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Retargeting needs to be part of your marketing vocabulary

In Digital Advocate

Alexander Gould

By Alexander Gould
March 25, 2014 at 1:26 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2015 at 1:26 p.m.


I believe most of you reading this post have experienced retargeting and just didn’t know it. If you’re running a business or are responsible for marketing one in 2014, you need to make sure retargeting is part of your vocabulary.

Several months ago, my wife and I decided it was time to start car shopping. Like the majority of other people purchasing vehicles, our car shopping started online. We spent hours perusing cars.com, autotrader.com and other auto websites. During this time, we found several cars that looked interesting, and we would end up doing additional research on local auto dealerships’ websites.

This research took several weeks to complete before either my wife or I stepped on any auto dealership’s lot to take a test drive. During the research period, I would visit other sites that are part of my normal online reading routine. While I was surfing the Internet on these non-auto sites, I started to be served local dealership’s advertising based on my online behavior.

I’m guessing the above scenario is many of you reading this blog have experienced. That type of digital marketing is called retargeting.

The auto dealers serving me advertising messages during my online research have a greater chance of me reacting to their message because I am already focused on that topic. As a business owner, don’t you want to put advertising messages in front of customers who are interested in what you have to say? This is a wiser use of your advertising and marketing budgets.

Even if my wife and I had not been online creating a digital footprint based on searching for a new car, I could still have been targeted had I directly visited the website of a dealer that was using site retargeting. This level of retargeting allows advertising to be served to people after they have been on a site and then left to continue their online experience.

Site retargeting is accomplished by placing a small piece of code called a pixel on the business’ website. The pixel knows when a new customer has visited the site and will create an anonymous browser cookie. The cookie then ensures the ads are served to the person who visited your site.

Why would a business want to put advertising in front of customers who had already visited their site?

If you are in a competitive business -- like new car sales -- as a business owner/manager you know I am shopping around. Keeping your ad in front of customers is a constant reminder of your business and improves your chances of a visitor returning to your site, calling or physically coming into your business.

I have read studies that show as many as 98% of users do not usually convert (buy or interact with the business) the first time they visit a website. If you are selling merchandise on your website, you most definitely need to make retargeting part of your marketing plan.

Retargeting is important to your business because it allows you to target customers in the buying process. When creating a retargeting campaign, you can target customer by geography, demographic and -- most importantly -- behavior.

Unlike many marketing vehicles, retargeting will allow you to make an informed decision when determining your return on investment. Retargeting programs allow you to see how many impressions were served, what your click through rate (CTR) was and which market is driving more impressions and CTR. Additionally, the programs offer a full report of what behavior and keywords are driving more activity. Finally, business owners using a retargeting program can get a list of websites where their ads are appearing during the campaign.

You might be thinking only large businesses can afford this technology. Like most digital marketing options available to businesses these days; however, expense doesn’t need to be a hurdle. Retargeting programs are extremely scalable, which allows small business owners to find a program affordable for their budget and that will place the right number or ads in front of customers in the buying process.

Large businesses have adopted the retargeting approach more uniformly than small- to medium-sized businesses, but it is no less important for the smallest of businesses. Nearly all consumers (97%) now use online media to shop locally.

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