Retargeting: Effective Marketing or Creepy?

To understand this post you’ll need to know what retargeting is. Here’s a definition from SEOMoz for those who aren’t in the know:

Retargeting “is a form of marketing in which you target users who have previously visited your website with banner ads on display networks across the web.”

Basically, what happens when you have a retargeting campaign set up is that a visitor to your site (or a certain section of your site) is “cookied”. When they visit websites that are in the display networks that you are running retargeting ads on, they will see your banner ads. Now that you know what it is- should you implement retargeting into your online marketing strategy? It depends.

On the one hand, retargeting is a great way to get your company and brand back in front of a user who is interested in what you have to offer since they at one time visited your website. People are busy and sometimes don’t spend as much time as they’d like to on a website. Retargeting banner ads say to the user, “Hey, remember me?” Many companies that run retargeting campaigns have found success by displaying these little reminders.

On the other hand, it’s a little creepy. In some ways it can be seen as an invasion of privacy because essentially it seems like you are stalking the user. Retargeting can be compared to cold calling. You are showing up even when the user doesn’t want you to, kind of like an uninvited house guest.

You also don’t have much control over where you show up since there is no opt out option, so you may show up on unrelated and unnatural pages. Target audience members may not appreciate seeing your ad while they are doing personal things online like uploading pictures or browsing a dating site.

Whether or not you should run a retargeting campaign depends on your target audience and demographic. If you operate an e-commerce website it makes sense to do it. Retargeting is a great way to bring someone back that initially abandoned their shopping cart. Maybe they got distracted or felt that they should wait to spend the money.

If you are a B2B service provider targeting businesses and marketing people, retargeting probably isn’t a good idea. Savvy marketers understand the concept of retargeting. They are a different audience than a clueless consumer that thinks that you must have a lot of advertising money to spend in order to show up everywhere.

Like any other online marketing strategy, it’s important to weigh the pros and the cons of retargeting before launching a campaign. If you still aren’t sure, test it out for a bit and see what kind of reaction you get. If the results are overwhelmingly positive or negative, well, there’s your answer.

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