Display remarketing (also called retargeting) is a powerful marketing tactic but can end up being a bit of an afterthought. The methods to drive performance on this channel are quite different from search so here I want to lay out some great tips to help you shape remarketing performance towards your ends.
How it works
Briefly, in case you’re not clear on the basics, remarketing is based on collecting lists of users (you actually form a master list in the background and then subdivide it) who visit your website from any and every source. These users are known as an “audience list” and can be directly targeted for text and banner display ads across the ad network. In this instance, I will concentrate on Google Display Network but there are many platforms you could use to display on multiple networks at once using the same principle.
- Visitor recency
To subdivide your audience based on how recently they visited, you use the “membership duration” variable to create custom lists. You would want to create different lists for people who have purchased and whom you want to encourage to repeat buy and for those who have yet to purchase.
To create the right segments of the audience for your website, you’ll want to look at how long it takes users to convert from last visit and at what point sales drop off. So you may find that users who visited 3 weeks ago no longer buy if they haven’t already. In which case, there’s little value in remarketing for people who visited 6 weeks ago. But if you find users convert within 24 hours of the last visit quite often, you may want to remarket heavily to recent visitors to increase the rate of conversion you have seen in the data. Ride the wave, so to speak.
Some of this data can be gleaned from the cohort analysis in Google Analytics.
Remember that to target users who visited 1 day ago separately from those who visited 2 days ago, you need to exclude the audience list containing the 1 day users in the 2 day list. Often, when you create a list, you’re using other lists to exclude users so as to correctly target the people you intend.
- Incentives to return
Dreaming up some offers or specials that you put in the ad messaging aimed at returning visitors could be a great way to boost quality traffic coming back through remarketing ads.
If a user has purchased and there are options to upgrade to buy additional related items, remarket with this message to such a user. The Lifetime Value of a user should increase and at a more rapid pace.
- Test ads
Just because they are not first-time visitors doesn’t mean they saw your ads before but, in any case, any advertising should be tested for effectiveness. This can only be done with A/B testing formats and you should evolve your ads constantly like with any digital marketing.
- Different ads for weekends vs weekdays
Test the use of ads running for weekends only and for weekdays only so as to seem more real-time and to stand out. Remember, these are display ads and are not meeting a burning need expressed in a search in the moment but simply accompanying a user as they browse the web. Catching the eye is the name of the game here.
- Low efficiency? Try reducing impression frequency
Display ads can be made more efficient in a number of ways but one you may not immediately think about is limiting the number of times a user may see an ad (or ad group). This is known as Frequency Capping and is a way of limiting your exposure to any single user by setting limits on the number of impressions an ad, ad group or campaign is shown to a user. If you’re finding low conversion rates but decent CTR, you could try reducing (or creating) the frequency capping. This basically means you may reduce your CPA. It is a case, however, of feeling your way to the appropriate frequency cap, being led by the data.
- Customize frequency cap to user value
Split users that have abandoned a cart from those who never put anything in the cart so that you have separate ad groups or campaigns for these two constituencies. You would want to show more often (using frequency capping) to the former user than the latter. You could further extend this structure to the high value product shoppers over the lower value product shopper.
- Suggest freshness in the ad messaging
If you can’t offer special discounts for coming back, or some other incentive, try at least implying there may be something new to see if a user returns. Something like “see our latest deals” or “check out today’s prices” or “newest range in stock now” doesn’t promise anything specific but does sound like there’s something exciting to see that they may not have seen last time they visited the site.
- Leverage repeatability
If you sell annual insurance or a product that lasts a certain amount of time on average (such as vitamins or office supplies) you can start remarketing around the purchase anniversary or the time when the customer should start to need to re-up. Some sites have automatic shipping options but even these sites can benefit from this tactic by excluding from the remarketing audience the people who have setup the automatic shipping option.
- Day parting
Even on remarketing, you may find some hotspots in the week or the day that should be where you concentrate your spend. Review data carefully as some products may have different patterns to others. This will allow you to structure your campaigns better and set custom scheduling (including bid scheduling) for your ads.
- Exclude users carefully
You should look at eliminating people who bounced from your site or spent no real time on it. These are low value users and you will want to focus budget on those users who demonstrated engagement.
- Structure by ad size
This may seem like overkill but it’s very important because it allows you to bid differently for each ad size and track performance for each creative more easily. Some ad sizes cost more to gain impressions than others due to the volume of screen real estate used or how prominently website publishers tend to display them on their sites. This can distort spend patterns if all ads are together in an ad group because one ad can suck all the budget away (normally the cheapest). With display ads, if certain sizes are more expensive in an auction, this is an indication that they are the most valuable to advertisers. Therefore, you don’t want to give over too much budget to the relatively lower quality traffic received from the cheaper ads.
Hopefully, these tips will give you plenty to evaluate and some ideas of how to enhance your own remarketing efforts. Do you have any other killer remarketing tips you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below!
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