How to retarget customers without becoming a ‘stalker’

Retargeting is a marketing term that you may not immediately recognise though you have probably experienced it.
Retargeting or remarketing usually refers to online advertising. Specifically, it refers to the practice of marketing (via online means) to a potential customer who visited your website.
Most web traffic does not convert to a sale on the first visit making retargeting a useful tool. If done well it can help you recapture a lost customer and convert them to a sale. There are some pitfalls though…and one of them is the potential to look like a ‘stalker’.
What do I mean by stalker?
Let’s say that on one particular day you view a specific product on a webpage, let’s say a ‘Fiji holiday package’, then over the next few weeks, possibly even months, you notice that every time you are online, whether it is a news site, blog or social media, you notice ads for ‘Fiji holiday packages’.
At worst you may feel like you’re being stalked, at best you are enticed to click through, revisit the original website and purchase said holiday package.
Retargeting is made possible with cookie-based technology and inserting simple Javascript code on your web pages, enabling you to ‘follow’ a user that visited your website.
Retargeting is reported to have one of the best returns on investment for marketing tools because you are targeting people already familiar with your brand.
The good news is that smaller businesses can employ this technique without significant expenditure or resources.
There are some great articles here by DynamicBusiness and CMO that explain the ins and outs of retargeting in more detail but here is a quick snapshot outlining the pros and cons.
  • Retargeting can convert leads that may have previously been lost
  • Repetition can work. Marketers will tell you that you need to hear a message 3-5 times before it sinks in and potentially entices you to respond to a call-to-action
  • It can increase brand awareness
  • You can be quite specific in what kind of visitors to your site you wish to retarget
  • Google and social media platforms like Facebook allow small businesses to create ads that retarget visitors
  • The process is relatively simple for anyone who has access to their website content management system.
  • Some potential customers may not like the idea or feeling of being ‘stalked’, especially if they have already purchased what they initially looked for
  • There can be difficulties matching retargeting across numerous consumer devices, unless the user is required to be logged in, for example, retargeted ads on Facebook
  • Some argue that it would be better to try and attract the best prospects to your site in the first place, rather than focus on converting lost visitors who may not be good prospects
  • Care must be taken to ensure your ads appear on the types of sites you want them to appear on.

The most important thing with retargeting is trying to create a balance between frequency of ads (not being stalkerish) and representing your brand in a way you want to be perceived. For example if you are advertising ‘luxury handmade chocolates’, you may not want your ad to appear on a site devoted to ‘healthy living’.

You need to make sure that the service you use for retargeting, is reputable and understands relevant privacy law requirements, and allows you to specify who you want to target, how and when. Additionally, you want to have access to analytics that show click throughs and preferably conversions.
Also if you aren’t comfortable with coding you may need to speak to a website developer or marketing expert. 
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Kylie Fennell
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