Retargeting has become a crucial element of digital marketing campaigns, and a number of companies have elevated this tactic to be an “always-on” strategy. This means it is always included on a digital marketing campaign -- never flighted -- and thought of in the same fashion as search.
Along those same lines, retargeting is driving significant revenues to a handful of successful companies in this space. It delivers results.
All that being said, retargeting still has four primary issues: the quality of the creative, its disinterest in understanding the audience, attribution, and frequency caps.
Retargeting is generally pretty ugly. It clearly reviews an abandoned cart or the last product you looked at, and that product follows you around the Web. The creative looks like a screen shot from that shopping cart.
Better retargeting would reflect the context and add to the story of why you should be buying the product. It’s not enough to simply show me the product again; you need to push on the buttons of motivation and try to convince me that not buying the product would be a missed opportunity. Dynamic creative is fine, but do something more original with the space: Tell me a story. Stories sell.
Retargeters also tend to focus myopically on what product was being examined, but they stop short of finding out more about the consumer. The data exists for them to build a more holistic view of that consumer and tie that view into the creative to tell a more personalized story. Don’t just try to force the product down my throat; get me thinking about why the product matters and how it fits into my life.
Of course selling me the product means you want to attribute the sale, and unfortunately too many retargeters still function off last-click attribution models. That continued exposure to a product after I considered buying it is valuable, but who’s to say it’s more valuable than those leading up to the impression? Maybe it was just a timing thing? Maybe someone's credit card didn’t work at that moment? There are a million reasons why -- but to quote Lady Gaga, retargeted like to give us just one reason (Yes, I just quoted Lady Gaga -- sue me).
Which leaves me to the fun challenge of frequency caps. Some marketers get this, and some simply don’t. I think I still notice the absence of frequency caps in retargeted ad efforts because of the first point I brought up: The creative is so bad and so clearly not well-thought-out. Better creative would reduce the issue, along with truly using frequency caps. The same joke gets made at every conference that the pair of speakers I looked at three weeks back is still following me around. With better creative, I might not mind.
Retargeting is a solid element of your strategy, but it requires more strategic thinking to continue to grow and succeed. It is always on -- now make it always effective. If you do those two things, then this truly might be the Golden Age of Retargeting.