April 22, 2009
How To

How to Nearly Double Conversions by Targeting Ads to Recent Visitors: 5 Steps

SUMMARY: If visitors leave your site without purchasing, you are wasting the substantial amount you’ve spent to bring them there. Find out how one eretailer reintroduced recent visitors to his website by enhancing brand credibility. Interested in nearly doubling your site’s return conversions? Read on to see this brand’s 5-step process, metrics to gauge performance and visuals of the ads they used.
Jason Hesse, VP Marketing, Abacus 247, wondered why some people left the computer accessory retailer’s website without buying. Lack of trust, he thought, might be the reason they did not convert.

With a stronger brand and more trust, Hesse hoped to bring more shoppers back to the site to purchase. His team always focused on making it easy for customers to buy from the site. Now he also wanted to make it easier for them to return.

His team targeted banner advertising to consumers who had recently visited the Abacus website. To build the brand’s credibility and encourage repeat visits and sales, the ads ran on major media outlets and on other websites. “It’s really an initiative to not waste the big money we’re spending to acquire new traffic,” Hesse says.

Find out how he set up a system to build trust in the brand, drive more visitors back to his website, and see positive results.

Advertising to Recent Visitors

Hesse’s team created a system to identify people who had recently visited Abacus’s website and to show them product-specific ads on other websites. Here are the steps they took:

Step #1: Create category-specific ads

First, the team created a series of online display ads. Some advertised specific types of products, including:
-Cables and adapters
-Printer ink
-MP3 player accessories
-General homepage
(See creative samples below)

Each product category had several ads. The cables and adapters category, for instance, had six ads.

Step #2: Cookie visitors

Unique visitors to Abacus’ website received a tracking cookie. Other websites could use the cookie to detect if the visitor has been to the Abacus website. This cookie lasted about two weeks, meaning that all cookied visitors were recent. Visitors without a cookie-enabled browser could not be tracked.

Step #3: Run customized ads on multiple websites

Hesse’s team worked with a provider to place ads on major media websites, including:
- Yahoo! Mail
- FOXNews.com
- TechCrunch
- PerezHilton.com
- Photobucket
(See creative samples below)

Abacus’ ads were shown on these sites only if the visitor had a cookie indicating that they’d recently visited Abacus’ website.

o Tailor ads to browsing history

The visitor’s browsing history determined which type of ad was shown. For instance, a visitor who recently browsed memory cards at Abacus would see an ad with an image of a memory card and the Abacus brand. The ads took visitors to the relevant product-category page at Abacus’ website.

o Building trust

Running ads on large-scale media websites helps Abacus build credibility, and reminds visitors about Abacus, Hesse says. “Some of the things that you can’t really measure are the brand awareness and visibility...That’s something that I think that’s on the minds of small to medium-sized businesses -- how do we get the customers to trust in us?”

o Alternate own ads and those of other brands

Abacus’ ads regularly rotated with other brands’ ads. One visitor was not guaranteed to see the same ad as the next visitor. That meant that not all cookied visitors saw an Abacus ad. Also, those viewing an Abacus ad would likely see a different brand if the page was reloaded or revisited.

Step #4: Check tracking for insights

Hesse’s team monitored the performance of the ads individually. They saw, for example, how well general homepage ads performed compared to memory-card ads. The tracking helped them refine their strategy.

They found:
- The highest-performing banner was for cables and adapters; it highlighted a free-shipping offer:
CTR: 1.25%
- Animated ads received slightly higher clickthrough rates
- Ads mentioning coupon codes got a strong response

Hesse does not use coupon-code ads very often, he says but, if times get tight, the tracking revealed that an effort in that area would have an impact.

Step #5: Watch ROI

“We know what we can pay for a new customer. And, knowing that these banners will be attracting return people, we want to still get those return visits, but we want to pay less than what we would pay for a new customer,” Hesse says.

Given what Hesse calls a “very advantageous CPA structure,” he’s seen a 592% ROI since starting the campaign in November, he says.

In January, overall, the ads received:
o Avg. CTR: 0.33%
o Highest per-day CTR: 0.48%
o Clicks converted into a sale: 2.6%

Before, about 11% of Abacus’ conversions came from returning visitors. Since starting the program, return conversions increased about 94%, Hesse says. Although not all conversions by returning visitors could be attributed to this program, Hesse says there is a direct relationship to the beginning of the program and the increase.

Useful links related to this article:

Abacus 247 Customized Ads

Sherpa 101: Online Display Ads - Types, Sizes, Rates & Metrics

Abacus 247

FetchBack: Helped team retarget and measure ads

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