Retargeting (aka remarketing): Some of us may have heard the term or even used it. Few know how to define it. Almost anyone who has been on the web however knows what it is. It’s that strange feeling someone has been looking over your shoulder while you were browsing. That someone knows what products were on the pages you visited and is now serving you tons of advertisements of those very same products on almost every damn web page you land on. It may be creepy but if done right, it could also get you an extra discount on that book you wanted to buy or simply remind you to download that white paper you wanted the other day.
There are various types of retargeting such as search, email, SEO, contextual, engagement and site retargeting. In this post I will focus on the most common type of retargeting which is site retargeting.
How does retargeting work?
Retargeting is the act of displaying a web advertisement to a specific user based on web pages that he or she previously viewed on your web site (or on other sites). It requires the advertiser to put a snippet of code (a pixel) on his web page which will in turn create a cookie in the web user’s computer or mobile device when they visit the page in question. The cookie enables the advertiser to capture identifying information on that specific user. When a cookie-enabled user visits a web page which offers advertisement real estate, he or she will be recognised as a former visitor of the advertiser and be served an ad that pertains to products or information viewed previously.
When to use retargeting?
Web retargeting is a very efficient tool to increase conversion rates. A conversion being the result of a series of actions a visitor undertakes on a web site. On an e-commerce site a conversion could be the act of purchasing a product. On non commercial sites a conversion could be signing up to a newsletter, making a donation, downloading a white paper or leaving a review.
Hence, anytime you measure event conversions and want to increase them, retargeting is a great tool. Of course, a bit of judgement is in order here. If you manage an erotic online business, alcohol addiction rehab facility or STD clinic you may, for the sake of your visitors and future visits, want to refrain from using retargeting.
How effective is retargeting?
Although I couldn’t find hard data on the effectiveness of retargeting some advertising agencies cite ROI of anywhere from 2$ to 10$ on every dollar invested in retargeting advertisements. Customers and entrepreneurs who I asked, which do not represent a statistically significant sample, report conversation rate increases of 10 to 30 percent. The data would seem to suggest that remarketing is a profitable marketing tactic.
It is important to note however that measuring the effectiveness of a retargeting campaign is not straightforward. Usually other marketing or web development activities will take place simultaneously and impact the conversion rate numbers. The best way to measure is to try and isolate via A/B testing the impacts of retargeting.
Retargeting best practices
- Retargeting is very much a numbers game. Because the click through rate (CTR) on ads is very low (usually less than 5%) you need high number of tagged visitors to see any results. Hence if you only have a few dozen visitors daily on your site, this tactic will not be profitable for you.
- Like any other tool, when used on a standalone basis without a marketing strategy to support it, remarketing looses much of its effectiveness.
- Proper pixel placement on your various web pages to segment your visitors is also essential. Usually placing your pixel on pages that are at the end of your funnel will enable you to track non-converting visitors.
- Limiting the number of ads a non converting visitor will see in a specific time period (with caps) will help prevent negative feeling buildup against your brand or product.
- Finally, using burn pixels (a code that identifies when a visitor has converted) will avoid you paying for ads being displayed to visitors who have already bought your products or converted in other ways.
There are many other best practices that vary according to your initial strategy. Most web marketing platforms, accessible cost-wise to small businesses, that offer retargeting (such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) have built in best practices. If you are unsure of how to go about your first retargeting campaign or do not have the skill set internally, digital marketing agencies can be of help.
Why is it so creepy?
Many web users dislike seeing retargeted ads. Aside from just disliking ads, it’s also a question of not being use to it. Retargeting is relatively new. Web users are just getting acquainted with the practice. Once they get more familiar with how it’s done and the mechanics of it, they will certainly feel less creeped out. Advertisers who don’t follow best practices and bombard users with ads or even worse with ads of products that have already been purchased are also to blame here.
Retargeting is a component of one to one digital marketing that is still in its infancy. The more precise and refined data collection gets the more useful retargeted ads will be to users. Imagine a world where the only ads you will ever see will be for products or services you are thinking of purchasing or need to purchase, from the businesses you can actually buy them from and at the best possible price.
