Retargeting


What Is Retargeting?


Retargeting is a method of online display advertising based on demonstrated past preferences or interests. Essentially, retargeting attempts to offer consumers personalized experiences by showing them advertisements that they are most likely to be interested in. If you’ve ever looked at a product on a website and then visited another site only to see an ad for the very item you looked at earlier, you have been retargeted.

Retargeting places cookies on a user’s web browser using tracking codes (either JavaScript or image pixels) to document that user’s behavior (such as visiting a website to check out a product) and then delivers ads for things they are likely to buy. The ad could be for that same product as a “reminder” that they were once interested in it and maybe should reconsider purchasing it. If the person actually bought the item they were looking at, a retargeting ad could feature a similar product or related item. Retargeting can also be aimed at those who filled out contact information for a website.

Why Should Your Business Utilize Retargeting?


Retargeting has been shown to produce a greater ROI (return on investment) than untargeted display advertising. Retargeted ads have demonstrated higher click-through rates and higher conversation rates. These reasons alone make an undeniably compelling case for including retargeting in your marketing strategy. Retargeting can be significantly more fruitful than display advertising for two reasons:

Retargeting Retargeting Retargeting Retargeting Retargeting
Retargeting

It increases awareness and recall of your brand. The more people are aware of and remember your brand, the more likely they are to do business with you. Essentially, it dramatically boosts the warmth of your audience. Display advertising is seen by a cold audience — users with no relationship with you...

Retargeting Retargeting Retargeting Retargeting Retargeting
Retargeting

It captures clients or customers who may otherwise have been lost forever.Think about how you shop online. Do you go to a website, look at the product and buy it right then? Probably not—and neither does your audience. Typically, we like to check it out, and then we leave...

Retargeting isn’t really new…just think about how businesses cater to repeat customers or the practice of upsellingor cross-selling (where the sales rep offers you something that either goes with what you just bought or is a slightly better version of what you’ve chosen). Simple repetition is another way we are influenced in what we buy: the more we see it, the more comfortable we are with it and the more likely we are to both believe that we need it and to buy it. These techniques and others play on tendencies and quirks that are part of human nature. Retargeting simply adapts thesestrategies to online experiences.

RetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargeting
Retargeting

How Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting is a multi-step process. You begin by placing tracking codes(JavaScript or image pixels) on the pages of your website. It is your choice as to which pages have these codes.As people visit your coded pages, cookies attach to each visitor’s browser and add them to a list for you so you now know something about your visitors and what they are interested in...

RetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargeting
Retargeting

Retargeting Terms to Know

Pixel – The code that goes on a website’s page that drops (places) a cookie on your server. Pixels can be designated for different uses such as tracking landing page visits, individual product sales, opt-ins, etc. Cookie – A small text file that sits on your computer in your browser after you visit a site that places it there. Cookies are...

RetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargeting
Retargeting

Types of Retargeting

Retargeting is actually a pretty broad term that covers a range of activities with the same goal: reengaging users and turning potential customers into actual ones.

Site

This is the most common, purest form of retargeting. As visitors land on a website or click on a product, cookies attach to their browsers and store that information. When they travel to other sites around...

RetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargeting
Retargeting

Retargeting Best Practices

Many retargeting best practices fall into the “common sense” category. They only require thoughtful consideration of the actual people on the other side of the computer.

Segment Your Audience – Divide your audience into categories based on whatever makes sense for your business, and then deliver ads that make sense for them. Someone who has visited your website’s home page...

RetargetingRetargetingRetargetingRetargeting
Retargeting

Retargeting Pitfalls to Avoid

With all the time and effort you will likely invest in retargeting efforts, you don’t want to make any mistakes. Here are two common problems to stay away from:

Overdoing It - The biggest pitfall of retargeting is perhaps your own enthusiasm. If you throw a whole lot of time, energy and dollars into your retargeting efforts, you could end up having a negative effect on your audience, rather than a positive one...

It increases awareness and recall of your brand.

The more people are aware of and remember your brand, the more likely they are to do business with you. Essentially, it dramatically boosts the warmth of your audience. Display advertising is seen by a cold audience—users with no relationship with you or positive experiences with your brand. They may see additional ads from you, but they may not. Retargeting is aimed at those who have already had an experience of some sort with your brand, and it ensures that they see you more than once. Because it’s far easier to sell a product or generate an action from someone who knows you (even a little) than from someone who doesn’t, retargeting makes sense.

It captures clients or customers who may otherwise have been lost forever.

Think about how you shop online. Do you go to a website, look at the product and buy it right then? Probably not—and neither does your audience. Typically, we like to check it out, and then we leave. Maybe we go to another website to see what a competitor has to offer or look for reviews of what we’re thinking about purchasing. Maybe we need time to think it over or we’re outraged by the high shipping fees. Often we simply get distracted or run out of time to complete any kind of an order. The trouble is that potential customers don’t always come back. (We’re fickle that way.) Retargeting reminds us that we were interested and it just might prompt us to go back to complete a purchase.

How Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting is a multi-step process. You begin by placing tracking codes (JavaScript or image pixels) on the pages of your website. It is your choice as to which pages have these codes. As people visit your coded pages, cookies attach to each visitor’s browser and add them to a list for you so you now know something about your visitors and what they are interested in.

You can (and should) segment these visitors based on what they do on your site by adding different codes or pixels that drive different ads or ad sequences.

Just like you buy ad space online and control where your display ads go, you can control where your retargeted ads go—where they appear and who they are shown to.

