How to Use Power of Remarketing to Improve Conversion Rates

by 1 05/09/2012

Imagine walking into a department store and spotting a sweet pair of jeans.

They’re just your size – comfortable and stylish.  But the price is a bit too high for your liking.  You reluctantly put them back on the rack and head to the nearest café to grab a bite of lunch before going back to work.  As you’re walking out the door, coffee and sandwich in hand, a salesperson from the department store stops you.

“Hey!” she shouts as she runs up to you briskly, “I saw you checking out those jeans back there.”  She brings out the exact pair you were looking at, to your surprise. “I just wanted you to know that if you still want them, I can knock $15 off the price just for today.”

You realize that, despite just coming out of a café with lunch in hand, that you won’t let this opportunity pass you by, and you excitedly walk back to complete your order at the department store.

Congratulations, you’ve just been remarketed to – a process that companies hope will reel in lost sales and snare abandoned shopping carts – no matter where you are on the web.

Remarketing 101

You’ve seen remarketing (also known as retargeting) in action if you’ve browsed one site, perhaps added an item or two to your shopping cart, then decided against buying and went elsewhere, only to find ads for the store (or the item itself) on other websites you’ve visited.

As an example, I’ve been in the market for a new printer lately.  At about the same time, I researched different content curation tools before writing this post.  As a result, on many sites I visit (which aren’t even remotely tied to content marketing), I see ads for both the marketing tools I researched, and printers:

HP and Curata ads match my research and browsing habits

Beyond Banner Ads: Demand Side Platforms

Remarketing goes well beyond banner ads. One example is an actual product slideshow that helps you quickly scroll between some of the items you were comparing, like in this Amazon product slider for a wireless router:

The science behind remarketing is rooted in technology called DSPs or Demand Side Platforms.

Google Adwords’ recently-launched Retargeting option is perhaps the most popular example of DSPs at work.

Simply put, DSPs use cookies that store information about your customer’s visit – even, in some cases, the actual products they browsed.  As these customers visit other sites, those ads and products will come back in the form of targeted ads.  It essentially puts them one click away from landing right back onto your site to complete their order.

While this is terrific news for conversion rate enthusiasts, there’s a thin line between a gentle reminder and a creepy stalker.

Earning Trust

Some DSP platforms will let you set up retargeted email campaigns to remind customers about the items they browsed or their abandoned shopping cart.

Obviously, you’ll have to have their email address on file, but remarketing email campaigns can be an ideal way to send a little nudge (and perhaps a discount or special offer) to customers who have already trusted you enough to opt in.

An example of a Cooking.com email shopping cart reminder

Now that you’ve earned that trust, here are some action steps to make the most of remarketing.

Action Steps

  • DON’T let the customer become promotion-dependent. Sometimes, in an effort to reign in potentially lost last-minute sales, businesses will throw everything they have at the customer’s feet in an attempt to secure a sale.  An example of this is sending them a remarketing email or a special popup offering a discount when they close the browser.  Now, each time the customer returns to buy, they’ll abandon their cart to purposefully gain the discount, giving you skewed metrics for your shopping cart abandonment rate.
  • DON’T let your coupons go viral – unless you want them to.  Remarketing with coupons is a great strategy, when it’s done right.  That means having a one-time-use coupon and avoiding letting your codes be shared all over Twitter, Facebook and coupon sites. Of course, this can be beneficial too, since coupon code sharing can help put your brand in the spotlight of people who might never have heard of you or bought from you.  Test and see which strategy best benefits your bottom line.
  • DON’T be a cookie-bomber.  In their zeal to target serious customers, some remarketing campaigns take on a mind of their own – bombarding the customer with ads on every site they visit.  You’ll quickly go from trusted name to major annoyance. Of course, the display frequency of your ads should depend on the behaviors of your target market (how likely are they to buy after the second or third reminder?) and your particular industry. There is no “one size fits all” display, so you’ll want to start out low and build your way up. Test, test, test!
  • DO take the time to tailor your remarketing campaigns to specific landing pages. There’s nothing worse than pouring your retargeting efforts into creative ads and display partners, only to funnel customers to the homepage with no specific action tailored to their previous search.
  • DO look at remarketing as a customer relationship-building tool and not solely a marketing tool.  They say that potential customers have to see an ad anywhere from 5-7 times before they’ll take action.  In addition, don’t be in a rush to bombard customers with offers after they abandon their shopping cart for the first time.  Test, track and time your displays to see which works best for you.
  • DO test different types of remarketing ads.  Product ad campaigns can be used to introduce new products or offers, let customers know their favorite item is back in stock, show the last product(s) they viewed or remind them of upcoming sales for special events and holidays. The best DSPs offer lots of ways to customize your ads and test them for maximum impact and improved conversion rates.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Are you suspicious of product-based ads following you when you browse? Or do you think of them more as helpful reminders?  Have you ever bought something based on being remarketed to?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting iElectrify.com.

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