This sponsored post is produced in association with Marin Software.  

It’s 2014 and the marketing stack is as sophisticated as it’s ever been.  Marketers have a dynamic toolbox of new products, and retargeting is one of those tools emerging as a powerful marketing technique across all industries. According to a survey by Marin Software of 233 enterprise marketers, 88% use retargeting to convert website traffic.

Even so, retargeting budgets remain very low. Retargeting often doesn’t get its own slice of the marketing budget pie and is instead carved out of existing budgets. Based on data from the same Marin Software survey, 51 percent of marketers reported they spend 10 percent or less of their budgets on this tactic. Even more alarming, around half of respondents indicated they don’t have a dedicated retargeting budget — at all.

So what’s the deal? If so many companies are enthusiastically using this tactic, why aren’t they allotting the appropriate funds to do the job right? It might just come down to both lack of transparency and indecision.

Retargeting often means placing ads on sites an advertiser might not have ever imagined. Many retargeting platforms do not readily share the websites where ads are running, or even the cost of that ad. In today’s “everything is trackable” world, this lack of transparency is becoming less acceptable. For the advertiser, it translates to not really knowing the true cost of their media.

Furthermore, advertisers are likely unsure about which use cases make the most sense for them. Basically, they know they need to be retargeting and have dabbled, but they aren’t clear on the best practices for executing it, especially when it comes to determining which use case is the most logical for their industry.

One of the biggest problems has to do with cross-channel marketing. According to a recent survey conducted by Econsultancy/Oracle, just 10 percent of marketers felt their messaging, execution, and delivery were aligned when marketing across multiple channels, whether they be through search or social. Which is a real shame, since data points to the overwhelming effectiveness of retargeting on multiple channels at once.

For instance, analysis of Marin and Perfect Audience data shows that marketers retargeting on Facebook and display channels at the same time yielded higher click-through rates on Facebook than those retargeting on Facebook alone.

Retargeting is simple, but strategic retargeting with transparent results is much more difficult.

Advertisers scrambling to figure out how to get started with retargeting — or get better established —are in luck. We’ve put together some scenarios you can start testing out right now to drive more results across display, search, and social channels.

Use search intent to build user personas

Let’s say you work for a clothing retailer. Said retailer might have two user personas it typically targets: the classic, price-conscious set and the fashionistas who’ve never heard of a budget. Marketers could create two keyword group sets that match these personas. So using the above examples, keywords associated with traditional and discount brands for the first, and keywords that match luxury, high-end fashion lines for the second.

By doing this, you can differentiate between your distinct user personas based on the search terms entered and retarget the potential customer accordingly. If you sell Prada products, you’d want to treat someone who landed on your site using those high-fashion keywords differently than someone who used your price-conscious keywords. In your retargeting campaign, you could show an ad that touts this season’s hottest runway colors for the fashionistas and you could show an ad that promotes free shipping for your budget-conscious prospects.

Use search insights to cross-promote and upsell across multiple channels

Bidding on brand terms can be highly effective because users who search for them tend to already be familiar with the brand, and closer to making a purchase. And retargeting can be used to upsell these customers after they’ve already made a purchase with you by using your own data. To encourage further business with them, retarget people who searched for a brand term and made a purchase so they see an ad that promotes a related branded product, thus promoting a second purchase.

Use cross-channel sequential messaging to move customers along the buying journey

As we stated earlier, one of the biggest oversights of retargeting campaigns is a failure to maintain consistent messaging across channels. You can remedy this, however, by incorporating sequential messaging and search insight into your retargeting strategy.

Start with search. Users often begin by researching a product category. You can reach these potential customers by grouping together keywords they use in their research, and target ads to them that have an educational spin. For example, if you’re that clothing retailer we spoke of above, maybe you have a blog entry on your site about those hottest runway colors of the season, and your ad can point there. Educating the consumer in this way is a great brand builder before direct product promotion.

You could then follow this by creating a set of “buying stage” keywords that trigger another set of retargeting actions. So let’s say the potential customer searches for one of these buying stage keywords. He (or she) then sees ads across Google, Facebook, and Twitter that encourage movement forward in the buying cycle. This is where you break out the promotional language and stunning product photos. The end goal here is to entice the prospect to visit your site once again and complete the purchase.

Utilizing these best use cases will help to transform your retargeting campaign from experimental into a valuable component of your overall marketing strategy. As research indicates, retargeting is widely-used. Marketers just need some help making the most of it.

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