Rock Retargeting Without The Creep-Factor! Deadeye Tips from #SMX Advanced

Yay, retargeting! A completely legitimate excuse for savvy online marketers to lovingly stalk existing and potential customers, and then, among other actions, cleverly charm them into buying that groovy product they’ve scoped out once or twice in the past. But marketers beware: stalk with care! This powerful marketing tactic has the power to bloody your brand and scare the hell out of would-be buyers. The fine line between effective and annoying is… well, it’s fine.

Lucky for attendees at #SMX Advanced 2012, a panel of retargeting pros came together to share their own retargeting best practices, experiences, tips, tools, tactics, and more. @Kelly Gillease, @Marc Poirier, and @Lisa Williams, together with moderator Christine Churchill rocked the post-lunch session on Day 1 with a brainchow buffet of tip-top advice. Read on for the full effect.

The lovely Ms. Churchill took the stage to welcome us back from lunch, introduce the panelists, and share a couple very poignant words on the power of retargeting.

“I actually bought a truck because of retargeting that some company was doing.” -Christine Churchill

Yup. A truck. Plain and simple: “Retargeting works.” Why did it work for Christine, and why does it work for millions of users? Because when properly executed, it almost makes you feel you are destined to buy a certain product. There’s something serendipitous about deadeye retargeting. One note of caution: Don’t be creepy.

To talk more about retargeting best practices, Kelly headed to the podium to share tips and tactics.

Refining Retargeting Agenda
Not to sound redundant, but retargeting works. The key is to not simply, as the session title warned against, “fire and forget.” Kelly recommended taking a step back and evaluating the following criteria:

  • Cost models
  • Measuring results
  • Creative considerations
  • Thinking different‏(ly)

Let’s break that out a bit.

Cost Models

  • Make retargeting work for your business.
  • There are a variety of cost models from retargeting providers, from traffic based (CPM or CPC) to performance-based (revenue share or CPA) based on CTR, engagement, or view-through.

‏”It’s a buyers market out there!” Kelly noted. “Shop around and negotiate!”‏

Measuring Results

  • Consider the variety of sources your data will come from: search (paid / natural), affiliate, email, call centers and offices
  • ‏Expect overlap between these direct marketing program‏
  • Measure extent of overlap issues and monitor regularly‏
  • Optimize to minimize non-productive or expensive overlap‏
  • Renegotiate costs accordingly
  • Consider running a PSA test – chart your baseline vs. your lift

Kelly pointed out that a lot of retargeting companies will run such tests for you – they want to prove they’re helping you!‏Creative Considerations – Dynamic Creative & Not Being Creepy

  • Creative choices are partially driven by cost model efficiencies‏
  • Take advantage of dynamic creative – capitalize on the data you have for targeted ads! E.g.: you have access to data like browsing history on site, purchase history, referral source, general sales & pricing, customer reviews/ratings. Use these criteria in your ads. Want a reason to test dynamic creative? Engagement rates are 10-15% on ads that feature such dynamic data.
  • THAT SAID, with all of that info you have access to… avoid being creepy or stalking visitors. You will undoubtedly turn them off.‏ Use your power wisely – don’t make your ad too personal, or “too too targeted.” There’s a way to make the ad seem tailored and smart, helpful and inviting – but just don’t be a creeper.

Think Different(ly)

  • Don’t forget about international audiences! If it makes sense for your business, go beyond the U.S. Try to cover your biz global footprint.
  • Be aware of limitations of retargeting networks, though. It can be worthwhile to optimize international markets separately.
  • Encourage repeat purchases for existing customers.
  • This works well for industries where multiple purchases are possible or likely (makes sense). Promote complimentary products – for example, accessories to a purchase.
  • Another consideration – target web assets that drive an interested audience… folks who visit your company blog, youtube, microsites, mobile sites… track and optimize separately.

‏Kelly wrapped up her succinct and highly informative preso and turned it over to Marc, who shared a personal case study with retargeting.