Retargeting Terms to Know

Pixel – The code that goes on a website’s page that drops (places) a cookie on your server. Pixels can be designated for different uses such as tracking landing page visits, individual product sales, opt-ins, etc.

Cookie – A small text file that sits on your computer in your browser after you visit a site that places it there. Cookies are browser-specific—meaning that if you visit a site in Chrome and pick up a cookie, you won’t have that cookie on your Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers. Cookies hold information about your activities and transmit them to the site that placed the cookie on your computer in order to customize your experience. Some users are annoyed by them, but they help the site remember who you are, where you were or what you were interested in so that it can bring up your cart or items that you would likely be interested in when you come back.

Fingerprinting – In cases where a cookie can’t be dropped, some tech companies are using fingerprinting, which gathers data from the device used. The idea is that if you can’t identify the person, you can identify their device, which is the next best thing. Collected data might include browser type, operating system, location, installed fonts or colors, etc. The more data collected, the more accurate the fingerprint.

CPP (Cost Per Pixel) – Installing pixels that drop cookies requires an investment, whether it involves installing them on your own web pages or purchasing space on other websites. In some cases, it may be worth it to pay for pixels on other sites your customers visit. The advantage for you is a more well-rounded view of those customers that enables you to personalize their experience even more.

Burn Pixels – These special pixels remove people from an audience list. For example, when a user converts to a customer, you’d want a burn pixel to take them out of the “potential customer” category so that they now see different ads from you that are more relevant to their new situation.

Remarketing – Some people use the terms “retargeting” and “remarketing” interchangeably, but they are not quite the same. Remarketing is actually specific to Google’s display network and so you are working through Google. Retargeting is a more general term that encompasses a wide range of strategic marketing based on gathered indicators.

Types of Retargeting

Retargeting is actually a pretty broad term that covers a range of activities with the same goal: reengaging users and turning potential customers into actual ones.

Site
This is the most common, purest form of retargeting. As visitors land on a website or click on a product, cookies attach to their browsers and store that information. When they travel to other sites around the web, they attract ads that correspond to what they previously looked at. The goal is to either get them to come back to the original site to make a purchase, or introduce them to other products or services they may be interested in related to where they were.

Link
If you can’t install tracking codes on a webpage (because it isn’t yours, for example), you can add retargeting pixels to links instead. This has opened up retargeting abilities to advertisers on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter as well as Amazon and other sites where you don’t have control of the site, but you do have a link—such as a Facebook page or product.

Social
People are segmented based on connections, affiliations with groups or interests online. For instance, someone commenting on Facebook about their new car could see ads for car washes or road trips. Another person who “Liked” a home improvement store could see ads for home improvement related products available at that store.

Search
This type of retargeting looks for those who have searched for a term, a product or a service outside of those who have already had an experience with a particular brand. This type of retargeting is more focused than display advertising, but less than site retargeting. You could look at this as investigating mild user interest, rather than specific and measurable interest as shown by a site visit.

Email
Email retargeting is direct communication with individuals via email. These kinds of emails can generate significantly higher revenue than cold emails, because the recipient has already visited your site. Email retargeting is often used in cases of “abandoned carts,” where a potential customer puts an item in their shopping cart but leaves the site before completing the order. Reminding them of what they left behind can trigger them into completing the sale.
Retargeting emails could also be sent if someone starts to sign up for something but doesn’t finish, and can be especially effective when sent to past customers who have done business with you in the past (but not lately). A quick email to remind them you’re there or notify them of a sale could be just the thing to get that interaction rolling again.

Retargeting Best Practices

Many retargeting best practices fall into the “common sense” category. They only require thoughtful consideration of the actual people on the other side of the computer.

  • Segment Your Audience – Divide your audience into categories based on whatever makes sense for your business, and then deliver ads that make sense for them. Someone who has visited your website’s home page needs a different follow-up experience with you than someone who actually clicked on a product but didn’t purchase it. If you have a site that covers a wide range of categories, visitors to each category need retargeting that is relevant to them.
  • Vary Retargeting Ads from Display Ads – Always remember that those who will see your retargeting ads have a history (of sorts) with you that cold audiences don’t have. When you retarget them, you are contacting them based on actions they have taken in the past. With display ads, you are beginning the conversation. Retargeting continues the conversation with them.
  • Rotate Your Ads – Don’t bore your audience by showing them the same ads over and over. Keep it fresh and grab their attention with something new.
  • Test Your Ads – Testing is a valuable activity to help you determine which ads work and which don’t. This is a must to get the most bang for your buck.

Retargeting Pitfalls to Avoid

With all the time and effort you will likely invest in retargeting efforts, you don’t want to make any mistakes. Here are two common problems to stay away from:

  • Overdoing It – The biggest pitfall of retargeting is perhaps your own enthusiasm. If you throw a whole lot of time, energy and dollars into your retargeting efforts, you could end up having a negative effect on your audience, rather than a positive one. Some people can feel a little “stalked” by excessive retargeting ads, resulting in an undesirable experience that keeps them away from your brand and your products or services.
  • Not Sending Your Targets to an Action – Yes, you want the audience to reengage with you. However, sending them to your home page isn’t the most productive idea. Send them where they can complete an action based on their previous behavior—purchasing a product or service, signing up for an event or alerting them to a special deal.

Subscribe to the SEO Expert Newsletter

Receive SEO tips, ideas, & best practices

Be the first in your vertical to use cutting edge SEO.

Sign Up
Share
Tweet
+1
Share