In my last post, I talked about what is influencer marketing and how it works. So now we will look at how to find influencers, the type of relationship to forge with them, the dos and don’ts and the risks of influencer marketing.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to find your influencers is to do a hash tag search with your brand or key words that are highly pertinent to your customer segments. Find the people who use those tags the most often, then find the ones that have the largest following. Look through the most active of their followers and find potential influencers by running the same search again. You can also use various applications (such as Hashtagify) to see what words are most associated with your brand. Find high traffic blogs that pertain to subjects close to your product. Another easy way is to do a quick survey of your customers asking them who they know that would make a good spokesperson for your brand.
Once you identify such potential influencers you need to connect with them. You can start by doing it publicly, by responding to their social media content that pertains to your product, or by approaching them privately.
The best influencer relationships are not commercial but emotional
You need to get to know the influencer and build a relationship with him/her. Once the relationship is on its way you can use a more traditional approach of signing an agreement that specifies what you want them to say, how often, on which social media platform and what they can expect in return. The better results however are not obtained by being directive. Giving your influencer the freedom to express themselves naturally and learn together what works best is a riskier but higher yield approach. Getting to know your influencer first will help reduce this risk. The desired outcome is one where your potential customers will truly believe that your influencer is convinced by what he or she posts and not motivated by a payout. You can also enlist the help of your influencer to start discussions on your products on social media. You can take part in these discussions if appropriate. This tactic will help convey the image of a brand that is in touch with what its customers concerns and needs are.
Dos and don’ts of influencer marketing
- Do measure the results your influencer brings.
- Do take the time to understand your influencers’ community and their values.
- Do make sure your influencer’s overall personal brand fits with your product’s positioning.
- Do use influencer marketing to increase reach, credibility and engagement for your brand.
- Do make certain that your relationship with your influencer is transparent to his/her followers. Not doing so can be detrimental to your influencer’s personal brand and yours by ricochet.
- Do listen to what he/she says as well as the feedback his/her comments generate.
- Do try and help your influencers achieve their own goals.
- Don’t confuse popularity and influence
- Don’t use an influencer to try and fix a negative brand image.
- Don’t contradict your influencers on social media. Manage any disputes behind the scene (and do it quickly).
- Don’t engage influencers that are known rivals simultaneously.
- Don’t prevent your influencer from associating with other (even competing) brands. If done in moderation, it will give him/her more credibility. In real life, very few of us only use one brand of any one product forever. It can also help to differentiate your product from your competitors. Your influencer may explain he/she uses your product for A and B reasons and your competitors’ for X and Y reasons.
Risks and responsibilities associated with influencer marketing
Influencer marketing can be a powerful and lucrative tool in your arsenal. It does have a higher risk factor than advertising and requires constant supervision.
It is important to understand that influencer marketing is a form of co-branding. If the brand of your influencer goes south, so will yours for a while.
Your influencers are most likely not marketers or professional communicators. They will inadvertently goof up once in a while. It comes with the package. Hence you need to monitor closely all that they will say about your brand and manage any issues that may arise quickly. You also need to monitor how your influencers’ brands evolve to ensure a continuous fit with yours.
Influencer marketing is taking away some of the advertising revenues social media platforms live on. If the cut goes too deep, Twitter, Facebook and company may very well find creative ways to put a damper on this practice.
Influencer marketing is a flexible multi-purpose tool
You don’t need to be a large known brand to use influencer marketing. If you are just starting up, you can associate your brand with local celebrities that will most likely be more than happy with a product payout.
Influencer marketing is not only useful to build your brand, it can also be used to open new distribution channels, identify new customer segments and for crowd funding campaigns.
What other uses can you think of for influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a practice where you focus your marketing efforts on key individuals that can influence your buyers into purchasing your products or services. Influencer marketing can be used both in B2B and B2C environments. Influencer marketing can focus on marketing to, through and/or with influencers. Influencer marketing does not replace traditional marketing, it complements it.
Origins of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing has its roots in relationship and peer to peer marketing theory. It is also strongly influenced by psychological theories such as choice making and confirmation bias. The mechanics of it are partly explained in Malcolm Gladwells’s Tipping Point.
Influencer marketing is not new. Actually, is it possibly, in the form of word of mouth marketing, the oldest marketing tactic there is. Advertising while using a celebrity to promote products or services is also a form of influencer marketing.
Both of these tactics have serious shortcomings. Word of mouth, despite being one of the most powerful types of influencer marketing lacks in scalability. As for advertising with celebrities, it lacks the two-way communication potential which increases the effectiveness of this type of marketing.
