Four Customers, Seven Steps: Executing Site and Search Retargeting


ADOTAS – When it comes right down to it, there are four kinds of digital customers in terms of value, but only one innovative strategy to get to them all. The first are the most likely to buy the products on your site; second most likely to buy are customers who previously visited your site; third are customers actively searching for your product; and the fourth are customers who previously searched for your product.

Knowing that there’s four kinds of customers involved, the problem is that too many e-commerce companies only address a narrow set of behaviors. The key to success in today’s market lies in taking a two-pronged approach to media strategy – following up with a user after they visit a site and following up with a user after they have searched for your product or service.

In order to carry users through the purchase funnel, companies must have a strategy to deploy search retargeting and site retargeting in addition to SEM and basic e-commerce, and there’s a big difference between the two when it comes to targeting these four types of customers.

Search retargeting drives new customer acquisition by following-up with users that are looking for your products, but most likely have not visited your site, thus pushing the user from the top of the funnel to your site and getting your product within their consideration set. Site retargeting lets you follow-up with users that have previously visited your site helping to push users to the end of the funnel who have visited and are considering your product.

Given search retargeting’s ability to precisely identify a user looking for a specific product at a specific time, you can drive sales efficiently with search retargeting on its own. However, the additional data point of knowing the customers that have visited the site offers insight for the platform managing the campaign in order to most efficiently push customers to the bottom of the funnel.

For example, showing ads to users that searched for “car insurance” once a day is highly effective in driving requests for quotes, but additionally showing users ads two or three times a day on the day they visit your site helps to ensure your offering is thoroughly considered when the user is about to pick an insurance provider.

There are seven key steps to launching a combined site retargeting and search retargeting strategy:

1. Define Goals: It is not enough to simply say you want to drive sales.  It is important to understand your customers’ paths to conversion. Don’t simply create a goal for your campaign that results in marketers doing anything they can to be the last ad viewed or clicked before the user buys.

2. Select Inventory: Showing your brand along relevant popular content will be helpful in the long term. Showing your brand too often or along side unpopular or questionable content will be damaging in the long term.  So choose wisely and don’t forget to stop showing ads at a high frequency once the customer purchases.

3. Identify Audience: There are multiple customer segments for your product and there are multiple paths to conversion. Learn them. Understand the keywords each would be searching for. This is a crucial exercise.

4. Design Relevant Creative: Serve Flash, graphical and video content that is relevant to the targeted audience segment. It is important to have creatives that have a clear call to action.

If you are conquesting, mention the competitor’s product and provide a clear competitive reason for picking your product. If you are targeting the upper funnel, be informative.  If you are targeting the bottom of the funnel, mention the price or offer a deal to close the customer. Customize the message for users that have already converted to thank them or upsell them with accessories.

5. Place Site Retargeting Tags: These tags are needed only when doing site retargeting with search retargeting. Including this tag enables the site retargeting company to tailor the campaign differently for those users that have visited the site.

6. Place Conversion Tags: Conversion tags provide insights to successful optimization by helping determine which keywords, data sources, recency of searches along with media, creative, geo, etc. are driving results. Conversion tags are always optional but highly recommended.

7. Optimize: Using the feedback loop (i.e. information from the conversion tags), it is important to make adjustments in order to take your successful campaign and turn it into the most efficient marketing initiative for pushing customers through the funnel.


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