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An Introduction to Digital Remarketing

An Introduction to Digital Remarketing: A Three Part Series

This article is the first of a three-part series focused on remarketing. This series will start by giving an overview of what remarketing is and how it works. The following two articles will then dive deeper into the specifics of remarketing within display and search. 

Remarketing is a quickly growing aspect of digital marketing. It is a tool that allows a marketer to continue the conversation with a user and increase the likelihood of a conversion/sale, as well as enhance the lifetime value of a customer. 

Proper segmentation through remarketing can enable clearer communication to the potential customer. Whether it is deepening a relationship with an existing customer by informing them about new products, utilizing a real-time retention strategy, or if it is utilized to better inform new customers of additional information about the products they expressed interest in, remarketing provides marketers the ability to better understand and communicate with new and existing customers online.

Google reports that 88% of online shoppers have placed a product in a cart and then left a site. Will you reach these customers or will you abandon them to a competitor?

How Does Remarketing Work?

Remarketing, in its most basic form, fires a tag on a webpage that places a cookie on a visitor’s browser. That cookie is then used to allow a digital marketer to target that user through paid search and display ads. Remarketing is not just limited to the visitors who come in through paid search and display, however, but is also available to retarget any user who visits the website.

Remarketing lists are created based on the way that pages and actions on a webpage are tagged. The more tagged pages and actions, the more information can be learned about a customer. At this point in time, a user cannot be targeted based on the addition of a specific product into a cart. However, if the correct pages are tagged, a lot can be learned about the intentions of the user. If a specific product page is tagged and the buy-flow is tagged then it is known which product the user was interested in and that they were interested enough to attempt to purchase. This is valuable information as this type of visitor would be targeted differently than someone who just visits the homepage of your site and bounces.

There also is the ability to create what Google calls ‘Custom Combinations’, in which users can be required to be in two buckets. This allows for an even further segmentation of customers into smaller subsets for more specific messaging. For example, a customer who has purchased and subscribes to your monthly newsletter should be messaged differently than an existing customer who hasn’t subscribed.

Users can also be targeted in segmented campaigns that enable different targeting, higher bids, and unique messaging. The information indicated above would be taken into consideration when creating the campaigns and what message the user receives.  This user has indicated interest and is more likely to convert, and is therefore a more valuable click than a brand new visitor.  An example of a remarketing strategy is indicated below.

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  • Customer visits a blue widget product page, a red widget product page, adds something to their shopping cart, and then leaves the website
  • Customer is then targeted with ads messaging blue and red widgets through paid search and display
    • This ad could be some sort of promotion to encourage the user to return and complete their purchase
  • The experience the user receives can be customized to feature only red and blue widgets, the special offer, or the benefit of purchasing from your service rather than a competitor

Types of Remarketing Campaigns

  • Search – Targeting users who visit your site and then return to the search engines
  • Display – Utilizing the GDN and other display platforms to target users with banner and text ads
  • Video – Targeting users who have viewed a video in YouTube
  • Social – The Facebook exchange allows marketers to target users in the largest display network if they have previously visited your website

Considerations for Remarketing Campaigns

The utilization of remarketing can be catered to the goal of the marketing program and the profile of the customer targeted. Remarketing is not limited to new customers only; it can also target existing customers for a variety of reasons.  Customers can be targeted to upgrade their product or service, return to purchase additional products or services, and for customer service/retention purposes. 

The goals of your remarketing campaign will influence the length of the remarketing cookie. The standard length of a remarketing cookie is typically 30 days, but with Google it can be extended to over a year. If you are selling a product with a long buying cycle or targeting an existing customer of a product that has a long lifetime, then you may want to consider a longer cookie window. One thing to keep in mind is that while you can set the length of your cookie, users can still clear or block their cookies at any time.

While remarketing is a great tool, users can get overwhelmed and possibly look at a brand negatively if they are targeted too strongly. Again, it depends on the product and buying-cycle, but typically setting a remarketing campaign to only a few impressions a day allow a user to keep the product in mind, but not turn them off completely.

‘Close offers’ can also be considered in remarketing campaigns. A user has visited your site, indicated interest, but did not purchase. If you can sweeten the deal slightly it may be enough to convince that visitor that you have the right product or service for them. Keep in mind, however, that you do not want it to be too good of a deal or you may condition your customers to look for the close offer rather than your standard pricing. Incentives such as add-ons or free shipping are always great ways to attract customers.

How Remarketing Fits into Existing Marketing Campaigns

Remarketing is a vital piece in your existing marketing campaigns, online and offline. As discussed, remarketing allows you to recapture users who you worked so hard to get to visit your site. They have expressed interest, interacted with your product, and may or may not have completed the desired action. Remarketing can be utilized to measure and improve offline campaigns as well. Designing offline campaigns to drive online actions can provide insight into offline performance and get more users cookied online so you can communicate more effectively with them.

Learning Even More

Remarketing will only continue to grow. If you are not currently utilizing remarketing in your online efforts, you need to ask yourself or your agency why. Over the next month we will continue to focus on this subject and dive deeper into the individual aspects of display and search remarketing. 

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