Is Remarketing Effective? Or Just Annoying?


Most people will be aware of what Remarketing is even if they are unfamiliar with the term. You visit a website and see adverts for products or companies which you have recently been looking at online. Usually this advert is for a website you, or someone using your computer, has visited in the past. Most often you have visited the website in question recently, but have not made a purchase or enquiry.

What Remarketing is NOT

Some people find this sort of advertising intrusive and annoying, but this is usually due to a misunderstanding about how remarketing works, and how selective it really is. For example, sometimes remarketing is mistakenly lumped together with pop-up advertising, which is quite a different thing, or even Spyware, which is entirely different. In many cases it is these unconnected adverts and activities that cause the real annoyance. There is nothing random or unsolicited about remarketing. Seeing remarketing display adverts does not mean your computer’s security has been compromised or your privacy has been violated. For people who do get irritated by remarketing, it is actually quite easy to avoid, as we will explain below.

Our purpose here is to explain the power of remarketing and you it can be used to reinforce your company’s brand messages, and also to set your mind at rest that remarketing is not as potentially negative to your clients as you may think.

Read 'What is remarketing? And other questions' for an overview of remarketing.

How Remarketing works:

Remarketing is a sophisticated and highly targeted form of online advertising developed by Google. The idea is similar to that behind PPC (pay per click) advertising. Targeted adverts are placed in front of a ‘warm’ audience of people who’ve already visited your website but not made a purchase or enquiry. The prospect will only see these adverts when they visit other websites that have accepted Google advertising placement on their site. When done correctly, remarketing extends the reach of your advertising by keeping your products or services at the forefront of your prospect’s attention.

For a business carrying out remarketing, you will be charged for each click through a visitor makes from one of your adverts. The advertising host will also receive a small fee for each click, which is why Google advertising placements have become so popular, especially within competitive markets such as IT services and online retail.

Remarketing works through the placement of ‘cookies’ on a website visitor’s computer whenever they visit your site. Cookies themselves are often misunderstood. They are not a computer program or tracking device. They are simply text files that are stored on your computer by a website server. They can only be retrieved and interpreted by a specific Web server – i.e. the server hosting the website carrying out the remarketing campaign. They are not of any use to other servers or organisations. When a cookie is created it comes with a unique identification number, together with the website name and other coded information.

This information is harmless and anonymous, with nothing connecting a named individual or business with a cookie. Once the cookie has been generated, the unique ID (UID) is added to your remarketing list on Google Adwords. You may have one or more remarketing lists depending on your preferences. For example, you may want to generate a different targeted ad the people who visited a specific service page, or offer a discount code to visitors who have added items to a shopping cart without completing a purchase. Once a list reaches 100 cookies it becomes active, and your targeted ads are issued to Google advertising partners for placement.

Is Remarketing Effective?

The purpose of a remarketing advert is to entice a website visitor to come back to your website. In this they are a very effective means of boosting conversions from website visitors. These are four of the top reasons remarketing has become so popular among B2B users across a wide spectrum of industries.

1) Longer reach for your brand

People will be exposed to your brand for far longer than the time they simply spend on your website. Clever use of remarketing gives the market saturation of a high profile display advertising campaign, at a fraction of the cost. Use this tool to extend the reach of your brand among people who are already self-selected as interested in your service.

2) Boost your conversion rate

Successful remarketing brings more former visitors back to your site. In other words, it increases the value you can expect from each website visitor and raises the chance that a visitor will convert to a customer.

3) Target a specific audience of ‘warm’ leads

The real strength of remarketing is how focused it is. It isn’t like a randomly placed online advert or a poster in a bus stop. Only people who’ve already shown an interest in your business will see the adverts at all. This makes your adverts far more effective than other forms of display advertising. You also have the opportunity to target specific services. If you want to boost your sales of ‘service A’, for instance, set up a remarketing list for people who visit your ‘service A’ webpage and target them with a personalised adverts inviting them to take advantage of a special offer on the service. Remarketing is a very effective way of getting people to revisit specific parts of your website and turn ‘waverers’ into new customers.

4) Control your budget

In a similar way to PPC advertising, you have complete control of your budget with remarketing. You can decide your spend in advance so that you stay within your budget. There is also no guesswork about your results. You will be able to analyse exactly which adverts had the best impact on conversion and put a precise figure on your ROI.

How your customers remain in control

Because remarketing is based on cookies, your customers remain in control at all times. For a website to store a cookie on a visitor’s computer it needs to acquire their positive consent. You may have noticed certain websites asking you whether or not you wish to accept cookies from the server. This is to ensure that cookies are not implanted on computers without their owner’s knowledge. It is possible to block some or all cookies and to refuse consent.

For these users, no cookie will be added to a remarketing list and they will not see these display adverts. It is also possible to set up your web browser so that it deletes all cookies whenever you close an active window. This is another easy way to avoid remarketing adverts. In practice, most people don’t mind remarketing adverts. They are always connected to websites people have visited, and are usually far better received than unsolicited adverts or PPC placements. The proof of this is the growing success of remarketing as a branding tool and a means of engaging your website visitors by boosting conversions.

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