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Retargeting for Small Business: The Basics

Courtesy of Annie Spratt

By Jen Whelan, Senior Vice President Marketing at Criteo

Businesses are built on relationships, and entrepreneurs know this better than anyone. When a business is just starting out, thoughtful, personal relationships can lead to early customers, partners, and employees. As businesses get bigger, the successful ones continue to emphasize deeper, lasting relationships.

That focus on relationships applies to digital marketing, too. Digital marketing can be intimidating for small business owners but think of your marketing budget as a way to build relationships with the people you hope become your customers. Approaching it thoughtfully is the difference between short-term sales and loyal customers who drive repeat business and help advocate your business to their friends.

Since around 96% of your website visitors won't actually buy something on their first visit, an effective, efficient digital marketing plan includes ways to get back in touch with them. One of the best ways is a tactic called retargeting.

A Brief Primer on Retargeting

If you've ever visited a website and then noticed ads from that business popping up in your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, or other sites, you've seen retargeting ads.

These ads can help resurface abandoned shopping carts or offer personalized discounts and deals on items you viewed before. Many retargeting partners help create highly relevant ads with sophisticated data analytics and creative optimization. And with retargeting, relevance is key: Think about the difference between a random ad and one that's been tailored for you: the less intrusive and more relevant the ad, the more interested you're likely to be.

Relevance is all about where, when, and why you might be seeing an ad. If you considered a linen shirt on a website but didn't buy it, the appearance of that shirt in your mobile Facebook feed might serve as a compelling call-to-action at best. The ad recognized an item you shopped for but didn't buy already, it appeared somewhere you frequently browse, and offered a smart reminder about the item.

In accounting your shopper's intent and behavior in this way, you can put retargeting to work in a way that's profitable and builds strong customer relationships

How Retargeting Works

Retargeting is a type of ad technology that shows digital ads to people who have indicated some level of interest in a company or product.

How do you figure out who's interested in your business and where to reach them? Visiting a product page on a website or downloading an app is considered a strong indication of interest. Essentially, you're re-connecting with people who've already demonstrated they're interested in you.

With retargeting technology, little pieces of code help re-engage an individual across sites they visit and devices they use. The technology then shows ads to that person based on what it already knows about their interests. If the person visited a product page for a pair of shoes but didn't buy them, an ad that retargets them might display the same shoe and offer a 10% discount to entice them a little further, or a related shoe that might interest them more.

Done right, this is an effective way to keep potential customers interested in what you have to offer. It's also a scalable, efficient way to drive sales and profits.

Retargeting: Everything in Moderation

When people see an ad too frequently, too soon after visiting a site, or with no relevance to them, it can turn them off to a business—the opposite of what advertising is supposed to accomplish. As a business goal, being ignored or disliked probably isn't in your plan.

Think of retargeting as a smart reminder system—reminders to shoppers that, if they're still interested, they're a click away from something they'll really like. We usually don't like our reminders to be too frequent or loud. If you apply the same principle to retargeting, you'll end up with more sales and happier customers.

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