Everyone knows the saying, “too much of a good thing,” but lately, I’ve noticed many brands that should be taking it to heart. When it comes to customer targeting, a vast number of brands are re-marketing with no strategy, and it needs to stop. There is an effective way to do re-marketing, and then there is what I refer to as the “annoying fly in the room” or “overbearing online stalker” approach, which all too many companies seem to have in place. Below are a few key questions for marketers to ask, which should provide simple guidelines on how to properly and effectively execute retargeting efforts. While the list can be expanded upon, I hope this will give marketers a head start in applying these principles to their re-marketing campaigns and bring an end to their current “shotgun” approach.

1. How long after a visit does it typically take for a customer to convert?

Understanding latency between a customer’s initial visit and conversion will help assess your re-marketing timeframe. If you know that the decision-making process for your product usually takes two weeks, then that is your specific re-engagement window. There are quick decision, low-involvement products that need immediate retargeting or risk becoming pointless because the customer already went with a competitor’s product or service instead. On the flip side, there are products that take 6+ months to convert, requiring a more complex customer journey and re-marketing plan. In this second scenario, it is important to give your potential customer time to think and consider their options, not bombard them with banners every chance you get.

2. What content did the customer consume and are you accounting for their decision-making process when determining recency?

This is important for understanding where your customers are within their conversion path and helping determine the messaging to supply them. Did they abandon a shopping cart? Do they need a simple reminder? Or, were they just doing some initial research? By assessing the content they consumed, you will be better able to re-engage with your brand message or drive them to your site to finally convert.

3. Do you have a single banner/creative strategy in place?


Marketers need to segment users based on the content they are consuming to develop creative messages. All site traffic is not created equal, and if you do not account for different types of site engagements and leverage those data points, you are missing the mark. This is important to consider when developing messaging for banners as you already know the information that will resonate with individual segments.

4. Are you bidding differently as time passes?


If your brand offers “quick decision” products and three weeks have passed since a customer’s initial encounter, it is likely that they have moved on, picked another brand, and are no longer in the market to convert with you.  At this point, you are better off spending your marketing dollars on capturing a new audience. The one exception to this is if your product requires multiple purchases over time, in which case it is important to know when the customer might be due for another purchase, then strategically retarget them.

To account for time lapse, follow this basic concept: As time passes, the value of re-marketing changes. As such, you need to account for this shift in value with different buying models. For example, if I know that a person purchases within three days of visiting my site, then re-marketing to them five days later would not carry the same value or CPM price as it would two days after their visit.

5. Do you have frequency capping in place?


There is nothing more annoying or creepy to a potential customer than being harassed by the same brand’s banners on every site they visit. In many cases, this can actually do more harm to a brand than good and tarnish all branding efforts that have been in place. Digital marketers using third and first-party data to target audiences without leveraging it or using the “shotgun” approach in hopes of getting a conversion are putting their brands at a major disadvantage. For those using websites opted in to Adsense or Google Display Network to push the same banners on 15 different sites in a single day…I’m talking to you.

Whether you are guilty of shotgun re-marketing or just need to freshen up a well-intentioned strategy, all it takes are a few simple questions to make a change. What other approaches do you take to effectively retarget for your brand?