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There are three big reasons people don’t make much progress with remarketing. Those are:
1. Over-thinking the strategy
A simple strategy you actually execute is better than one with a fancy name that you never get round to.
If you’re like most people reading this you don’t have much time to implement. To begin with, keep things simple, and just do what you can.
2. Perfecting your ads
You don’t know what ads will work. Crafting the perfect Facebook ad is not a good use of your time. Neither is creating image banners in all the different Google Display Network sizes.
The big issue with spending too long on an ad is you get attached to the ad’s performance.
Many of your ads will fail, and you should expect that. This is less bothersome when you just threw an ad together quickly.
Google and Facebook make tools available (such as responsive display ads) to test images ads quickly. They aren’t perfect, but they’re not bad either. Make use of them. Test the broad strokes (ad headline / ad image / ad text) before you spend time refining anything.
Synergy of message across the different platforms doesn’t matter so much. It doesn’t matter that different ads use different colours or fonts – so throw your brand guidelines out the window. What matters is that people see and recognise you.
Show up in your ads – don’t hide behind them. Where possible use real photos and videos of you – not stock images.
People generally hide in marketing complexity to avoid having to show up in their ads, or present themselves in a vulnerable way. (This is just as true with email as it is with remarketing). Creating complex remarketing systems isn’t a substitute for showing up.
You’re on my email list because you sell based on trust and expertise. Or at least, I hope you are. A basic remarketing strategy that showcases the real you will usually outperform a complex one. (Especially a complex one that doesn’t exist yet).
3. Lack of knowledge
The big problem with remarketing is intimidation. The technicalities of Google and Facebook are intimidating, especially if you don’t regularly work in these platforms. Showing up in your ads is intimidating, especially if you’re used to hiding behind your brand.
I know you don’t have much time to work on this. The question I’m asking at the moment is this:
If you can give me two hours of focused effort per week for five weeks, can I teach you to setup effective remarketing systems that serve you for years into the future?
That’s what Remarketing Basecamp is all about. Remarketing Basecamp is an online remarketing training starting on June 21st. You’ll work directly with myself and Jonathan Wilson to get your basic remarketing systems setup correctly. You’ll adopt a multi-channel approach from the beginning, in a way that doesn’t cost the earth. And you’ll do that with just two hours of focused effort per week, for 5 weeks.
As this is a pilot training, we’ve made Remarketing Basecamp affordable for everyone. Enrolment closes on the 21st when the first implementation session starts. We’ll never be offering this training on this arrangement again. This is a one-time opportunity.
(That page alone is worth a read).
I mentioned yesterday about my client who’s Google remarketing conversions dried up when they turned off their Facebook ads.
Why exactly is that?
By running ads on multiple platforms you create interdependence between different traffic sources. You can no longer isolate and compare the performance of LinkedIn, Google Display and Facebook, because to varying degrees each influences the others.
It’s a mistake to look at your conversion numbers and think: “hmm… $12 per conversion on Facebook… $4 per conversion on Google Display… let’s switch off Facebook.” In all likelihood your Facebook ads are contributing to your Google Ads conversions.
Google have understood this for a while, which is why in your Google Ads columns there’s a column called ‘Assisted Conversions’. An assisted conversion is where somebody sees your Google Display ad (likely a remarketing ad), but then converts later on through a keyword-targeted search ad. A cynical mind might argue that Google are attempting to justify the value of their display network clicks. But in my experience assisted conversions are more common than you might think.
When you start tying together multiple media, the number of assisted conversions goes haywire. People see you in multiple places and every conversion usually comes with a handful of assisted conversions. The whole picture is greater and more complex than the isolated sum of the parts.
The problem is you can’t measure this natively within any one platform. The ‘Assisted Conversions’ column in Google Ads won’t tell you how many people saw a Google ad and converted later on Facebook. Or vice versa.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t attempt to measure performance across all your platforms. It just helps to understand that all conversion figures are approximate and only a representation of the real situation. You’re simply trying to gather enough data to make sensible and mostly correct decisions.
The free way to do this is with Google Analytics. If you make sure that all your ads are tracked with Google Analytics tracking code (sometimes called ‘UTM variables’), Google Analytics can start to build a more complete picture of your remarketing effectiveness.
The paid way to do this is with something like Wicked Reports. Wicked Reports picks up the same UTM variables as Google Analytics (so you can use both), but when a sale happens it pieces together a more complete picture of the customer’s journey. You can also pull in revenue information from your payment processor to generate an approximate return on ad spend.
