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5 retail retargeting best practices

Published: February 6, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Ben Plomion, VP of Marketing & Partnerships at Chango.
Retargeting has become a bigger and bigger part of retailers’ digital arsenals. After all, in the real world, you can’t follow a customer out the door after she abandons a shopping cart holding two $250 pairs of shoes. But online, when that same customer abandons her cart, you can tastefully retarget her with a display ad offering those same shoes for $200.
The same goes for window shoppers; in the real world, they’re lost forever. Online, someone who just spent a half-hour browsing TVs is smack in the middle of a sales cycle, thanks to site retargeting.
retargeting cycle
As you can imagine, many marketers fall head-over-heels for site retargeting, as the results usually far outpace any other display technique on the media plan. This is true with just basic site retargeting, but when retailers use more advanced forms of retargeting, the results are even more dramatic.
Still, stay on the alert: If you’re not cognizant of several important aspects of retargeting, the results you’re seeing will paint a false picture of what’s working and what’s not. And the last thing you want is to waste a valuable chunk of your budget. These 5 best practices will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your site retargeting campaigns:
1)   Use Only One Site Retargeting Vendor
With traditional display techniques, it’s common for retail marketers to use multiple vendors in order to achieve scale. But with site retargeting, using multiple vendors is simply a waste of money. Don’t try it.
Why? If you use multiple vendors, they’ll end up bidding against each other in ad exchanges to serve ads to the same users. This will drive up the price of the impression. It’s like sending two aggressive buyers to the same auction on your behalf. It’s a fast way to waste money.
2)   Don’t Stalk Your Customers
When marketers stalk consumers, those consumers tend to notice. Heck, the consumers who write for Gawker seem to write an article every week about it. It damages the brand and wastes money — the online equivalent of buying a creepy billboard that reads WE’RE WATCHING YOU. BUY THESE SHOES.
Luckily, you can easily retarget customers without crossing the stalking line. First, examine the buying cycle of your product — how long it takes a customer to make a purchase after first being served an ad — and set a maximum length of time for retargeting. If you’re unsure, keep in mind that retargeting someone for more than 7 days rarely makes sense.
Also, cap a maximum number of ads that a user can be served each day, and make sure that number isn’t in the double digits.
3) Correctly Credit Sales Conversions
Imagine this scenario: You target a user with a display ad, which compels them to visit your site. They browse around in the Electronics section for 15 minutes and leave without converting. You retarget them with an ad for some smartphone accessories that they were looking at, and they return and convert.
That’s an awesome result. Unfortunately, if you’re using an ad server like Atlas or DoubleClick, they’ll credit the customer acquisition only to the retargeted ad, and give no credit to the display ad that generated the interest in the first place. You’ll mistakenly think that all the non-retargeted impressions were a colossal failure.
That’s not the case, and it’ll lead you to invest your budget in the wrong places.
As a general rule, remember that you can never credit site retargeting with a customer acquisition; with site retargeting, you’re only talking to existing site visitors — people who have already visited the site. Site retargeting is actually an onsite conversion optimization tool, like dynamic landing pages or customized content.
4) Only Retarget Visitors of Relevant Site Sections
You only want to retarget site visitors who have demonstrated intent to convert. That means people who visited pages like your shopping cart, product pages, download pages, etc. Be sure that your vendor only places retargeting pixels in relevant sections.
If someone visited your “Careers” page, they probably aren’t looking to buy anything. (Except maybe a bribe gift for the interview, but they’ll get that somewhere else.)
5) Don’t Get Seduced By Big Names
Since you can only use one site retargeting vendor, the vendor’s media reach becomes an important factor in your decision. The more chances you have to retarget a user with an ad, the less you have to bid in ad exchanges to make sure that you serve that ad. 
But don’t merely choose the biggest name. The Google Display Network (GDN) is extensive, but most search retargeting vendors will have access to all of GDN’s inventory, plus over one hundred percent of additional inventory.
Keep these 5 best practices in mind, and you’ll be seeing significantly greater returns by Black Friday.
– Ben Plomion is VP of Marketing & Partnerships at Chango, where he heads up marketing and is also responsible for expanding the company’s data and media partnerships. Prior to joining Chango, Ben worked with GE Capital for four years to establish and lead the digital media practice. Ben graduated from GE’s Experienced Commercial Leadership program after completing his MBA at McGill University. He writes frequently for Digiday, CMO.com, and Search Engine Watch.

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