April 10, 2013
How To

Retargeting: 5 tactics from drip email to lead generation

SUMMARY: This article has long been in the making. The journey began with a marketing event cocktail hour conversation, then another discussion over a steak dinner, and closed with lunch at a day-long educational conference. Add in a great referral and voila, we had four sources for two how-to articles on retargeting.

Read on to find out what those four sources said about retargeting in multiple marketing channels including email, online advertising and paid search.
by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Reporter

Retargeting, also known as remarketing depending on who you are speaking with and even the context of the execution, is a valuable and versatile B2B strategy. It covers numerous marketing channels including email, paid search, online advertising and social media.

To provide a look into retargeting tactics both old and new, MarketingSherpa reached out to four expert sources: Mark Barrera, President, Barrera Search Marketing; Shelley Ellis, Principal, Shelley Ellis Consulting; Ryan Phelan, Vice President of Digital Impact Strategic Services, Acxiom Corporation; and Justin Vanning, Customer Acquisition Manager, SEOmoz.

What is retargeting?

At a very high level, retargeting is proactively reaching back out to prospects who have shown an interest in your company. Let's take a closer look.

The first step is finding someone with interest in your company. This intent may be expressed as strongly as a "hand raise." For example, this could mean the customer is registering for your list by providing an email address and then continuing to interact with your website. Or, it may be as subtle as a prospect visiting designated pages on your site containing a cookie or a tag that allows you "find" that person on other websites or search engine results pages.

The next step is to continue to interact with that person, even after they are no longer on your website, with targeted email, relevant online ads or paid search results.

This how-to article features five tactics on how to execute retargeting across a number of marketing channels. Next week, we'll "retarget" you with five more tactics from our expert sources.

Tactic #1. Lead nurturing and drip email campaigns are retargeting

Lead nurturing campaigns combining content marketing with email, or drip email campaigns based on specific trigger events, may not be discussed in these terms all the time, but both are retargeting tactics.

Phelan explained, "Drip programs are probably the best retargeting that you can have because they are all based upon the person's expressed interest in a product or service."

He added marketers should want to push relevant information into the hands of prospects, but the challenge is receiving information from that prospect to be able to reach them.

One way retargeting emails can help is with lead generation forms. Marketers are sometimes caught between two opposing forces. Sales wants a lot of information to consider a lead sales ready, from phone numbers to budget data, yet prospects loathe filling out long forms early in their relationship with your company.

Phelan said, "Do you ask for a lot of information, or do you ask for a little?"

He continued, "People may not want to pick up the phone, so asking for a phone number may be encouraging an abandonment of the [lead generation] form."

Phelan also likened form abandonment to an e-commerce problem — cart abandonment. If a marketer can at least receive an email address, that prospect can become part of a drip campaign to receive further information later in the process.

Phelan cited 2011 research from The Radicati Group, Inc., finding corporate workers received up to 105 emails a day (20% spam) and sent 41 e-mail messages per day.

"Based on that kind of volume in a business account, for somebody to give you an email address, that is like a conversion," Phelan explained.

He added a data point based on a previous employer where a marketing group was seeing 300% to 500% higher rates of conversion on retargeting drip campaigns over promotional emails sent.

Tactic #2. Generate "soft" leads through retargeting

In tactic #1 above, the retargeted prospect has already raised their hand enough to provide an email address. For tactic #2, retargeting is used to reach out to potential prospects who haven’t even provided an email address or other contact information.

Barrera said, "Retargeting provides a whole different layer when you are not able to get into their email inbox, or get that form information."

This tactic involves placing a tracking cookie or tag on particular webpages used to retarget those visitors with banner ads on other websites or paid search. Barrera said possibly even going so far as removing form requirements for an incentive, such as a free offer.

"Maybe you are able to eliminate some of those required elements because you are just trying to do a soft entry on them onto your marketing list," he said.

Barrera explained the retargeting ads provide extra emphasis on brand awareness and can introduce the as-yet unknown prospect to lead generation efforts. This is a valuable tactic during the very early stages of the buying cycle when the prospect is actively doing research.

He said, "Retargeting is definitely going to keep the company in front of [prospective customers] when they are evaluating the competition."

That's going to help improve your brand awareness, and also simply help you drive more leads," Barrera said.

Tactic #3. Tie your retargeting program to the sales funnel

Vanning described SEOmoz's conversion funnel as "pretty simple." He added the primary conversion the company is looking for is someone coming to the website and signing up for a free trial of SEOmoz's pro software.