The big mistake people make when tracking remarketing performance is attempting to figure out exactly what is going on. The complete picture is more complex than you think. In your analytics systems you only need enough information to make better decisions. Attempting to give exact credit to different media will drive you mad.
Once configured properly, Google Analytics is fine as a mechanism for better overall decision making. For extra detail, Wicked Reports will pull back the curtain of mystery a little more. If you’re spending decent money on ads then one or two extra insights a month will justify the investment.
I happen to ride a motorbike. In the last year there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of people riding with small LED fairing lights attached to the side panels of the bike.
These lights are only small, but at a distance the three lights (headlight plus two fairing lights) look like one big light coming towards you. The overall effect is greater than the sum of the parts.
Extending your remarketing strategy to multiple platforms has a similar effect. You might spend more on one particular platform (e.g. Google), but each additional network adds another light. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these additional networks for people to notice you.
If somebody visits your website and for a time sees your remarketing ads on Google Display, Facebook and YouTube, that creates a powerful combined effect. To that person you look like you’re everywhere, spending tremendous amounts of dosh. Which of course you aren’t, because you’re only advertising to a few thousand people at a time.
All of which is great in principle, but there are some nuances to this.
As we discussed last time, you need to limit your risk by targeting small audiences of recently active contacts. You’re adding SMALL fairing lights to your bike, not big expensive ones. You’re advertising in a risk-averse manner by targeting short audience durations.
The next nuance to contend with is your own media preferences and biases. Some of my clients bristle at the idea of running Facebook ads, either because they don’t like Facebook, have never run ads successfully, or simply believe it isn’t a business tool. All of which is irrelevant – the real question is whether you can profitably engage potential customers there.
There are services (such as Adroll) that will propagate your remarketing ads across Google and Facebook from a single campaign. As tempting as that might sound, I don’t suggest you do that. Each platform is different in nature. The right remarketing strategy on Google might not be the right strategy on Facebook.
People spend time in different places online for different reasons. A remarketing ad that works well on Google Display won’t necessarily work that well on Facebook.
As a very broad rule of thumb, I find Facebook to be a better nurturing platform, and Google a better conversions platform. I’ve seen examples where a client has turned off their Facebook remarketing ads (believing them to be unprofitable), only for the Google conversions to dry up. In hindsight it appeared that people were noticing the Facebook ad but converting later through the Google ad.
Why is Facebook a better nurturing platform? For at least a few seconds you have someone’s complete attention as they scroll past in their news feed. Many people will stop to watch a 1-2 minute video, often with the sound off if you have captions enabled. It’s hard to sell at that point, because there are a million other posts to scroll through. But it’s a great way to build trust or communicate an idea.
To begin with, focus your remarketing efforts on Facebook and the Google Display Network. You can replicate your audience strategy across these two networks, but adjust your ads to play to the strengths of each medium. Nurture and engage more on Facebook. Sell in your Google Ads, or push your main conversion action.
If you have a high traffic website (say with more than 10,000 visitors per month) you’ll then want to expand to YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter. YouTube uses the same audiences as Google Display, which is convenient because all you then need to do is create one or two decent videos.
If you sell B2B or to a corporate audience, you’ll want to introduce LinkedIn much sooner. Although bear in mind that on LinkedIn you can currently only create a 30 day audience (i.e. you can’t limit your risk so much with a 1 or 2 day audience), and you’ll need a minimum of 300 people in your audience before your ads will run. LinkedIn require you to put more skin in the game before you can play.
Messaging ads on LinkedIn can be highly effective, especially if you’re sending LinkedIn messages to people who have visited your website. LinkedIn is a higher cost strategy, but the results can be worth it.
We’ll talk more about how to measure the effectiveness of your remarketing strategy tomorrow.
Are remarketing clicks a ‘good deal’? It used to be that remarketing clicks were cheaper than regular keyword-driven clicks. This is generally no longer the case.
Click prices are roughly comparable between remarketing display and Google search, it’s just more likely that a remarketing click will convert because the person clicking already knows you.
At least, that’s the theory. Cetaris paribus, as an economist might say.
In practice, remarketing clicks don’t always convert better. You have to ask… how well do the people in your remarketing audiences really know you? If somebody visited your website once three weeks ago, do you still consider them as ‘warm’?
Remarketing audiences are transient, and go cold quickly. Much more so than email. As long as your emails in the past were good you can usually get away with not emailing somebody for a while. You don’t get that luxury with remarketing.
Because your remarketing audiences quickly go cold, you want to spend more money on the people who were active most recently. Catalogue marketers call this principle ‘RFM’, which stands for recency, frequency and money.