Enters the social media platforms, they enable direct, two-way communication on a very large scale. Thus making influencer marketing a potentially powerful tool to increase your conversion rates and sell your products or services to large numbers of customers.
What makes an influencer?
According to Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee and influencer marketing authority, you can measure influence with this equation:
Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers
The formula itself is sound but the variables should not be separated from their ‘’ecosystem’’ to be of any use.
The number of followers of an influencer is important but not as much as the quality of their followers in regards to your product or service. Only the followers that will relate to your brand should be counted. An example would be if you are trying to sell luxury sporting goods and your influencer is an extreme sport athlete. Said athlete is not only known for her sport but also for her dabbles in indie music and implication in inner-city shelters for battered women. She may very well have over 200 000 followers, excellent expertise, credibility and have a very strong relationship with her followers but she may not prove to be much of an influencer on your potential customers. First, only a fraction of the followers are in it for the extreme sport aspect and may have value to the luxury sporting goods company. Second, her relationship may be stronger with the people who follow her for her activities other than extreme sport. Not to mention that her entire image is less about luxury than about non consumerism and social conscience. Hence her influence regarding your brand may be lost on the majority of her followers.
In general, influencers are popular, activists, looked up to, who embody the prevalent values of your targeted customer segments, are knowledgeable about products/services similar to yours and are inspiring.
Inner workings of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing works best when:
A) Your buyers feel they don’t have all the necessary information in order to make a purchase decision, and
B) Stakes are high
In the first case it can either be that the product/service is so complex or has so many facets to know about that the purchaser can’t or doesn’t feel like going through all the information before making a decision. This is often the case in the B2B environment. Purchasers cannot get hold of sufficient information to make a decision and will rely on a (or many) trusted third party to make their decision. In the B2C environment, it can be when there are so many competing products that the buyer doesn’t have the time or inclination to compare them all.
Influencer marketing is also very effective when the product or service purchase is highly significant to the purchaser. This is often the case in B2B environment or when the purchase price represents a high percentage of the buyer’s income. In such cases, part of the burden of making an important decision will be differed to the referencer.
In a future post we will look at influencer marketing tactics, its dos and don’ts and potential limitations.
Starting your own business is a risky proposition. This is the reason getting capital is so costly and difficult. Investors’ goals, at least the ones who are trying to maximise their financial returns, are looking to do so at a minimum risk. Hence getting at the front of the venture capitalists potential candidates line means increasing returns and/or reducing risks. The only way I know how to do both at once is to address your commercialisation risk.
The various risks associated with start-ups
Just about every risk one can think of (even health related ones) can be a concern when starting your own company. The risks an entrepreneur needs to consider are the ones that have a combination of significance of the consequences and likelihood of happening that mean your company’s revenues, or worse its survival, are at risk.
Classifying start-up risks is in itself a risky proposition as various types of start-ups will classify a same risk in different categories. However, with the objective of simplification in mind here are the main start-up risk categories.
Can the company deliver a product which lives up to all of its promises in a timely, cost effective, scalable fashion?
Will the company have sufficient funds to develop until it starts getting sales revenue (also known as the runway)? Once it starts selling, will it have sufficient funds to ensure operations, growth and unforeseen expenses?
Do the founders have the necessary skill set to take the company to where it wants to go? Are the critical functions covered? Is the business model the right one to get optimal growth?
Have the pertinent political, environmental, social, technological and legal risks been addressed in a fashion that will enable the company to see them coming and take the necessary actions in a timely fashion to mitigate them?
Is the product’s value proposition sufficient to attract buyers? Is the market sufficient to sustain the company’s goals? If the first two questions are answered positively, this is usually the killer question; does your start-up have the abilities to sell its products to its target markets?
The commercialisation risk incorporates many risks that can also be found in other categories. The figure below shows a map of commercialisation risks that should be taken into consideration. Source: Luoma, T., Paasi, J. and Nordlund, H. (2008), Managing Commercialisation Risks in Innovation Development: Linking Front End and Commercialisation, In Proc. of The XIX ISPIM Conference.
