In the 2002 movie, Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays an officer who is accused of a murder he has yet to commit. Although the science behind this futuristic policing is sketchy at best, other novel concepts in the film are not far off.
For instance, upon walking into The Gap, Mr. Anderson (played by Cruise) is greeted with a holographic image asking him how those assorted tank tops worked out for him. While we don’t currently experience personal advertising based on identification by retina scan, we are offered targeted ads based on our past behavior.
This is called retargeting, and the way it’s been used has evolved in recent years.
What is Retargeting?
Retargeting basically means you shadow visitors to your site. By attaching cookies to visitors, you create a sort of virtual tracking device, meaning that your ads may peek out at them at any moment.
Is this stalker-ish behavior really effective? According to many studies, yes! One infographic states that, with retargeting as many as 26% of visitors return to buy something. Of course, this makes sense, since seeing an ad pop up for a product that you’ve already shown interest in leads you to (a) believe that this brand is everywhere and so must be super popular, and (b) strongly reconsider your decision to walk away from a product that is so clearly “you.”
How can you, as an advertiser, capitalize of the effectiveness of retargeting?
Retargeting Isn’t Just for Display
Remember when the internet was new? Yeah, it’s hard to believe we ever lived without it. But, back then you’d see weird ads for things that you never needed or even wanted your children to see. They were displayed on various websites and on your search page.
Back then, the competition wasn’t quite as steep, so paying to have these ads displayed may not have carried the same price tag as today. However, they also weren’t quite as effective since your audience was really quite broad.
Fast forward to modern times, and the competition for advertising space can be brutal. For example, the keyword “insurance” may cost as much as $54.91 per click. With the number of toddlers managing their parents’ iPhones these days (and randomly clicking on things), that figure could give any marketer a heart attack. To be fair, Google says it’s working on a solution for these accidental clicks.
In addition, Google has recently changed how it displays ads. Gone are the ads on the right side of the page. Only top and bottom ads remain, making the competition even more fierce.
So what do you do if you don’t have a ginormous budget for retargeting?
The good news is that retargeting isn’t just for display anymore. Let’s take a look at how an effective retargeting campaign might go down.
Let’s say you sell Clark’s shoes. I love Clark’s so I visit your site and see that you have the sandals I’ve been looking for. However, my lunch break just ended, and it’s not really sandal weather yet here in the Northeast, anyway. So I close the page.
Later that day, I’m browsing through some posts on the Chive, and those sandals appear in an ad on the side of my screen. I click on them again, because I’m still thinking about them, but I don’t buy.
The next day, I’m browsing around again and I see an ad for those sandals again, but now in a slider series with other shoes that I might like. I click again, and finally decide to commit. Retargeting goal #1 is met: conversion.
However, it doesn’t stop there. I’m asked if I want to share my purchase with friends. So I share it on Facebook for all my friends to see, who will now become potential retargeted customers.
I also receive a follow-up email asking how I liked my purchase. It’s fine, but I don’t want to buy anything else right now. However, a month or so into summer when I receive an emailed coupon for another pair of sandals, I’m all in!
See how that works?
Other sites are using retargeting by making their sites exclusive. That is, in order to even view their products, visitors must provide an email address. Incentives are often given, like a 20% off coupon code to be used on a first purchase.
If the viewer browses around, or even adds an item to the shopping cart, but doesn’t make a purchase, a follow-up email can then be sent — retargeting the visitor.
Retargeting is beneficial to both the visitor and the vendor. Visitors are only shown ads based on their actual interest, unlike pre-millennium ads. And vendors can carefully allocate funds to advertising to a very specific audience.