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February 29, 2012

Is Retargeting the New Email Marketing?

February 29, 2012

Have you noticed any strange web advertising activity lately? Perhaps web ads for sites you recently visited lurking around the furthest depths of your corner of the web... In alleyways, payphone booths, peaking over newspapers looking extra suspicious? This is no coincidence... you’re being retargeted.

The concept of retargeting may not be news to our marketing friends, but with the debate over online privacy and Google’s new “we’re literally going to track everything you do on the web” privacy policy hitting the mainstream, the retargeting web advertising strategy will surely follow suit... and quick.

Retargeting begins when a website places a “cookie” in your browser upon visiting their website. This allows the advertiser to use relevant image and text ads that follow your browsing patterns all over the web and entice you to revisit the site. Many advertisers use discounting sales tactics such as “save an additional 15% off” and even include the exact product you’ve been researching within the ad. Here's a visual example courtesy of Search Engine Journal:

The goal is to increase the ad campaign conversion rate and it sure-as-heck works. A few recent web browsing studies claim that shoppers visit an average of 5 ecommerce stores while researching their purchase before they pull the trigger. Retargeting is changing the game so that each store is able to stay top of mind with relevant ads throughout the entire process.

We’ve seen results with several SmallBox clients who have experienced an average conversion rate increase of roughly 100% when using retargeting. Oftentimes these conversions also cost 100-150% less than a first time visit. I was pretty impressed by these stats!

How does this relate to email marketing? Think about it: the cookies these websites are collecting are conversion points themselves, much like securing an email address. As retargeting technology grows, the goals of web marketing will shift. It will merely take a visit to your website (or key page) for a user to enter your sales funnel, your company won’t even need their email address.

We’re potentially looking at a gold rush where companies will begin collecting retargeting cookies before they even plan their campaigns. Sooner than later regulations will need to be put in place that operate much like the federal do-not-call list to allow consumers to opt out of website tracking. These regulations are already being discussed by federal agencies.

The takeaway? Inbound marketing is getting evermore sophisticated. The retargeting process itself can grow to include multiple steps, messages and conversion points for each lead or sale. This is certainly good for businesses and advertisers and, if done well, good for consumers as it will allow for even more competitive pricing and pairing of services.

Ready to jump into pay per click marketing? The time is definitely now: the industry won’t be waiting around checking its watch while there are leads and sales to be had.

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