Last week’s news story about the British Conservative Party politician Gavin Barwell getting ‘kicked in the behind’  by remarketing is not only a funny example of why you should think twice before you tweet, it also provided for an enlightening discussion with friends around remarketing. I am a big believer in the power of remarketing from an advertiser’s point of view, but until now hadn’t given the idea that consumers actually use remarketing for their own benefits much thought. Despite not knowing how it works or what it’s called, remarketing has proven to be a great source of discounts for the keen online shoppers within my circle of friends.
What is remarketing?
In email and online marketing, remarketing refers to the strategy whereby you use advertisements across display networks to follow up with your website visitors who did not make a desired action, i.e. users who left your website without converting. The ads can be customized based on certain pages that the users have visited, and for larger e-commerce sites they can be even be customized to display certain products that were viewed. So even if they don’t convert on their first visit, users will constantly see your branding as they browse the web, reminding them of your company when they are ready to make a purchase, or encouraging them to further research your products.
Remarketing, whether via the Google Display Network, Criteo or any other network, is all about putting yourself in your visitors’ shoes and thinking about ways to entice them back to your site with different ad copy or special offers. Half of people who are retargeted return soon after and many convert because they have already demonstrated high intent.
Why you should use remarketing
It may take several engagements between a website visitor and a brand before any purchase is made. According to a research study by ValueClick, merchants are losing potential sales in the thousands every month, as 98% of first-time visitors to a site do not make any purchase. Therefore, as Ryan Wilson mentions in his article  after quoting this statistic, if you are simply marketing your business using PPC ads and not making an effort to follow up on the visitors that leave your site without converting, you are leaving a gaping hole in your marketing strategy. To reduce the number of potential lost sales you should retarget your ads to the 98% of visitors who do not take action at your site during their visit.
Retargeting can result in a high conversion rate when you target defined visitors and tailor your ads based on the (personal) information you have about them. You can target visitors who looked at a particular product or service by reminding them of the specific product they looked at. Or you can target visitors who have abandoned their shopping carts by offering them a special discount when they come back to purchase the product(s). Retargeting ads are proven to perform best when they are promoting a relevant offer and have a clear-call-to-action.
As Tony Zito said in his article on Marketing Land : “By delivering dynamic ads with interactive and personalized content to site abandoners, shoppers are incentivised to return to a website site and an individualized shopping experience is created that leads to brand loyalty.”
Remarketing as used by savvy shoppers
So brands can remarket their ads to users who visit their website, offering relevant discounts or deals based on the actions of the users. But as I found out the other day, some of the more savvy online shoppers out there actually actively search for online retailers who use remarketing in an effort to get the products they want at a discount.
When they want to buy a product or service, they visit a number of websites and once they’ve found the right products, they add them to the shopping baskets of these websites. The shopping baskets are then abandoned and the shopper sits back to wait for remarketing ads to start following them around the internet. Whatever brand offers them the best deal in their banner ads will eventually ‘win’ their purchase.
Things such as free gifts, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one-free deals work when it comes to persuading consumers to return to your website, so be creative and generous with your offers (within the constraints of your business model) to make sure you win the remarketing race.
So what happens when none of the websites the shoppers visited during their exercise uses remarketing? Undoubtedly, slightly disappointed in the lack of effort of the brands concerned, the shoppers will have no choice but to buy the products at full price somewhere. This ‘somewhere’ may be your website, but it may well be your competitor’s… are you happy to risk losing the sale to someone else? Remarketing really can be fruitful if you use it correctly. Just make sure you understand how it works and avoid Gavin Barwell’s mistakes !
- Not Only Do Smart Advertisers Use Remarketing, Smart Shoppers Do Too!  - March 25, 2013