What do you think of when you hear the phrase “remarketing”? Perhaps you are more familiar with the term “retargeting”? Remarketing, or retargeting, is essentially serving ads to visitors who have previously viewed your website. Some advertisers commonly refer to retargeting as serving ads to all visitors who have previously visited a website, while using remarketing in reference to e-commerce, specifically customers who may have abandoned an item in their shopping cart without purchasing. Google AdWords defines remarketing as letting you “show ads to people who've visited your website or used your mobile app. When people leave your website without buying anything, for example, remarketing helps you reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.”1 Remarketing is not necessarily limited to purchasing something, but could also include purchase inquiries, or touchpoints that a consumer may make in the buying process.
Remarketing, or retargeting, is commonly thought of as specifically display advertising, however that is not at all the case! There is a plethora of extremely effective capabilities available to advertisers, and to be completely blunt, almost all of the capabilities are underutilized. Let’s take a look at all of the options available today. I would like to challenge you as the reader to think about the possible implications for your business.
Remarketing is More than Just Display Advertising
For starters, remarketing (or retargeting) is not limited to serving ads via display networks, though this is by and large the most popular channel. Back in June of 2012 Google was beta testing remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA).2 This exciting new capability rolled out to AdWords advertisers worldwide towards the end of June 2013.3 With consistently better results in regards to clickthrough rates, conversions rates, and lower cost-per-conversions from display remarketing, the thought of utilizing this across the search network seemed like a dream come true.
Advertisers now had the power to adjust their strategy specific to returning customers. Bid adjustments for past site visitors allows for greater ad visibility for high value customers, and by only targeting a specific user audience, advertisers can expand their keyword lists, whereas certain keywords would have been too broad to bid on with a much larger audience. One online tire retailer, Tirendo, saw amazing results right from the start: 161% increase in conversion rate, 22% increase in overall sales, and 43% lower cost per order, when compared to their previous campaigns.4
Most marketers are familiar with the Pareto Principle, commonly referred to as the 80/20 rule.5 The 80/20 rule tells us that historically 80% of the sales come from 20% of the advertising, or that 80% of the profits come from 20% of customers. What if you had the ability to only target those 20%? What if you could maximize our advertising budgets to only target the consumers that have the highest propensity to buy? Well, you can! You must simply harness the hidden power of remarketing.
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Remarketing in 2017 – Adapt or Be Left Behind
We discussed how remarketing is now available on the search network and you are probably familiar with its exposure across the display network, but what else is available? Well, for starters, you can create remarketing lists for specific web page visitors. Not only can you create a list of all visitors that have landed onto your website, but you can also create lists of visitors that have landed on a specific page. So, what’s the point? With great power comes great targeting — customize your ad messaging to align with specific pages. Maybe you’re an auto dealer who has your online inventory available on your website. You could create a list by vehicle model and then only serve a specific model ad to a visitor who recently viewed that model page. Surely that would help re-engage them, right? Absolutely! Utilize this capability and there is no doubt that you will see improvement.
Ad sequencing, or creative sequencing, refers to the ability of serving your ad creatives among a specific schedule.6 So what does ad sequencing have to do with remarketing? Let’s assume we have 3 different ad variations, we’ll call them “A”, “B”, and “C”. We would like to serve ad “B”, but only after a viewer has clicked on ad “A”, and we would like to serve ad “C”, but only to visitors who have already clicked on ad “B”.
Well, you have a few options. You could rotate the ads evenly, but then you wouldn’t be following the rules you laid out. You could create a convoluted series of campaigns and schedule the ads to appear at different times, but again you wouldn’t know for sure that the viewers of ad “B” ever even saw ad “A” in the first place. Or you could just utilize remarketing lists. You could create a list of viewers who clicked on ad “A” and set that as the requirements for ad “B” and then set-up a list of viewers who clicked on ad “B” and use that to serve ad “C”.
The latter option would ensure that your ads are being viewed by the specific audience that you outlined and it also would ensure that your viewers are following along the whole digital storytelling process. Remarketing allows for this simplification, but also ensures that you are controlling your messaging how you see fit.
Another powerful capability available to advertisers is cross-device remarketing. This new and exciting capability recently released last fall, right after SMX – the annual search marketing expo.7 Cross-device remarketing allows website visitors to be served ads across multiple devices. For example, if a user visits a site in the morning on their mobile device and then browses on their desktop computer later in the day, they could see an ad related to the website they were browsing earlier on their phone (assuming they are signed in to their Google accounts on both). The implications for this new capability are huge, primarily based around the fact that over 75% of online adults (18-54) start an activity on one device and then continue or finish it on another.8 Cross-device remarketing allows advertisers to connect the dots across a consumer’s online journey.
But Why is Remarketing So Important?
As we hit on earlier, the 80/20 rule tells us that 80% of our profits is associated with 20% of our customers. This means we must we retain these customers, while also maximizing our advertising efforts towards them — which is a primary driver behind remarketing’s success. Another great reason to utilize remarketing ties into effective frequency. We hit on this a little bit in a previous blog post that highlighted reasons that television advertising is ineffective. Effective frequency refers to the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made.9 What better way to expose a high-value consumer to your messaging than through remarketing?
Remarketing also allows us to defend our digital ground. We can ward off conquesting efforts from our competitor ads by serving our ads instead of theirs. We can leverage search remarketing, bid on our competitor terms, and ensure that our ads are being seen in case our consumers are likely to defer. We can also do this in a very cost-effective manner. Typically, display remarketing has proven to produce higher clickthrough rates, lower cost-per-clicks, higher conversion rates, and lower cost-per-conversions when compared to the same campaigns that are not utilizing remarketing.10
Ultimately, the biggest benefit of remarketing is connecting with customers through their buying journey. Consumers are more perceptive nowadays than ever before, so it’s extremely important for brands to connect with consumers at every step of the way. Brands presence is extremely crucial, whether it’s simply awareness at the top of the funnel, or consumers primed for purchase at the bottom of the funnel. Google tracked one consumer’s car-buying process and found that she had 900+ digital interactions throughout her journey.11
Remarketing allows advertisers to align their messaging in conjunction with a consumer’s journey down their purchase funnel, which will ultimately result in more qualified traffic and more selling.