August 01, 2013
How To

E-commerce: What is Internet-based retargeting, and how can marketers use it?

SUMMARY: Customer engagement is something most consumer marketers are probably hearing a lot about right now. It's a great way to build relationships, particularly through social media after the sale.

How about with those people who remain potential customers in your funnel, but haven't gone all the way to final sale? Or existing customers with upsell opportunities? One way to remain engaged with these people is to implement retargeting -- also called remarketing by some in the industry.

This article features four experts with eight tips on retargeting, including real-life examples of retargeting campaigns.
by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Reporter

A marketing buzzword that is thrown around often these days when talking or reading about consumer marketing is "engagement." And, for B2C marketers, engagement means a number of different things.

One of those is post-sale engagement with customers, typically on social media for the purpose of creating a relationship between the brand and the customer.

Another context for engagement is a tactic that helps drive sales to both new and existing customers — retargeting.

Within retargeting, there are a number of channels included in specific retargeting tactics including banner ads, paid search and email.

To provide you with insight into B2C retargeting tactics, MarketingSherpa reached out to four expert sources:
  • Mark Barrera, Chief Search Officer, Buzzshift

  • Shelley Ellis, Principal, Shelley Ellis Consulting

  • Ryan Phelan, Vice President of Digital Impact Strategic Services, Acxiom Corporation

  • Justin Vanning, Customer Acquisition Manager, Moz

Barrera provided a quick overview on consumer marketing retargeting.

He said a B2C marketer probably knows what products a website visitor is looking to buy on an e-commerce website, if that visitor has filled out a form and especially if there was an attempt to buy or a cart abandonment.

Read on for eight ideas on including retargeting in your marketing mix, including retargeting website visitors and more.

Idea #1. Use retargeting for conversion rate optimization on abandoned shopping carts

One area many retailers struggle in is achieving that conversion to sale once someone is in the buying cycle, according to Barrera.

He said, "Identifying where they drop off, and then where you can get them back, so the abandoned cart is the perfect example."

For an example, if someone adds products to the cart and maybe even goes as far as calculating shipping, but then leaves for any reason — possibly to comparison shop elsewhere — being able to identify that person and retarget them through channels such as display ads or email should be a marketing goal.

The typical method of identifying that person is through a cookie if you don't know their name to serve them an online ad. If they've gone as far as filled out contact information, then you most likely have their email address for retargeting.

He suggested providing an offer through a retargeting channel for free shipping, or a 10% discount for returning and completing that purchase.
Phelan added retargeting an abandoned cart is "just free money."

He suggested retargeting within 10 minutes of the abandoned cart with email if you have the address, and if that first email isn't fairly immediately effective, make up to three additional touches maybe over the next three days.

Finally, testing the timing of the email series to determine what is most effective with your customer base is another tactic Phelan recommended.

Idea #2. Develop profiles to retarget to potential customers who don’t reach the cart

Building buyer personas or profiles might sound more like something a B2B marketer engages in, but Barrera said B2C marketers should create profiles on visitors on how they interacted on the website and what products they viewed.

The retargeting cookie will grab the information required to serve retargeted ads, but Barrera suggested going beyond just the cookie and actually look at all the activity to serve that visitor with display ads relevant to what they are interested in, and what products they actually looked at and maybe spent time viewing.

Idea #3. Utilize "burn pixels" to turn retargeting campaigns off

One very important tactic is to make sure and use "burn" pixels once a customer either makes the purchase, or takes whatever action you were driving with the retargeting effort.

Whatever action you were seeking from the campaign, you want to remove that person from the retargeting program once they conclude that action. These pixels also allow you to track those conversions.

An important reason for removing someone from the campaign is as a marketer you don’t want to come off as too "stalker-ish" by continuing to serve someone ads, particularly for a product they just bought from you.

"You want to have conversion pixels, or burn pixels is what they are commonly referred to, set up properly," Vanning explained.

"Make sure that whatever that 'thank you' page, or 'welcome' page after somebody signs up, whatever the next page after they completed that conversion action [is], make sure you have that burn pixel or conversion pixel there so you can move that person from your regular retargeting audience and that you are no longer showing them those ads to try to get them to take that action that they have already taken," Vanning added.

