Dynamic Retargeting: Too “Black Mirror”-ish Or Best Way to Do Advertising?
Jake Rheude / June 29, 2018 | 9 Mins Read
What is Dynamic Retargeting? Learn the 7 pillar of retargeting success and how people might even like to get your retargeting ads in this article.
Your customers already love you and a variety of other brands on social media, so why not reach out to them where they want to be? Advertising on social media is definitely not a new thing. From simple ads in right columns on Facebook or promoted tweets, we have come to ads showing up after you just think about some product - or at least that's how it feels.
We haven’t yet mastered reading your mind ahead of time, but dynamic marketing can know what you were thinking just a few seconds ago and remind you about the products you had been considering. It’s as close to sci-fi as most get in our daily lives.
This method of advertising relies on the retargeting practice, and the latest innovation is dynamic retargeting. It not only keeps products top-of-mind, but it can also try to answer the questions you asked in your head but not on the page. It’s fascinating and, so far at least, it seems to be working.
Dynamic Vs. Standard Retargeting
Let’s start off by acknowledging that marketing is full of buzzwords and define a few of them.
Standard retargeting, also sometimes called display remarketing, is an established tactic that you may be more familiar with than its dynamic counterpart. Your standard option shows ads to users based on the behaviors they perform on your site as well as some other information from your ad platform — typically either Google or Facebook.
Retargeting is designed to help you reach previous site or social visitors and deliver personalized ads to them in hopes of reminding them about a purchase, abandoned a shopping cart, or enticing them with a new deal. These past visitors usually convert a little higher than new traffic, so your goal is to get them to complete a purchase process instead of starting one.
Standard retargeting send these people an image ad. You pick and choose a variety of images, set campaign parameters, and hit “go!” to get it started. Based on a specific action, such as filling out a form, going to a page, or coming from a certain channel (like email or search), they get an ad.
These are difficult to base on the specific products that someone sees, so they tend to be more general about your brand. They’re a perfect option for ecommerce stores with a small set of products.
Dynamic retargeting relies on the same route, where people have to visit your ecommerce store, and then you target them with ads after, but the difference is that the ads they see change depending on the specific products the user saw on your site.
This is a game changer because you build and let the ad platform do the work, allowing you to specifically hit people with the products they were interested in when on your site. It’s an amazing way to get someone back to an abandoned shopping cart and to finalize that purchase.
How Is the Retargeting Dynamic?
Google’s AdWords is perhaps the most common service for dynamic retargeting because it keeps things simple. All you need to do is insert some code into your website — it’ll change slightly based on what page the user visits, allowing you to know and target the difference. Here’s the specific AdWords help page that describes the process and can help you get the right code to add to your site.
If you’re just getting started, it’s a wonderful place to get your feet wet before you move into something specific to Facebook or other social channels.
Using that code, AdWords does a bit of the heavy lifting for you. It’ll determine what items to include in your ads by “looking for matches between the IDs of the items in your feed and the IDs associated with your site visitors who are viewing the ads.”
When you create your ads for the campaign, they’ll be based on tag information as well as the short headline, long headline, description, business name, and final URL you include. After that, you’re ready to roll based on your budget and feeds.
In case you’re just getting started with retargeting, you might have a few questions about the process. One of the more common ones concerns the feeds that systems like AdWords use.
Essentially, a feed is a group of products you want to advertise. You create an Excel or other spreadsheet and give each individual product its own row. Far-left columns are the unique IDs (for ecommerce that is usually the product name), and subsequent columns are attributes. These IDs are needed for your remarketing so always double-check that you’ve got the right letters and spaces in these sections.
Google will review feeds to make sure they’re appropriate for users and the ad platform. This limits fraud concerns as well as prevents you from doing things that could get you into hot water, like collecting personal/sensitive information about site visitors.
Retailers need a Google Merchant Center account to create their product feeds. Here’s a page to bookmark to help you understand how to format product data. Follow that guide, and you’ll have fewer errors when you upload, so that should mean fewer delays to getting your feed approved.
Actual Product May Vary
The previous section looked largely at Google AdWords because it is a common platform and it has some exceptional help and support articles, from both the company and its community. The complete list of steps you need to take may change based on the advertising platform you use. Facebook has its own rules and smart support page as do services like AdRoll.
There can also be some slight tweaks to the terminology, such as ‘remarketing’ instead of ‘retargeting’ and the product characteristics that are supported.
That said, Facebook is the other giant and its process is also relatively straightforward. There are five main steps in the process:
Log in to Facebook Ads Manager and navigate to your Audiences section.
Create a Custom Audience and select the website traffic options.
Choose from the drop-down targeting menu options for general site visitors, people who visit pages, and more.
Repeat steps 1-3 if you want to create multiple audiences to target.
Back in the Audiences section, grab the Facebook pixel code and add it to your website.
Now you’ve got the building blocks in place for your campaigns; it’s just time to create the campaign itself and start finding people.
Will Customers Be Creeped Out?
When we think of uncomfortable marketing and data, most people have an experience or a story that they come back to because they want to avoid it. One of the more common tales is the time that Target figured out a young woman was pregnant before her parents knew.
Essentially, a Target system that looked at large-scale purchase data had figured out the common occurrences of pregnant shopping and sent an ad to a girl in high school (Target assigned everyone a customer ID at that point, so it’s unlikely they knew her age, just her shopping habits).
For a lot of people, that made their skin crawl. Or, as Target statistician Andrew Pole put it: “[Even] if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.”
But Pole also gave us a more important revelation: the same pregnant women being targeted with these efforts didn’t feel uneasy about the effort as long as they didn’t think they had been spied on for the ads. So, the company would mix in things like lawn mowers and wineglasses next to diapers and baby shoes to make it feel like an ad that everyone got.
