We’ve all been there: sitting in front of the computer or scrolling along on your phone and seeing the one-millionth ad of the day. You can often ignore them but sometimes the ads jump out, not because they use bold fonts or bright colors but because you were just thinking about the very same product or service that’s being advertised via PPC.
As the consumer this can feel wild, like the device is inside your head, watching your every move and making note of your every thought. But as a business owner, you should know better.
This is the practice of retargeting ads and it’s a valuable one. No witchcraft of telepathy required.
When you’re paying to advertise your product or service, you want those ads to cut through all the noise and actually reach people who are interested in buying what you’re selling. That’s why you need retargeting.
First, let’s start with a typical series of events without retargeting.
A customer is looking for something similar to what your business provides. They enter some keywords into a search engine and end up on your website. Great news, right? This is a success of SEO and maybe even pay-per-click advertising. Not so quick.
The customer browses around the site, maybe even adds items to their cart or chats with the support, but ultimately leaves without making any purchases.
Without retargeting, this story ends there. So close to making a sale, yet still so far away. It’s frustrating and it can happen over and over again with piles of potential customers slipping through the cracks.
Here’s how the story can end differently, with a happy ending for everyone involved.
The same sequence of events takes place, but in this version, your business practices retargeting.
After the customer leaves your website, they are shown additional ads, often specifically referencing the items or pages they originally viewed on your site. You use the information you gleaned about them to show them just the right ad to make the conversion.
One of these ads catches their attention, so they click on it, come back to the website, and make the purchase, sign up for the email list, fill out a form, whatever the final desired action is. They’re happy, you’re happy; it’s all worked out and the credit goes to retargeting ads.
Although, if you want to tell people it’s all due to your superior business skills and product, we won’t argue.
The simple premise of retargeting is to show potential customers who have expressed some interest in your business highly relevant ads that convert them from potential customers to customers.
This can take a variety of forms so let’s look at some of them and compare.
Pixel marketing is the most common kind of retargeting. And no, it doesn’t mean the ads are blurry and pixelated.
Pixel-based retargeting works by putting a line of code (otherwise known as a pixel) on your website. The pixel then puts an anonymous browser cookie in each of the visitors’ browsers as they come to your website or landing page.
They then leave the site but the pixel allows your ad provider (e.g. Google Ads, Facebook) to start showing your specific ads to these visitors.
You’ll be able to glean lots of information about visitors to your website through this method and retarget them accordingly. Want to target a visitor who clicked on a specific product page but didn’t follow through to adding to the cart or checking out? You can do it with pixel retargeting.
Sometimes pixel retargeting can come in the form of serving very specific ads showing visitors the exact products they viewed on your site, a practice called dynamic retargeting. It can be beneficial in that potential customers are reminded of the exact thing they were interested in, but some may find it intrusive and disquieting.
List-based retargeting is a more traditional kind of retargeting where you show ads to existing customers or visitors who provided you with some level of personal information like an email address.
You can email these people directly or upload the list to your retargeting platform of choice and have the retargeting campaign address them according to what you already know. It’s a slightly less sophisticated technique but it can still be extremely effective.
The major con with list-based retargeting is that you won’t be able to go after customers who have only minimally engaged with your website, but you can achieve that through other methods.
On-platform retargeting is most used on social media platforms such as Youtube and Facebook. If you post a video on Facebook, you can choose to retarget specifically those who watched the majority of the video.
It’s a different way of gathering information on the potential customer’s interest in your business and can also work well.
Showing users things they’ve expressed an interest in is already how these sites work, so your ads will generally fit right in.
Going back to our little story from earlier, what if the customer targeted in the retargeted ad campaign sees the ads for the business they were interested in and decides they aren’t actually interested at all? Isn’t it all a big waste of time and money?
Simply put, no. And there are a few reasons for that.
Marketing and advertising are always going to be a numbers game. There may be lots of fish in the sea but you’re never going to catch them all, even the ones right near your boat.
What you can do is narrow the holes in the net you’re casting so fewer fish get away. But enough with the fish metaphors.
Let’s put it into hard numbers. If you liked math in school, this will be your favorite part.
Website visitors who have been retargeted with display ads are more likely to convert by a whopping 70%. That’s 7-0 percent. Not good enough for you?
How about the fact that retargeted ads have a click-through rate that is 10X higher than regular display ads?
What about the evidence that retargeting campaigns can produce crazy returns on investment, as was the case with one company, Watchfinder, which achieved a 1,300% ROI over six months?
Of course, every business will see different conversion levels with their retargeting campaigns, but the numbers show they can be incredibly effective. So effective, in fact, that you’d really be silly not to get in on the action.
But if you really want to increase the success of your remarketing campaign, follow these tips:
This may be the most important tip of them all, which is why we’ve put it at the top. Do you hear that? If you’re only going to pay attention to one of these, make it this one!
One of the worst things you can do is to bombard potential customers with too many ads. Customers have expressed frustration and annoyance regarding repetitive ads that seem to follow them around wherever they go online.
Don’t be the creepy business harassing would-be customers. It’s not a good look or a good strategy.
On the other side, use too few impressions and your ads may never breakthrough, even to the interested customers you are specifically going after. Show them enough to keep them thinking about your business but not so many you turn them off of it.
Essentially, you want just the right number of impressions. A Goldilocks amount, if you will. Not too many and not too few.
You may think that just because retargeting goes after customers who have already expressed an interest, that the ads don’t have to be as eye-catching the second (and third and …) time around.
Well, cast that thought from your mind. Lock it out and throw away the key.
Ad design will always be important. It may even be more important in retargeting.
You need to make sure the ads are recognizable and tie directly to your brand. Variety in ad type is also valuable here since customers can find the same ad over and over again much less appealing than a bunch of different ones.
This goes with tip #1 but it deserves its own shoutout. Don’t go after recent customers right after they’ve made a purchase.
If a customer is won over by your ads, decides to buy something, and then is immediately inundated with more ads, it will feel more like a punishment than a friendly suggestion.
An annoyed customer is not likely to become a repeat customer. And if you happen to make the critical error of serving them an ad for the very product they just purchased? Forget it.
You should be conscious of where each potential customer is in the sale funnel and make sure that your retargeting campaigns reflect that.
The value of the retargeting campaign compared to any ordinary ad campaign is that you already have additional information about the potential customers and their interest in your business.
Don’t waste that information by doing nothing with it. Create specific ads and different campaigns depending on what level of interaction the customers have engaged in and what product types they showed interest in.
As with any marketing campaign, a critical component is consistent monitoring and evaluation.
Tracking conversions, whichever conversion you’re aiming for, whether it’s sales, email signups, or views, is a great way to know how your retargeting campaign is going.
If something’s not working right, this is how you can find out and fix it. And if everything’s perfect, well, you’ll want to know that, too, so you can keep doing what works.
As you may be able to see at this point, retargeting, while very beneficial, isn’t always the simplest strategy to implement. There are lots of different factors and best practices to stay on top of to get the process to pay off the way you hope.
If you want to be sure that you get the full rewards of a retargeting ad campaign, go to the professionals.
At PPC.co, we have a team of marketing experts that will help ensure your first-time visitors don’t stay one-time visitors. We do the heavy lifting on the retargeting front so the potential customers who are most likely to make a purchase are right there, ready to be wowed by your business.
Play your cards right and you’ll have swaths of new customers who keep coming back. That’s the potential for a crazy high return on investment.