Audience Targeting
April 11, 2016

6 Steps Retailers Can Take to Improve Their Retargeting Campaigns

Be clear on who you want to target, use your own data and don’t be annoying.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers spend at least 16 minutes comparison shopping before making a purchase decision. The vast majority of in-market shoppers don’t convert on their first site visit, because they are still making their way through the comparison process.

So how can you lure the browsers and researchers back when they are ready to buy? Retargeting is a popular option, but many retailers lose the sale by failing to properly tailor their campaigns. Here are six best practices to improve performance of your retargeting efforts:

1. Set thoughtful criteria: Start by answering these important questions:

  • Who do you want to reach with this campaign? A specific demographic or segment?
  • Where in the funnel are these shoppers? Anyone who hits your site, or shoppers who’ve taken a specific action (or set of actions)? For example, are you trying to convert cart abandoners who are more bottom-funnel in the purchase process, or do you want to target top-funnel site visitors who didn’t click on specific products (but who you’d like to keep your brand top-of-mind)?
  • What are your KPIs (key performance indicators)? What specific action do you want retargeted prospects to take? Ultimately retargeting goals should focus on metrics such as conversions, subscriptions, completed checkouts, average order size, brand favorability and the lifetime value.
  • Is it the campaign around a particular promotion, or a seasonal event? Will timing play a key role?

2. Identify first-party data assets: Your first-party data set can include site visitors, subscribers, past customers, app users, loyalty members, and more; this first-party data will often come from your CRM (such as Salesforce) or your own website. You can upload this data and target directly through services like Google, Facebook, LiveRamp or Connexity.

3. Conscientious creative and messaging: With your goals and audience in place, the next step is to match your creative and landing pages with the prospect’s journey in order to gently push them to the next stage of the funnel. Rather than showing people the same product over and over again, consider what piece of content you can provide to help them make the next decision.

For example, you might retarget a cart abandoner with a 20% discount for the item, but retarget shoppers who more passively browsed a category page with information about the quality of your products or your newsletter so that you can nurture the relationship.

4. Stick with one platform partner, at first: If this is your first retargeting test, it may be a good idea to partner with one provider before trying others.

“One thing I don’t encourage is for retailers to run site retargeting with more than one provider at the same time. It’s okay to experiment with different partners, but make sure they don’t bid on the same exchanges against the same set of users in real-time,” explains Craig Teich, Executive Vice President of Global Media Sales at Connexity.

Bidding against yourself can drive up costs and increase the likelihood of your target audience seeing the same ads too many times.

Bidding optimization requires monitoring; you should track when prospects visit different media and content sites you are targeting, what channels and creative are driving conversions, and how much it costs to serve impressions and acquire new customers. As you gain additional insights, then you can consider adding additional data providers.

5. Don’t be annoying: No one likes the feeling of being stalked, so be mindful of how blatantly you promote products they recently viewed or details based on their personal data. A better approach could be to offer helpful decision-making information, stories about the craft behind your product creation, or access to customer reviews.

You can also set a “frequency cap” on the number of times customers see your retargeted ads—perhaps to three to five impressions—and place a code on your site that will “untarget” new customers post-purchase.

“Design and marketing should start with empathy,” says Mark Donatelli, Global Head of Data Strategy & Planning at Ogilvy & Mather. “When it comes to designing your relationship with your customers, it’s not just about your product. It’s not about the colors, or the product photos. It’s what does the customer want? What do they feel? What’s important to them?”

6. Creative optimization with constant testing: As always, it’s crucial not to make assumptions. Always A/B testing your creative, copy and landing pages to ensure they are optimized based on what shoppers actually respond to. Beyond the basics, don’t be afraid to get creative with the elements you test in your ads. For example, you could test highlighting different elements:

  • Free shipping or flexible delivery options
  • Different price points
  • Time-sensitive promotions
  • Promotional codes or coupons

Remember: after seeing the same retargeted banner over and over, a prospect’s’ interest will wane, they will be become blind to your ads. By mixing up your creative, you can keep your ads fresh and interesting. It’s even more important to tailor your creative around the goals of the campaign and the comparison stage of your audience—rather than pushing your products, focus on helping the shoppers make a decision and moving further down the purchase funnel.