Retargeting comprises 30 percent of HomeShop18’s web traffic today and has helped to scale its business to become one of the leading e-commerce sites in India.
HomeShop18.com launched in 2011 riding on the success of its home shopping TV channel, which is part of media company Network18 Group.
Vizury, a local behavioral retargeting startup, is the e-commerce site’s biggest retargeting partner, Piyush Bhargav, vice president for product and marketing at HomeShop18, tells ClickZ.
The retail commerce portal also uses Google and Yahoo for retargeting and invests about $100,000 working with these partners.
Bhargav is responsible for the product management of HomeShop18.com from its features and functions to payment options as well as managing the entire portfolio for performance marketing from search engine to retention marketing.
“Retargeting helps us get back the customer that we might potentially lose as this person has already been to our site before,” Bhargav says.
Compared with other forms of digital marketing that helps them recruit new users, the cost of recruiting a new customer is always much higher value than retargeting those who have already gone to your website, he explains.
The retargeting startup plays a crucial role, as not only is it cheaper to get back potentially lost customers, it’s also more meaningful due to fierce competition in India’s e-commerce space, Bhargav adds.
Internet users would visit HomeShop18 from multiple sources either direct, through search, affiliate, or alliances and their user journey will be tracked using cookies through tags on multiple pages.
Banner ads would then be retargeted to these users when they’re surfing the web, either showing them the retail product or shopping cart pages they’ve visited or offering them a gift coupon to encourage purchase on its e-commerce site.
Because Google offers a very general retargeting solution for its partners, HomeShop18 works closely with Vizury for its retargeting efforts, Bhargav notes.
The HomeShop18 team will have weekly meetings to discuss and evaluate its objectives, which could either be promoting products of a particular category or geography and outlining the budget as well as CPA (cost per acquisition) for each customer.
Depending on requirements, the retargeting vendor will either scale up or scale down the campaign every month.
After partnering for close to nine months, HomeShop18’s CPA, which was initially around $8 to $10, has come down to $4 to $5, Bhargav notes.
The e-commerce site, which was previously not as well known in the lifestyle categories such as clothing, accessories, and footwear, has also built a niche in that vertical. As a result, its margins have grown.
HomeShop18 uses the retargeting firm’s large dataset of cookies to track which geography gives better conversion for the site.
It is also testing cookie sharing with other e-commerce partners. For instance, retargeting to online shoppers who have purchased in travel but not other things to optimize its CPA.
Other retargeting efforts include monitoring sites that give good conversion through referral traffic to the time lag if an online shopper transacts within 24 to 48 hours or not.
HomeShop18 is also able to use retargeting to track online buying behavior of Internet users in various cities. For example, shoppers from New Delhi prefer to buy fashion or jewelry online while those in Mumbai are more likely to buy mobile handsets, etc.
However, retargeting continues to be an ongoing journey for HomeShop18 and one of the objectives in its roadmap is to figure out how to get more people in India to transact directly online instead of using cash on delivery, Bhargav reveals.
Leveraging its TV channel for cross promotions, HomeShop18’s customers are mainly 25 to 40 years old based in the Tier 2 and 3 cities such as Raipur, Mysore, and Bhopal in India.
As these smaller cities do not have much retail infrastructure yet, many have turned to purchasing online.
HomeShop18’s e-commerce team is based out of Bangalore and early this year set up a mobile commerce business in Gurgaon, New Delhi.
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