It happens to all of us. You’re surfing through that cool new retail site finding ridiculous deals on amazing products that you absolutely cannot live another day without. The SKUs are hitting your virtual cart faster than a chicken on a junebug. All feels right with the world…

Suddenly, the simplest of distractions plucks you out of blissful buy-mode and snaps you straight back into reality. That beautiful shopping cart filled with values—representing such promise both for you and the merchant—is about to be… abandoned. Imagine similar scenarios being repeated dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times a day, and you can begin to understand why cart abandonment is one of the most frustrating realities for every online retail business.

According to statistics recently reported by Business Insider, “Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online carts this year, and yet about 63% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers.”

One of the most powerful ways of getting the “temporarily misplaced intention to purchase” back on track is to re-target customers, a practice we refer to as search remarketing. This smart and cost-effective approach isn’t just for retailers either—remarketing can also yield sizable lift in lead cultivation for B2B companies. In the digital marketplace, where staying “top of mind” with customers is of utmost importance, remarketing should be thought of as an essential practice.

The Nuts and Bolts of Search Remarketing

Simply put, search remarketing involves the strategic delivery of banner and text ads to specific segments of your website visitors utilizing an advertising and/or analytics platform. The catalyst for this operation is the “cookie”—a small piece of code each site visitor picks up which allows them to be uniquely (yet anonymously) re-targeted at a later time, based on specific conversion goals.

As Liberty Bostwick, one of Gamma’s Paid Media Managers explained, “With remarketing, we take all of the knowledge based on cookies from people coming either through our ads or different channels defined in our analytics platform. We can then power separate ads and lists to reach out to similar audiences…or we can even exclude those audiences from our advertising. The real beauty of remarketing is that it allows you to leverage audience data that you’re already getting, and set up different strategies to increase conversions.”

While the process is not overly difficult to set up, patience and persistence are the keys to a successful remarketing campaign. Gamma Paid Media Manager Nicole Ciccone explains, “It does take a bit of time as each list has to be configured to target the exact audience you want to reach. Once the list is created, we will let it build up to a specified number, at which point we can start remarketing a campaign through AdWords. We pause along the way—many times—in order to tune the list for maximum ROI.”

In the context of our example, remarketing can be thought of as picking up the conversation where it left off, but with an extra enticement that lets the customer know additional value is about to be dropped on their lap. Sales, bonus products, time-based discounts, and other incentivized advertisements can be presented with the ultimate goal of prompting one (or more) specific conversion actions.

Wait a Minute—Isn’t This Stalking?!

When done according to best practices, remarketing can and should feel like a natural extension of the relationship being formed between customer and company. When done haphazardly, it can definitely come across as “creepy stalking” at best—or an outright abuse of privacy at worst.

Gamma utilizes smart tools such as frequency caps (the max number of times an ad is to be displayed) and burn pixels (the ad display is discontinued once a conversion occurs) to steer clear of committing the cardinal sin of search remarketing—annoying your customers. From a more practical perspective, there is absolutely no sense in wasting impressions on users who have already converted.

Great care should be taken to ensure that “audiences” are being appropriately re-targeted based on factors such as: visitors’ depth of interest, demographics, geographics, and contextual targeting. It’s relatively easy to spot examples out in the wild when a remarketing effort has not been properly segmented, or when it is not being consistently tuned over time so the right messaging reaches the right audience with the right frequency.

Smart remarketers also make a practice of rotating and optimizing their ad creative throughout the lifecycle of a campaign (3-6 months on average), employing processes such as A/B testing to identify the best possible pathways to increase customer engagement and conversion lift.

Benefits of Search Remarketing

ROI—Lift occurs naturally as segmented lists become “smarter” and assets are refined and optimized over the duration of a search remarketing campaign. Of course, the ultimate goal for most marketers is to bring about more raw conversions. What type of return might one expect? A recently completed RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaign Gamma conducted on behalf of a national automotive brand yielded a 38% increase in conversion rate compared to normal non-brand performance.

Flexibility—As Nicole Ciccone reminds us, “There is always an opportunity to run remarketing. It is just that the list may not reflect the perfect audience right out of the gate.” Given an open time variable, search remarketing presents one of the highest performing tactics available to effectively cultivate your customer list.

Perception—Especially for smaller businesses, remarketing portrays your company as much bigger than actual size. In addition to bumping your brand visibility, remarketing provides your customers with a sense that you’re truly paying attention to them and know the types of products that they’re most interested in.

Leverage—Dropped leads or abandoned shopping carts should not be thought of as the absolute end of the line. Rather, they are important (and oftentimes inevitable) parts of the conversion cycle that can provide very specific data on customer interest. Savvy remarketers can directly leverage this data and adjust accordingly. As Liberty Bostwick observes, “The data that pops out of a remarketing effort is living and breathing and continuously cycling. We do have to watch it closely as it is so valuable for gauging ongoing customer interest.”

We would love the opportunity to discuss how a search remarketing strategy can provide value for your customers as well as your bottom line. Contact us today!