How the Lean Startup approach reduces the commercialisation risk
Lean Startup strongly advocates getting to know your market before you develop your product. You start by having a business idea; you quickly identify the underlying hypotheses of your idea and then devise an experiment where your minimum viable product (MVP) will test the validity of these hypotheses. Inevitably, at one point in your series of experiments, you will need to test the hypothesis that your market is willing to pay money for your product i.e. you can sell. Later you will need to test that you can scale your business idea to a level that is sustainable, i.e. sell enough to sustain your business. These experiments, that are meant to collect the most information with the least effort in order to get you to your product/market fit, are the embodiment of reducing your commercialisation risk.
Other practices encouraged in Lean Startup are to take the time to properly define your value proposition, methodically collect data to validate your market hypotheses and understand the cues from your market. Use management tools, such as the Business Model Generation, adapted to the start-up environment. All of these Lean Startup practices are meant not only to ensure you know how to sell your product but also to reduce your various start-up risks.
There is a reason why venture capitalists are, not only taking notice of start-ups using the Lean Startup methodology, but increasingly encouraging it, it makes their job easier.
We now live in a world that is in part, at least, virtual. Crossovers from the virtual to the real world are done constantly. Many of the people we meet in our daily lives we have ‘’met’’ before thru their LinkedIn, Facebook, blog, webzine articles, tweets or other web presence. Some people we meet in social settings we will google, when we have a chance, to learn more about.
In fact, if you are an entrepreneur and you are absent from the web, most potential business partners (suppliers, customers, investors, employees, etc.) will see this as being suspicious or at the very least be surprised not to find you there.
The image we project on the web is now a part of how people see us. If you are an entrepreneur it can either hinder or help your business endeavors. The good news is, the outcome is pretty much up to you.
Building your personal brand
Marketing yourself on the web is very similar to building and managing a brand. You need to put some thought into the brand Me inc. brand. Ensure it reflects the product (you) well, fits with what your customers are expecting and the image you want to project. The idea is not to create a fictitious character but to work with what you have and shine the light on your best assets.
Produce, or even better, give others the opportunity to produce content voluntarily about you that sticks with your brand objectives. Don’t be shy to promote your activities and accomplishments.
Monitoring the content about yourself on the web, to ensure it does reflect the image you wish to project, is also part of taking care of your image.
The basics of business web presence at this time are a bio on your corporate website or at the very least a full and accessible LinkedIn profile. There a dozens of other tools also available. The most effective ones are usually the content that you appear in that has been posted voluntarily by others. Just like any brand, a basic presence won’t get you far. You need to invest time and effort to stand out from the rest of the pack. The table below gives you an idea of the tools available and for what purpose you can use them.
||Getting to know you
|Bio on corporate site
|Re-tweets of your tweets
|Articles on you
|Tagged pictures of you
As an entrepreneur investing in your own personal brand will automatically benefit your company(ies) as long as you make sure most of your content ties back to your corporate site. Rich web content on you will ensure good SEO positioning as many people who meet you in networking situations, may remember your name but not that of your company, will find you more easily to do business with you or refer you.
It’s becoming more and more of a buzz word in marketing circle. Consumers are increasingly preoccupied with who they buy from not just what company they buy from. Case and point would be the actions of one of Uber’s co-founders behavior that got a lot of press on the web a few months ago. It seriously affected Uber’s overall image and sales were affected.
We have all been fed so much advertising content that we are getting pretty good at discerning the icing from the cake. Given we generally don’t trust the icing, we want a look at how the cake is made. Getting to know the owners of a company, we are thinking of dealing with, is the best way to do this. Making your Me inc. web content easily available through your corporate web site is simply making it easy for your potential business partners to see if they like the cake.
The strongest argument for investing in the Me inc. brand is portability. Despite all our best efforts sometimes our businesses don’t make it. For entrepreneurs, this is usually a temporary setback until the next business venture. When the time comes to raise capital, find partners and get your new business on the map, the collateral you bring with a strong Me inc. brand will prove invaluable.
There are other benefits to having a strong personal brand. Hopefully these few arguments have convinced you to work on yours.
I challenge you to google your name. What do you see? Are you in the top pages? Is the top content a good reflection of the image you want to project? Is the content linking back to your corporate site?
If so, bravo! If not, you may want to invest some time and resources in what may be your most profitable marketing investment to date.
p.s. I just took the challenge myself. Wow, I have to get to work on my own Me inc.