Retargeting Burnout: Get Behavioral Back on Track

Happy Halloween! If you’ve been implementing behavioral campaigns and, in particular, retargeting campaigns, you may have experienced a spooky media moment — retargeting burnout. The targeting strategy is sound and has been delivering at or even exceeding expectations for a while now, but for no discernible reason the campaign appears to be heading south. In fact, there are good reasons and you can do something about it.

Recognize the Burnout

Like all marketing campaigns, behavioral targeting is subject to fluctuation from month to month or season to season, so some variance can be expected. What actually constitutes burnout? The definition of burnout will vary from company to company and even campaign to campaign, according to goals, projections, and environmental factors. Carefully track trends to determine whether your behavioral targeting or retargeting campaign is indeed burning out. Watch your campaign closely at launch and over several months; get a feel for the normal ups and downs. When results dip below average or below targets, note how much below the average you are and for how long. It’ always best to get ahead of issues before you reach undeniable burnout, of course, but as your campaign trends toward a point where it’s negatively affecting your bottom line, take action.

Why does burnout happen? No online media campaign should ever be static. If that were the case, we could all do one plan, set it on autopilot, and forget it. Obviously that’s not a best practice for anything but bankruptcy. When retargeting results falter, your campaign is likely hitting the same people repeatedly. When you reach this point, consider scaling back your retargeting efforts because they’re being wasted. Many of those you are reaching are customers. If so, consider e-mail CRM (define) efforts as a more cost-effective and efficient way to create reminders for existing customers. For site visitors who aren’t customers, you can scale back but it’s likely time to reach out to broader audience pools and acquire new site visitors and customers.

Reverse the Burnout

  • Scrutinize. Take a good look at your site to make sure you’re giving browsers a great shopping experience. If not, make needed changes to your site. Focus on conversion points, like shopping carts, and on reducing abandonment rates. Conversely, if your goal is lead generation, make adjustments needed to increase those rates.
  • Instead of focusing on retargeting, bolster other targeting efforts, to expand your potential customer pool. Behaviorally target people who have shopped for products similar to or related to what you sell, but who have never been to your site. This will help get your click through rates up, and preserve some of that marketing budget.
  • Try out new media placements, particularly those that can contribute new blood at a lower cost per acquisition. Portals can often offer quality audience reach with sophisticated targeting options at a bargain price. Mix in some individual niche sites that align with your brand to improve the audience quality.
  • Make sure your network imposes frequency caps to prevent oversampling and regularly drops non-converters from the cookie pool. Consider scaling back the number of networks you’re using to reduce duplication.
  • Freshen up your creative. Creative burnout could cause or contribute to your problems. A new look and feel, promotion, or messaging will catch more eyes. Try creative sequencing to hit consumers with different messages at different points in their path. Segment creative based on behaviors where you can.
  • Examine external factors that may be influencing consumers and campaigns. Are you entering a high or low season based on past history? What have your competitors changed recently?
  • Put your brand in a new environment, mix up the buy, shift strategies, and pull in more high-quality traffic to reverse the negative trends. Don’t wait until you’ve burned too much of your budget to take these simple steps to ensuring your program’s continued efficacy.

    Related reading