Digital Strategy — Five Retargeting Tactics to Amplify Sales

With the holiday and the shopping season upon us there’s a good chance that you plan to increase your remarketing as part of your marketing mix. Thanks to the likes of Criteo, Google and Adroll, remarketing has become an easy channel to turn on and ramp up based on seasonality or to coincide with other advertising initiatives. While it can be a great way to nudge the fence sitters to act, it can also be overused, annoy your customer and lead to waste.

With the right strategy in place though, you’ll be in a better position to turn your visitors into customers all without turning them off in the process. Here are five tactics for ecommerce sites I’ve found effective to maximize budgets and drive more conversions.

This is worth repeating as so many companies get it wrong. Do not remarket the same product to someone who just bought. It should be a no brainer. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been personally served ads with products that I’ve already bought. Unless you have an ad blocker installed, you’ve probably suffered through the same or considered installing one yourself due to overkill.

The fix here is quite simple. Just add an exclusion pixel to the confirmation page so that you can exclude the customer from your campaign or better yet serve them ads with complimentary products to the one they just bought.

I recently bought tickets to the latest Cirque de Soleil show. Five weeks later I’m still seeing ads for the show. While it’s a nice reminder that I’m about to see another amazing show, it’s budget better spent focused on acquiring new customers or upselling me with some of the deals that I turned down when I bought the tickets.

Simply put, frequency controls the number of times a user sees your ad in a given time period. Most platforms including Adwords and Facebook will allow you to set a limit here. While it may seem like a good idea to blast your message for weeks, you’d be best to set some limits.

Three weeks after visiting an educational site I’m still seeing 10 or more ads a day across my cell phone, tablet and desktop for this one company. A better option is to limit the number of ads a visitor sees in any given day, regardless of the device. In my experience across hundreds of advertisers and campaigns, activity falls off extensively after 5–7 exposures a day within the first few days. As every business is different though, it’s a good idea to see what works best for your brand and adjust accordingly.

Outside of being bombarded with the same ad creative in a single day there’s nothing worse then seeing the same ad weeks after you’ve moved on. Tests I’ve conducted for large brands show that your best chance to convert them is within the first 48 hours after their last visit. After that time, there’s a good chance the visitor has either bought the product, moved on, or is no longer interested.

To avoid waste and annoy your audience, I recommend assigning different strategies based on the recency of the user’s last visit. This strategy allows you to be a bit more aggressive up front over the first few days with a focus on the last product viewed but then change to a lower frequency with new creative that showcases a different product or message altogether in the days and weeks that follow.

When combined with dynamic creative, advertisers can use recency to evolve their message and gently nudge visitors along the customer journey week after week. This strategy is especially effective for B2B advertisers who’s products have a wider range of benefits that require a bit more detail.

One of the most common mistakes I see is retailers treating their entire audience as one regardless of what content the visitor saw or where they ended up in the funnel. Using the same strategy for a visitor who adds a product to their cart as a visitor who never makes it past the home page is not very effective. Rather, it’s better to serve a home page only visitor with different message than a visitor who shows more intent and adds product to their cart. For the latter, you can include an offer within the creative to push them across the line while a mixture of different products combined with your company’s shipping policy (i.e. free shipping or a holiday shipping guarantee) or other benefits might be more effective for the home page visitor.

Depending on the size of your audience, you can create separate segments and strategies for Home, Category, Product, Cart as well as separate segments for customers who clicked on a recent email or were referred from a specific site.

With the growth of mobile, which makes it more challenging to track user data via cookies combined with Safari’s new Intelligent Tracking Prevention which limits 3rd party cookies on the desktop to 24 hours, the death of the cookie is more eminent then ever. Outside of the walled gardens of Facebook and Google who both rely on Single Sign-On to track users across devices, tracking visitors on mobile and conversions across devices is becoming a more daunting task. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore mobile display retargeting outside of Google and Facebook or serve the same ads to visitors on mobile as you do on desktop.

A better option is to craft a unique creative strategy based on the environment of the user. While you may be able to lump together desktop and tablet users, treating mobile visitors with the same creative is akin to throwing money down the drain. Think about the last time you purchased an expensive or more complex product on your cell phone.

To optimize results, start by considering the form factor and the user’s propensity to buy on mobile. If your seeing lower conversion rates then you have a great reason to mix up the creative offering. One tactic I’ve seen work well on mobile is to include a stronger offer to drive the user back to the site. Combined with a unique coupon code, it also allows you to track whether the ad seen on their cell phone resulted in a sale on another device all together.

Ecommerce & Data Driven Executive and Mentor @ Founders Institute Vancouver & Futurepreneur Canada

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