(Re)Target Practice: Nailing Your Second, Third, and Fourth Shot at Conversion

by Cameron Kirkpatrick

Performance

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You can’t hide from them. The ads. The “you left this in your cart” emails. The eerily specific messaging that pulls you right back to that landing page littered with things you definitely did not budget for this month. Retargeting is real, and it’s coming for your checking account.

It didn’t take marketers long to realize this universal truth: people have a pesky habit of visiting websites without always making a purchase. Shocking, right? It was at that moment that brands realized that they needed a way to squeeze every last drop of potential value from fleeting visitors—and in that moment, retargeting was born. Marketers thought, “Why let these visitors escape our clutches so easily?” So, they deployed tracking cookies—those insidious bits of code—to follow people around like a relentless detective. Every click, every scroll, every digital footstep was recorded, logged, and analyzed. With this treasure trove of data, marketers concocted a plan. They bombarded these unsuspecting visitors with ads. Not just any ads, mind you, but personalized ones. The kind that makes you wonder if your devices have suddenly acquired some weird Big Brother-esque psychic powers.

So how has the practice grown or evolved? Let’s dig deeper into what retargeting looks like in today’s digital landscape, how you can implement it effectively, and what you should watch out for along the way—and don’t try to click out of this blog… if you do, we’ll just pull you back in with yet another eerily irresistible ad.

Let Retargeting Be Your New Silver Bullet

Ready to have your mind blown? A whopping 92% of the consumers that visit your website for the first time aren’t really there to buy. They want to learn more and familiarize themselves with your products, prices, and your take on the meaning of life (hint: there is no meaning, we’re all just specks of dust)—but they aren’t there to make a purchase. Enter retargeting—the best thing to happen to overwhelmed and overworked marketers since automation. Retargeting can be an important tool in a brand’s marketing arsenal, particularly for nurturing leads, improving conversion rates, and reinforcing brand recognition. It’s essential to use retargeting judiciously and not become overly reliant on it. Overexposure or poorly executed retargeting can lead to ad fatigue and annoyance, potentially harming a brand’s perception.

Context To Steal If You Want Your CMO to Love You 

Go ahead and copy/paste this section, we know you’re going to. Retargeting is highly effective because it keeps a brand or product in front of potential customers who have shown interest, increasing the likelihood of conversion by nurturing their intent over time. 

Retargeting can offer several benefits to your brand when used strategically:

  • Increase Conversions: Retargeting helps re-engage visitors who have shown interest in your products or services but didn’t convert during their initial visit. By presenting tailored ads to these potential customers, you can increase the likelihood of conversion. In the case of Bebê Store, the brand saw a not-too-shabby 98% increase in conversion rates after running ads on Google Adwords that showed consumers items similar to the ones they viewed on the website.
  • Enhance Brand Recall: Consistently displaying your brand’s message and products to past visitors reinforces brand recognition and recall. 
  • Personalization: You can segment your audience based on their behavior, preferences, and interactions with your site, delivering tailored messages and product recommendations that resonate with each group. You can also do this based on the location, language, and other factors to make your strategy even more specific, just like Watchfinder did in a move that netted a casual 1,300% return on investment.
  • Nurture Leads: For products or services that typically involve a longer decision-making process, retargeting nurtures leads over time. It keeps your brand in front of potential customers, gently guiding them towards a purchasing decision.
  • Reduce Cart Abandonment: In e-commerce, retargeting is particularly effective in reducing cart abandonment rates. By reminding shoppers about the items left in their carts, you can encourage them to complete the purchase.
  • Cross-Selling and Upselling: You can use retargeting to cross-sell related products or upsell to customers who have already made a purchase. This strategy can increase the average order value and customer lifetime value.
  • Adapt to the Customer Journey: Retargeting campaigns can be adapted to different stages of the customer journey. You can create specific ads for brand awareness, consideration, and conversion, tailoring your messaging to each stage.

The general takeaway is that every brand stands to gain success from retargeting, so much so that ignoring the opportunity will mean your brand remains a step behind the competition forever.

