What is remarketing, and how does it work?
Remarketing is a way of using tailored advertisements to drive customers back to your website after they have visited it one or more times. Remarketing can sound like a complicated process, but most of the hard work is put in by clever computers. The setup is quite simple for a business, and can be a major boon to sales. Before we get into how you can personally start using remarketing, let’s have a close look at how it works in practice.
The first part of any remarketing effort is a user visiting your website, so you’ll have to use your usual methods to encourage that first click. When a user visits your website, you can ‘tag’ that user with a small file which contains information about what actions they performed on your website.
When a user visits your website, the website can place small files on the user’s computer; such files are called ‘cookies.’ Cookies are used by websites to remember a user’s preferences and actions between visits to the site. Examples of cookie use:
– Remembering the contents of a shopping cart.
– Keeping you logged into a website when the browser is closed and reopened.
– Remembering preferences such as the volume on a video player.
Most information that a website stores about a particular user is stored in the form of cookies. People are generally quite comfortable with cookies acting behind the scenes, and the way in which they are used for remarketing is unlikely to be off-putting to most users.
To ‘tag’ a user for remarketing, your website is programmed to give the user’s internet browser a certain cookie, the type of cookie being dependent on exactly what the user did when on your website. For example: if a user visits your website and performs a search for “fishing tackle,” your website can tag that user with a cookie that tells your ad service ‘show this individual ads pertaining directly to fishing tackle’. Once that cookie has been placed in the user’s browser, it can be used to direct specific ads toward that user
Ads, obviously, exist on other websites and are some form of hyperlink leading back to your own website. When a user which has been tagged with a remarketing cookie visits a site where your ads are found, the website will ask the user’s browser “What are you into? What should I try to sell you? What do you want right now?” and the user’s browser will answer based on its cookies. If you have tagged a user’s browser with your “fishing tackle” cookie, the answer will be “Well website, what I really want right now is some fishing tackle from examplewebsite.com,” and the browser will obligingly show the user your pre-made fishing tackle related advertisement.
So to surmise the above:
- A user visits your website.
- Your website tags the user with a cookie containing information specific to what that user did on your website.
- Other websites on which ads for your website are hosted use the cookie-tag to choose which of your ads is most appropriate to show that user, at that time.
The result is ads which pertain directly to what that particular user has been shown in practise to actually want; this is far superior to profiling type advertising, which we’ll go over briefly.
Using a Profile
When not using remarketing to target advertisements, profiling is often used. A profile is a list of preferences a user is assumed to have based on information known about that user. For example, if a user’s profile states the following:
– Aged 43
– Employed in a high-earning capacity
Then this individual might be shown ads for luxury fishing gear, expensive vehicles, dating websites promising sexy women, and restaurants specializing in steaks. This sounds horribly stereotypical, because it is. A profile can build and grow to improve its accuracy, but if our 43-year-old high-earning man is a gay, married, aquaphobic vegetarian, it’s just too much of an adjustment for the profile to ever make, and that user will be shown ads which entirely fail to match his purchasing preferences.
Essentially, remarketing abandons stereotypes in favor of actual, specific, known information about what a given person wants to buy.
We talked before about placing a “fishing tackle” cookie in response to a user searching for the terms “fishing tackle,” but the opportunities for remarketing cookies to be specified go far beyond that. Here are some examples of the ways in which remarketing cookies can be targeted:
Example one: the abandoned cart.
A user places items in a shopping cart and begins the purchase process, only to stop and exit the website when reaching the page which displays the shipping costs to have the item delivered. In this case, the website could drop an “unwilling to pay that much for freight” cookie.
Then, when the user next visits a page hosting your site’s ads, the site will ask the user’s browser “what do you want? What shall I sell you? What do you need?” and the “unwilling to pay that much for freight” cookie will say “I want all the things in my cart, but I want the shipping to be less!”
Using this information, the website hosting your advertisements will choose to show the user an ad you made previously: “Free shipping on all orders made between xdate – ydate! Just enter the code XXYYZZ”
Now you might think that losing the freight money will hurt your business, but the remarketing cookies can be cleverer still: you could tell your website only to drop the “unwilling to pay that much for freight” cookie if the contents of the cart hit a certain dollar value, or stayed below a certain weight, and thereby only make that offer to those buyers on whom a substantial profit can be made while waiving the freight cost.
Example two: the up-sell.
A user visits your website and purchases an automatic cat feeder. This is a sale, and therefore a win, but remarketing can again be employed. The moment your buyer purchases the cat feeder, your website can drop a “cat” cookie.
Now, when your buyer visits a site where your ads are hosted, the site will be told by the cat cookie “I bought a cat feeder, so show me ads for cat food, cat toys, and books with funny cat pictures!”
Example three: the reminder
A user visits your website in December and buys Christmas crackers. Your website drops a Christmas-cracker-cookie. A year later, the user has completely forgotten about your website, and would simply search the internet for the first appealing looking cracker shop, but your Christmas-cracker-cookie comes to the rescue, activating itself on the first of December and telling websites hosting your advertisements to show an ad with your brand of crackers pictured and “10% discount for return customers!”
Obviously these three examples are only the tiny tip of a very large iceberg. With remarketing cookies you can use any and every piece of information gained by watching a user on your website to target your advertisements, and you can make the targeting as simple or complex as you prefer.
How to start remarketing
The best and easiest way to begin remarketing is to employ the services of a remarketing company. Below we’ll go over some of the major companies available and what they offer.
- Able to place your ads on 98% of all websites.
- Easy-to-use interface for setting up your cookies.
- Excellent reputation for customer service.
- Metrics, graphs, and reports are automatically generated, making the information about how your marketing campaign is progressing easily legible.
- Their more expensive packages include services such as a dedicated account manager, creative assistance, and access to product development advice.
- Amazing customer service.
- Scaling prices which change depending on your site’s traffic.
- Dedicated account manager regardless of how much you spend on their services.
Perfect Audience (www.perfectaudience.com)
- Ultra, ultra simple setup and interface. They claim that you can be up and running within five minutes.
- No initial costs, making them ideal for start-ups and small businesses
- Ad placement is on Facebook.
- Majorly focused on Facebook ads.
- Can automatically create dynamic ads to be used in retargeting, meaning that you do not have to manually craft ads and then attach them to a cookie, it can be automated to a large extent.
- There are several other remarketing options out there, but the above are among the best. To call something “the x of the future” is a tired cliché, but in the case of remarketing it is entirely justified. Remarketing is so effective, and so superior to the alternatives that it’s fast becoming the default method of advertising online. If you are not already using remarketing to drive your business, it’s time to start.
The key to any marketing is to create a plan, get started, and track and measure. Be sure to hold all marketing dollars responsible for ROI. Take a look at Facebook and what you can do with remarketing using snippet codes on your site provided by Facebook.