A powerful promotional technique that has become a must-use strategy for digital marketers is remarketing. At its core, remarketing (also called retargeting) involves sending reminder messages to customers to get them to reconsider an action they did not take. For example, an e-commerce website can remarket to customers who visited the site but did not complete an online purchase. Targets of remarketing can range from customers who only viewed a single page and then left the site, to situations of “shopping cart abandonment,” where customers placed product in their online shopping cart only to not go forward with the purchase.
There are many ways remarketing can take place, but for simplicity purposes we will separate these as being either externally managed or internally managed. Externally managed remarketing occurs after customers leave a marketer’s website or mobile app. Prior to leaving, computer code is installed on the customer's device. Through the use of customer tracking methods, the code is recognized and remarketing can provide specific product reminder messages, typically in the form of advertisements, as customers visit other digital outlets. Message delivery is generally handled by third-party provider, such as Google, and other major advertising networks. For example, let’s assume a customer visits Amazon and searches for a particular product, such as bird feeders. But after viewing a few product options the customer leaves Amazon without making a purchase. Using remarketing techniques, Amazon can follow the customer to other websites, where an advertisement may appear, thus, offering Amazon another chance to get the customer to purchase.
Internally managed remarketing is where the marketer provides their own reminders. For instance, a visitor to a clothing website may have looked at several jackets but then shifted their search to viewing shirts. As the visitor views shirts, a pop-up notice may remind them about the jackets they were previously investigating. Additionally, if the visitor is already a customer and has been identified when they came to the site, the website may also be able to remarket through the use of reminder emails. A further explanation of how internally managed remarketing works can be found in this story from ClickZ.
While remarketing offers tremendous benefits for marketers, not everyone shares this feeling. In a post back in November, we noted how privacy advocates are at odds with remarketing techniques, claiming that most customers are not aware of the tracking that occurs. Additionally, for those who are aware, there is often no easy way to opt-out of being tracked. However, internal remarketing would appear to be somewhat less intrusive, especially if someone is already an existing customer of the organization doing the remarketing. However, for proponents of stronger privacy policies, tracking is tracking no matter how it is done, so expect this to remain a contentious issue.