For the consumer marketer, that conversion is most likely conversion-to-sale rather than a website registration.

Idea #4. Utilize personalization and dynamic email content for retargeting

In an actionable idea that Phelan described as "browser remarketing," if a marketer sold dishwashers, and also through testing found out that conversions on that larger purchase increase with retargeting efforts, that marketer should send out additional information in the form of email.

He then added if the email is personalized with "We noticed that you are interested in dishwashers and we know that you were on our website," that type of communication could come off as "Big Brotherish."

He said the way around this is to send email with dynamic content that just becomes more focused on dishwashers without adding additional personalization.

For marketers who don't want to engage in dynamic content, or like to send personalized messages, just don’t mention a price or include a sales pitch and instead offer information on the category, or maybe the product that person viewed.

Phelan said either way, keep the email content simple and don't include 20 different products.

"Keep it short and manageable. If people want 20 items to look at, they will go to the website," he said.

Idea #5. Retarget to specific situations

Not every B2C marketer is going to have a product or service that lends itself to seasonal marketing, but for those marketers who do seasonal retargeting can be very effective.

Ellis provided a greeting card company as an example.

If that marketer finds someone who has an interest such as Mother's Day, that customer should be retargeted for other holidays as they happen with Father's Day, Independence Day, Halloween and others.

Another tip Ellis provided on a different type of segmentation is create retargeting campaign based on audience segments.

For example, a clothing company might have segments for men's clothing, women's clothing and children’s clothing. In a case like that, she said it is important to set up the retargeting tags on the website to be able to set up three different retargeting campaigns to reach each unique audience segment.

Idea #6. Retarget with logical product triggers

Logical product triggers are when someone buys a specific product — a new computer printer — retarget them with accessories for that product, such as ink refills, or even a complementary product that logically goes along with the purchased product. Marketers could even retarget with complementary products that testing has shown if someone buys product "X" they also are likely to buy products "Y" and "Z" as well.

Ellis said logical product trigger retargeting could even be some sort of sweepstakes to get them back to the store along with targeting with a complementary product.

Phelan provided an example of a campaign he was involved in where the team did testing on people who purchased a treadmill.

That testing found people who bought a treadmill, bought the mat that goes under the treadmill at a higher than 95% rate, and they also found that second purchase happened about two weeks after the original treadmill purchase.

In this case, those customers were sent an email about one week after the treadmill purchase with a message stating, "Thanks for buying the treadmill and we hope you like it. Please submit a review, and let us know if you would like the mat that is designed to go under your new treadmill."

These campaigns take a little more work than a simple promotional campaign because they require looking into the data on those purchases, but Phelan said once the data has been parsed and the trigger email campaign is set up, "They are free money every day."

Idea #7. Use display ad retargeting campaigns to convert at a higher rate than standard search campaigns

Barrera offered a real-life example of using retargeting with Google AdWords. His client was an online-only jewelry e-commerce retailer and the campaign was focused solely on people who did not complete a sale.

Once someone actually bought something, they were removed from the retargeting program.

"Remarketing has actually been one of the best performers as far as lead generation and new product sales," he said.

This particular effort's conversion rate was a five times improvement over the standard search campaign.

Idea #8. Use a spreadsheet to organize retargeting campaigns

Ellis offered one final tip — when running retargeting efforts, particularly when running multiple campaigns at the same time — use a spreadsheet to keep track of how and when the ads are shown and/or email sent.

For B2C marketers with a shorter sales cycle, the frequency might be quite high over a short period of time. Maybe as high as 10 or 15 delivered ads over three days.

If the sales cycle is much longer, for a larger ticket item for example, the frequency might be much lower, but the strategy might change to display one ad for the first week, a different ad for the next week, and so on.



Shelley Ellis Consulting

Acxiom Corporation


Related Resources

Email Marketing: Reactivation campaign for performing arts center sees 738% ROI

Email Marketing: Drip Campaigns Drive Revenue

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

Retargeting: 5 tactics from drip email to lead generation

B2B Retargeting: 5 tactics from burn pixels to Facebook

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