Online shoppers are fickle. Nearly anything can prompt them to abandon their shopping carts--sticker shock from shipping and handling fees, second thoughts about spending the money, an inkling that they can find a product cheaper elsewhere or simply a desire to sleep on it.
Whatever the reason, you no longer need to sit back and let prospective buyers drift away or, worse, wander over to the competition's website. You may be able to track them down and close the sale through behavior retargeting, also referred to as behavioral remarketing or simply retargeting.
If, say, a potential customer visits your site, tosses a few items into the shopping cart and walks out the virtual door before completing the transaction, you may be able to woo them back. Sites that use Google AdWords or a retargeting vendor [see box] record a snippet of computer code to identify each visitor. The next time that person visits a participating site where you advertise, your banner ad will show up. Run ads that educate shoppers about an almost-expired special offer or that remind them that your company has an excellent track record with fraud prevention and you may see that once-abandoned shopping cart at your checkout.
The idea behind retargeting is that once you have succeeded in attracting visitors to your site, they have already shown an interest in your products and are likely to be more receptive to your call to action, whatever it may be--purchasing a product, subscribing to a service, registering for a newsletter or downloading a white paper. Chances are good that you have invested considerable resources to attract visitors to your site and are looking at a conversion rate in the single digits. Retargeting gives you additional opportunities to convert those lost prospects in a relatively cost-effective manner.
As you might guess, the average online shopper may not appreciate commercialized cyberstalking and its associated advertisements, so be careful. Consider testing the ad on a few loyal customers first (with their permission, of course).
Retargeting may also be better suited for business-to-business customers who are more inclined to view the tool as a genuine effort to address their needs than as a violation of their privacy. B2B customers may also be more likely to return to your site to download a white paper, for example, or to check out products or services they previously overlooked.
Though retargeting isn't a sure thing, the technique is definitely worth exploring.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.