by Jul 8, 2022Blog

In the world of marketing, retargeting is a process that is one of the vital strategies for long-term success but is difficult to nail down and get right. The reason it’s so vital is because 97% of people who visit your site for the first time leave without purchasing anything. It’s important that you have a strategy to pull those people back to your site and get them to go through a conversion. 

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is the strategy that marketers turn to in these cases. Retargeting lets you generate awareness and drive conversions by encouraging people to complete their buyer’s journey. In fact, according to Google, combining retargeting with the other advertising you already do can help you sell 50% more products/services. 

This article is one in a series of deep-dive blogs that are educational content. These longer-form articles inform our readers about not only essential marketing information but also our personal feelings and values that we hold as a business. Make sure to read our last blog in the series after this, “Measuring Marketing Attribution.”

What is retargeting?

Imagine you own a sunglasses company, and you have a website. While waiting in line at Starbucks, Taylor comes onto your website and starts browsing around. Taylor likes your newest collection and starts adding a few of your sunglasses to their cart when suddenly her order is called. She puts her phone in her pocket and goes on with her day. In the marketing world, this is called cart abandonment. Retargeting is the act of advertising to them afterward in order to remind them to come back to your site and keep you at the top of their minds. 

At a high level, retargeting and remarketing are the same. However, here at marketANDgrow, we think if you need to make a distinction between them, it would be that retargeting happens when a person leaves without getting anything while remarketing is done after someone has already made a purchase at your store or used your service. In this definition, we would say that remarketing is more list-based, meaning that you would probably use email or text sign-ups to contact customers while retargeting would be more cookie-based. However, as we said, at a higher level, both are attempting to contact people who could be interested in purchasing from you, and so have similar approaches. 

How does retargeting work?

You add a tiny, unobtrusive piece of code on your website to use it (this code is sometimes referred to as a pixel). Visitors to your site won’t notice the code or pixel, and it has no impact on how quickly your site loads. The code leaves an anonymous browser cookie on each new user’s browser every time they visit your website. Later, while your cookied visitors navigate the Internet, the cookie will inform your retargeting provider when to deliver advertisements, guaranteeing that only past visitors to your site see your adverts.

While it’s a great tool for marketers to use that can get interested customers back to your website, there are some privacy issues at play with using cookies.

Let’s talk privacy

Things are going to change online in 2023. Google Chrome will no longer use third-party cookies. Naturally, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari eliminated them long ago. The loss of third-party cookies forces us to all consider how we may improve our procedures as retargeting efforts are a vital part of many marketing plans.

Nearly becoming a victim of its own success, retargeting. The adverts that are presented to customers when they browse through various websites are, in theory, always appealing because they are based on explicitly declared interests. However, this type of retargeting does not exactly have a subtle effect.

Think about it this way, you are a shopper looking to buy perfume in the mall. You walk into a perfume store and smell some of the products, but ultimately decide to not buy anything from this store. Then, imagine that someone follows you out of this store, and every time you look around for other stores or you’re trying to shop in a competitor’s store, that person is holding up an ad. That person follows you around to hangouts with friends, sporting events, and even back to your own house! That’s what cookies do, they follow you around digitally. The real-life equivalent is a lot creepier, but this idea has sparked many new privacy laws to be enacted all over the world.

‘Pop-up ads’ from Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).  In the film, people with ads are hired to follow website visitors around. Their only goal is to try to get people to click on the scam ads they’re holding up. 

People are getting sick and tired of invisible cookies following them around everywhere they browse and having creepy ads from a website they visited a while ago. For instance, the EU now has GDPR which among other things, a business needs explicit consent before a visitor can be retargeted. In California, we now have the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA requires business privacy policies to include information on consumers’ privacy rights and how to exercise them: the Right to Know, the Right to Delete, the Right to Opt-Out of Sale, and the Right to Non-Discrimination.

When should I start retargeting?

Whichever way that retargeting is adjusted in the next year, what is certain is that retargeting will certainly not go away completely. So, when do you know it’s the right time for your business to begin retargeting? 

Retargeting is meant to be a long-term strategy that is one of the vital gears that turns your marketing machine into something spectacular. We recommend that if your business’s website receives a significant number of visitors per month and you wish to be on top of their minds, Google display campaigns are right for you. Of course, retargeting is best suited when it works together with other forms of marketing. Google search ads (and sometimes targeted display ads) are great for driving high intent visitors who are looking for the solution you provide to your website. Conversely, retargeting can’t drive people to your website but can help increase conversions by tagging valuable potential customers and bringing them back. If you need help determining if this is the right time to begin retargeting, book a no-obligation discovery call with us.  

