Using Ad Retargeting to Convert Prospects

By Kathryn Hawkins Tuesday, February 5, 2013

If you invest in online advertising for your business, you’re probably already familiar with pay-per-click (PPC) keyword ads and traditional banner ads. But you may not have tried a newer form of online advertisement that could give a big boost to your marketing efforts: ad retargeting.

What is ad retargeting?

Ad retargeting is a way to display your ads to people who’ve previously taken an action that shows that they’re interested in your business. For instance, someone may have clicked on an ad for a pair of boots at your e-commerce store, but didn’t opt to make a purchase at that time. Through retargeting, you can display customized banner ads in their browser to draw them back to your website. Because the customer is already a prospect who’s demonstrated interest in your product, they are more likely to make a purchase than a new prospect seeing your ad for the first time.

How ad retargeting works

In order to retarget a user, you’ll need to place a JavaScript “cookie” in your website, which can collect data about each visitor, such as their ISP and type of browser used. Collecting that information enables your ad platform to determine whether the prospect has been to your website before.

When placing ads through an ad retargeting marketplace, your ad network will purchase unsold ad inventory all over the web to display your ads to the specific retargeted users you are appealing to. You can customize your creative message based on the user’s experience with your site: For instance, the woman who looked at a pair of boots may see ads for shoes; whereas an individual who looked at your store’s selection of scarves will see an ad for accessories.

Depending on the type of product you’re selling, you may want to retarget prospects according to different time tables. Someone looking at purchasing a small item such as a pair of shoes should be retargeted immediately, while the item is still top of mind. In contrast, someone who clicked on an ad for a car at your dealership needs more time to make a purchasing decision, and should be retargeted over a period of weeks or even months.

Why use retargeting?

Up to 90 percent of consumers who add an item to an online shopping cart don’t complete the purchase—and that’s not even counting the many other prospects who are interested in a product but haven’t yet made a decision to buy.

Without ad retargeting, some of the prospects who visited your website or started a shopping cart may return on their own accord—but many will forget about the product, or be lured in by a competitor’s offer instead.

Retargeting users who’ve been to your site or started a shopping cart can be highly effective. A comScore study found that individuals who’d been retargeted searched for the company name over 10 times more often than those who saw an ad with no previous exposure to a company.

If you decide to try this marketing approach, focus on developing high-quality offers for the customers you wish to retarget, based on their browsing history and interests. If they were interested in your product already, building a compelling retargeting campaign can help them pull the trigger on making a purchase.

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