3 Overlooked Retargeting Strategies For Retailers

How can retailers step up their retargeting campaigns to reach new and existing customers? Columnist David Rekuc has some advice.

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“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” –William Gibson.

While Gibson was talking about the relationship between technology and wealth, this quote could easily apply to the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.

In this case, it’s not hardship that keeps retailers out of the loop, but simply a lack of knowledge about what exists and — sometimes — the misguided belief that the technology is too difficult to use. This is especially true for retargeting.

Retargeting (or if you prefer Google’s term, remarketing) is simply the process of serving an ad to a specific group of people based on their past Web-browsing behaviors. Most marketers are familiar with Google’s program, but there are actually several more methods and tools available — many of which are often overlooked.

Here are three ways retailers can improve their retargeting campaigns to reach potential and existing customers.

Facebook Custom Audiences

In 2012, Facebook accounted for one in five page views in the United States. If you want to reach an audience quickly and with high frequency, Facebook is arguably the best place to turn.

Jewelry e-tailer Blue Nile uses Facebook’s retargeting feature, called Custom Audiences, to take advantage of promising leads particularly well.

Since Blue Nile is selling high-priced products, it faces a relatively long customer journey. For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that the company follows up with potential customers.

As soon as a visitor hits the Blue Nile site, the company plugs an aggressive $5,000 ring giveaway. This is a great strategy for collecting visitor emails.

(In fact, you can see why I really love this example in my last article, Why Most Brands Fail At Ecommerce.)

As a marketing professional who recently got engaged (Hi, honey!), Blue Nile’s giveaway piqued my curiosity enough to fill out the form.

Blue Nile Giveaway

Collecting emails allows Blue Nile to accomplish two things:

  1. Follow up via email (obviously), but also;
  2. Create a Custom Audience to retarget visitors with Facebook ads.

(As an aside, Blue Nile could also retarget visitors on Facebook by “dropping a pixel,” but there are a few benefits to collecting a user’s email. When you use an email to retarget visitors, you are targeting the Facebook account. When you use a pixel, you are targeting the user’s browser via a cookie.

With an email, Facebook retargeting ads can follow the visitor across different devices. With a pixel, you could potentially be serving ads to someone using the same computer who didn’t visit your site. Presently, pixels are the only option for display ads, which I’ll discuss later on.)

After I left Blue Nile’s site, I started seeing ads like this appear on Facebook:

Blue Nile - Facebook Ad

That’s some pretty powerful messaging for someone in the market for an engagement ring. And the personalization doesn’t stop there.

Smart marketers can layer other demographic information on top of Facebook’s Custom Audiences to really ensure the best return on their investments.

For example, if I had a custom list of email addresses from users that had expressed an interest in engagement rings, I might layer the following on to hit an “ideal” segment:

Facebook Advertising Filters

(Note: this is dummy data, not Blue Nile’s.)

The Custom Audiences list I used to generate this audience definition had 100,000 accounts associated with it. But I was able to filter the list down to the 4,400 people who are most likely to be in the market for an engagement ring, after making the assumption that men in a relationship, but not engaged or married, would convert best for this type of product.

Keep in mind: Assumptions like these are a good place to start, but ultimately you should let the data guide your decisions and “always be testing” different ways to segment your audience — which brings me to my next point.

Audience Segmentation

The single biggest mistake I see marketers make with retargeting campaigns is a failure to segment their audiences when they’re creating display campaigns. Far too many retailers drop a pixel on their site and basically target one audience that’s “been to their site in the last 30 days.”

While a recent site visit does imply additional ad relevance, and this is a great place to start for a layman, it pales in comparison to what professional marketers can accomplish with more sophisticated retargeting campaigns.

Here are just a few ways you can begin segmenting your retargeting audience:

1. Target cart abandoners. To do this, you’ll need to drop two pixels on your site, one on the cart page and one on the “Thank You” page after checkout. Then you simply target anyone who has the cart pixel, but not the “Thank You” pixel.

Your cart page is the highest indicator of purchase intent on your site. It would be foolish not to emphasize this particular segment.

2. Target more recent visitors. I find that for many ecommerce stores, most conversions happen in the first couple of days after the initial visit.

For this reason, I usually suggest retailers have an ad group for visitors from the past three days and a second ad group for visitors from the previous month. This way you can easy swap out the creative and bid down on a group that is less likely to convert.

3. Target recent buyers. When we target cart abandoners, we purposely exclude recent buyers, but this is another incredibly valuable group that many retailers overlook.

You could plug a referral or loyalty program, upsell them with related products or additional discounts, ask for a review, or even encourage visitors to follow you on Facebook or Pinterest, the latter of which is arguably the best social platform for retailers today.

4. Target less recent visitors. This is a great group to reach out to if you’re launching a new product or if something significant has changed for your company, like lowering the minimum threshold for free shipping. Recent visitors probably saw the news in a banner or pop-up on your site, whereas older visitors need to be kept in the loop.

I also like to hang onto this list for AdWords’ remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). With RLSA, I like to have the biggest cookie pool available.

Speaking of AdWords, it offers video retargeting, which would be a great way to introduce a new product to users already familiar with your brand. How would one go about that? I’m glad you asked.

YouTube Retargeting

With YouTube, the most powerful advertising medium in history meets today’s most powerful method for targeting consumers. It’s an unbelievable union that is so underutilized, it’s shocking.

As far as I can tell, even retargeting darling Blue Nile isn’t on YouTube, which is a shame since the platform boasts more than a billion users. And considering the sentimental nature of the site’s products, Blue Nile would be a great fit for a heartwarming video.

Think of a YouTube retargeting ad as a retailer’s elevator pitch. Given an uninterrupted moment with a highly qualified consumer, what would you say?

For this space, my advice is to actually back away from overt retargeting messaging, and instead focus on entertaining the user with humor or heart. The best video ads are so good they get customers talking about your brand.

Here’s a screenshot from one of my favorite ads, appearing just before a video featuring one of the best musicians of our time:

Seriously though, I have a real addiction to Taylor Swift.

Seriously though, I have a real addiction to Taylor Swift.

The easiest way to start a YouTube retargeting campaign is with your existing Google AdWords remarketing lists.

It’s also worth noting that you aren’t limited to pre-roll ads. Your videos can also appear as a sponsored related video, which allows you to provide some additional education on your product(s). This is especially effective for products tied to a market with an existing YouTube community.

Retargeting A To Z

This is just a quick look at three ways retailers commonly miss out on powerful retargeting. For all of Marketing Land’s coverage of the topic, check out this site’s topic page.

And as I discussed before, some readers might be overwhelmed with the information in this article or feel ill-equipped to use the technology involved. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me in the comments below.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

David Rekuc
David Rekuc is Marketing Director of Ripen eCommerce, a full-service digital agency in Princeton, NJ that specializes in delivering custom eCommerce solutions.

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