What is remarketing and how to do it effectively

What is remarketing

Remarketing or retargeting is an online marketing practice that involves targeting our ads to an audience that have already visited our website. This technique is especially important in e-commerce, since most visitors do not make a purchase in their first visit. There are some online marketing agencies that specialise on remarketing.

Types of remarketing

Probably the most known way to do remarketing is through a feature on Google AdWords. This specific setting allows us to target our advertising on Google Display only to people who have already visited our website and been identified by a cookie in their browser.

We should bear in mind that in this case our ads could be showing up on websites that are not remotely related to our product or service, since their content does not matter, only the audience. The ads will “follow” those who have visited our website across other websites. For more information about Google AdWords remarketing check How remarketing works and Use remarketing to reach past web visitors and app users.

But almost any communication channel in our possession allows us to do remarketing, not only paid advertising. Asking our visitors for a sign-up or an email subscription is a way to obtain an email address for keeping in touch with them and encouraging their return. Top e-commerce companies use automatic email systems to remind their users and customers to come back periodically by sending product recommendations, inviting them to explore functionalities on the website, or simply by asking users and customers about their experience so far with the company.

Another basic and almost traditional practice in remarketing is to send newsletters. Social media channels also do their part: by making visitors become fans on Facebook, following our Twitter account or subscribing to our RSS feed, we keep in touch with them after the first visit.

The importance of frequency in remarketing

It has been studied that the frequency with which ads are shown to an audience has an important effect on a campaign’s response, and this is very relevant to remarketing. Even when an advertising campaign has a great reach in terms of audience size, one only OTS (Opportunity To See) is not enough to make a potential customer buy. That is why advertisers on traditional media repeat their ads not only to make sure people see them, but to make them see them multiple times.

There is no agreement in how many times an ad should be seen to achieve a purchase. There are many and very different views. Some state that 3 times are needed, others say 7. Some say at least 27 contacts with the brand are needed. In any case, there are many factors to consider to encourage someone to buy, which makes every case unique. Of course, if the ad is bad, repetition and remarketing will backfire. If there is no positive response in the short term, we will not find it in the long term either.

One of the first scientists who researched the effect of repetition in advertising was Walter Dill Scott (The psychology of advertising in theory and practice, 1903). In his first law of the psychology of advertising, Dill Scott states that “The idea next to enter the mind is the one which has habitually been associated with [the interesting part of] the one present to the mind”. The interest in something is awakened by appealing to past experiences. Dill Scott’s law is a law of habit based on repetition.

Frequency is important to make someone buy for the first time, but it is also important to make someone repeat a purchase. Dill Scott states that once a client has purchased, the next purchase is achieved more easily. It requires less and less thinking as it becomes a habit, and it finally becomes an automatic process. Remarketing also works in this way: it is useful to build brand loyalty.

The dangers of saturation

When doing advertising and especially when doing remarketing, we should keep in mind that when we maintain a campaign for too long, it inevitably reaches a “banner burnout” situation. The audience becomes overexposed to the ads, and the response falls drastically. Frequency is important, but in excess it can kill a campaign even if the creativity is good.

For avoiding this issue, Google AdWords, for example, has an option called “frequency capping” that we can use to make sure every user does not see our ad more than n times a day, or more than n times during the whole campaign. One good way to avoid burnout is to replace ads periodically with new creativity and by surprising the audience with each new campaign.

2 thoughts on “What is remarketing and how to do it effectively”

  1. A concise and instructive article for marketers running PPC campaigns, thank you.

    I wonder if AdSense has a capping limit built into it?

    There’s a mix of returning and new visitors to my blogs. I wonder whether AdSense shows site-relevant content in the ads or tracks visitors from their cookies and displays ads relevant to them, not my site?

    I suppose the answer is, if someone’s interested in my content, that should reflect in their browsing habits anyway and ads should be relevant to both their history and my site.

    Sorry – used your site to do a bit of thinking out loud, there.

    Here’s something clearer and more defined. In the brick and mortar world of distribution, the amount of touches from prospect to customer is somewhere between 6-8. #HTH

    1. Hi! Thank you for your message and interest. There will be both kinds of ads: some related to your content, others based on the audience history. You can check yourself by visiting your blog and seeing the banners. If you previously visited websites with active campaigns like Ebay or Amazon you will see their banners.

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