By Katherine Stuart, head of search and analytics at 25AM
Today’s customer flits from device to device during any given day – perhaps browsing the Web on a smartphone while waiting in a queue, doing online banking and shopping from a PC at work, and watching videos while lying in bed at the end of a hard day’s work.
Given that our customers live in a multi-screen world where they do so much on the go, good marketers should engage them with appropriate services and messages – wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.
This is where retargeting has an invaluable role to play in your marketing strategy. This is a technique for reaching the same customer on different devices and across different digital touchpoints, with messages tailored to where he or she is in the customer journey and his or her likely activities and behaviour at a given time.
Retargeting enables brands to reach consumers with targeted ads across Google, Facebook, Twitter, ad exchanges, networks and across the different devices they use. By taking a cross-platform and cross-device view of customers, marketers can nudge them further down the conversion funnel by targeting them with relevant messages at each point.
This allows advertisers to cast a wider marketing net and get customers to remember and interact with their brands. Consider, for example, a user who starts searching for a new car from his or her mobile phone. We could target this person with relevant paid search ads at the outset of the customer journey. Later, as he or she does more research from a PC at work and perhaps thinks about booking a test drive, we can target him or her with a conversion-focused display ad bought through real-time bidding.
Boosting conversions and response rates
Depending on the brand and product, retargeting users in this way can lead to dramatic boosts in customer response or conversion. Retargeting can be effective for a range of objectives, including building awareness by keeping the brand in the customer’s view at important times, facilitating customer acquisition by encouraging customers to take the next step in the customer journey, or re-engaging with existing or lapsed customers to get them to make new purchases.
That’s why a growing number of advertisers are earmarking more budget for retargeting: According to AdRoll, a retargeting tech specialist, 84% of advertisers allocated more than 10% of their digital advertising budgets to 2014, compared to 60% of advertisers in 2013. And, according to AdRoll, some 54% of marketers are now retargeting across mobile channels.
The practices for tracking users across a single device using tagging are well established and mature, but following them across multiple devices is more challenging. Luckily, we can get a good idea of how the same consumers behave across different devices by following them across the same platform (Facebook or Twitter, for example) when they use a single log-in.
Alternatively, we can use statistical modeling to piece together a single identity for a consumer, using non-personally identifiable data points such as cookies, device data or browser data. Either way, the point is to segment users at a granular level rather than to personally identify them.
For example, we could categorise them by search terms they used, whether they’ve been exposed to a particular ad, the product pages they’ve visited on the Web site, and the devices they are using at a given time. So, how does it work in practice?
A single platform view
To start, you will need to be able to track all of your marketing efforts across a unified platform so you have a single view across the same conversion infrastructure. You must be able to see channel overlap and the customer journey across channels and devices. These may include display media (real-time bidding), paid and organic search, social, direct marketing emails, and more.
Then, you’ll be able to see behaviour across devices and environments. In practical terms, some ways you could use this intelligence are:
- Follow users at different times of the day – run retargeting to desktop and tablet devices between 7am and 5pm, run remarketing to mobile users in the evenings between 5pm and 11pm.
- Target desktop users with ads for your mobile apps.
- Engage users on your desktop site after they’ve been exposed to mobile ads.
- Retarget users with relevant, conversion-focused ads after they’ve visited your web site.
Retargeting is a valuable option to make your advertising budget work harder for you. It allows you to target people with the right message, on the right device, and at the right time. This reduces wastage, improves performance, and keeps your brand in view wherever your target market is.