Nearly two-thirds of consumers spend at least 16 minutes comparison-shopping before making a purchase decision. So how can you lure the browsers back when they are ready to buy?

Retargeting is a popular option, but many retailers lose the sale by failing to properly tailor their campaigns.

Here are six best practices to improve the performance of your retargeting efforts.

1. Set thoughtful criteria

Start by answering these important questions:

  • Who do you want to reach with this campaign? A specific demographic or segment?
  • Where in the funnel are these shoppers? Anyone who hits your site or shoppers who’ve taken a specific action or a set of actions?

For example, are you trying to convert cart abandoners who are more bottom-funnel in the purchase process, or do you want to target top-funnel site visitors who didn’t click on specific products but who you’d like to keep your brand top-of-mind?

  • What are your KPIs? What specific action do you want retargeted prospects to take? 

Ultimately, retargeting goals should focus on metrics such as conversions, subscriptions, completed checkouts, average order size, brand favourability and the lifetime value.

  • When is the campaign? Is it around a particular promotion or a seasonal event? Will timing play a key role?

2. Identify first-party data assets

Your first-party data set can include site visitors, subscribers, past customers and more; this type of information will often come from your CRM (such as Salesforce) or your own website. You can upload this data and target directly through services like Google, Facebook, LiveRamp or Connexity.

Wherever the information is derived from, it should be weighed with an open mind. Often the process of defining personas and conducting in-depth audience research can identify surprise audiences who fit your brand. It’s equally important to challenge data partners to help you get closer to the audiences you haven’t yet reached.

3. Conscientious creative and messaging

With your goals and audience in place, the next step is to match your creative and landing pages with the prospect’s journey in order to ease them into the next stage of the funnel. Rather than showing people the same product over and over again, consider what piece of brand content or promotional offer you can provide to help them make the next decision.

For example, you might retarget a cart abandoner with a 20% discount for the item, but approach the shoppers who browsed a category page more passively with information about the quality of your products, or your newsletter, so that you can nurture the relationship.

The purchase journey isn’t a linear process; it has become a winding series of micro-moments. It’s important to understand and respect where consumers are in their buying process, and react to their needs in that moment while looking for signals that indicate where they are in their journey – whether they’re looking to find out more about the products or just learning about your brand. For example, you may choose to encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter first, rather than bombarding them with products.

4. Stick with one platform partner at first

If this is your first retargeting test, it may be a good idea to partner with one provider before trying others. 

Craig Teich, executive vice president of global media sales at Connexity, said: “One thing I don’t encourage is for retailers to run site retargeting with more than one provider at the same time. It’s okay to experiment with different partners, but make sure they don’t bid on the same exchanges against the same set of users in real-time.

“This year marketers will no longer be pigeonholed into simple retargeting campaigns, or even buying off-the-shelf audiences that were created without any insight into the marketer’s unique customer set. Instead, by combining assets with a third-party provider, they’ll identify new, meaningful data signals that provide the basis for more sophisticated audience targeting.”

Bidding optimisation requires monitoring; you should track when prospects visit different media and content sites you are targeting, what channels and creative are driving conversions, and how much it costs to serve impressions and acquire new customers. As you gain additional insights, then you can consider adding additional data providers.

5. Don’t be annoying

No one likes the feeling of being stalked, so be mindful of how blatantly you promote products your customers have recently viewed or details based on their personal data. A better approach could be to offer helpful decision-making information, stories about the craft behind your product creation, or access to customer reviews.

You can also set a ‘frequency cap’ on the number of times customers see your retargeted ads—perhaps to three to five impressions— and place a code on your site that will “untarget” new customers post-purchase.

“Design and marketing should start with empathy,” believes ‎Mark Donatelli, global head of data strategy & planning at Ogilvy & Mather.

“When it comes to designing your relationship with your customers, it’s not just about your product. It’s not about the colours, or the product photos. It’s what does the customer want. What do they feel? What’s important to them?”

6. Creative optimisation with constant testing

As always, it’s crucial not to make assumptions. Always A/B test your creative, copy and landing pages to ensure they are optimised based on what shoppers actually respond to. Beyond the basics, don’t be afraid to get creative with the elements you test in your ads. For example, you could test highlighting different elements:

  • Free shipping or flexible delivery options
  • Different price points
  • Time-sensitive promotions
  • Promotional codes or coupons

Remember, after seeing the same retargeted banner over and over, a prospect’s interest will wane and they will be become blind to your ads. By mixing up your creative, you can keep your ads fresh and interesting.

It’s even more important to tailor your creative around the goals of the campaign and the comparison stage of your audience. Rather than pushing your products, focus on helping the shoppers make a decision and move further down the purchase funnel.