A Guide to Retargeting, Remarketing, and Gathering Data

January 11, 2022
By   Alexandra Few
Category   Search
laptop displaying charts and graphs

Retargeting, remarketing, and consumer data are important elements for the success of many retailers, but finding strategies to incorporate it can sometimes be difficult to navigate. This article will take you through why retargeting and remarketing is important in the first place, and some of the ways you can begin to incorporate it into your success plan.

Those in the ecommerce space are likely already familiar with the industry terms “retargeting” and “remarketing,” but in case you are not, or you are looking to uncover some of the ways to effectively reach customers after they have visited your website, this article can help mprove your ecommerce strategy and increase conversions with the help of data collection.

* The topics discussed below are from the presentation, You Are Doing Ecommerce Wrong, by Steve Bours, CEO of Reshift Media, as part of the Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) virtual conference – RCC STORE 2021.

Retargeting vs. Remarketing

Before getting into the definitions, let’s first imagine a typical consumer who stumbles upon your website. They might have a specific product in mind to buy, or they may just be visiting and looking around. Whatever the case, this user decides to leave your website without making a purchase. This is unfortunate because you, the retailer, really wanted to make a sale – is there any way to get them back on your website? There is!

Retargeting usually involves the use of online paid advertisements and display advertisements to target consumers who made a visit to your website but didn’t purchase anything. The goal here is to re-engage them so that they will go back to your website and complete that purchase. When a user enters your website, clicks around a bit, or takes a certain action, a cookie becomes set in their browser which you can use for information to retarget them later through advertisements.

Remarketing on the other hand has a similar goal in mind but goes about achieving it differently. You might often hear remarketing and retargeting used interchangeably, but remarketing focuses more on re-engaging past customers, such as through email marketing. Remarketing focuses more on getting that customer back to your site, and this can be done through emails using upselling techniques or other reminders about the products/services you offer. Remember, the customer must have provided their email address voluntarily or through their purchase in order for brands to reach out, otherwise, it violates Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL).

Why Retargeting and Remarketing are Important

As a retailer, you likely already have some degree of retargeting/remarketing strategy incorporated into your process. Oftentimes, retailers give this responsibility to an agency and do not give it much thought after that. But there are several reasons why you should care, and it starts with how a prospective customer visits your website.

No matter how they come in, whether it is through organic search, a campaign, social media, or word of mouth, the important thing is that they are there. They are visiting your website because they want to shop – it wasn’t an accident that they stumbled upon your website. What can typically happen is they click something or search for an item, and they leave.

Although not every website visit means someone will purchase something, the problems that can arise are on the retailer side. Some retailers will end the relationship as soon as someone doesn’t make a purchase and wait for the next potential customer to visit their website. By doing this you are giving up on the sale, and you don’t have to be doing this.

The Value of Touchpoints and Pixels

Touchpoints mark every time a potential customer or a paying customer comes into contact with your brand from the very start to the completion of a purchase. Studies find that there are about four to six touchpoints before a person makes a purchase, so your job as a retailer is to create those touchpoints and use a straightforward retargeting strategy using a pixel – snippets of code that can help you to obtain behaviour data about the visitor on your website. When creating your retargeting strategy, the idea is that when someone visits your website, you can give them the opportunity to learn more about the product they were retargeted on.

Ways to Retarget

There are a couple of ways to go about retargeting, including display, video, and social media. This could include Google Display Network, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. These are all great outbound avenues where you can send a reminder to the potential customer that there is this great product you were looking at.

Advertising the exact product that they considered (such as an item they placed in their cart but didn’t purchase), is one popular way of retargeting, but there is also a certain feeling of surveillance involved with this, so tread lightly (and run some A/B testing). Instead of ads featuring the exact product they were looking for with messaging like “Hey, we noticed you didn’t check out” (which could turn off privacy-minded customers), you could simply run advertisements about why your brand is great or complementary products the potential customer might like.

Whatever you decide to do, consider it more of a reminder and try and get up to that four to six touchpoint threshold to get that potential customer back to your website to make a purchase.

The idea is to use these outbound methodologies (display, video, social media) and hope they come back to make a purchase, but if not, you can continue to retarget.

Email marketing is another great way to achieve this and can work well if a returning customer abandoned their cart while they were signed in, or you received their email through other means (don’t forget CASL requirements, as mentioned above). Sending out a reminder email letting potential customers know they should continue their purchase can be extremely helpful. In fact, sending three abandoned cart emails can result in 69% more orders than one email.

Search is also another way to retarget customers and is not often used enough by retailers. When a customer visits your website, looks at a particular product, even adds it to their cart but later abandons it, all is not lost! If in a week or a month that same consumer searches on Google for that product because they realize they do need it, you as a retailer can over-index for that search for that person – increasing your chances of showing up in their results. What’s great about that is you are interacting with that potential customer at a key spot in their purchasing journey, which is very powerful.

The Power of Data

Beyond retargeting and remarketing, what should you do when customers purchase something on your website? A great approach is to gather the information from that purchase and enter it into a database, which then becomes very valuable. You can use that customer data to send follow-up messages to those customers later or introduce complementary products.

This data can also help you better understand specific attributes related to your customers such as geography, demographics, socio-graphics, etc. You can about the types of people who buy your products and then gear your marketing strategies to find more people like that, using tools such as lookalike audiences.

First-Party Data

There are different types of data, but first-party data can be defined as the information that a company collects from its customers directly. This can be extremely valuable, but how do you acquire it? Think about value exchange. What does the customer get in exchange for giving you their data? This could be a loyalty program, a newsletter, or some sort of incentive/offer but creating a digital growth plan that considers these options is important.

From an ecommerce perspective, customers who purchase items and get it delivered are automatically giving you data. Remember that for privacy reasons, it’s important to get their opt-in, that way you can legally retarget.

Use the Data

So many retailers are sitting on a data goldmine and not doing anything with it. Use the data you have so that you can better understand your customers. Some ways you can do this includes having ongoing discussions within your company on how you can use that data, conducting A/B testing, experimenting with your pricing model and offers, and maybe even changing your web page layout (a new design, adding more or less copy, or changing colours) based on user behaviour. All of this can be determined via the data you receive.

Think about how you can store the data securely and remain privacy compliant, and then plan for what you are going to do with that data to improve your purchase flow.


Data remarketing retargeting


Alexandra Few

Alexandra is a Content Producer at Reshift Media. Her work in our social team includes creating and designing content for social media, as well as researching and developing blog posts, landing pages, and other forms of web content for several brands. She has completed certifications in digital marketing, professional writing, and digital strategy and communications management, and she has published work on topics that range from franchising and social media to music and wellness.

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