If you’ve ever browsed multiple websites and then found yourself being “followed” by banner or text ads from a site you previously visited, you’ve experienced search retargeting (or remarketing, as Google calls it). Retargeting is an inexpensive way for you to follow up with prospects who clicked on your ad or visited your website but moved on without converting. There could be any number of reasons they left, from being in the very early “solutions education” stage, to not being persuaded by your ad content, to simply not noticing it. Retargeting displays your banner or text ads to these unconverted prospects as they move on to other sites on the web.

Retargeting works because it generally targets prospects who’ve shown an interest in your product or service category and who just didn’t convert to an Engaged Prospect on your website for whatever reason.

According to Joanna Lord at SEOmoz.com, consumers who were retargeted were found to be up to 70 percent more likely to complete a transaction than users who weren’t.

There are two basic types of retargeting programs:

Site retargeting targets recent visitors to your website by dropping a cookie on your prospect’s computer. From that point forward, as the visitor goes out across the Internet, the search retargeting service will insert a banner or text ad for one of your offers on whatever website your best prospects are visiting.

Search retargeting targets web searchers who haven’t yet visited your site but have been using keywords that match your ad campaign. How does search retargeting work? Data is collected through a network of partner websites that cookie individuals arriving from search engines; making note of the keywords that sent them there. The advertising network that these websites are part of will then serve your retargeting ads when your keywords match the search keywords used.

In all cases, you only pay if your prospect clicks on your ad, and you can control how much you’re willing to spend when you get a better sense of the payback. In the meantime, your offers follow your prospects around the web providing you with a fantastic, no-cost awareness campaign. Importantly, to avoid having your prospects feel like they’re being stalked, you can set frequency caps (the maximum number of times a prospect sees your ad), and you can decide to only retarget those prospects who’ve gone through a certain number of pages on your site (suggesting a certain interest level), rather than retargeting everyone who lands on, say, only your home page. You can also control what kind of websites your ads show up on using tools provided by the retargeting services.

Selling Retargeting Internally

There is only so much money available at a company and new initiatives often have to fight harder to get that money than incumbent programs. According to a recent study, 87 percent of advertisers say that retargeting is important or very important to their marketing strategy. Show that to your management chain to help you determine what programs will need to help fund retargeting. When looking for program funding, start with business goals. If your organization goals involve sales or growth then retargeting is a great fit. For example, Nitro PDF saw an 18 percent increase in online sales after implementing retargeting. Traditional advertising efforts are much harder to track and metric, so if you work for a company that runs offline-marketing efforts, try to work with those teams to fund your retargeting efforts. If your organization runs traditional display ads, getting funding for a retargeting program should be easy.

What’s Next?

The retargeting platform of the future will have its foundation in Big Data and the ability to execute intelligent bidding based on how valuable a particular user is to a specific brand across a variety of mediums. Marketers who master today’s retargeting techniques will become even more powerful as they become able to extend these tactics to reach potential customers throughout the entire digital journey.