Have you ever been browsing a website, then found that wherever you go online, ads for that site keep showing up? The ads may show up on your social networking sites, or in the sidebars of other sites you are visiting. This happens because of a process called retargeting.

Retargeting can be a useful tool for any website looking to boost its conversion rates. It helps you manage how a user views your website, encouraging them to come back and become a paying customer.

To find out more about what retargeting is, how it works, and what it can do for your business, read on.


What is retargeting?

Retargeting is a method of getting viewers back to your website with the goal of converting them into paying customers. By showing them targeted ads on other sites, they are encouraged to come back to your site and complete the process of becoming a customer.

This is important because 98% of website viewers will go away without making a purchase. Only 2% of viewers will convert into paying customers on their first visit to your site.

Retargeting, also referred to as remarketing, is an effective way of approaching that 98% of viewers who don't become customers on their first visit. It also helps you determine what they see when they come back to your site.

How does retargeting work?

As an internet user, you've probably been on the receiving end of a retargeting campaign. This is because it's an unobtrusive process, and one that can happen seamlessly behind the scenes.

When you visit a site, a small piece of code is placed on your browser. This JavaScript, known as a cookie, contains certain information about the site you have visited.

After you leave the site, retargeting platforms across other sites will look for the cookies on your browser. Using this information, they will show you a specific set of advertisements based on your browsing history.

This means that the ads shown to you on other pages are shown because of the sites you have viewed in the past. These ads can bring you back to the site that you have left, with the goal of you returning as a paying customer.

What retargeting platforms are available?

The services that look for the cookies on users' browsers are called retargeting platforms. Google offers remarketing as part of its AdWords platform. This shows you ads on Google's pages, including sites like GMail and YouTube, as well as on other sites that are part of the Google Display Network.

Other retargeting platforms that you may have seen in your own browsing include AdRoll and Doubleclick Ad Exchange. These and other remarketing services offer ads on sites across the internet.

Social media also offers opportunities for remarketing. For example, Facebook offers its own retargeting service, in which its site's users can be shown ads in sidebars and in news feeds on the social network.

Types of retargeting

There are two main types of remarketing. The type described above, in which an anonymous user of a site is shown ads from that site, is often referred to as pixel-based retargeting. It is the most common form of remarketing as it allows you to reach a very large audience.

However, if you do have some information from your site's visitors, you might want to consider the other type of retargeting, as well. This second type is commonly called list-based retargeting. In this, you can have a highly targeted audience, based on a contact list you upload to the retargeting platform.

How to choose which method to use

Choosing between pixel-based and list-based remarketing is often a matter of when viewers are leaving your site. List-based remarketing requires you to have a certain amount of information about your visitors.

Knowing the right style of retargeting is something that you can find out through some site research. If most of your users leave without giving you any information about themselves, pixel-based retargeting will be the better choice.

However, if you have a lot of visitors that take the next step, such as signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form in order to download an ebook, list-based remarketing could be a useful tool. In this scenario, you would be able to show your ads just to those who have taken the first step to express interest in what you have to offer, but who haven't converted into paying customers or subscribers.

List-based remarketing can be a good addition to things like email marketing to that list. While somebody might not see or open an email you send reminding them of your service, they will see an ad about your site that shows up on their social networking site or in sidebars of a blog post they are reading.

The ability to recapture the attention of an audience that has already expressed interest in what you have to offer is what makes list-based retargeting such a useful tool. However, it does require a list of contacts. If you don't have this, pixel-based remarketing offers you a way to bring people back after even a single view of your site.

Making the most of retargeting

In an ideal world, every viewer of your website would start at your homepage, moving through the rest of your content, signing up to your newsletter, and taking the steps to become a paying customer. Unfortunately, that isn't how most website visits work.

You might have one viewer who starts on the homepage and then gets a phone call. Another might enter your website through a blog post they've seen shared on a social network. Yet another might go straight to the store section, but decide to do a bit of comparison shopping before they commit to a purchase.

In all of these cases, the viewers may leave your site without bookmarking, or they may forget what they needed from your site. Remarketing is a way to bring them back to your site.

The right audience

Because the audience has already visited your site, they can view your retargeting campaign with a basic knowledge of what you offer. They are an already interested audience.

This has an inherent benefit over the cold advertising you would get in some traditional advertising. For example, a newspaper advertisement would reach a lot of people who have never viewed your site, or who might not have any interest in the goods or services you're offering.

Retargeting can be much more effective simply because it shows your ad only to people who have demonstrated interest in what you have to offer. Remarketing serves as a reminder, bringing them back to your site when they're ready to make a purchase.

The right ad

Along with being focused on the right audience, remarketing is a way for you to show them the right ad. Retargeting campaigns can be tailored for segments of site visitors.

This means that you don't have to create a one size fits all retargeting campaign. You can show one ad to people who just read your blog, and another to those who browsed your e-commerce site. You can even narrow your ads based on what items they viewed.

By serving each viewer the ad that is most appropriate for them, you get even more value for money. Rather than creating a single ad that hopes to do all things for all people, you can create a campaign that focuses in on the type of interest each viewer has shown, working to convert them to paying customers.