Remember, retargeting is effective because it’s focused on advertising to people who are already familiar with your brand and/or have shown interest in your product(s). Another way you can leverage your retargeting list is by using it as a way to set out announcements, like for new sales and inventory. Both people who have abandoned their carts and have made a purchase from you before would benefit from this kind of retargeting. And of course, by doing this, you increase your brand awareness and lift by increasing your stickiness with customers and potential customers. 

How companies screw up their retargeting

Retargeting is a great tool if you use it correctly. Recently our founder Sajid Islam found a good example of how retargeting can go horribly wrong. It ended up spoiling any chance of him returning as a customer ever again because of how frustrating this company used their retargeting. 

Indochino is a menswear brand that, amongst other things, creates tailored-made suits by taking your measurements in a showroom, and then six weeks later you receive a suit in the mail that is perfectly fit for your body. At a high level, this is a great concept.

Sajid ordered a suit from Indochino in April, and it came in the six weeks as expected. However, it didn’t fit him well, and he was looking to return it. He went to their website and started looking for customer service, the return policy, and a number he could call to get in contact with them about a complaint. Sure enough, that evening he started getting Indochino sales ads on his Facebook and display ads. 

Those dumb marketers had just blindly set up their retargeting campaign to target anyone who visits their website. Now, he was even more frustrated with them because ads for a company that didn’t do right by him were now clouding his feed! 

Take this as a lesson. Indochino knew his path on their website. They knew that he was searching around their website to file a claim. You can’t market to people like they’re magically going to change their minds overnight. Sajid just ended up more angry with them, and he knew they had messed up in their retargeting campaign. 

Taking the time to set up your retargeting logically is so important. Don’t market to people who hate you already, because it’s only ever going to be the nail in the coffin. No one in their right mind is going to buy from you again after a horrible customer experience.

Another comes from someone Sajid interviewed for our podcast. Sajid was just going onto this guest’s website to see what their business was all about. He scrolled through their home page, opened a few product pages, read the about us page, and then clicked off. All of a sudden he was seeing that website’s ads everywhere, all the time. It was relentless, and even on huge platforms like CNN. 

When you set up a campaign, you should have a clear line of where you want your ads to start and stop. For instance, don’t show your ad to the same person more than twice a day. Or, only retarget someone for 7 days, and after that, give it a rest before retargeting them again. You have to use your human judgment when dealing with these things. 

As Sajid says, it mostly comes down to inexperience: lack of knowledge and expertise – monkey see, monkey do. Be thoughtful, thinking about the customer experience and journey is key. Brands such as Indochino are tech platforms and digital-first businesses. So, they have no excuse for being a bozo. However, if you are a realtor then, yes, we understand that you may not have the firepower (technical chops, deep pockets) to get retargeting right.

What are the best strategies for retargeting?

Here at marketANDgrow, we advise our clients that the easiest way to start your retargeting journey is through Google Display Ads. Google ads allows you to display retargeted ads with cookies and is dedicated to keeping up with privacy laws as they change to best serve their users. We are a Google marketing agency, and because of this, we know we can help talk to you about Google ads and whether it’s the right fit for your business in our no-obligation discovery call. 

However, if you’re looking for an alternative, some services to consider include AdRoll, ReTargeter, and Criterio. These websites will help you run a retargeting campaign using pixels or cookies on your website. 

And of course, if you’re trying to do more list-based retargeting, email marketing is always a good choice, and has some specifics that are unique to that channel. Make sure to check out our deep-dive blog on email marketing

Ultimately, you just need to decide when enough is enough. Draw the line. Do not chase or hound people. Be polite. Don’t show your ad to someone who has already made a purchase.

Why is retargeting important to us?

At marketANDgrow, we are believers in retargeting, but only retargeting that is done the right way. Never should you run a retargeting campaign just for the sake of retargeting. The biggest takeaway we want to give you is to do retargeting in a way that makes sense. Be polite, don’t bombard someone with ads because to the average person, that is really annoying. Don’t shove ads in people’s faces. 

If you use the best practices we outlined and avoid the bad practices, you should be good. It’s always better to have someone on the outside assessing what’s going on. If you think that’s right for you, schedule a call with us. Or, if you learned something from this blog and want more content from us, make sure to scroll down and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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