Retargeting Your Consumer Pathways


ADOTAS – It’s 2011 and consumers are faced with more potential choices than ever. Throughout their average purchase cycle, intent waivers and focus on the product can diminish. Utilizing retargeting for your business can help steer consumers back to you and increase purchase intent.

When it comes to reselling and upselling to your current customers, many companies rely solely on email marketing. While email is definitely an effective tactic, creating an overall upsell strategy that incorporates additional channels such as social media and retargeting, can greatly improve the amount of upsells that you’re generating.

Using Retargeting To Win New Business

Companies spend thousands of dollars every month to bring new visitors to their website, but average conversion rates from this traffic roughly fall to 3%. Retargeting helps businesses improve their conversion rates by bringing bounced visitors back to their website. For example, let’s consider the average internet shopper of Widgets.

Click for full-size graphic. Courtesy of the author.


Widgets Inc. spends thousands of dollars on marketing and PR initiatives to get people to visit the Widgets online store. However, only 3% of visitors will make a purchase and leave happy, while 97% of these users leave without making a purchase.

After a user leaves the website, retargeting kicks in. Users that have been to the Widgets store but did not convert will see Widget Store ads selectively across the internet. As a subconscious reminder, retargeting makes brands seem larger and is more efficient than traditional advertising.

Once the user reaches their purchase threshold again, they will make their way back to the website via an ad and convert, effectively increasing Widgets Inc.’s conversion rate. If users don’t convert immediately, they will continue to see Widget Store ads selectively across the web.

Marketing Toward the Upsell

While retargeting is extremely successful in regaining purchase intent of customers, it can also be a useful tool for upsells. After a customer has made a purchase, most companies consider the cycle to be over.

Rather than aiming marketing and advertising efforts exclusively toward acquiring new consumers, retargeting allows you to also market directly to those who have already positively interacted with your brand, greatly increasing your chances of success. Companies can greatly increase their chances of earning repeat customers by using retargeting in conjunction with their current upsell tactics.

If a company is already using email and social media portals such as Twitter and Facebook, retargeting can help extend the distribution of your brand’s email and social messages through another channel.

Social media can provide great value to brands looking to consistently upsell to their market. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and blogging allow large corporations to personify themselves as one voice, bringing them down to a relatable level for the consumer.

In conjunction with retargeting, marketers can spread their social presence to all of their current customers. Using retargeting, brands can keep your tweets in front of your audience outside of Twitter, or inform customers of all the discounts that they can receive from the brand’s Facebook fan page.

Email marketing is the tried and true tactic that keeps your products selling. While open rates generally lie under 25%, conversion rates are a much smaller percentage of that. Retargeting email campaigns can help keep email messages in front of its openers, effectively boosting the value of a brand’s email list.

Far too often, companies focus too many advertising dollars on driving new traffic, and not enough on valuable current customers. While it has been proven that customers are more likely to make purchases from a brand that they’ve purchased from before, a brand can also miss out on a lot of recurring business if they have no upsell strategy.

While retargeting has proven itself as an effective conversion tool and ROI driver, its ability to complement resell and upsell tactics makes it a much more valuable marketing tactic.


  1. Ian, nice column. Two comments:

    1. Great graphic…but the Adotas version is too low-res to read much of it. Any chance of linking to a PDF?

    2. I think retargeting really gets interesting when you can break down the dual time barriers of designing new creatives and trafficking said creatives. Both processes are still too manual and they throttle the full potential of the retargeting channel. And the workaround of running dynamic creatives is still a tactic that’s only available to relatively sophisticated advertisers. Whether you’re bringing back bounced visitors or upselling/cross-selling existing customers, it’s best to use a channel that will allow you to easily broadcast fresh messages. This is one advantage of old-fashioned email marketing…the barriers to creating and sending an email blast are very low, and turnaround can be accomplished in as little as a few hours (plus the targeting is spot-on if you have a good list; open/click rates are another matter). But with display retargeting, the traditional creative process coupled with waiting for ad network approval and dealing with constant technical glitches kind of kills the opportunity to do anything spontaneous. Once those operational barriers can finally be smashed (which they will be…they’re embarrassingly anachronistic), I think we’ll see a whole new wave of ad creative that makes much more nuanced use of the direct-to-consumer nature of retargeting (i.e., going beyond the well-worn tactics like: “you bounced from my blue pants web page so I’ll add you to my blue pants segment and stalk you with my blue pants banner til you click or I reach my frequency cap”).


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