Retargeting Done Right

Many of us are shadowed around the web by our favorite (or not-so-favorite) companies and products.

You’ll flicking through Facebook photo albums, and there’s an ad for the time tracking service you checked out the other day.

Or you’re reading up on the best way to seed your own heirloom tomatoes, and a gardening blog has a flashy banner ad for your favorite email marketing service. (BTW: No marketer on the planet thinks it’s a good idea to advertise email software on gardening blogs — smile, you’re being retargeted!)

Retargeting is powerful. Somebody stumbles upon your site and they’re not ready to buy. But if you can your product in front of them later — like when they’re reading up on gardening — maybe then they’ll be ready to give your product a second look, or at least give you the opportunity to drill your name and your brand further into their psyche.

I think that retargeting with ads that point back to the root page of your marketing site is a silly idea. Read this for why I think that. But today I don’t want to write about how you should retargeting and what your ads should point to.

Instead, I want to rant.

A lot of the ads I see in my Facebook newsfeed or stalking me around the web are from services I already pay for. With Perfect Audience, and presumably other services, you can group people into lists. I have two lists for Planscope: random visitors, and people who have signed in. If you’re signing in to Planscope, you or someone you know is paying for your entry, therefore I’d be wasting money by asking you to… pay for Planscope.

Marketing budgets are being spent on customers seeing ads for products and services they pay for. These budgets could be better spent on people who aren’t customers. And, to put it frankly, I’m OK with seeing ads from people who want to convert, but I’m pretty annoyed when I see ads from sites I signed into a few hours ago.

So does this mean companies should disable ads for customers? Yes. For most companies, this is one of those things where a developer needs to implement one line of boiler-plate code into their sign in code to blacklist that person from being retargeted.

…But I do think there’s a time and a place for retargeting customers.

I’ll be covering this in a few weeks at MicroConf and will later write a more in-depth post on exactly what I’m doing with Planscope (and why it’s working), but for today I’d like to throw out a few basic suggestions.

The Drive-By

Let’s say someone has stumbled upon your site, but never left you with anything (a trial signup, an email opt-in, etc.) They are, in the words of Rob Walling, a “drive-by”. Retargeting lets you force yourself in front of them, and for most of us that’s by pushing people back to your marketing site.

As I mentioned in my other post on retargeting, I’ve gotten better results driving traffic to email course opt-ins or lower friction options besides “sign up for a trial / buy”. Remember: Most people who click on your ad will be idling around the Internet — they’re probably not in a “do anything serious like buy software” mood.

The Trialer

If someone’s in a trial, they’re highly interested in your software (they gave you their name and email address) and for the next few weeks you’re giving them some sort of access prior to buying.

These people are really, really valuable and it should be your primary concern to make sure they have the best possible experience with your software so they can buy it.

So obviously, you want to drive them back to your marketing site, right?

WRONG. Put information about how to best use your software in front of them. Showcase case studies that show how companies like theirs are wildly successful because of your product. Use retargeting as a sort of meta-service on top of whatever lifecycle email campaigns your running.

A few ideas: Opt-in to a weekly webinar / call with the founder. Recorded videos that show off how to do certain things in your software. Blog posts that recap what your software has been able to do for other people.

The Customer

You want your customers to be happy and to happily pay for your software. You also want them around longer so they have a higher lifetime value.

Make them badass. When I signed up for Infusionsoft, one of the first things I noticed was that I started to get invited to a weekly Mastermind put on by one of their employees. These Masterminds gave customers weekly opportunities to hear from someone at Infusionsoft on ways that the product could make their business better. These aren’t “how-tos” as much as they are “let’s talk about how you can use tagging to better segment your customers, and use this to drive a whole lot more revenue your way.”

You could retargeting product updates to people, so they’re able to see all the awesome new stuff you’re adding to your product. Or you could push blog content that’s focused on how they can grow their business, both with or without your product. Think of it as forced RSS.

Retargeting is really, really powerful. Unfortunately, it’s abused and just done awfully by most customers. I’ll be back in a few weeks with some more details on exactly what I’m doing with Planscope and the lifecycles a given prospect/customer might have, so hop onto my newsletter so I can let you know once it’s available.

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