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Have you ever been browsing the net and noticed that you’re seeing ads from websites that you’ve recently visited? That’s called retargeting, and it’s one of the most effective means of keeping the attention of potential customers while they’re ‘hot’.

So how does it actually work? Well, it’s pretty simple really.  When a person visits your website, a small piece of code (‘a cookie’) is placed on their computer.  Later, when that person is browsing other websites on the net, the cookie flags ad networks, which in turn start displaying your advertising to that person.

Why does it work?

Retargeting is so effective because it reaches people who’ve already shown interest in your business or products. Click through rates from retargeted ads are around 3-4 times that of regular display ads. And there are a plethora of businesses reporting significant incremental gains in sales directly attributed to ‘staying in touch’. And it makes sense. No matter how interesting your website, most people who visit are going to leave without signing up, buying, or contacting you. Retargeting keeps your business top of mind, giving you a far greater chance of bringing them back to convert.

Privacy concerns & intrusive marketing

Knockers of the technology often state privacy as an area of concern.  And, there are probably legitimate claims here, given that it essentially amounts to providing content based on following your online behavior. But, as marketers point out, it’s been reviewed by the powers that be, meeting advertising standards across the world, and is an accepted form of marketing. Where it gets its most ardent criticism is when it’s used poorly. Having the same banner ad following you from page to page, for an extended period of time, can feel much like some weird form of stalking. The most effective use of retargeting comes from understanding your target consumer, and retargeting accordingly.

Smarter use of retargeting

Smarter businesses are using retargeting in very clever ways, displaying retargeted ads according to the likely consumer buying patterns.  For example holiday websites are retargeting visitors heavily for a short period of time.  Typically, this will be in the 7-10 days following them visiting the website, which tightly matches with the type of  impulse purchasing associated with the industry. Conversely, luxury car businesses set their retargeting to display infrequently, but for a much longer period, up to 6 months, maintaining visibility with a target consumer who is most likely take a much longer time to purchase.

Regardless of your business type, retargeting is a proven, effective technology, that’s been show to produce incremental increases in sales for almost all product types. Getting on board with retargeting, particularly if your competitors haven’t discovered this opportunity, might just give you the kick along that you need in the next 12 months.

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