
Targeting consumers at scale is one of the main reasons retargeting is such a valuable marketing tactic. Retargeting is also effective because it uses first-party data from shoppers’ actual online behavior — instead of guessing what someone might want or need — to determine where and how to bid on online ads.
In fact, retargeting allows advertisers to personalize ads to reflect the way consumers interact with their sites and based on the relevance of the content on other sites. That helps keep shoppers engaged — and is part of the reason retargeting campaigns generally see high click-through rates (CTR) and conversions.
Before launching a retargeting campaign, advertisers have to decide whether to optimize for performance or spend. When optimizing for performance, you’ll get the highest possible yield on your ad budget, but the audience may be limited to consumers most likely to buy. Optimizing for spend is essentially the opposite: Advertisers can reach a bigger audience, but they won’t necessarily see a high return.
What Is a Full–Funnel Approach?
Part of this personalization includes targeting by customer stage in what is known as a full-funnel approach. It’s just one more way to cater the ads consumers see based on their actual intent.
Consumers at the top of the funnel are just beginning the buyer journey and learning about new products and services. Therefore, retargeting at this point should focus on educating consumers about a specific brand and then laying the groundwork for a future relationship.
As shoppers approach the middle of the funnel, they’re more experienced. They’ve sent positive signals to a brand about their interest — such as subscribing to a newsletter or requesting a demo — and know more about the brand’s offering. This is an ideal stage for retargeting as the tactic gently nudges them closer to conversion. That’s why AdRoll recommends retargeting wherever possible at this point, including web, mobile, social, and email.
At the bottom of the funnel, brands can enhance loyalty by using retargeting to send exclusive offers — or to suggest complementary products. Proceed with caution here based on what you know from previous interactions as you don’t want to push a new customer away.
Where Can Brands Use Retargeting?
Tactics will vary based on where you are doing your retargeting — web, social, mobile, or email.
For example, on the web, you’ll want both personalized messaging and a targeted placement to engage existing or prospective customers. It’s ideal for e-commerce, B2B, and entertainment brands. Alternatively, social connects brands to already engaged customers and offers them an opportunity to connect more personality.
Thanks to a big uptick in usage, mobile now offers opportunities to retarget desktop visitors as they move between devices. It’s an important add-on — AdRoll data shows advertisers who tap into mobile retargeting see CTR increase by 120%, serving 32% more impressions overall. Brands with apps can also promote installs via mobile ads on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, with email retargeting, brands can send more relevant messages to encourage desired behaviors. In fact, AdRoll customers benefit from its pixel, which recognizes when consumers submit their email addresses on any website. Then, by associating each cookie with a user email, brands can match their email subscribers to their site behaviors and cater their future messages accordingly.
Retargeting is also most effective when the ads include a call to action and a personalized offer.
Here are some tips on launching a successful retargeting campaign:
How Can Brands Stand Out With Retargeting?
Brands can up the ante in retargeting with features like dynamic ads, which highlight products based on shopper browsing behavior. Other tactics include tapping into cross-device retargeting to reach consumers as they switch between devices, or targeting lookalike audiences or consumers similar to their existing audiences with a practice known as prospecting.
There was a time when marketers had to make educated guesses about what consumers might want at any given moment. That was back in the spray-and-pray days. Now, marketers have much more sophisticated tools at their disposal. And while you certainly don’t want to use retargeting as a means to inundate shoppers with “Buy now!” messaging, it’s a valuable tactic when advertisers use it strategically. That means applying first-party data to segment site visitors and then encouraging them to return via personalized creative and messaging that reminds but never stalks.
Angie is the Content Marketing Manager at AdRoll. Prior to AdRoll, she was a Content Writer at various digital marketing agencies. A writer by day and a reader by night, Angie’s other hobbies include cooking and learning useless movie trivia.