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Retargeting in 2017: What’s New and What’s Tried and True

Posted on 1.03.2017

:: By Chris Fehrmann, G/O Digital ::


2016 bore witness to many retargeting platform vendors bringing big business technology to local small businesses.

Dynamic ads - those based on a user’s demonstrated interest (time spent on a product page or items left in the cart, for example) - are enabling further customization of ad content to create more relevant, enticing and engaging messages that users enjoy more. These technologies included both inventory-based dynamic creative and pixel-based dynamic creative. Dynamic creative retargeting that personalizes the experience can boost conversion rates as much as 30 to 50 percent. Looking ahead in 2017, there will be even greater use of dynamic technology coupled with proven segmentation strategies that will result in more sophisticated and effective campaigns in the coming months. 

Segmentation Will Still Be King

One of the most important, yet very under-utilized strategies is segmentation - separation of audiences by past behavior that identifies their reason for visiting a site, or their intent. While it's useful in almost any industry, segmentation is particularly valuable in non-ecommerce or product catalog industries like retail and automotive, where transactions are ultimately completed in person. This gives marketers the ability to create ads more relevant to the user’s intent, which will therefore be more likely to convert. Segmentation is a tactic with proven effectiveness, and in most cases, is simple to deploy.

Too many advertisers place a single ad on their site and serve up one or two generalized versions. Smart marketers employ tools and tactics that evaluate customer behavior and create messaging that caters to specific audiences based on where they are in their buying journey. For instance, targeting users who previously bought goods or services with an upsell or loyalty offer to encourage another purchase is a great way to take advantage of segmentation. Hyper-segmentation comes into play as dynamic retargeting specifically customizes the look and messaging of the ad based on the user’s interaction with your inventory. 

One example of hyper-segmentation is when a user views an item on a website but doesn’t complete the purchase and now that same item seems to be following them around the internet. This tactic keeps the decision process active during the buyer’s journey and is more likely to result in a completed purchase. Anyone can take advantage of segmentation by applying it to different product or service pages of a website. For example, a local painter could segment their audience of website visitors into groups who view their interior painting services and those who view their exterior painting services. This segmentation strategy would allow them to present a relevant message to the user’s interest and increase their interaction rate.

Channel Lines Continue to Blur

Without a doubt, omnichannel is going to continue to be a hot topic in 2017. Omnichannel marketing creates a unified, seamless customer experience whether on desktop, mobile, broadcast, telephone, brick-and-mortar store, or any other way a customer connects. Numerous technologies previously reserved for enterprise businesses are becoming available at price points and within platforms tailored for local small businesses. 

One of these techniques is cross-device retargeting, or the ability to identify a user and continuously track his or her moves across devices. The evolution and sophistication of how data is being utilized across channels enables highly targeted. Relevant ads to move from desktop to mobile, and even to television. Marketers are now able to further connect with consumers across channels and devices with highly relevant content matching their interest or intent.

Data Will Continue to Dominate

Having access to the right data sets is key. Small business owners will often choose marketing vendors based on the depth of their network and pricing alone. However, richness and flexibility of data is even more important when deploying strategies of search retargeting or programmatic advertising. Limited data will produce limited results. The more granular data can get, the more effective a retargeting campaign will be. The goal is always to continue the buyer’s journey by picking up where they last left off and enticing them to complete the transaction. 

Mobile Experience Steps it Up

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Project is tackling some of the biggest complaints consumers have about accessing mobile content. Mobile users have little patience for buggy sites that won’t load or frustrating mazes of irrelevant ads that block access to what they’re trying to see. With a better overall experience, users are encouraged to spend more time on a site, share content with their own networks and they’re much more likely to return. All of this is good news for marketers. Brilliant campaigns and strategic retargeting can only be effective if the entire experience with a brand is consistent and frustration-free.

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Retargeting Isn’t Going Away

While it isn’t a new strategy, the practice of retargeting continues to evolve and get better from both a marketer’s and consumer’s perspective. With more robust tools and greater knowledge about customer behavior, the shopping and buying experience becomes more seamless and pleasant, which will lead to more closed deals. Small businesses now have the ability to market like the “big guys” with affordable solutions that can yield strong results. 


About the Author

Chris Fehrmann is the senior director of product management at G/O Digital, where he brings more than 15 years of digital marketing and advertising experience that includes a vast amount of technical, product and industry experiences across a full line of digital media. Chris’ roles have spanned across fulfillment and delivery teams, leadership, creative production and sales support. At G/O Digital, Chris is responsible for overseeing the product management and development of digital solutions created to help keep local businesses competing in a constantly evolving digital landscape. 

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