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Remarketing: What Is It And Should Your Business Use It?

There’s an old adage in advertising that a prospect needs to see your ad 7 times before they’ll buy (although the exact number is up for argument). What if you could run ads that are only displayed to users that have previously visited your website? Well, you can and its called Remarketing.

Remarketing: What Is It?

Remarketing is an advertising strategy that allows you to show ads to users who have previously visited your website as they browse other sites on the Internet. The goal of such a campaign is leverage the user’s previous displayed interest (because they did visit your website the first time around, right?) to increase the likelihood that the user will come back and convert. This is accomplished by the ad network – for example Google AdWords – placing an anonymous Cookie on the user’s computer so that future ads can be targeted to that user based on their previous activities on your website.

For example, let’s say you’re an online retailer that sells baseball hats. You’re using Pay Per Click advertising through Google Adwords to drive traffic to your website. You’re getting a respectable click-through rate but you’re unhappy with your high shopping cart abandonment rate. You can use Remarketing to entice that user who put the Yankees hat into their shopping cart, but didn’t complete the purchase, to come back to your site and follow-through.

Not into ecommerce? OK, how about this example? Let’s say you run an IT consultancy that is offering a white paper to prospects on how your firm can reduce implementation costs by 15%. You’re using display ads to get traffic to the landing page, and users are giving you their email address to download the white paper, but you’re having difficulty contacting them to move them through your sales pipeline. By using tagging the “Thank You” page of the registration process with a Remarketing code you can display subject and brand related ads to those users on other websites that they frequent.

Wait, Isn’t That A Little Creepy?

If done right, Remarketing isn’t about spamming or stalking prospects. Instead, its about selectively targeting users who have previously demonstrated interest in your company or offering with related ads. Remember, they took the time to visit your website in the first place. Plus, given how busy most of our days can get, its easy to forget about a product or service that you’re interested in even if you took the step to bookmark the site. Remarketing helps to solve that problem for the user; and as an advertiser it’s a way to increase conversion rates and drive down the cost of customer acquisition.

How Does Remarketing Work?

The process itself is actually pretty simple:

1. Add the proper Remarketing codes to your website.
2. Create a set of “follow up” text, banner or rich media ads within your preferred ad network that are themed to the audience you’re targeting (for instance, users that have visited your Yankee’s baseball hat ecommerce page)
3. Tell the ad network to display your ads to users who have visited the page but have not converted.
4. Set the length of time you’d like the ads to display to users (for instance, 30 days following their visit to your website).

OK, I’m Convinced. What are Best Practices for Remarketing?

There’s a lot of depth to Remarketing as a discipline, but if you’re just getting started here are our top tips:

1. Before you start Remarketing, update the privacy policy on your website to let users know that you intend to use the tactic as well as how they can opt-out.

2. Craft your creative to meet the needs of your Remarketing goals. More subtle, brand-focused ad creative can be more effective if you intend to re-engage a prospect over time. In contrast, time-sensitive offerings or impulse purchases may require ad creative with stronger calls-to-action.

3. Select the timeline for your Remarketing campaign carefully. Too long of a campaign (fyi, Google’s max is a 540 day campaign) with limited ad creative may rub your prospect the wrong way. Too short of a campaign may mean you miss the opportunity for conversion. Proper alignment between the campaign length and your ad creative will give you the right balance to maximize your conversion rate.

4. Closely monitor which sites your ads appear on. Unlike many other types of online advertising, you’re targeting people not pages. That means that your ad may appear on a site that is not contextually relevant. That in and of itself may not be an issue, but if your ad somehow shows up on an unsavory site it could become an inadvertent brand problem.

5. Be smart about the the ad network you select. You want sites that are high quality and relevant to your target audience. For instance, MSN allows B2B advertisers to have their Remarketing banners display only on business websites. Also, it’s not unusual for ad networks to use remnant inventory for Remarketing. Pay attention to the sites your ads will be displayed on to increase the likelihood of success.

Interested in learning more about Remarketing and how it can help you optimize your online advertising efforts? Please let us know and we’d be happy to help you explore if its a good fit for your company.

Posted in Advertising, Business, Marketing
  • Ross Bradley

    I would argue, that in a “blind to all” (scaled) marketplace – advertisers and publishers (and, across the entire marketplace), it should not be any concern whatsoever. (Be it a Mercedes Car Dealership site or, the local church.)  IF (in re-targeting a recent ‘visitor’ to a advertiser’s site), the ‘eye-catcher’ ad being used happens to find their “target” over on an unsavory site. http://tinyurl.com/3fdhmad

    • Thanks Ross. Great insight. You’re right that if set-up and executed correctly there’s little practical privacy concern for consumers. However we believe that like with email marketing, its best practice to give consumers the tools (and option) to opt-out if they so desire.

  • Ross Bradley

    I would argue, that in a “blind to all” (scaled) marketplace – advertisers and publishers (and, across the entire marketplace), it should not be any concern whatsoever. (Be it a Mercedes Car Dealership site or, the local church.)  IF (in re-targeting a recent ‘visitor’ to a advertiser’s site), the ‘eye-catcher’ ad being used happens to find their “target” over on an unsavory site. http://tinyurl.com/3fdhmad