Remarketing with Cookies

Behavioural Targeting
January 23, 2017
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February 26, 2017
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One of the great advantages of having people visit your own website is that you can “cookie” them, in order to show them adverts for your products or services in the future.

cookiesCookie Code Tracking for Remarketing

One of the great advantages of having people visit your own website is that you can “cookie” them, in order to show them adverts for your products or services in the future.

We’ve probably all seen adverts that seem to follow us around the internet – for example, if we have been researching a particular brand of TV set, we may be somewhat surprised to spot an advert for the same set on Facebook or another site we’re visiting.

Before the concept of remarketing was widely known about, people may have assumed this was simply coincidence, or even, somehow, ‘fate’.

What’s really happened, of course, is that your browser has had a cookie placed on it, so that other websites can recognise you when you’re visiting them. This allows for sophisticated ad targeting systems to show you an ad for something the advertiser believes you’re likely to be interested in, based on your previous web browsing behaviour. (See my earlier blog post on behavioural targeting for an intro to this concept).

What is a cookie?

In essence, a cookie is simply a text file that contains data about a web page, that gets stored on the site visitor’s browser.

Cookies may contain all sorts of information about the actual browsing session itself – for example, in order to retain information about products you may have placed into an online shopping basket.

But the ones we’re interested in here are generally known as “tracking cookies”.

(Lots more info about cookies is available at this Wikipedia page – though most of it is probably quite incomprehensible unless you’re already quite tech savvy!).

What can tracking cookies do for me?

OK, so this is the crux of the issue – how can you actually benefit from them?

When using tracking cookies for remarketing, some of our options are:

– Reminder for people who dropped out of the sales funnel

– Offering a complementary product or service to the one they were looking at / bought

– Being ‘front of mind’ when they’re next searching for something similar

– Introducing a new product or service to someone who’s already visited your site

Let’s look at these in turn:

Reminding People

If someone has visited our site, but not taken the next step through the sales funnel, we can show them an advert that is specifically tailored to their behaviour – either by simply reminding them of the product they were previously viewing (as in the TV example above), or by developing a follow up advert that outlines some additional benefits of the product or service.

This approach to remarketing is the one that people are most commonly aware of, having almost certainly seen these type of ads on Facebook and other websites.

Complementary Product of Service

If someone has visited a particular page on our site and perhaps even bought something from it or contacted us, we can follow up with those people and offer them a product or service that fits well with what they previously saw.

For example, someone who had previously viewed a TV set may also be interested in a digital receiver to convert the set into a smart TV; or someone who ordered a fixed fee tax return service may also be interested in ongoing bookkeeping services. These kind of add on sales are a great way to use remarketing in any business.

Front of Mind

I particularly like the opportunities here through Google’s search advertising platform. Most people are unaware that they can retarget people via AdWords search ads (ie when someone is performing a normal Google search), but Google has a system they call RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads – catchy, huh?) which allows you to do exactly that.

So if you have a client or potential client who has visited your site and received the cookie in their browser, you can target them with your adverts when they are next searching for something relevant on Google. For instance, if someone has bought a TV set from you and then does a Google search for “digital receivers”, you can show them your ad (and similarly with the tax return / bookkeeping example above).

As these people already know you, they are more likely to then click your ad and so you should generate repeat business from them that you may not have had otherwise.

New Product or Service

If you start to offer a new product or service, you can advertise this fact to people who have already visited your site. Existing contacts are more likely to be inclined to purchase from you again, so introducing them to something new could be a great way to make more sales from them.

Newsletter blindness

You may be thinking that, for the Front of Mind and New Product or Service examples in particular, you can simply alert your mailing list to the other things you can do for them, thus negating the need to advertise to them.

Not so.

People receive so many email newsletters nowadays that “newsletter blindness” is widespread, with open rates in the single figures being very common.

Showing remarketing ads to your existing contacts can thus be a very useful reminder (or introducer) of what you can offer them – fitting nicely in with the old truism that it is far easier to retain or upsell an existing customer than it is to generate a new one.

And cookie tracking is simply one method of identifying the people you can remarket to.

You can also create specific Audiences within both Facebook and Google that are based on the email addresses of your existing contacts – enabling you to have a very highly focused level of targeting for the ads you are showing.

Get in touch if you want me to help you start remarketing your business.