5 Best Practices for Reforming Your Retargeting Campaigns

Retargeting is a favored tool of marketers these days, a favoritism that is poised to grow. In the Chango-Digiday Retargeting Barometer Q4 2013, we learned that more than 50 percent of respondents said they plan to increase their budgets for retargeting over the next six months.

That’s great news for the retargeting business, of course. But the increase in spending should translate to measurable brand lift and sales. Here are five ways to ensure that happens.

1. Forget About Clicks; Focus on Core Marketing Principles Instead
Get out of the attribution game! Too many retargeting service providers have built their business on fitting into last-click attribution schemes rather than driving incremental revenue. When you partner with them, your budget will be spent messaging users who are likely to convert on their own, just so your partner can earn the credit. Besides, click fraud in our industry is a $6 billion scourge.

In place of clicks, focus on core marketing principles, like engaging consumers who are new to your brand, and building lifelong relationships with them. On a macro level, that means accessing data, touch points, and exposure to ads to understand how your channels work together to influence consumers. On a micro level, it means setting KPIs for each tactic by channel.

I realize this is complicated and difficult, but it’ll reward you with far more incremental revenue, which is the whole purpose of marketing.

2. Understand Audience Differences
Folks in the industry like to tout how retargeting delivers conversions, and it does. But let’s be clear, the fact that a consumer has just looked at a product is a pretty good indication that he or she is in market for it, and has a propensity to purchase it. Are we surprised that site retargeting generates lots of clicks?

Conversely, retargeting users who are higher up in the funnel may not deliver as many clicks, but it can lead to building new relationships, which over the lifetime of a client, leads to significantly more incremental revenue.

3. Deploy Nuanced Retargeting Tactics
Let’s say your marketing goal is to drive brand awareness. In such cases, site retargeting — i.e. retargeting users who’ve visited your site — won’t help you achieve that goal, because those users aren’t new to your brand.

Search retargeting, on the other hand, is right up your alley. Let’s say a consumer searches for a product and selects another brand from the search results. The user might not know your brand offers a product in that category. Search retargeting will raise brand awareness, and possibly win you a new customer.

4. Stop One-Size-Fits-All Messaging
Retargeting relies heavily on product-level banner ads (supported by studies showing they deliver 10 times more clicks). A while back, we tested holiday banner creatives. Some featured a specific product, while others featured a message that captured the spirit of giving. The latter turn out to be the best performer, challenging the notion that retargeting must always feature a specific product.

And that’s just the beginning. Awareness of brand, time of day, intent, message sequencing, device type — all of these things must be taken into consideration when retargeting a prospect.

5. Select Partners That Value Transparency
Is your retargeting vendor forthcoming on pricing, where your ads are served, and how they’re cadenced? If not, consider partnering with one that is. In addition to providing you with extremely valuable information, transparency is the best way to ensure your retargeting partner’s goals are aligned with yours. Let me explain.

If you engage a retargeting partner based on a CPC or CPA model, and they buy inventory from the ad exchanges on a CPM basis, their goal will be to find lowest-cost inventory that delivers clicks, not finding the users that represent your best long-term customers.

Conversely, if your partner shares your goal, they will have no choice but to work in your best interest because that’s the only way to make money.

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