This Little Online Marketing Tactic Could Make You Big Money

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

You book a flight to Chicago on a popular travel site. A week later you’re reading a sports blog or checking out the latest news somewhere else and there’s an ad from the travel site on that same page reminding you to rent a car for your trip to Chicago. And then you’re browsing on another site and…what? There’s another ad from the same travel site asking if you’ve booked a hotel in Chicago. And you think to yourself, “Are these guys stalking me?” And the answer is: yes. You’ve been “retargeted.” Some call it “remarketing.” Creepy? Yes. Legal? Definitely. Effective? Most definitely.

Retargeting has been around for a while. And it works like this: when you visited that travel site and booked your flight to Chicago, the site downloaded a cookie to your computer. Sure, you can avoid all this if you turn off cookies in your browser–but most people don’t. The travel site then purchased ads through a retargeting service (more on this soon) so that when you landed on other popular sites you were getting ads to come back and visit their site. And you know what? It works.

A growth in popularity.

Retargeting drives visitors back to your site even after they’ve left with ads reminding them about the products and services you provide. And it’s significantly grown in popularity over the past few years. In fact, it’s one of the top three tactics planned by B2B marketers to drive leads (back) to their website in 2016, according to survey released last week from marketing firm Demand Gen. According to the survey, almost 40% of marketers plan to use retargeting to generate more demand.

Sure, retargeting has been around for a while. And just about everyone who works in the digital marketing field knows about the practice. But when I speak to business owners and ask if anyone’s using retargeting as a tool to reengage visitors I get nothing blank stares. Many of us just aren’t familiar with the practice. Or don’t understand it. And we’re missing out on a major opportunity to increase our cash flow.

There are plenty of great retargeting services to choose from. One of the most popular is AdRoll. You might also want to look at Buyer Cloud, Perfect Audience, G4 Native,ReTargeter or even Google AdWords. Like everything else, these services tell you that they’re different than the other guy. And they are. Except they’re the same. They offer services that retarget visitors whether they came to your website, Facebook or Twitter pages. They will retarget users who searched for you. They are mobile driven. They integrate with popular customer relationship management applications. They provide creative and consulting services. They offer reports and dashboards so you can track activities, clicks and impressions. They will want you to copy a snippet of code to your site so they’re able to track visitors.

What does it cost?

Which brings me to cost. You’re likely going to spend based on how many visitors come to your site. AdRoll, for example, suggests that you budget $4,000 a week for their service if you average about 10-25,000 visitors to your site every month). That’s not cheap. So is it worth it? It will be if you’re the right type of customer. And to determine if you’re the right type of customer you’ll need to consider these three questions.

1. Do you have a lot of visitors to your site?

Retargeting is just marketing. And it works well if you’re very active online and driving lots of people to your website through ads, social media engagement and search. The whole point of retargeting is to…well…retarget those people that came to your site and then went away, which is what most people do when they’re browsing. It complements your existing online marketing. For retargeting to be worthwhile, you should probably have at least 5,000 people visiting your site every month, with the plan to grow that significantly. And your site should be requiring some action–a purchase, a click, a form to fill out. The more your return visitors are doing, the better you’ll be able to track your results.

2. Do you segment your visitors?

The more segmented you are, the better you can target your ads. If you can define your prospective customers by region, age, product interest and other factors then you can purchase ads on specific sites that cater to those demographics and therefore get more bang for your buck. The more specific you are, the better your results will be.

3. Finally, do you have someone who will take ownership?

Because you’re not that person. You’re running a business and clearly you’ve had some success if you’re generating enough site visitors to seriously consider retargeting services. So hopefully you’ve got a digital marketing person in-house or you’re contracting with someone competent. Because you’re going to need that expert to do all this. It’s a daily job. It will take continuous monitoring. Ads will need to be created and then tweaked. Results will have to be evaluated. Targets will need to be changed, and then changed again. Take a look at any of the services I’ve mentioned above and you’ll see that their client base is mostly larger companies who have marketing teams that do this for a living. It’s not just the cost of the service. You will also be paying for the cost of a person to use the service well. Make sure you’ve included that in your budget.

Retargeting has been a popular tactic used by larger companies to increase their sales. But smaller firms, particularly those with enough traffic to their site already, need to seriously look how retargeting will grow their business too.

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