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Digital marketing’s secret weapon

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Remarketing is potentially one of the most powerful tools for marketers. It entails delivering targeted online ads to consumers based on their previous website actions that did not result in a sale. DIANE CHARLTON, managing director at Acceleration Media, outlines how this technique can benefit advertisers.

Imagine if you saw a shopper in your store pick up a widget you sell, scrutinise it longingly and then carefully place it back on the shelf after looking at the price tag. The shopper’s interest in the product is evident, but he or she decides to walk away from the purchase because there is no money to buy it this week or because it’s simply too expensive.

If the product were to go on promotion the following week with a 25% discount, you could almost certainly clinch a sale with the person if you could let him or her know about the promotion. That would be near-impossible in a brick-and mortar store unless you personally knew and could track every shopper that passes through your doors.

But online marketing technology gives us the ability to reach customers with a new ad if we already know from their previous behaviour that they’re interested in something we are selling. This sort of technology ‚ known as remarketing ‚ can be a powerful way to boost your sales and conversions.

In a nutshell, remarketing is all about delivering targeted online ads to consumers based on their previous website actions that did not result in a sale. If a prospect has browsed to your online application page, abandoned a product in the shopping basket on your site or simply came to look at a product after being attracted to your site by an ad, you can serve a follow-up ad at a later stage while they’re surfing elsewhere on the web.

Benefits and techniques of remarketing So how does it work? Remarketing tracks users by using cookies that generate user lists based on specific activities. When users view one of your pages that has a remarketing tag, their cookie IDs are recorded in a remarketing user list.

Then, when the users view a publisher page, the ad-serving technology can serve an appropriate ad to them based on the cookie ID. For example, if the cookie tells you the customer got as far as putting an item in a shopping cart before abandoning it, you can serve them a special offer ad for the item they considered buying.

Or you could insert remarketing tags on different product pages ‚ such as personal banking, credit cards, cheque accounts or savings accounts. When you see users lured to your website by a credit card campaign and showing interest in the other products, you can later target them with ads relevant to their behaviour on other websites.

It is important to note that remarketing doesn’t use any personally identifiable information about users to track them. It simply tracks them via cookies that observe their behaviour across websites. The privacy concerns with remarketing are minimal because the data we use to remarket is anonymous.

The benefits for marketers are easy to understand: it’s a great way to focus your ads on people who are already receptive to your message and products. But users can also benefit from remarketing since it exposes them to ads that are relevant and interesting to them, based on their observed behaviour.

The ability to track and optimise our interactions with our customers is one of the most significant advantages of online advertising. Remarketing – which is currently underused in South Africa ‚ is a fantastic example of how the ability to use information from our previous interactions with consumers can help to improve return on investment.

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