What's in this article?

What is retargeting, anyways?
Retargeting vs. Remarketing: What’s the difference?
The Basics of Creating Your Retargeting Strategy

Retargeting 101Have you ever gone shopping online, clicked away from the store…and then had those exact same products you were looking at follow you to Facebook? That’s retargeting (sometimes called remarketing–we’ll get to that in a moment) in action, and it’s one way to get a lot more bang from your buck with online marketing.

What is retargeting, anyways?

If you’re using “retargeting,” you’re targeting users who have previously visited your website. The idea behind retargeting is that if someone visited your website, it’s reasonable to assume they have some level of interest in or need for your products/services. Retargeting is a way to remind them of that need and to keep your solution (your products or services) top of mind. This can allow you a second chance to buyers who may have been lost otherwise.

The way retargeting works is that you place a small piece of code either on one specific page of your site or site-wide. When the potential buyer visits other sites in the networks that you’re running retargeting ads on, they see your ads. These ads can be for your business in general or for specific products, based on what page the user visited.

Once a person in your retargeted audience buys something, you can set your ads so that they no longer see them. But you can create complex campaigns, if you want. For example, if you’re an e-commerce shop, you can add a different retargeting pixel to the last page of checkout that will show the user products related to their purchase–the “next step” products, if you will. Or you can show them refills for that particular product or accessories that go with it. It’s up-selling for the internet age.

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: What’s the difference?

There’s some confusion about what the difference between retargeting and remarketing is. It’s simple: they’re essentially the same thing. Google’s retargeting network is called the “remarketing” tool, but it’s just a network specific name for retargeting.

The Basics of Creating Your Retargeting Strategy

Choose your objectives

As with any ad campaign or marketing strategy, if you go into retargeting without a plan, it’s easy to spend a lot of money without getting any results. Make sure you consider the goals you’re working towards with your ads.

Among other things, retargeting can be useful for:

  • Increasing your email list of potential customers and leads
  • Enticing people to become new customers
  • Increasing your amount of repeat customers

Each of those objectives would require a different strategy–getting people to sign up for an email list (or a free consultation) is very different from showing the viewer accessories for the product they just purchased. Your call to action on the ad, ad image, and the landing page that the ad brings people to should be specific to the objective you’re working with.

Objectives also give you a way to measure success. If you don’t start your campaign with goals, you won’t have any way to tell if it’s successful or not–even if it did well, it’s hard to tell how well. On the other hand, if you know going in that your goal is to increase repeat buyers by 10% over the next three months, you’ll know if your campaign was a rip-roaring success or an abject failure.

The basics of good ad design

Ad design is where many people start, but it should only come into play after you’ve considered your goals, audience, and the platform you’re advertising on. Something that works well on Facebook won’t necessarily work well on another site’s sidebar or on a search results page. And as with all forms of digital marketing, you’ll want to test a few different versions (for design, copy, and call to action) to see what performs best.

Need help figuring out your ad design, copy, or call to action? These resources should get you started:

Choosing a network

Trying to figure out where to run your ads and whether you should use a network or not can be intimidating. Don’t feel overwhelmed, though–here’s a quick rundown of your options:

  • AdRoll is considered the industry leader by many, and is aimed at newbies. It’s slightly higher than the alternatives, but according to their website, the average AdRoll user earns $10 for every $1 they spend through the network. So it may be worth considering for your campaign.
  • Chango specializes in search retargeting. That means that instead of targeting visitors who went specifically to your website, it will target anyone who searched for a product or service and then landed on a page within Chango’s partner network. You get access to Google, Yahoo, and Bing, which means you’ll have plenty of keyword data to use, and their partner network is sizeable. The downside is that their minimum campaign spend is $10,000, so if you’re wanting to experiment on a smaller scale, Chango isn’t the best place to start.
  • Perfect Audience, like AdRoll, is meant to be beginner-friendly and even claims to be “the easiest way to retarget across the web, Facebook, and Twitter.” They also offer the ability to retarget customers or potential customers who opened an email, but didn’t wind up purchasing anything afterwards. Perfect Audience has built-in options for users of common e-commerce platforms (including Shopify, Volusion, and Magento), and their $100 credit for new users makes it as easy as possible for you to get started.

If you’re especially tech savvy and feel comfortable enough with retargeting to advertise on a specific site or social network (without the middle-man of an ad network), here’s the main players:

  • Facebook Exchange is, obviously, Facebook’s retargeting platform. As you may have gathered throughout this article, Facebook is one of the most popular venues for retargeting. Their very specific targeting options are a bonus–if you’d like to only show your ad to women who visited your site, between the ages of 27 and 35, who also like Page A and Page B, you can.
  • Twitter Retargeting is, again, fairly self-explanatory. If people who are interested in your products tend to use Twitter, it’s worth experimenting here; if your customers (or potential customers) don’t use Twitter, then you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
  • And, as previously mentioned, there’s Google’s Remarketing tool. This is a great option if you’re already familiar with the AdWords interface and want to try retargeting on Google’s display network.

The golden rule of online marketing: Always be testing

It’s been mentioned a few times throughout this article, but it bears repeating as we come to the end: even if you think you have the best combination possible of network, design, audience, don’t spend your whole budget on it. Keep testing with a few different combinations. Never assume that you’re getting the best results you’re going to get. There’s always room for improvement!

Want some more reading? Take a look at these intermediate to advanced retargeting resources:

Ready to get your company and website in front of more potential customers through remarketing? Ask us how we can help.

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