Prior to Retargeting

  • Marc’s team was starting out with a mature PPC campaign, generating leads at about $200/each, 20 leads / month
The Experiment
  • Marc needed to test display integration, budget of $250k & a goal to increase the lead volume, which had maxed out
  • Retargeting campaign duration: started in Feb 2011, ran thru Oct 2011. Feb thru May, process was very experimental, small budgets. In May, things got a little more surefooted.‏
The Results
  • The results were – hooray! – additional conversions.
  • To clarify, Marc was running 4 strategies: site retargeting, search retargeting, site list, and retargeting based on registration incomplete.
  • Volume of conversions declined after August. He pulled the plug on the site list campaign, which had good volume, but ridiculously high CPA.
  • Overall, the CPA varied wildly! ‏

“I think display supports brand awareness really well.” -Marc Poirier

(Wondering why he feels that way? You can draw inferences to support this by building custom reports in GA.)‏

SO! The overall results from Marc’s experiment: Doubled lead volume, maintained CPA at $200, increased brand awareness, highly scalable (though very expensive).

Some Challenges & Unanswered Questions…

  • Tracking Challenges: This isn’t like search. There are new metrics to consider, for example, view-through conversions. A view-thru conversions is when someone sees your ad, does not click, but converts some other way.
  • Also, plan ahead what tracking system should prevail: Web Analytics? Ad Server? Acquisio? SalesForce?
  • Decide where the responsibilities of each system stars and ends.
  • Regarding quality… you need to always keep an eye on the sites that drive most impressions, weed out the unwanted ones! Whitelists are not enough… What we need is quality control technology for advertisers.
  • Display is cyclical! At the end of each quarter, competing in keeping up the volume was very difficult. Agencies have to spend their client’s budgets, so they go nuts at the end of quarter.
  • Regarding attribution… how do you give credit for view-thru conversions? Worth the same as a click-thru? (No!)
  • When Marc switched to put more emphasis on brand & exposed millions of banners, brand queries went up a LOT.
  • Regarding branding… there’s a huge difference between creative designed for lead gen and brand awareness.
  • Regarding volume… Marc had a large budget, but could only spend 1/8th of it really… the volume just wasn’t there. Marc put the rest of the $ to fixed priced deals. He noted that generally, it’s harder to perform well in B2B sites. You may have massive budgets, but the volume just might not be there. Don’t give up, though! Just get creative.

Marc turned the mic over to Lisa, who rounded out the session with top strategies for smart remarketing to help customers, open their minds and their wallets 🙂 .‏

  • Understand what “re” means! Re = do it again, and do it BETTER! Did you know… 97% of visitors don’t convert. There is a huge opportunity for you to REMARKET your site! Pitch a new message and / or a new offer.
  • Discover platforms for lower cost testing. You don’t just have to use Google. Define a strategy and test on multiple platforms. Don’t forget players like AOL. Value-add sometimes works better than discounts. Test for your industry.‏
  • Try multiple platforms. Seriously. Take advantage of new tools & companies.‏ Many platforms are invested in your success. Such companies will give more guidance to help create success with ad spend!‏
  • Study behavior. Take time to create and understand personas. KNOW your personas. Speak to them, write content for them. Include spend for creative, test persona-based messaging.‏
  • Think beyond search! Think like a media buyer and consultant.‏ Build longevity into the event or campaign.‏ Again – don’t message too often, don’t be creepy. You don’t want brand backlash!
  • Share success! Overcome the paradox of excellence. Clients don’t know how you’re impacting the bottom line with remarketing and branding unless you tell them. Create an expectation about search/display efforts and impact to overall success of marketing campaign. You’re there to open minds and open wallets :). Claim the budget!

Lisa wrapped up, as did the session! A spirited Q&A ensued, but here’s my favorite takeaway, specific to the creep-factor of retargeting…

Q: Is there a cap you found for frequency capping? I.E. When does it get creepy?

Lisa: It depends on the industry. Check out the sales cycle. Consider a 7 days cap. Remember – fire, but DON’T FORGET!

Kelly: The retargeting provider you use can help find the right cap for you. You’ll know when you get to the “too much” point.‏

Marc: Consider flipping your creative to refresh what your audience actually sees. But all in all, there’s no be-all-end-all answer.

Big thanks to the speakers for their awesome knowledge-bombs! Stay tuned in AIMCLEAR blog for more coverage comin’ atcha from #SMX Advanced. Happy retargeting 🙂

photo credit: slimmer_jimmer


Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Stay Connected