Retargeting for Improved Online Advertising Results

Are you getting a good ROI from your online advertising? If not, you might want to consider retargeting, an advertising approach that displays your ads on other websites to people who have already visited yours.

Here’s how it works: you target previous visitors to your web site with banner ads on display networks across the web. Because these prospects are already familiar with your product, service or brand, you can go beyond the standard introductory ad and design ads to bring them back to your site. When they return, your chances of converting them to a sale significantly increase. In fact, according to a study by a leading retargeting vendor, retargeting your site visitors makes them 70% more likely to convert on your web site.

If you’re new to retargeting, the following tips will help you start out on the right foot:

Choose the right platform. There are two types of retargeting platforms – managed and self-service. Managed platforms save time by doing most of the heavy lifting for you. Self-service platforms give you more control but require more time and expertise to manage.

Select a vendor. Currently, five vendors lead the way in the retargeting market:

  • Google Adwords offers more control, allowing you to narrowly focus on your target for better results.
  • ReTargeter provides a dedicated account manager to guide you through the intricacies of the process.
  • AdRoll makes it easy to get placement on most ad networks. (Bop Design uses AdRoll.)
  • Fetchback uses an audience segmentation approach that can be more difficult to manage than others. But it promises placement above the fold, so that more people see your ad.
  • Perfect Audience taps into Facebook’s ad network. This may increase the number of viewers who see your ads, but you may have to adjust them to make sure they’re Facebook-friendly.

Establish clear advertising parameters. Successful retargeting requires knowing where and when to run your ads, and for how long. To maximize control, run your ads when you’re available to tweak them, not during the middle of the night. Limit the cookie duration and number of impressions so your ads don’t wear out their welcome. If your ads include a specific offer, change them frequently to keep the offer fresh. To save money, don’t target internationally — unless, of course, your company does business overseas.

Segment your ads by viewer category. Different customers buy your product or service for different reasons. To address those reasons, organize your website by product, industry, or other area of interest to your viewers, and then segment your retargeting ads accordingly. The more accurately you segment your viewers, the more effective your ads will be.

Gather attribution data. With so many different ways to bring people to your website, it can be difficult to track what type of ad is most effective in driving conversion rates. To gather as much data as possible, always ask customers and prospects how they found you. While this information tends to be more anecdotal, the number of references to your retargeted ads can provide a reasonable idea of their effectiveness.

Finally, don’t forget to test for results. One of the real strengths of retargeting (and online advertising in general) is that it allows you to test different ads down to a fine level of detail. To get the best results, separately test each element of your retargeting ads, including headline, body copy, colors, images and call to action. To minimize measurement error, run the A test and B test for about the same length of time. As you get better at retargeting your ads for each viewer segment, your online conversion rates will begin to climb.

To learn more about retargeting, read tips from Software Advice: 5 Lessons Learned in Site Retargeting.


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