This blog post is inspired by the January DFWSEM meeting on retargeting with speakers Shelley Ellis and James Moore.

Before we answer the question in the headline, you probably want to know what, exactly, is retargeting? To put it simply, it is online search’s second chance. When users visit your site, they get cookied or identified with a specific piece of code. If you are running a retargeting campaign, you can use those cookies to show them ads relevant to your marketing initiatives if they leave your site without making a purchase or other conversion decision.

For example, Susie comes to your site and looks at several products in the same category: shoes. You have created a cookie that will tag her as interested in shoes. Susie leaves your site without buying anything and continues to surf the Internet. Your retargeting plan triggers that cookie when she lands on websites with advertisements served by the ad network you’ve chosen for retargeting. The network then shows Susie ads relevant to shoes and your brand on those other sites.

A light bulb should have gone off in your head at the end of that last sentence. There are some serious benefits to retargeting. As a marketer, you can tag users who have been to your site and remind them of your brand. With an effective retargeting campaign, you will see increased brand recognition and a lower cost per conversion since you are targeting users who you have are already qualified.

Retargeting is something that every ecommerce site should do, though there are some common errors to avoid. The first think you should avoid is showing ads to customers on every other site they visit. Like James Moore said at DFWSEM, “There is a fine line between creepy and magical.” You want to make sure that you have enough reach, but also that you are not showing up on every page. Susie is not going to be happy if she sees your ads for the next 30 days after she has been to the site. Frequency capping allows you to avoid the error.

Case in point:

Also consider how long you set your cookies. Google automatically will set them to last for 30 days. However, they should be the length of your sales cycle. As Moore said, “It is a continuation of a sales conversation,” – so keep it going until the conversation is finished.

It is important to have clear objectives when you are starting a retargeting campaign and to stay away from tagging all users that come to the site. Through the use of cookies, marketers can segment their users and target specific users with specific ads that will help them convert by being more accurate.

Don’t forget about your keywords. With an accurate keyword list, your retargeting vendors can discover the reach you can achieve with your budget. That allows you to set expectations and scale accordingly. You can then graduate to keyword recency data and see the correlation between search times and when customers converted. This will make your data more valuable for when you want to target that user in the future.

To sum up it all up more simply: keywords + recency + message + optimization will create an effective retargeting campaign that will act as a second chance to get a customers’ money through search.