The right time

Another great part of retargeting is that you can choose when a user sees your ad. This allows you to use remarketing to highlight something like a limited time sale. By doing this, you can draw potential customers in, showing them that they have the opportunity to buy from you at a special price.

Remarketing also gives you the ability to show ads to users at different times, depending on when they will need to be reminded of your products. For example, a user who was browsing for plumbing advice will likely be making a purchase much sooner than somebody who was browsing for luxury handbags.

Because different purchases have different timelines, remarketing allows you to delay when the user is shown your ad. The user looking for a plumber should be shown a retargeting ad immediately, while the luxury handbag shopper should be reminded of your offerings a week or even a month later.

This staggering of times can make retargeting more budget friendly while also giving a more natural appearance to the viewer.

Is retargeting right for your business?

If you're wondering whether retargeting is right for your business, consider these scenarios:

Your website has thousands of unique viewers each month, but only a few sales each month

You regularly have abandoned carts on your website

Your online sales are falling far behind your offline sales

You have a lot of sign ups on your site, but none of them are converting to paid customers

You don't want to spend a lot of money on ads that don't get a good return

If any of these sound familiar, retargeting can help. By reminding the potential customers about what you have to offer, as well as what makes you different, you can recapture their interest.

Remarketing is also very cost effective. Because you're only targeting an audience that has already demonstrated interest in what you do, you don't waste your budget on people who will never become customers.

The goals of retargeting

If you're familiar with how retargeting works, and what it looks like as a customer, you might be wondering what its overall goals are. A remarketing campaign aims to do two things: create awareness and create conversions.

Creating awareness

Think about the time spent online as navigating a new city. There are a lot of new, unknown things to see, and it can get overwhelming as you take it all in. When, after hours of walking, you see a street name you recognize, there's a sense of relief and understanding.

Remarketing makes sure that the recognizable street name in this scenario is your website. Even after moving away from your site, a user is reminded about what you had to offer them. Even if they don't come back to make a purchase right away, you've cemented your existence in their minds.

An awareness campaign allows you to show off any new features or products you've added, too. It signposts the user back to your site.

Creating conversions

Beyond awareness, however, remarketing can also set the goal of conversions. Whether you are retargeting a list of users who have already signed up but not made a purchase, or anonymous users who have just browsed but not gone any further, conversion campaigns are all about getting people to take the next step.

Retargeting can be a useful tool that augments the work you are doing elsewhere. While a list member might have filters set up that hide your emails, an in-browser ad will still reach them. Similarly, an anonymous browser might not perform a search that brings up your pay per click ad, but they will see a Google retargeting ad.

How an agency can help with your retargeting efforts

Retargeting, like many types of digital marketing, is something that can be done easily, but takes experience to master. This is why working with an agency can help make the most of your retargeting budget.

Understanding your needs

An agency will start off by finding out what your needs are. Do you have a low conversion rate? Do you have an existing remarketing campaign that isn't performing as it should?

By understanding your needs and researching your competition, an agency will gather the necessary information to create a successful retargeting campaign.

Setting up a campaign

An agency will also help you determine what type of campaign you need to run. You might want to jump straight to a conversion campaign when a broader, pixel-based awareness campaign is going to give you a better result.

You will also be able to make the most of an agency's experience to know how often a user should be shown your ad, how soon after their visit they should be shown it, and where that ad should take them within your site.

Creating ads

The success of any remarketing campaign will often come down to the quality of the ads. In the small space available, you need to make a compelling argument for why a user should click through to your site. This means using an interesting visual, a strong call to action, and offering a clear benefit to the user.

Creating strong advertisements is a learned skill, and where an agency can be a huge help. If you have an existing remarketing campaign that isn't performing as it should, it may be that your display ads need improvement. An agency can help troubleshoot what might be letting your existing campaign down.

Setting a budget

While remarketing can be a great value, like any digital marketing, it can be a source of wasted budget if not done correctly. An agency will help you set your advertising budget, determining how your money will best be spent.

The main goal of any advertising campaign, whether using traditional methods or remarketing, is to maximize the conversion rates and increase sales. An agency can offer you advice and help determining which remarketing platforms to use, as well as how to set an effective bid for the display of your ads.

Analysis and improvement

As with any campaign, remarketing requires you to analyze how it is performing. Analysis is an essential step, and one that can save you a lot of wasted money. By regularly looking at the performance of your retargeting campaign, and comparing this to your goals, you can see what is and isn't working.

An agency can help you make sense of the statistics. With knowledge about retargeting as well as website traffic statistics, an agency can explain what it all means and how things can be improved.

Get started with remarketing today

Retargeting can offer your business something few other marketing tools can - it allows you to reach out to the anonymous viewers of your site who have stopped by for a browse and then left without giving you any information about themselves. With up to 98% of all web viewers falling into this category, it is easy to see how you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers and sales.

With different types of campaigns, different ads, and different time frames, you can achieve a few things with remarketing. You can reinforce your branding and increase your brand recognition. In many cases, businesses see a quick result with remarketing, as it brings back customers who had left their site and just needed a gentle nudge to convert into paying customers.

As a cost efficient form of digital marketing, retargeting can also fit into a larger plan. To find out more about how to make retargeting work for your site, and how an agency can help, get in touch with us today.


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