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How to Design Smarter Retargeting Campaigns

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Retargeting is only as good as your campaign setup and your willingness to adjust your settings based on performance. You may be seeing results from a set it and forget it strategy, but there are numerous ways to iterate and improve so that your campaigns are smarter and ultimately, drive a greater ROI.

The Strategy Conversation

One of the most important and often skipped steps when getting started with retargeting is the strategy conversation. Before you can determine how best to run a campaign, you must first complete the sentence, “I want to start retargeting because…” Once you have defined your reasons for retargeting can you begin defining your campaign strategy. For example, “I want to start retargeting because we drive a lot of initial traffic to our site, but due to the long sales cycle we have a low conversion rate. I want to start capitalizing on those site visits and encouraging repeat visits and conversions.”

Now that the “why” has been answered, you can start figuring out your strategy, or the “how”. Based on the previous example, you know you want to drive repeat visits and more conversions. So, what is the right message for your creative? Where on your site do you want to capture your audience? How long do you want your campaign to run, and with what frequency do you want to retarget site visitors. How are you defining a conversion? Free trial sign-up or a purchase? Be prepared to answer all of these questions prior to launching a retargeting campaign for greater setup success.

Pixel Placement

When you are running site retargeting, you should be segmenting your website according to logical consumer paths. A user who comes to your homepage but doesn’t head to your Products page is probably not as far along in the funnel as someone who spends a significant amount of time on your pricing page. Similarly, someone who visits your Careers page is probably not in the market for your product, but instead for a job. You can segment your website so that your messaging and creative aligns with how a user interacted with your website. A Homepage visitor can be served general branding creatives, while a Pricing page visitor can be served ads with a limited-time discount or 2-1 special! You should always align your retargeting campaigns with where a user lies in the purchase funnel and pixel placement is the first step to ensuring this is done strategically.

Network and Bidding Optimization

As an advertiser,  you have access to various networks on which you may serve ads. Depending on your target audience, however, there are networks that are better aligned than others. GLAM Media, for example, is a network geared towards women and would not be optimal for an advertiser looking to target males. Different audiences will respond better to different networks and you’ll want to look at data on a network by network basis and analyze performance over time. You’ll find sometimes you can be surprised as to which networks perform and which don’t!

Bidding optimization, like network optimization, requires analysis over time. You want to note how your users are browsing the web, where you’re seeing conversions happen, and how much it’s costing you to serve impressions and acquire a new customer. The Estimated Clear Price is an estimate of a bid that is likely to win an ad based on historical data. This is a great way to regularly pay the optimal price for an impression without overbidding.

In short, when you employ network and bidding optimization strategies, over time you will focus your budget on the people who are most likely to convert saving your valued marketing dollars.

Real-time Bidding

Real-time bidding is essentially an auction for the buying and selling of ad impressions in real time, similar to the stock market. Here’s how it works: sellers (publishers) make their inventory available for buyers (advertisers) to bid on. As an advertiser, you set your parameters, such as bid price, network reach, and even the type of user you’re trying to reach, and then RTB lets you optimize at the impression level. Real-time bidding typically runs on a CPM model, or “cost per mille” impressions, which is the cost an advertiser pays for 1,000 impressions of an ad.

Retargeting works best on a CPM model because it gives you the ability to quickly gather data about your ad performance enabling you to optimize at a faster rate. As long as you’re watching where and how your ads are performing using network and bidding optimization, RTB lets you move fast and iterate accordingly so that your campaigns are optimized in no time.

A/B Testing

Conducting A/B tests around the wording of a brand’s value proposition, or the color, image and background or a banner ad can help marketers avoid speculation on what creative will be most effective and instead make data-driven decisions. Simple A/B tests can provide the data you need to run campaigns with high-performing ads. Instead of relying on what you think will work, you can run tests for measurable and actionable results. A/B testing your creatives will help you determine the optimal combination of ad copy, calls-to-action, and graphics. According to a ReTargeter study, clickthrough rates decrease by almost 50% after five months of running the same set of ads. After seeing the same ads again and again, a user’s interest is no longer piqued and the ads are more likely to blend into the background. Here at ReTargeter, we always run A/B tests and recommend that our clients do the same.

Retargeting is a very simple and effective way to drive more conversions and boost ROI. However, if you’re not regularly analyzing your campaign and measuring where and why conversions are happening, then your campaigns are probably not running at their optimal performance. Developing a strategy around pixel placement on your website, optimizing at the network and impression level, and regularly A/B testing are key tips for designing a smarter retargeting campaign.

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