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Stalk them, sell them: Pros and cons of retargeting

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Justin Seibert Justin Seibert
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Ever go shopping online, leave a site, then start seeing ads for that same site — and even that same shirt you were viewing — afterward?  

That concept is called retargeting, and it's the hottest trend in marketing today due to its effectiveness.

So what exactly is retargeting? It's serving up an online ad based on someone's past actions and can be done through many different ad networks, including Google AdWords, which carries no minimum spending commitment.

The most popular forms of retargeting include:

 

  • Site retargeting: Serving ads to people who have visited your site. Site retargeting doesn't drive new people to your site. Instead, it allows advertisers a second bite at the apple in order to get past visitors to complete an action. This tactic can be especially effective for e-commerce sites when used in conjunction with special offers.
  • Facebook retargeting: A version of site retargeting, Facebook retargeting allows you to reach people who visited your site while they are on Facebook. There's even a new ad unit that gets placed in the news feeds, allowing you expanded reach on mobile devices.  Also be aware that Twitter is planning a similar retargeting option, though it has not yet announced a launch date.
  • Search retargeting: Just like you can serve ads to people who have visited your site, you can also serve ads to people who have performed specific searches on Google, Yahoo! or Bing after those searches. Search retargeting can prove particularly effective on competitor keywords as it is undetectable by your competition.

 

Retargeting doesn't come without its pitfalls. One of the most common mistakes is serving ads to individuals too many times and for too long. If you aren't careful, you will come off as a cyber-stalker and alienate your visitors very quickly. And if you're exporting, you need to be careful with how you use retargeting strategies — if at all — in Europe due to its more restrictive regulations.

Even with those caveats, retargeting remains one of the most effective new forms of advertising today. Depending on the platform, you can pay only for clicks on your ads or the number of times your ad is viewed. Costs remain extremely low, and returns often are high. Plus, you get a host of controls to make sure you're reaching only the visitors who matter most.

If you're looking to extend your organization's reach while enhancing existing efforts, be sure to give retargeting a look (or two).  

 

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing, West Virginia's largest and oldest Internet marketing firm. Learn more at directom.com or 800-979-3177.