That conversion path looks like this:
  • Home page

  • Features page (a product resource)

  • Plans and pricing page

  • Cart/Billing page

On that final part of the path, there is a 30-day free trial option, but it does require a credit card. Vanning said the credit card requirement was to reduce fraud and create a higher barrier for entry to receive the free trial.

"We know that people are serious about trying the software by having to put that credit card in," he said.

For retargeting, Vanning said there is a focus on behaviors and segmenting prospects.

He explained, "For me, it is really focusing on where [prospects] are in that conversion funnel. If somebody hits the homepage, they haven't really shown us any intent. They come to our site, they are familiar with, probably, our company name, our logo and maybe our mascot."

The banner ads leading visitors to different pages in the conversion funnel have messaging tied to how far down the sales cycle that prospect might be.

"The types of assets I show to someone who hits the homepage versus somebody who makes it all the way to the cart page and abandons are very different," Vanning explained.

He provided two examples:
  • "The 'homepage people,' I typically will show branded ads — our mascot, the logo. Ads that are just trying to remind them that they came to our site, try to get them back and maybe place them at the features page to get them one step further in the conversion process."

  • "Somebody hits the cart page, we know that they obviously had some intent. They made it through some portion of the product tour and decided to click on one of our CTA buttons to take a free trial."

    "For those people, ads are focused on the value prop of our software, [and that] is a no-risk free trial."

The strategy of showing different banner retargeting ads based on where that person is within the SEOmoz conversion funnel is, obviously, to entice clicks.

"One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years of doing retargeting is you blow through a lot of impressions and get your ads seen by people who have been in your site," Vanning said. "But, if you are not showing them the right ad, you are just going to have people who are like, 'All right, SEOmoz is following me around all the time,' and never clicking on [the ads]."

Tactic #4. Tie retargeting ads and email to specific actions

Very similar to tying retargeting ads to where that person hits your website sales funnel, this tactic refers to retargeting website visitors based on the specific actions they take on the site.

Ellis explained, "Say, if somebody visited a specific website three times, or ten times, or one time, we can even create remarketing [ad] campaigns around that — around people actually coming a certain number of times, or [if] they viewed a video twice."

She continued, "We could say, 'OK, this person is really serious, so let's make sure that we get them included in this particular campaign with this messaging.'"

Barrera agreed retargeting based on website actions was a powerful tactic. He mentioned one idea is if someone downloads a 30-day demo, when that demo is about to end — such as five days before the 30 are up — retarget them with email to highlight features in the demo and a make a pitch for purchase.

He provided an example of a client with a cloud-based software solution.

The marketing goals were to persuade prospects to sign up for a 30-day free trial, and convince them to make the purchase.

"We focused on those five days before that 30-day free trial is up to be able to reinforce brand messaging, talk about product features, but then also take a customer service approach — 'Having tried our tools, click here to find out more.'"

He added the retargeting message could also include links to instructional videos highlighting the full capabilities of the product.

Tactic #5. Organize your ad retargeting campaigns with a spreadsheet

Ellis said ad retargeting has become a complex endeavor.

"The concepts are not as simple as they used to be," she said.

Ellis offered a list of different retargeting elements to track:
  • Goals

  • Landing pages

  • Messaging

  • Exclusions that will be part of the program

  • Tags you need to exclude

  • Duration of the campaign

  • Sales cycle

  • Frequency

She explained, "How many times should I be showing this ad or this sequence of ads specifically [created] for this particular audience?"

To keep track of all of these various elements, Ellis suggested creating a spreadsheet. One danger in retargeting ad campaigns is your prospect will be seeing your ads on multiple websites they are visiting, and the last thing you want is for that person to feel "stalked" by your ads.

A spreadsheet can coordinate all the elements of the campaign, and that can be particularly important for B2B marketers with a longer sales cycle.

"How long are we going to show these ads to these people?" Ellis asked. "If the sales cycle is 30 days, that is the default [duration] in Google."

She continued, "If you have a 90-day sales cycle, then maybe you need to have a remarketing strategy where you show them ads for the first 30 days, another set of ads the next 60 days and then another set that lasts 30 days."


Barrera Search Marketing

Shelley Ellis Consulting

Acxiom Corporation


Related Resources

Would Retargeting Look Good With My Current Marketing? by Ellis, via Marketing Land

Email Marketing: Drip Campaigns Drive Revenue

PPC Advertising: How to track AdWords and Facebook ads in 5 steps

Online Advertising: Retargeting drives 3% to 7% in incremental topline revenue for CafePress

B2B E-commerce: How an online retailer garnered 100% top-line growth in its affiliate program (plus 5 more marketing channels)

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