In a recent episode of On Being, Harvard psychologist Dr. Mahzarin Banaji explains that the unconscious mind is probably nothing more than a preference for the familiar. Our eyes see something with a certain feature or pattern somewhere, and when we see it again, we like it because it is familiar.
Why am I bringing up psychology in a post about remarketing? Because Dr. Banaji’s description of the unconscious provides the scientific basis for why remarketing works.
Let’s back up a little bit. You may be reading this and wondering, “What is remarketing?”
I like to think of it as continuing the conversation with a potential customer. Another way of putting it is marketing to the same person multiple times.
You’ve experienced this yourself. Think of that time you were on Amazon searching for a widget, and then several days later ads for that widget popped up on your Facebook feed.
Or you were driving down the freeway and you see multiple billboards for the same restaurant chain.
Or you saw an ad online, drove past a sign spinner on a street corner, heard a sponsorship blurb on your favorite podcast, and received a coupon in the mail, all for the same product.
Yep, this multi-channel experience is also remarketing. Remarketing includes every form of communication that allows you to place your product in the mind of a consumer after their initial exposure to your brand.
You may be skeptical. I’ve had people respond to this concept with claims like, “I’m immune to marketing!” Or “The more I see an ad, the more annoyed I get!”
Sorry, the simple fact is, remarketing works. And the reason it works is because it appeals to the subconscious. Remember how we started this article? Our unconscious mind tells us to like things that are familiar. So even if our conscious mind is annoyed by repeated ads, our unconscious mind will over time associate the brand with a greater return on investment.
Given the choice between a generic or private label product, and a “name brand” product (characterized by a large marketing/remarketing budget) at the same price point, most people (60%) will purchase the name brand. And why is that? At least in part, our purchasing habits are formed by our unconscious minds’ preference for the comfort and security of the familiar.
Okay, so now that we’ve learned the science behind remarketing, what are some good strategies? Unless you work at one of the top US brands, there’s a good chance you don’t have national recognition. What this really means is that you should be using remarketing more than your competitors, since you can’t rely on name recognition alone.
Here are some simple ways you can use remarketing to grow your business and get an edge on the competition regardless of the size of your company.
Creating an email capture on your website is so simple that I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but I do. If you don’t have a means of collecting email addresses from interested consumers and pushing out ads, newsletters, and promotions, you are missing out on a scalable, cost effective means of remarketing. While one option is just to put a form on your site where people can subscribe, you’ll have a better response rate if you create a special offer, like a 20% off coupon.
Since I’ve already addressed how to create a digital marketing strategy in another post (just substitute “winery” for whatever business you run), I won’t go into the specifics of it here. Suffice it to say that you should see an increase in conversions once you start using email, and the more sophisticated your campaigns get, the more effective your remarketing will become.
I want to be careful here, because unwanted calls from telemarketers are the bane of modern existence. What I am not talking about are robocalls from purchased call lists. Instead I have in view carefully managed calls that offer a clear benefit to recipients.
Growing up, I took 4-H animals to the county fair every summer. During free time between caring for and showing my animals I would wander the vendor tents. You could always find branded company swag being given away, like balloons, magnets, and the ever-popular yardstick that my brother and I used as swords (until our parents found out and confiscated them). Looking back though, the most effective businesses were the ones that held drawings for free or discounted product. If you would write down your phone number on a piece of paper and stick it in a large jar set out for that purpose, you’d be entered to win something like $500 off of a new roof or a free double pane window (up to 48 inches wide).
These contests were not created out of the goodness of someone’s heart, and they weren’t just about increasing brand awareness either. The genius of a drawing like this is that the only people who would enter it are willingly confessing that they are interested in your product or service. Who takes the time to write down their phone number to win a discount on a new roof, if they aren’t in the market for a roof?
In this situation, remarketing with a phone call is likely to be not only received, but welcomed, and has a higher probability of leading to a conversion. The lesson here is to be strategic about not only capturing phone numbers, but also calling them.
Remarketing has become almost synonymous with SEO (search engine optimization) in some circles. That’s why I waited to introduce it until after we had already addressed email and phone, so that you would be open to these other methods before getting caught up in the details of SEO remarketing.
Since Google Adwords is both popular and easy to use, let’s use it as our example.
Google offers five basic ways to remarket:
-Remarketing lists for search ads
-Customer list remarketing
Both dynamic and standard remarketing on Adwords are summed up in this image:
The difference between Standard and Dynamic remarketing is that with dynamic, Adwords tracks which products or services people view on your website, and targets specific ads to them based on what they viewed. Using standard remarketing only, Adwords treats everyone on your site the same way, regardless of what they viewed or interacted with, simply pushing ads to them on the Google Display Network (these are the Google-powered ads you see on random websites when browsing the web).
Unlike Standard and Dynamic remarketing, which place ads on the Display Network, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) places your ads on Google searches. When a person visits your website, looks at a particular product, and then leaves to search for a similar product elsewhere, RLSA allows you to place specific ads on the Google search page pertaining to your product. Think of that time you were looking at a Yeti cooler on Amazon for an upcoming camping trip, decided to google reviews of other coolers, but kept seeing Yeti ads on the Google search page. That’s RSLA, and it is very effective, particularly if your pricing is competitive.
Video remarketing is fairly straightforward. As the name implies, it involves showing your ads to people who have viewed your videos on YouTube, not only on YouTube, but also across the Display Network.
Customer list remarketing builds on the email and phone numbers you captured using methods we talked about earlier in this article. To utilize customer list remarketing, you’ll create a list using the contact information you collected, and when those users are signed into Google, your ads will populate for them across the spectrum of Google’s network.
There’s a lot about remarketing that this article didn’t cover, but that’s okay. My goal is not to overwhelm you with information, but to provide you with a basic introduction that can help you start increasing conversions. If there’s one takeaway, it’s that remarketing works, and you should start using it right away.
This article first appeared on the SF Gate's Hearst Bay Blog.