No, Come Back! It's Not So Hard

When a loan vendor loses 97% of its incoming traffic because its application form is too long and hard, then something has to be done. Of course, changes need to be made to the on-site form and process itself. In the meantime, however, the company needs to do something to retrieve that lost, lucrative customer base. MediaContacts devised a retargeting campaign to retrieve those customers with a simple reassurance: You really can "complete the application in under 15 minutes." By understanding the nature of the abandonment problem and retargeting lost users with just the right message, the campaign achieved a 955% higher conversion rate, according to Jarvis Mak, vice president, U.S. director of research and insights, MediaContacts.

Behavioral Insider: This is an interesting case of using re-targeting to get an audience over a common choke point. Who was the client and what was the unique challenge for this marketing effort?

Jarvis Mak: It is a lender that has an application process and is highly focused on acquisitions and getting people to submit applications. The challenge was they were having a very high, 97% abandonment rate. They knew they needed to revamp so they could shorten the application process.



BI; Was the abandonment happening at their home site, so they knew the target was highly motivated already?

Mak: Yes. They were already in the funnel They landed on the page and were going though the process. They are dropping out because you have this long applications process. Knowing you have people who are very motivated, it makes all the sense in the world to go back and reach out to those people and say hey this not going take nearly as long as you think it will. You can do this application in under 15 minutes and it is well worth your time. Let us show you.

BI: What kinds of volumes were we talking about?

Mak: It wasn't huge, because when you are talking about clickthrough rates you are already looking at less than .1%. Virtually everyone who had clicked through had abandoned the first time around. But you can see that the CTR the second time around for the general campaign was .04%, so you are talking about a pretty small number. But at the same time when we did do that efficiency by focusing on retargeting the numbers were huge

BI: So what were the results?

Mak: For the total campaign, we had a CTR of less than .1% and a cost per acquisition that was pretty high. The click to applications rate was pretty low. In comparison, when we focused on just those people we had retargeted, the CTR was almost 50% better and the cost for acquisition for those placements dropped to about a third of the overall campaign. And then as far as the click to application rate, all of a sudden that was 11 times better. These are people who already came once before. They were very motivated to start that process but dropped out. But now that we were able to reach them again we got a much higher response rate as far as going through the process.

BI: What was the strategy for retargeting in terms of placements and creative?

Mak: The placement doesn't mater. You can do retargeting in any number of ways. So long as there is a way that you identified those people. So whether it is on Yahoo or through an ad network it doesn't really matter. And that is broadly applicable. As far as the messaging we knew that that was the key hurdle. Knowing that people abandoned because the process was so long made it very clear that they had a lot to gain, that they had big loans hanging over their heads and they need to be able to cut down on it. They can have money immediately. But in giving them a 15 minute time limit so they know what to expect we were able to capitalize on that.

BI: Was it a single message?

Mak: It was a single message. At the same time this is a very progressive client. You find that in the financial world and anyone who is more acquisition-focused will do a lot of different things. This client also does a lot of multivariate landing pages where you have a multiple pages you test. Every little conversion that they can get and every little improvement they can get is found money for them. So whether it is email retargeting or it's streamlining the application process or having a different version of the application process, this is a client that is very interested in doing all the things they can.

BI; What were the lessons leanrned here about retargeting but also about the product and the site itself?

Mak: It was the combination of the Web analytics piece and understanding you have a 97% abandonment rate. Web analytics 101 is understanding to diagnose the product. Secondly, in some ways it is short term. But the long term solution is you don't want to have to keep doing this. You have to fix the symptom. You have identified this problem. You want to capitalize on this missed opportunity by messaging to them. But at the same time through the Web analytics we should go back and create landing page and application processes that will facilitate the process going forward.

BI: Is there a next campaign that comes after this, once you solved this problem?

Mak: It is an ongoing thing with retargeting. You are always going to have abandonment, so you can always go back and retarget the, The biggest thing with retargeting though -- and I learned this when I was at Yahoo -- is that you are always going to have that challenge of scale. Certainly you would expect that your abandonment rate is getting smaller and smaller as you improve the whole application process.

But still you are talking about .1% or less of people who end up clicking through. So the overall numbers of people you are targeting and trying to build a marketing campaign out of is really tiny. You can expand this. One thing I did at Yahoo was look not only at people who had clicked and not converted but also looked at people who had searched. And in that case if you can look at something like their Yahoo ID you have a history. If there is someone who is open to your brand and searched in the past then you can look at a year long history and then target them a year later. So you can build up that audience base for which to target.

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