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3 bogus retargeting tips marketers should ignore

3 bogus retargeting tips marketers should ignore Robert Glazer

On average, only 2 percent of first-time visitors to an online store actually buy something during that visit. So what can be done about the other 98 percent?

Successful retargeting can bring them back.

By now, the benefits of retargeting are well-known. With more opportunities to reengage visitors and draw them back to your site, your company can quickly gain traction and ultimately increase conversions.

There's a lot of advice about retargeting out there. Unfortunately, much of it is just plain wrong.

The common theme that can be gleaned from these flawed bits of conventional wisdom is that there is no one-size-fits-all retargeting campaign. To understand what strategy works best for your business, it's important to test campaigns. This article will provide suggestions on where to start with your testing, but every company will be different.

In particular, digital marketers should never follow these three popular but off-base tips when developing retargeting campaigns.

Don't…maximize the frequency of your retargeted ads

A lot of agencies and clients assume it's best to maximize the frequency of a retargeted ad to one to three times a day. This means that after a consumer sees your ad one to three times in a day, he or she won't be served that ad for the rest of the day.

On the surface, this makes sense. If consumers see your ad too many times, they'll get annoyed or tune it out altogether. But if they see it too few times, they may not notice it at all. The problem with this advice is that no one prescription will work for all campaigns.

Once a day may be too little to re-attract visitors because the remarketing ad could appear at the bottom of the page. It will count as having been displayed, but those consumers may never actually see it, and you'll be missing out on potential sales.

A better path is to test, test, test with different intervals. Don't assume conventional knowledge applies to your campaign. Test your strategy often to discover what actually works.

Don't…rely heavily on view-through data

View-through conversions happen when consumers decide to complete their purchases on your site after seeing one of your ads online. View-through data is helpful if you can see how it affects consumers' overall decision-making, but it should be taken lightly. You can't always tell whether the ad itself helped drive the conversion or whether the customer even saw the ad.

The path to purchase is typically long and involves multiple channels, so it's important to determine which touchpoint drives consumer behavior and gets them to purchase. Conversions are only counted within a 30-day time period with view-through data. If the product has a longer conversion path or consumers take more than a month to convert, that data isn't attributable.

Instead of relying exclusively on view-through data, look at direct conversion data, too, to see who actually clicked on a remarketing ad and purchased. You could also set up attribution to analyze the conversion path to see how much weight can be attributed to view-through data.

Don't…retarget one message to many audiences

While your visitors might have a lot in common, retargeting the same message to all of them will never be effective. When the same ad is seen multiple times, 55 percent of the people targeted are less likely to buy those products or services

Rather than depend on a single message for every visitor, segment visitors based on the pages they visited and the actions they took while on your site. For example, someone who visited your wedding dress page is more likely to buy one than someone who just visited your homepage.

In the U.K., online watch company Watchfinder saw incredible ROI of 1,300 percent (i.e., a $3 return on every dollar spent) by using a few simple steps to improve its messaging based on user behavior. The company first segmented users into 20 different audience lists that showed intent but never converted. Then, it analyzed that data according to funnel stage, internet service provider, location, and on-site behavior to further segment these visitors. With that data, it was able to serve specific, targeted ads to just the right visitors.

When using this method, remember that consumers who purchase from your site don't want to see reminder ads for products they just bought. So make sure to negate customers who've already purchased or retarget them with a promotion or loyalty offer to entice them to shop again.

But do…refresh your creative often!

You probably won't be told, "Use stale creative." But you've probably seen creative being reused often enough to realize how few companies keep it up-to-date.

Why is fresh creative so important? Because if a consumer doesn't bite within the first 10 days, he or she probably won't on the 30th day either. Continually test your ads, and always be trying out new creative on your audience. Consider experimenting with the value proposition or type of offer to see what's most attractive to which audiences.

Retargeting is a relatively new discipline. While there are a lot of experts out there -- and plenty of good advice -- the bottom line is that you are the one in charge of your campaigns. Start with the tips I've provided here, but don't take my word for it. Test and iterate until you find the right formula for your unique company.

Robert Glazer is the founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, which was ranked No. 5 among Great Place to Work's Best Workplaces for Women and No. 8 among Fortune's Best Workplaces for Flexibility. Acceleration Partners is a...

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