Feature

That Advert is Following Me!

Remarketing is one of the latest online marketing tools, proving very effective at getting site visitors to come back and buy

Have you ever been on a website and then, having moved on to a new site, seen an advert for products from the previous site you visited? It's not an accident, it's a new marketing technique called remarketing and the businesses using it are finding real success. According to figures from digital marketers Criteo, in some industries, retargeted customers are 70% more likely to complete a purchase than non-retargeted customers.

The theory behind remarketing is that you only market to people with an awareness of your brand, product or service. Customers who weren't ready to buy on their first visit to the site may well come back to do so, after seeing a few adverts reminding them of the products and the brand. It's basic marketing psychology and in theory the costs of converting a person using remarketing should be much lower than a new, cold acquisition.
 
Remarketing was introduced in 2011 by Google, with its AdWords Remarketing product. The system works using a combination of cookies delivered from websites pages (every time you go to a website, your browser receives a cookie), remarketing lists that contain information about a user's journey and preferences built up over time, and Google’s AdWords system to deliver the advert to a user on another site.

"As with most internet marketing strategies, the secret is to be interesting, useful and not to irritate. The thing to remember is that your advert will follow the user around the internet. Having the same advert on every page of every site will annoy a visitor rather than induce them to buy."

You set up a remarketing campaign by adding your business' unique remarketing code to every page of your website and creating rules within AdWords: for example, a user who looks at the most expensive item in your store or adds an item to the shopping basket but does not buy will be pushed a specified number of adverts each time they visit another site in the Google advertising network; or a visitor who looks at more than 25 pages without making a purchase can be pushed an advert for the next week.

As remarketing relies on capturing users who come to your site, you can’t set up a remarketing campaign overnight. Unless you have huge numbers of frequently returning users, you should set up a remarketing campaign and build your lists before you have the budget available for campaigns. This will allow you to get the campaigns up and running as soon as possible.

As with most internet marketing strategies, the secret is to be interesting, useful and not to irritate. The thing to remember is that your advert will follow the user around the internet. Having the same advert on every page of every site will annoy a visitor rather than induce them to buy. Many businesses will just use their standard adverts in their remarketing strategy – however, if the advert didn't work the first time, it’s unlikely to work when it’s shown a second or third time. Try something different, like a new advert. For example, if the customer visited a sale page, then push an advert reminding them that the sale is ending in two days.

The more sophisticated forms of remarketing will use information stored about the customer to shape what they see based on their previous purchases or browsed items. Some good strategies are to point out other features of the product or service, to offer specific discounts on items they put in their basket and rejected, or to push adverts for products that users with a similar profile have bought.

Remarketing should very clearly be marketing, and not nagging. Many businesses make the mistake of pushing their adverts via remarketing on every occasion possible, and adverts literally follow the user around the internet. The potential customer is then put off, rather than encouraged to click back and buy. It’s a good idea to set a cap on the number of times an advert appears over a day or a week, and to create a cut-off date at which a user no longer sees your advertising.

Finally, remarketing isn't for everyone. It's not going to work for businesses selling luxury items or for those selling bespoke solutions. For general retailers and service providers, however, it can be a very effective tool. Like most advertising techniques, there are no hard and fast rules governing what will and what won’t work. The way to find out is to try different strategies until you find a route to success for your customers and your business.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK

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