Online marketing is similar to problem solving and HubSpot CTO and founder, Dharmesh Shah, sums this up extremely well, “Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.” What is and is not appropriate in the online arena? Should data be available to a company simply because that person clicked on a link or typed an address? Is it acceptable for a company to utilize an individual’s digital information in an attempt to gain profit? These types of questions are the driving force behind the question, how should retargeting marketing be approached? We connected with business executives to discover their opinions on retargeting marketing.
An elevation of the shopping experience
Jim Beard is the COO of BoxGenie, a company which specializes in the creation of unique shipping products that company’s may purchase to personalize their customer experience. He believes a virtual visit may be similar but not identical to an in person shopping occurrence.
“If you’ve operated a physical retail space, you’re familiar with window shoppers. These people browse and view products but never actually make a purchase. You never turn these people away but there’s no expectation of money being made here. However, you as the retailer don’t know anything personal about this customer. You can’t contact them again or focus your advertising towards them despite knowing they had some level of interest as evidenced by their visit. The internet brings an additional element to this visit – information. At this point, most people know what they do online is not anonymous and accept the exposure that comes with that.”
A common misconception
Ryan Rottman is the co-founder and CEO of OSDB, an online resource for high quality sports information. He suggests that company’s which have adopted retargeting marketing may be misunderstanding their virtual visitors.
“When the practice of retargeting is pitched to a company looking to expand their sales, it is often said that the customers who leave the site without a purchase are simply undecided on spending money or are unfamiliar with said company. There could be a third reason in play here – the visitor simply did not like what they saw. Before going the retargeting route, company’s should be sure to do their research and public opinion testing to ensure they’re marketing a wanted commodity.”
It risks alienation
QuaGrowth is a business which focuses on email marketing on behalf of ecommerce companies. Their CEO, Jason Boehle, recommends that users of retargeting should be wary of the practice turning potential customers away from their brand.
“The customer is far more savvy than some or most may want to admit. When they see an ad featuring a product they’ve recently seen, they’re quick to realize why that ad is appearing on their screen. In an era where online users value invisibility, communicating to them that you know where they’ve been and what they’re interested could result in a potential customer cutting off a brand because they feel personally infringed upon.”
Advertising is influential
Ryan Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Rooted, a health and wellness company specializing in DIY plants and plant growth. He is of the opinion that advertising in general handles consumers in any way that grants an edge.
“Retargeting, when broken down simply, may seem as if it is preying on online shoppers. However, I would argue that ideology can be applied to a variety of advertising techniques. Beer commercials are often comedic simply to elicit positive emotions from the viewer. A poster for a cologne or perfume likely features a seductive image to communicate the possibility of attraction. Advertising plays on the nature of humanity and retargeting simply follows suit.”
Do not be afraid
Acre Gold is an online subscription program allowing users to save money through the purchase of gold. Their head of operations, Jared Hines, believes that companies should realize the legal status of retargeting advertising and not be afraid of it.
“Online privacy laws can be a tricky sea to sift through. It seems like every day there is a new lawsuit where users or company’s take issue with an infringement on personal information. The current reality of retargeting advertising is that it is completely legal as no personal information is available to the company or marketing agency. Essentially, the web browser being used is answering the simple yes or no question of, “Did this browser visit this website?”
Why change a working effort?
Daniel Osman is the head of sales for Balance Homes, a company specializing in home equity and co-investment. He suggests that company’s should not unnecessarily revise their advertising practices due to anxiety or needless apprehension.
“Two things are true of retargeting advertising. First, it is completely acceptable and commonplace. Second, it is fruitful. A business should prioritize yielding earnings and positive growth and retargeting helps accomplish this. There’s no need to step away from it out of fear of retribution or failure. People respond well to familiarity which is the heart of retargeting identical or similar products to them.”
Relevancy equals attention
Lovebox has created a physical messaging device aimed at cultivating intimacy over long distances. Their founder and CEO, Jean Gregoire, recommends the use of retargeting advertising because the right type of customer focus is essential.
“Webpages, social media feeds, and videos are all attention grabbers and online users are often captivated by these things. If a post or topic does not interest or apply to them, they waste no time in moving on to the next item available to them. If an ad is able to accomplish this then it has served its purpose. A consumer will not stop to view a product they have no interest in. Retargeting ads serve to put the items of interest directly in sight of the consumer which should never be underestimated.”
A fine line
Karina Karassev is the founder and COO of Stori, a company focused on personal cannabis storage. She is of the opinion that retargeting marketing should be taken with a grain of salt as due to its intricacy.
“Retarget marketing is the practice of using trackers and cookies to advertise to specific customers where they left off, or if they had previously visited your website. For many, retarget marketing is thought of as a breach of privacy. While it is not necessarily illegal, in some cases it tracks personal data without informing the web visitor. When this is done, it can actually turn away customers due to a feeling of being stalked or followed by a webpage. While there are unique exceptions to this, such as agreeing to have your data accessed by a website, or having an account on an ecommerce website that saves your cart data and history, retarget marketing is a complicated tightrope to tip-toe.”
Know what you’re getting into
electrIQ marketing is a marketing agency with a belief in community. Their CEO, Brandon Amoroso, recommends companies to realize exactly what retargeting marketing is and is not.
“Every company, no matter the size, is likely looking to expand and establish their online presence. A variety of marketing tools can prove incredibly advantageous when attempting this. However, retargeting marketing is not one of those tools. It should only be used after a website has achieved regular and favorable traffic. The goal is to bring visitors back to the site but if little traffic exists in the first place this is a dead end.”
Consider the ethics
Daniel Seehoff is the CEO of Sophistiplate, a homegoods company specializing in a wide variety of table-setting products and dishware. He advises users of retargeting marketing to be aware of the integrity associated with the service.
“Retargeting borders on the line of being unethical. It uses personal data that has been mined from campaigns and tracking. The issue is, almost every company uses retargeting as part of its marketing strategy. It is common to use in our everyday lives, and consumers agree to it with cookies out of convenience. It is borderline unethical.”
The general sentiment of retargeting marketing is anything but straightforward. There are a variety of avenues and elements to consider when employing it within your business. However, digital marketing and the engagement of consumers is a non-negotiable for those vying for success. It is crucial that companies be flexible in their digital approach to people. George Westerman, a senior lecturer at MIT, said as much, “When digital is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.”