But it turns out, online you might not be so creeped out, even if the spying is a little more obvious.
What the Data Says
At some point, it starts to look like we all learned that the digital world was looking at us and we weren’t too upset by it. Sure, we grumble sometimes and turn on the ad blockers or no-tracking software, but we also still eat up those ads served to us based on where we were just looking. As long as we liked the products, we tend to be happy with the related ads.
In general, retargeting ads are about 76% more likely to be clicked on than a standard display ad, and ultimately they’re about 70% more likely to convert. An old study even once found that 25% of online viewers like to see a retargeted ad - just as good is that another 60% were neutral about them.
A quick search will show you countless success stories and the gains companies secured seem to grow with how loyal the fanbase already was. There’s Halsbrook that used retargeting for a 293% gain in Facebook orders and 42% conversion lift on Google. Mazda was not only able to secure more conversions via retargeted ads, but the value of cars sold through retargeting was 98% higher than the offline average. And luggage sales site eBags found that its retargeting ads generated a 15% increase in revenue.
We also tend to enjoy the dynamic content. The marketing platform AdRoll notes that dynamic ads increased ROI lift by 44% and generate a 115% increase in ad click-through rates, on average. So, combine the two elements, and you have a series of proven-successful ads that most people don’t mind, and a few of your most ardent fans are going to enjoy.
7 Pillars of Retargeting Success
Now that you see people might even like to get your retargeting ads, we want to share a few tips on the best way to turn that interest into purchase success. At the end of the day, it’s all down to the shopping cart, so here are a few tips and tricks to help push people back there.
1. Test, Test, Test
Usually, you hear about A/B testing at the end of a help section, but that shouldn’t be the case for retargeting. Walk in thinking about different things to try, from the size of photos and the amount of text to the CTA and value proposition. Attention and space are limited for retargeting ads, so you want always to be testing and refining, so you maximize opportunities and your budget.
For retargeting, it’s okay to ditch the long-tail hopes and stop going after an audience that just doesn’t seem to buy. However, the only way to know who they are is to test, test, test.
2. Segment Your Audience
Audience segmentation goes hand-in-hand with our testing mantra. The main difference between retargeting segmentation and your typical marketing campaign segmentation is that this should be more intense. Break down groups as much as you can base on the most important actions.
For retailers, this might mean you move people from your “Facebook” segment to your “Top Product” once they’ve navigated to a specific page, but toss some of this traffic to your “Clearance” bucket when they spend more time on the sale pages than any other.
3. Get Some Amazing Product Photos
High-quality images are your best bet to get someone to click. They’re the lifeblood of your retargeting efforts. Focus on visuals that are engaging and get people to think how cool everything looks. The visual is your best way to stand out from the chaos on the page surrounding the ad. Plus, people are willing to overlook lame copy if the visual is inspiring.
4. Try Transparent Backgrounds
Here’s something you may or may not have thought about: the background of your product photos. Transparent backgrounds will help you stand out a bit more on a page because it gives some added depth to the product. Our eyes naturally go to this image and the rest sort of fades away. It’s a good method to give yourself a little extra texture and edge.
5. Tie CTAs to Customer Aims
Retargeting has specific goals; make your calls to action target these. You want people to come back before they forget, but you need to make this appealing. So, that can be things like “Don’t miss out” or “Sale ends Thursday.” The customer aims not to feel left out or not pay full price for something they already are thinking about buying.
As noted above, the image your money maker. Text can get in the way if there’s too much, especially when your ad loads on a busy page. Limiting copy enables you to have more whitespace. Plus, if someone is scrolling by quickly, a few words that are larger will be easier to scan than a wall of text. Let your image do the heavy lifting and use copy to give the minimum detail and CTA.
7. Learn to Embrace Frequency Caps
Retargeting ads that show up on every single other website can feel like that sales clerk who is always lurking around the corner asking if you need help. The great news for advertiser and shopper alike is that most platforms come with tools to prevent this annoying behavior.
Frequency caps will limit the number of times a specific ad is delivered and can help you to either switch ads or temporarily pause in displaying to someone, limiting burnout. People are still comfortable with a significant number of ads, though, as ReTargerter says you can do up to 20 per month.
Burn pixels are a secondary item to employ here. These are the code you use for after a purchase has been made. A visitor hits that “Thank You!” page and then they’re added to a new segment that prevents them from getting retargeting ads. That way, you don’t annoy someone after they’ve bought from you.
A Few Ideas to Get You Started
Writing about all of this got our marketing juices flowing and thinking about great campaigns we’ve seen or new ones for us to try. So, we’ll leave you with a few options you might be able to use to maximize your retargeting efforts when you are ready to pull that trigger.
Ask site visitors why they do or don’t buy and then use retargeting to address common objections or misconceptions. This can include things like a fast-shipping or fulfillment guarantee.
Show multiple products in your image but put the one you’re targeting in the middle and make it larger to seem more important. If the other items and the models using them look similar, then you’re setting up the middle product to be exclusive and unique.
Strike up the fear by noting when a sale or deal will end – this is a common tactic for hotels and airlines because it works.
Send out a coupon for a specific product. This gives people a reason to go back and finally buy what they’ve already been looking at.
“Your shopping cart is ready.” People know they’ve shopped and left, but sometimes they forget exactly where they were. Remind them with a simple note and an image of the top product in their cart.
Show people that you’ve got something new in stock, whether that’s a new style, additional colors, or have restocked and the goods are now “in your size!”
There’s plenty more to do and try. Now, it’s up to you to get out there and give it a shot.
Share Article on
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.