Retargeting continues to gain more and more attention due to its high click-through rates and its ever-increasing conversion rates. It is already a top contender compared to any other form of online advertising.
Berke calls himself “an industry evangelist for display advertising best practices.” In his column, he offers some advice on how to go beyond targeting people who have shown an interest in a specific site and the products and services offered.
Remember, statistics show that 98 percent of online visitors will leave without converting. A retargeting campaign, at its most fundamental level, allows advertisers to “follow” these visitors and turn them into potential customers with retargeted ads on other websites they visit. The idea is to “engage” the potential customer, to lead him or her back. You’re connecting with customers who have already shown an interest.
“We see retargeting as a core strategy for dealers to increase branding, prospects and ultimately, vehicle sales,” said Mike McDonnell, CEO of Automotive Internet Media, this month via a press release. “Converting more website visitors to leads by targeting display ads to those people throughout the Web provides (merchants) the opportunity for incremental sales.”
If you are a retargeter (or if you’re hiring a retargeter), don’t lose sight of the fact that your pricing model (cost per clicks, conversions, or impressions) isn’t as important as technology and the knowledge of how to use it correctly.
The attribution model is a problem point for many of today’s marketers. Online advertising has been called “the most accountable form of advertising on earth,” but today’s attribution models often give 100 percent transaction credit to the very last clicked or last viewed ad. In retargeting, four different ads might contribute to a transaction, and they may even be viewed on different days. But all too often, the last ad is going to get credit for driving the revenue.
Since you’re only targeting people who’ve already been to your site, many of these site visitors would have returned without seeing a retargeted ad. Measuring, retargeting solely on clicks means paying for site visitors who would have come back on their own regardless of the campaign.
Do you really know that customer wouldn’t have returned anyway? How can you prove that the purchase wasn’t the result of other efforts you are likely making (SEO, PPC, offline ads, pricing, competitive factors)?
Make sure your retargeting platform can check to see if a customer was served with an ad. Track results and provide concrete ROI reporting, not smoke and mirrors. It takes a lot of work, but you’ll end up with a loyal customer base in the end.
Berke says one of AdRoll’s greatest strengths is how it measures “incremental lift.” His company can use a control group to measure lift. The control group is not shown retargeted ads, and the incremental conversion rate between the control group and the group that sees retargeted ads is compared.
This allows them to measure the true lift that retargeting delivers, not counting customers who would have returned on their own anyway.
Another AdRoll “best practice” is to adjust creative and bidding strategies by looking at “intent signals.” These include the information site visitors give you, information such as what product categories they were looking at. It also includes the amount of time it’s been since someone visited your site. Adjust your targeting based on this time factor and before long you’ll figure out the sweet spot—how long you should wait to retarget.
AdRoll calls this second element the “time cohort.” Berke says the most underutilized optimization lever within a retargeting campaign is based on time cohorts. In the video below, he explains just what that means:
Including retargeting efforts in conversion rates among visitors who came to a site within the last five days is one way to skew your last-click-CPA numbers, because you’re taking credit for some sales that would have happened anyway. To optimize for incrimental lift, time cohorts come into play to re-engage dormant users.
If you want to generate lift and incremental conversions, you need to forget about direct response sometimes and focus on the call to action. Lift-oriented optimization means attractively designed display ads with attractive product and strong branding.
Frequency caps are another thing that Berke and his team at AdRoll advocate for. Showing the same ad over and over is a big no-no. Incremental lift means focusing on the average number of impressions prior to conversion, prioritizing exposure during that part of the funnel, and tapering off after the point of diminishing returns.
Finally, forget the concept of the “burn pixel” (Adding burn pixel means that you stop retargeting users who have converted). Why would you end the conversation just because you’ve made a sale? The people most likely to buy from you are the ones who have bought from you already.
Use a conversion segment to re-engage former customers after a certain amount of time has passed. Tell them about products similar to what they already bought, or let them know about a sale. In many ways, these are your most valuable customers, so don’t forget about them.