Retargeter Blog

5 Ways to Avoid Creeping People Out With Your Retargeting

As marketers, we are used to, and even intrigued by, the types of personalized marketing signals we receive on a daily basis. Everyone’s doing it – everything from Amazon goods to online services to that purse you’ve been eyeing on ModCloth are reappearing on the sidebars of almost every site you visit. And reappearing. And reappearing.

But if you don’t have that marketing understanding, those ads can actually be pretty creepy. How did they know I’ve been looking at cordless drills for my uncle’s birthday? Did Facebook sell them my private messages with Aunt Rhoda? Can the internet read my mind?

I even heard the radio announcers one morning about a year ago talking about it, with a minimal level of understanding. “If you search for something on Google, they know. They’ll hit you with ads for something you searched about, and it just won’t stop. It’s pretty scary.”

Comprehension has dawned on most internet users by now, and that’s not a bad thing. Retargeting has lost that mystical déjà vu effect and is now nearly as ubiquitous as other types of display advertising. But there are still ways you can overdo it and frustrate your customers, or worse, scare them away.

If you’re interested in starting a retargeting campaign, or looking at ways to modify your current efforts, take a look at the 5 ways to avoid creeping people out with your retargeting so you save on ad spend while also encouraging conversions.

1.    Study Your Current Strategy and Modify

Not every form of retargeting is right for every company. However, many large brands have missed this memo. Instead, they try to use every type of retargeting to target every potential customer. The result? An overwhelming ad presence that, once again, has the potential to scare customers away. Look back on the tactics you’ve used in the past. Which have been most successful? Which have shown few results? Eliminate the strategies that aren’t working and focus on the ones that are. In doing so, you’re less likely to bombard your customers with information they’re already aware of.

2.    Make Use of Impression Caps

Impression caps matter. If you’ve done your research, you know how many times, on average, that you must interact with a customer to make a sale. You also know that after a certain point, the chances of it happening become pretty slim. Your retargeting campaign should reflect this.

Impression caps allow brands to stop targeting customers once they’ve been exposed to a specific ad a pre-specified number of times. Not only does this give your customers a break, it also saves you money. Why spend money on one customer who isn’t going to convert after a certain number of ads, when you could be reaching others that will make a purchase? This is a win-win situation for your brand and your customers.

3.    Allow for an Opt-Out Feature

Customers get the message. If they’ve recently run a search for custom home builders and start to see the same ad for a specific contractor on every subsequent site they visit, they know they’re being retargeted. The original point of retargeting was to remind customers, almost subliminally, of what they’re searching for and to cut down on distractions. However, when the same ad appears 100 times, you’re doing less subtle reminding and more beating over the head.

Be sure to provide an opt-out feature for when your targets no longer want to see your ad. After all, if they truly aren’t interested, why would you want to keep spending money and impressions targeting them? It can also serve a practical purpose; if your target is looking at Christmas presents for their partner on a shared computer, let them X out the ad so the intended recipient doesn’t get retargeted by mistake!

4.    Change Things Up

About a decade ago, advertisers realized that plain old banner ads just weren’t cutting it anymore. Nobody was clicking on those static images. So, to change things up, they made them flashier. Seizure-inducing animated banner ads, and that annoying trend of flash ads that invited you to move your mouse to hit a target, were born. “Now, nobody can possibly ignore our banner ads!” they cried.

Though it seems a little simple-minded to compare the early days of display ads with more refined techniques like retargeting, the truth is, variety is key. If you repeatedly hit your targets with the exact same ad, they will train themselves to ignore it without even trying. By increasing the variety in your ads, your customers are less likely to start ignoring your ad and more likely to take notice and hopefully convert.

5.    Make Your Actual Site as User-Friendly as Possible

While this tip may not pertain directly to retargeting, it may cut down on the need to overdo it. By creating a user-friendly site that allows visitors to find the information they’re looking for from the start, they may be more likely to make a purchase the first time, eliminating the need to reach them and bring them back. Make your shopping cart clear and easy to find, explain all fees up front, make it easy to run searches for specific products and keep the checkout process as simple as possible. By taking proactive steps, the need for excessive online retargeting will decrease and sales will increase; this is the perfect balance.

Now is the time to change your game plan if your retargeting efforts are coming off as more terrifying than convenient. The time to stop creeping out your customers is now.

Adrienne Erin is a blogger and internet marketing writer who is always learning new things. When she’s not writing, you might find her practicing French, trying to keep her boyfriend from discovering what she got him for Christmas, or cooking. To see more of her work, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin.

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