If you’re looking into retargeting, chances are you’re considering platforms such as AdRoll, Criteo, ReTargeter or Google. When it comes to retargeting, there’s a few things to consider before jumping in. Having a good understanding of these factors will make your retargeting campaigns a lot more effective and ensure a stronger ROI.
1. Managed Service or Self-serve?
Most providers have a managed service tier that is relatively affordable. If you don’t have countless hours to setup, optimize and manage your campaigns then consider going this route. Your dedicated account manager will optimize your campaigns for budget, cookie duration, frequency caps (more on these two topics later), audience types, creative and more.
2. Understand the different Product Offerings
Retargeting platforms have come a long way in the last few years and have done a good job at expanding their product offerings. In addition to traditional web retargeting, they also do the following:
CRM Retargeting: The ability to retarget leads in your database regardless of whether they’ve visited your site. This is great for targeting those lists you might get at tradeshows or other offline sources, as well as amplify the effectiveness of your email campaigns and nurture.
Prospecting: This is a top of the funnel product offering that uses act-alike modeling to serve ads to new audiences based on the similarity of their online behavior to that of your existing customers. Essentially, a good way to get net new leads and not just leads you’re trying to retarget.
3. Implement all your tracking infrastructure ahead of time
This seems like common sense but miscommunication with our provider and lack of documentation made this process the most frustrating aspect of setting up retargting. DO NOT turn your campaigns on until this is fully implemented. Setting up Enhanced Conversion Tracking and testing can be complex if you're new to it. In addition to conversion tracking, it’s also a good idea to set up the integration with your marketing automation platform, assuming your provider has one.
4. Creative Needs
Retargeting ads are display ads, which means you’ll need creative – lots of them. Each campaign will need its own set of banner ads. We’re talking 7 different sizes:
It’s a best practice to have 2-3 different concepts per campaign so you can A/B test. That translates into at least 14-21 banner ads. Mobile display ad sizes should be included in the 7 options above, but double check that there are no additional creative needs for mobile. Managed services may come in handy here as some providers offer complimentary banner ad refreshes.
5. Click-Through Conversion vs. View-Through Conversion
Typically with retargeting, you track conversions in two ways: View-Through Conversion (VTC) and Click Through Conversion (CTC). Make sure you fully understand this.
View-Through Conversion counts leads who were shown your ad and did not click but converted later (i.e. by visiting your site directly at a later date). The argument is that retargeting ads still serve as a compelling reminder of your brand and may lead to return site visits.
Click-Through Conversion is counted when a user clicks an ad and converts (either directly or at a later date).
The bulk of your conversions will come from VTC as very few people actually click on banner ads.
6. CRM Retargeting: Know your vendor’s match rate
CRM retargeting gives you the ability to retarget leads even if they never visited your website. You start by uploading the list of emails into your vendor's platform. But, make sure to ask for your provider's match rate -- CRM retargeting won't generate many conversions if the vendor’s match is low. Understand what technology is used and if possible, give them a list of sample leads to get a sense of match rate. Anything under 50% might not be worthwhile.
7. Do your own reporting
Don't just rely on your provider's dashboard. The data provided can be fishy and conversion numbers highly inflated. The reason? Fuzzy tracking that gives too much credit to view-through conversions. When it comes to calculating CPL, we only count conversions from clicks. In addition, use Google Analytics to track how much traffic your retargeting campaigns are generating.
8. Cookie Duration
Retargeting starts with cookies. Your provider will drop a cookie on everyone who visits your site, but that cookie has a duration. It’s essentially an expiration date that can vary between 30 and 90 days. Once the cookie on that user expires, they no longer get served your ads.
9. Frequency Caps
Frequency caps go hand-in-hand with cookie duration. A frequency cap limits the number of times your ads show up to users, given your 30-90-day window. You’ll want to work with your vendor to determine what makes most sense given your audience. The last thing you want to do is hurt your brand by overexposing your ads and annoying your potential customers.
10. Exclusion Lists
Your provider can exclude visitors based on several criteria including IP, email address, pages visited, etc. Make sure to exclude already converted leads, customers, competitors, partners, etc. Don’t pay for impressions you don’t need!
Conclusion: 3 Key Takeaways
Retargeting is expensive and requires resources. Until your program is fully optimized, you may pay double or triple the cost of your average conversion.
That brings me to the second point – retargeting takes time to fully optimize. I can’t stress that enough. Expect to give it at least two full quarters before pulling the plug. Your first quarter can easily be spent on set up and understanding the nuances. By optimizing and doubling down on high-performing campaigns, we lowered our cost per conversion by over 50%. But again, that took time.
Finally, do your due diligence. Research your vendor’s background and customer satisfaction, talk to customers and spend some time on software review sites such as G2Crowd.