A Guide to Retargeting (Remarketing) for B2B Marketers

October 7, 2013: B2B Marketing Budget Spending by ChannelAccording to research from American Business Media, B2B marketers are set to make increasing investments in digital advertising, specifically through search engine and mobile advertising, in the coming year, as detailed in a recent article from eMarketer.

A critical reason search engine advertising in particular is attractive for B2B marketers is because of the immediacy in performance measurement. Cost per lead, cost per acquisition, or cost per sale can easily be defined with PPC.

As these digital channels help pave the way for marketing initiatives in the coming year, B2B marketers need to consider options for investing their advertising dollars in the most effective tactics even within search advertising.

Retargeting (or Remarketing) is one such related option. This blog post will specifically explore retargeting as a tactical initiative for B2B marketers, including background, myths and misconceptions, and best practices.

What is Remarketing / Retargeting?

Remarketing and retargeting are interchangeable words. The basic definition is that they let you show ads to people who have previously visited your website as they browse the web. As a marketer, you would present the ads to an audience you know is interested in your product. Thus, these ads are relevant to the interests of the viewers.

Consider this example: a possible customer comes to your site, looks around for a while, and maybe even adds items to their cart, but for whatever reason (e.g. they get distracted, get busy etc), they do not buy anything. Instead of simply hoping your customer returns, you place targeted ads on other sites they visit to make sure your brand is on their mind as they browse the web. Based on what they viewed, you can create a targeted ad for just that customer—an ad that will be specifically relevant to them. You can even go so far as to show a banner ad of a product they were considering buying and offer them a discount.

Some other definitions of retargeting include:

  • “Retargeting is an online advertising technology that serves customized ads to people who have indicated an interest in your brand by visiting your website. These users will see your ads as they navigate to their favorite blog, news site, or sports page. Technically speaking, an advertiser places a pixel or small snippet of code, on their website to begin. This pixel identifies how potential customers interact with their website and allows for segmentation of those customers for later advertising targeting” (Source)
  • “It 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” (Source)

As to why a marketer would want to employ this kind of advertising, generally only 2% of shoppers convert to customers on their first visit to an online store. Retargeting can help bring back the other 98% that did not convert. (Source)

What Is Retargeting?

Remarketing Ad Image via Retargeter

There are two different kinds of retargeting—site and search. In site retargeting, you are re-engaging current customers. You are engaging a customer that has been on your site before and knows of your brand.

Search retargeting on the other hand, attempts to engage new customers. These people may have shown an interest in a brand’s product, but might not have had any previous interaction with the brand itself. Since there is no existing relationship in search retargeting, it relies on search habits.

Myths & Misconceptions About Retargeting

The biggest misconception is that retargeting is a form of stalking. People are concerned that they will be followed everywhere and spammed every time they visit a site. They are also worried about retargeting being too intrusive. However, no matter what, you will find ads on webpages as you browse the web. The only difference with retargeting, is that the next time you see an ad, it will most likely be something that you are interested in–something that is relevant to your interests. Most sites require that you let cookies be stored on your computer, and companies that employ retargeting would be employing the same method.

  • “Retargeting…relies on a form of online tracking that has been around for years and is not particularly intrusive. Retargeting programs typically use small text files called cookies that are exchanged when a Web browser visits a site. Cookies are used by virtually all commercial Web sites for various purposes, including advertising, keeping users signed in and customizing content” (Source).

Why B2B Marketers Should Care

First, B2B marketers often have a very narrow audience and any new way to target their audience is a good one. For example, Microsoft Office has a very large audience. Many people from many different sectors need to, can and will buy that product. However, network monitoring or project management software has a much smaller audience. Fewer people need to buy that software, and fewer people will buy it, therefore it is crucial that they can reach their entire potential audience. So, remarketing gives B2B marketers a good way to target their narrow audience.Remarketing Ad Example

Secondly, the audience has made themselves relevant.They have been to the site before, and are thus interested in the product. The customer has already reached out and expressed interest. Therefore, you are simply providing that customer with information that they already sought out.

Third, with retargeting also comes the opportunity for cross selling. For example, if a user came to your site to look at one product, you can use remarketing to inform them of another product they might be interested in—a product that may be related or complimentary to the one they looked at. Since your audience is narrow, you can market a similar product to an audience you know is already interested in a product of yours.

Lastly, B2B marketers engage in long sale cycles. They differ greatly from the typical sales cycle. Going back to our previous example of Microsoft Office, a customer decides they want that software, so they buy it. The sales cycle is over. However, for B2B marketers, sale cycles are much longer. A marketing coordinator could spend months compiling lists of project management software or network software before making a final decision and a purchase. These sale cycles require additional nurturing. Thus, many contact points with the customer over a long period of time is beneficial. These people may need to be reminded about your specific product—in this case—through banner ads and search results.

B2B Remarketing Best Practices

There are a few best practices that should guide a B2B marketer’s use of retargeting:

  • Retargeting is most effective if you segment your visitors. If you make sure that your audience is a tight, specific and narrow group, your retargeting will be most effective.
  • Be aware of which of your customers have already been retargeted and converted, that way you do not retarget the same customer with the same ad once they have already purchased something from your site.
  • On that same note, keep in mind the customers you have converted. You can remarket to them a similar or complimentary product. This way, you stay on that customer’s mind.
  • If a customer came to your site, placed things in their cart, but did not complete check out, you can show them a coupon code or another incentive to help convert that customer.
  • Additionally, if a visitor adds products to their cart, but does not convert, marketers can send a follow-up email containing a reminder about their shopping cart or a special offer. “Studies have shown that such remarketing can help increase return visits to the site by as much as 26%” (Source)
  • “Success is primarily seen when ads serve next to content that is in the same industry and relevant to your brand. Just like the negatives would be added to broad match keywords when the match is irrelevant, exclusions of sites should be performed on a regular basis for your B2B remarketing campaigns” (Source)
  • Michael Bentz of Neolane states that a marketer’s top priority should be to encourage visitors to get past the identification step—that is—where they log in, complete a form or subscribe to a newsletter/email list (Source)
  • He also argues that a remarketing strategy is a multi step process. Therefore, you can send messages to a customer multiple times. For example, if a customer abandons their cart, you can send a reminder email that day, the next day, and several days after to help convert them.
  • Before offering your customer a deal, you can offer them more information about the product they were looking at. It is possible that the reason they didn’t convert was not because of price, but because they needed further information before buying the product.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts

Remarketing is a tool that marketers can use to convert viewers of their site to customers. Despite reservations by some, it is not any more invasive than any other marketing tool. In fact, remarketing has the benefit that it will most likely be relevant to the interests of the viewer. Instead of being shown an ad that does not interest them, they will be shown an ad that most likely is relevant to their interests.

There are many best practices that guide remarketing. It is important that you make sure you make sure your audience is a specific and narrow group. Multiple points of contact are also customary. Reach out to the customer to see if they need any additional info or help in finding the right item for them. Furthermore, adding a special discount can drastically increase your chances to convert.

Finally, make sure to keep note of which customers you have already converted. Do not show them the same ads, but instead, show them ads for complimentary products they might be interested in. Given that a B2B marketer’s audience is much more narrow, it is crucial that they reach all of those possible customers and remarketing is a tool that can help them reach their target audience.

What are your thoughts and perspective on retargeting in the B2B marketing space? Any best practices we missed? We would love to read more via comments below.

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