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Analysis

Moving Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Retargeting Strategies

First impression is important, but In e-commerce, targeting a user AFTER he visited your site is what will bring you the real conversions

Evan F.P.
May 05 2018

Very few e-commerce customers convert during their first visit to a new website. In fact, a benchmark report by Demac Media suggests that only 0.59% of first-time visits to e-commerce sites end with a completed purchase. The rest are spent getting to know the brand, browsing product pages, comparing prices and so on. Conversion rates increase once users return for second and third sessions, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be back.

Retargeting tools let marketers follow visitors throughout the web and deliver ads that can recapture their attention and drive sales. It’s proven to be a cost-effective strategy, but only when optimized using customer data. One-size-fits-all campaigns fail to capitalize on actionable behavioral information that visitors provide in the form of page visits, cart activity, session duration and more. Marketers who take advantage are able to design responsive campaign flows that shepherd prospects through the funnel with minimal friction.

Here’s how today’s retargeting experts are maximizing results for their businesses.

Fools Rush In

Whether it’s a six-figure SaaS contract or a pair of sunglasses, every sale moves at its own pace. Some take longer than others, but they all start with awareness, move on to qualification, and end with conversion. There are no shortcuts. Trying to skip steps will ultimately result in fewer conversions and wasted ad dollars. Savvy marketers invest time and resources into building campaign structures that work slowly and deliberately, advancing prospects from one stage to the next only once they’ve demonstrated behavior that suggests they’re ready to move on. Retargeting plays a big part in this.

First-touch campaign content promotes brand awareness and provides value. General interest blog posts and other value-driven content pieces are appropriate ways to introduce new audiences to a brand. Simply having visited the site is not enough to merit retargeting. Only once marketers are sure that they can segment users who have derived value from their brand’s associated properties can retargeting begin. From there, it’s all about helping prospects learn more about their products.

Helpful Reminders

Many businesses have the unique challenge of helping customers qualify not just one product or service, but a catalogue, each appealing to a unique customer archetype. While this can make things difficult for top-of-funnel campaigns, it provides a wealth of actionable data for qualification-stage retargeting. Where applicable, marketers have found product page visits to be highly indicative of conversion potential. That’s where the most detailed information is available, suggesting that the customer has moved well beyond the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey and into the final phase of qualification. Some of the most effective retargeting campaigns are those that simply remind the prospect of their interest by showing them the same creative they originally saw on the product page.

In the past, this would entail building out unique campaigns for every SKU in a catalogue, which can be tedious and time-consuming. Thankfully, both Google and Facebook have built functionality into their advertising platforms that allows marketers to automate product-specific retargeting efforts. “With messages tailored to your audience, dynamic remarketing helps you build leads and sales by bringing previous visitors back to your site to complete what they started,” explains Google’s web copy. With the grunt-work handled, ecommerce marketers simply need to maintain a catalogue of product creative in order to scale their campaigns and deliver more impressions to well-qualified leads.

Clean Targeting

Effective retargeting campaigns maximize the efficiency of an ad budget by seeking out and eliminating waste. For example, it would be reasonable to assume that prospects who have only visited a site’s “Careers” page are more interested in getting hired than buying anything. Rather than having a catch-all campaign that targets all site visitors, savvy marketers use functionality available in most major advertising platforms to filter out these users, diverting ad dollars to those more likely to convert. As a result, overall campaign performance metrics like return on ad spend increase.

Free Trials

Trial offers have been common practice among software vendors for years, but even modern ecommerce merchants have started enjoying positive results by offering prospects free product samples. Promotions like these allow marketers to develop trial customer segments that are primed for more product-forward content. “Maybe they got distracted, or maybe the timing wasn’t right for them. After a few days of inactivity, you can send them some interesting content to remind them of your product,” explains growth marketing expert Pierre Lechelle in an article with Kissmetrics. Even if prospects don’t convert during the trial duration, that shouldn’t dissuade marketers from enrolling them in their retargeting initiatives.

Customer expectations have changed significantly over the last few years. Standards of personalization and value have increased even among innovative, non-commodified verticals. In response, successful marketers have learned to listen more attentively and build nuanced retargeting campaigns that consider unique customer variables without getting creepy. It’s a willingness to rise to this level of accommodation that will determine the digital marketing victors of years to come.

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Evan F.P.

Evan is a writer, educator and tech marketer. As content director at Fluid PR Group, he helps businesses tell their stories to the world. He lives in Toronto with his wife, their son and an occasionally well-behaved Australian Shepherd named Islay. Follow Evan on Twitter

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