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Why start-ups (and others) need to segment retargeting

Published: November 4, 2016

Author: Bill Cleere

Just about every website marketer has tried retargeting, or currently retargets customers who bounce from their site without interacting or making a purchase. Those bounces happen at a rate of 95% and up, and sprinkling some relevant ads for your site, even discounts and incentives, is a proven way to get people to come back to your site.
For big companies, this isn’t a huge hit on their ad spend budget, but for lean startups, there are a couple of easy ways to save big by handpicking your retargeting audience. The issue, of course, is that if you’re targeting the 95% of people who leave your site, you’re re-targeting a lot of people who don’t have any interest in your site. Sure, they stopped by, but like someone in a giant mall, they just peeked their head in and moved on to the next store. They didn’t see anything of interest to them, and so retargeting them can be a waste of ad spend and time.
So the question is: Do you retarget everyone who visits your site? Or are you implementing a system that allows you to track some basic visitor behavioral traits before giving the go ahead to show ads to those visitors? Many businesses do dynamic retargeting, where they show bouncing visitors a particular product based on what they looked at, but for the lean startup that doesn’t have the cash to put into those kinds of campaigns, there’s a simpler, cheaper, and faster method.
You want to get the attention of people who have your site at the front of their mind, have interest, and just didn’t make a purchase or sign up the first time around. There are two pretty simple but very effective ways to do this. You want to look at:

  1. How many pages a visitor looked at before leaving
  2. How much time a visitor spent on a page (or pages)

I like to call this “selective retargeting.” Much like when you create a Display campaign and choose categories where your ads will show, with selective retargeting, you choose criteria that determines who is and isn’t a visitor worthy of your ads. You can also stack rules upon each other to define what your perfect lead is. Then, even better, you show them campaigns and landing pages designed for them.
The same principle – segmenting visitors by interest level revealed in site behavior – should be used by brands of all sizes, with different bidding, messaging, and destinations strategically selected for each. Bigger brands may choose to spend a little more liberally to capture a bigger portion of the retargeting pool, but the idea is the same.
Old-fashioned retargeting hurts click-through rates and lowers conversion rates significantly. So throw out the old water and start boosting your conversions, get leads back to your site, and show them personalized entry and exit ads with calls to action. This creates a seamless top-of-mind experience for everyone who visits your site with serious interest.

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