It’s a fact of life that 98% of visitors won’t convert on their first visit to your site. No matter how amazing your product, how intuitive your site, people are people and they like to browse, ponder and procrastinate before making a choice. But there is a way you can turn a bounce into a sale, create exposure for your site and product after the fact to get that unsure customer to make a purchase: retargeting.

What is retargeting?

Have you ever browsed for a book, pair of shoes or film then realised that item or brand now appears to be following you around the internet? That’s retargeting. By creating a reminder of a product or brand that you’ve browsed, retargeting can help browsers convert to buyers.

Retargeting can be split in to two groups: site and search retargeting. Site retargeting is aimed at browsers who have visited your site, whilst search retargeting displays your ad to browsers who use search terms relevant to your site, brand and products but who don’t click on your site listing or ads.

How does it work?

It’s all very ingenious, and completely anonymous (from your users perspective, no data is used by your business). You place a small piece of code on your website; it’s completely unobtrusive and doesn’t interfere with the site in any way, in fact it’s often called the retargeting pixel it’s that small. That piece of code drops an anonymous browser cookie, which tells your retargeting provider when to serve ads to cookied visitors as they browse the web.

What are the benefit of retargeting?

Targeted campaigns that appeal to a percentage of your customers can be used to target that group, with a different campaign targeting a different demographic appearing only to them. With ads only being served to customers who have an interest in that product, click rates are higher than generic advertising, which may not meet the interests of the consumer viewing it. You can even target visitors at different stages of the consumer process; for example, if someone placed a product in their basket but didn’t ultimately make a purchase, you can target them with a specialised reminder message through retargeting to help convert that failed sale in to a successful sale.

Better yet, by targeting users already familiar with your brand, and have recently demonstrated an interest in your products, you can expect to see a higher ROI than on most other digital channels.

What are the challenges of retargeting?

It’s vital that you understand your customer and how they make purchases. For marketers of high value products the chances are that your customers buying cycle will take several months, whilst they review their choices and the prices. However, if your retargeting only lasts a month then you’re going to miss out on those customers when they finally make a decision. Contrast that with low cost, last minute type purchases that people require, where 30 days may be too long a retargeting cycle as the product was bought within a day or two.

It’s also important to have frequency capping and a relevant message. Don’t bombard your potential customers with scarily specific ads, you’ll only put them off and lose sales. Whilst your ads need to be specific enough to meet their interest, and visible enough to catch their attention, consumers won’t appreciate being ‘stalked’ around the internet by an overly familiar product.