Ad retargeting seems pretty creepy at first glance
We’ve all experienced it – last week you browsed a clothing website and now their adverts are following you around on every site you click on. It feels like you’ve got a creepy stalker who just won’t take no for an answer. This online marketing strategy is called ad retargeting (or remarketing) and the premise is that while you didn’t buy from that particular website the first time, a gentle reminder here and there could bring you back to your abandoned cart or the web page you bounced from.
How does ad retargeting work?
Only 2% of people make a purchase on their first visit to most websites, while 98% bounce. The thing is, those 98% of people who bounced are very valuable as they’re what’s known as a warm lead.
In online marketing, your job is to move people from cold leads (unaware of your business) to warm leads (aware but need more convincing before making a purchase) to hot (have made a purchase and know you already).
Ad retargeting helps online marketers to reach those warm leads and remind them about what they’ve missed out on in order to convert them to buyers.
The technical side of things:
In order to enable ad retargeting a business places a small piece of code (or pixel) on their website. Each time a new person visits the website, the code releases a browser cookie. This cookie enables the business’s advertising provider to serve ads to the people who have previously visited the website or a specific page within the site.
This infographic from Retargeter.com shows how the strategy would play out in a perfect world:
Not everybody who is retargeted does return back and not all retargeting ads capture a warm customer’s attention. However, this method of advertising is much more targeted and cost effective than placing a banner ad somewhat randomly on a website and hoping that someone interested in your product comes along.
“On average, retargeting ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than a regular old display ad.” Wordstream
When you first start to notice this retargeting tactic as a consumer it can seem pretty creepy and when those ads follow you around too much it can be plain annoying. So how can marketers take advantage of this tactic without pissing people off?
How you can retarget people without looking like a stalker
Think of it in terms of online dating. You’re trying to build a relationship with someone who is being courted by a dozen other people at the same time. The person you’re interested in has seen your photo and either swiped right or left, but doesn’t know that much about you. It’s definitely too early to be suggesting you move in together!
You’d probably exchange a bit of strategically placed funny banter first, compare notes on what you’re watching on Netflix and let each other know how awesome and desirable you are by sharing your cutest snapchat filter pics. You’re getting to know each other and sharing information in the hope that it will lead to a date. You’re building a relationship.
In the same way, you need to get strategic about building a relationship with your warm leads before you put the hard word on them.
I recently visited the website for WeWork, a coworking space. I’m now seeing the below ad retargeting me in my newsfeed. It feels like the same ad they would serve to a cold lead. I’m warm, I think they should be telling me a bit more about their space and making me feel a bit more special. They’re not really working hard enough to build a relationship with me.
The same can be said for this Shopbop retargeting ad. I put a pair of jeans in my cart but abandoned them. They want me to shop now but they’re not really doing enough to make me go back.
Five ways to do retargeting right
1/ Acknowledge that you’re retargeting and make it feel less creepy.
Example: Include some ad copy that says something like ‘Hi again! Did you get busy and forget these awesome jeans? We’ve kept them aside for you’
2/ Lure them back to your website with an irresistible offer on the items they recently browsed.
Example: ‘Up to 30% off on your favourite styles.’
3/ Assume that they had some objections to purchasing the first time around and address their objections.
Example: ‘The number one selling jeans on Shopbop this season, great for every body type’.
4/ Inject a sense of urgency or scarcity into the retargeting ad.
Example: ‘20% off ends tonight!’ or ‘Buy now, only 7 left!’
5/ Offer them something of value and put the sales pitch aside for now.This is content strategy and there are plenty of great pieces of content that work to convert warm leads to sales.
- Product demos
- Free trials
- White papers
- High value blog posts
Ontraport are great at retargeting with content offers. I’ve downloaded a stack of brilliant worksheets and e-books from them via retargeting ads lately. This one appeared in my Facebook feed:
How ad retargeting and content turned me from a warm lead to a hot buyer
I was on a marketing website recently. I read a short blog post and then bounced off on my merry way.
The next day I was retargeted on Facebook with an offer of an e-book that I could download in return for my email address. It was of great value to me so I had no problems signing my inbox over.
Shortly after that they followed me around with a low dollar offer – some great marketing templates for under $10. I purchased them. A few days later I was retargeted with a great discount on a course, which I purchased.
They got me hook, line and sinker and I didn’t mind a bit. They had established a relationship with me, offered me relevant things that were of value and I didn’t feel like I was being stalked.
All the best relationships start out as friends
What happens next?
After you’ve retargeted your warm leads, you should also retarget your buyers.
I received this up-sell ad from GoDaddy domains recently. I’ve purchased a number of items from but not an email address. I currently have my Hummingbuzz email address through G-suite but it’s on a free trial that’s about to end and guess what, I might just consider GoDaddy because their prices compare pretty favourably!
If you’re interested in using ad retargeting, you could try Facebook via their pixel tool (which also offers analytics and lots of other cool stuff). I’ve received some great ad retargeting through Facebook recently – the strategy really makes sense within a Facebook newsfeed as I prefer to see information about things I’m familiar with.
Find out how to get started via this Facebook help center page.
If you’d prefer to dive into Google AdWords, they offer a remarketing cheat sheet and guide here.
If you need some ad copy or ideas for your ad retargeting campaign, please get in touch.