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Retargeting: The Potential and Pitfalls for Lead-Nurture Programs

  |  October 5, 2011   |  Comments

If you're looking for an effective tactic to mature your email lead-nurture program, display retargeting can be the channel for you.

We have discussed before how email is one of the best channels to nurture your B2B leads. Email is the perfect way to generate key referrals and stay top-of-mind with your non-purchasers.

Building trust and fostering relationships with people who see you as an expert in your industry will continually fill your sales pipeline with high-value prospects. However, these efforts keep you confined to the inbox. In recent client conversations about lead generation, we have talked about how to take lead generation programs cross-channel.

Beyond mobile and social, you might also consider a new and effective channel: display retargeting based on your lead-nurture recipients' email behavior.

What Is Display Retargeting?

Display retargeting is the resurgence of the venerable banner ad, driven by new availability and effectiveness of real-time biddable display media (display ads bought through automated auctions).

Forrester Research predicts that spending on display advertising will represent 36 percent ($27.6 billion) of overall interactive marketing spend by 2016.

Email display retargeting uses unique cookies to identify subscribers who opened your email but did not convert. The unique identifier helps you find those subscribers again when they browse network websites with available ad space.

Advertisers who retarget their subscribers with display ads can increase their brand's exposure to their subscribers as they continue to browse the web.

When Should I Use Display Retargeting?

You should consider display retargeting anytime you could reap benefits by repositioning your ad in front of someone who opened your email.

These subscribers are already interested in your offer and already have a relationship with your brand. Retargeting these subscribers will allow you to continue to build brand awareness and establish your brand as a source of authority in your industry. This is a very effective tool in future purchase decisions.

When Should I Avoid Retargeting?

As effective as display retargeting can be, it comes with two major caveats. Used improperly, your brand appearance can become irritating or even appear intrusive.

The best practice for using display retargeting after a subscriber action is less than seven days. Targeting your subscriber for longer than a week is highly irritating for your viewers and wastes your marketing budget. Use frequency caps to stop targeting a subscriber with ads after a week and make sure your network provides the option for the viewer to opt out from receiving your ad if they do become annoyed.

Saturating a subscriber's browsing experience with retargeting ads can be equally annoying and can have a negative effect on your brand. "Stalking" your subscribers with a multitude of ads related to specific behavior can appear "Orwellian" or creepy and stimulate irritation instead of interest in your ads.

Cap, Segment, and Test

At the very least, use frequency caps to limit the number of impressions served each day. Once you establish a baseline of activity, segment your retargeting audience into groups based on all the audience profile data you've developed over the years.

Then, conduct real-time tests on these audiences to identify exactly which microsegments are most interested in your products.

What Content Should I Use in Retargeting Ads?

As a B2B marketer, consider using content that reinforces your brand as a source of authority in the industry and reinforces your brand pillars rather than persistent and pushy ads focused on specific products.

This allows you to avoid showing specific products your subscribers have decided not to buy while still reinforcing your brand as a key player in their consideration set.

If your subscribers see the same product ad several times in one week, they can begin to feel as if you're stalking them. To avoid this, reach them across display, video, mobile, and social channels with general, brand-reinforcing content, and then optimize in real time for response and frequency.

Assess Your Success

You can measure the effect display retargeting has on your lead-nurture program in several ways. The method you choose should reflect what you want your lead nurture to accomplish.

My favorite method is to run a split test in which one portion of your subscribers is retargeted, while another portion is not. If the retargeted portion is converted to leads at a higher rate without driving the cost per lead above your profitable level, your program is a success.

The Last Word

If you are looking for an effective tactic to mature your email lead-nurture program and take it cross-channel, display retargeting can be the channel for you.

The main challenge is to develop an effective retargeting campaign without making your subscriber feel like you are stalking them. Avoid this by utilizing general content that builds brand awareness and establishes your brand's source of authority in the industry.

When you get it right, display retargeting will help your email lead-nurture program generate more high quality leads faster than it does on its own.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Hotz

Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.

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