How To Prepare for the Death of Cookies 

You’ve only just now gotten used to hitting that godforsaken ‘Accept Cookies’ button every time you land on a new page, but as privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA have been implemented, and as web browsers have begun to restrict third-party cookies, marketers are exploring alternative methods (not because we want to, but here we are) to reach their target audience.

Cookie-less marketing has become increasingly important in the digital advertising landscape due to privacy concerns and changing regulations. Cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user’s device that track their online behavior and preferences, but as privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA have been implemented, and as web browsers have begun to restrict third-party cookies, marketers are exploring alternative methods to reach their target audience. Here are the most effective ways to crush your remarketing strategies in the cookie-free future:

1. First-party data: Make the switch to relying on first-party data, which is data collected directly from their own customers or website visitors. This data is typically obtained through user registrations, newsletter sign-ups, or account information. It can include user demographics, preferences, purchase history, and more. By leveraging this data, marketers can personalize content and advertising for users based on their known interests and behaviors.

2. Device fingerprinting: It’s fair to say device fingerprinting, a method that identifies a user’s device based on various parameters like IP address, browser version, screen resolution, will become deeply important to marketers scrambling to protect their KPIs at all costs. While it’s not as invasive as cookies, it can help marketers recognize and target specific devices or user segments.

3. Privacy-compliant technologies: Not down for the shady approach? Advertisers can use technologies that prioritize user privacy while still netting some workable information about your consumers. For example, some companies are exploring blockchain-based solutions that allow users to control and monetize their data while still enabling targeted advertising. Privacy-focused browsers and extensions are also being developed to give users more control over tracking.

By relying on these new “ways in” and other privacy-compliant techniques, marketers can continue to reach their target audiences while respecting user privacy and complying with regulations—as much as it might pain them to do so. Resistance is futile, seeing as AI stands to put them out of a job.

Implementing Retargeting in Your Marketing Strategy

You’re probably somewhat savvy about this practice in the general sense, but it’s time to take it a step further. Once the steps of a basic retargeting or email retargeting campaign have been demystified, you’ll see there’s a fine line between staying top of mind and driving your audience insane, but hey, that’s modern marketing for you.

  • Gather as much data as you can about your audience. You’ll want to know their habits, preferences, and online behavior. Yes, we’re talking about becoming a digital stalker, but it’s all in the name of marketing, right?
  • Create personalized ads that remind your visitors of what they left behind on your website. Make it feel like you’re reading their minds. You know, subtly suggesting, “Hey, you forgot something,” or “Remember that thing you were interested in?”
  • Segment your audience wisely. Not everyone needs the same treatment. Tailor your retargeting campaign efforts to where they are in the customer journey. It’s like manipulating them strategically, but let’s call it “guiding.”
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of choosing the right platform. Select the retargeting platforms that align with your brand and audience. Google Ads, Facebook, and other social media platforms offer retargeting options. Consider where your audience spends their time online. This might sound sacrilegious, but the “top dog” platforms aren’t right for everyone. A brand called American Patriot managed to cut their cost per acquisition by 33% when they moved from Google Ads to AdRoll.

Going the Extra (Digital) Mile

Maybe this isn’t your first rodeo—look at you, you little digital stalker in the making. There are a handful of things you can do to turn a decent retargeting campaign into an earth-shaking one.

  • Set Frequency Caps: Avoid overwhelming your audience with too many ads. Set frequency caps to control how often your ads are shown to the same person. This prevents ad fatigue and irritation.
  • Adhere to Privacy Regulations: Be aware of privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA. Ensure that your retargeting efforts are compliant with these laws and respect users’ privacy preferences.
  • Measure Results: Use analytics tools to track the performance of your retargeting campaigns. Monitor metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and return on ad spend (ROAS). Once you’ve got the swing of things, try to allocate 20-30% of your ad spend to retargeting for the best all around results.

Remember that retargeting is just one piece of the marketing puzzle. It works best when integrated into a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes other tactics like content marketing, SEO, and social media. Continuously learning and adapting your retargeting approach is what it takes to win in the long run.

Performance

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