RFM is a universal principle. Every pub landlord knows that the most likely person to step into the pub next is going to be the last person who left, followed by the person who steps into the pub most frequently, followed by the person who spends the most money in the pub overall. (I’ve rigorously tested that example).
RFM applies to telephone conversations. The next person to call you will most likely be the person who called you last. Followed by the person who calls you most frequently. Followed by the person who spends the most time on the phone with you overall.
In remarketing terms, the most likely contact to convert is the one who was on your website most recently. Followed by the person who keeps coming back. Followed by the person who spends the most time on your site overall. Of the three, recency is the biggest indicator of future purchase intent. (Or future likelihood to convert).
You minimise your remarketing risk by focusing your campaigns around the contacts with the highest RFM score, with recency being the most important factor.
Most remarketing campaigns that I audit operate with relatively long audience durations, often 30 days or more. (Facebook will let you keep people in an audience for 180 days, Google for 540 days).
You might still want to build those long term audiences, but they often won’t be a big part of your advertising strategy. It’s easy to waste money when you’re advertising to somebody for 30 days. It’s less likely when they only see your ads for a day or two.
The shortest audience duration you can set on Google and Facebook is one day (i.e. this will include people active on your website in the last 24 hours). If you have more than 100 website visitors per day that’s going to be your key audience for advertising purposes.
You can still have a 30 day audience, or a 180 day audience, or whatever. But don’t spend as much money on it. Focus your spend on your most recently active contacts.
We were talking yesterday about what to put in your remarketing ads. I suggested you offer the visitor a suitable next step, rather than creep them out with what they just looked at.
The ‘next step’ could be a number of things. It could be a sales step. It could be an email opt-in incentive. It could simply be a link to a key blog post, audio file or video.
All of these things fall on a spectrum, with ‘selling’ at one end, and ‘nurturing’ at the other. When you nurture you’re looking to entertain and educate, and lay the groundwork for a sales conversation in the future.
This email is an example of remarketing nurture. I’m REmarketing to you because the word remarketing broadly means ‘any kind of follow up’. And I’m nurturing rather than selling. I’m laying the groundwork for a pitch that will come at the end of this email series.
Email is well suited to marketing nurture, because the incremental cost to send an extra email is virtually zero. But when you’re remarketing on Google or Facebook, the incremental click cost is significant. Which really means you can only afford to nurture your hottest prospects with paid ads, otherwise the numbers simply don’t work. Even direct mail is cheaper than a Google remarketing ad click.
(Aside: I’m baffled by the number of people who happily spend thousands a month on Google, but believe direct mail is ‘too expensive’)
It’s counter-intuitive, but nurturing highly engaged contacts usually generates a high ROI. Nurturing cold unengaged contacts usually generates an ROI close to zero. So put more offers (paid or opt-in) in front of colder audiences.
In general, the colder the audience, the more you need to sell in your remarketing ads (i.e. the more direct you need to be), and the less you can afford to nurture. You don’t want to risk nurturing people who in all likelihood are never going to buy.
You need to work out the right balance for your business, but it might be that 80% of your remarketing ads link to a sales step or email opt-in, and 20% link to an education piece like a video or blog post.
Incidentally on email those numbers might be reversed, with 80% of your emails seeking to nurture and 20% attempting to sell. As a rule of thumb I’d suggest that was a reasonable starting point.
On Facebook most of your nurturing ads could well be videos, with ‘engagement’ set as your campaign objective. Video works well on Facebook (especially with captions), so play to the strengths of each medium.
The exact balance between nurturing and propositioning will depend on your business. If you run a business like mine where you need to nurture people for a while, then you might have a higher proportion of nurturing ads (maybe 60% selling / 40% nurture).
We’ll talk tomorrow about how to do all this without going broke, or funding the Google Christmas party.
We were talking yesterday about remarketing being the guy with a flyer outside your shop.
The question is: what should you put on your flyers? Or in other words, what should you say in your ads?
We’ve all been remarketed to badly. We’ve all been haunted around the internet by some website we visited one time. So what’s the right way to do it?
It helps to start by thinking of your marketing as a series of steps. Nobody ends up on your website by accident, so in the previous step something caused the visitor to stop what they were doing and go to your website. Your remarketing ad then needs to show them the next step, which may not be the thing they just looked at.
Most remarketing ads show you what you just looked at. Which is kind of creepy. If a remarketing ad simply repeats what you have already said ‘no’ to, then the ad is likely to be an annoyance, not a service.
We aren’t trying to annoy, follow, stalk, or otherwise creep anyone out. We’re trying to remind and serve. You serve people by putting the next helpful step in front of them, not by reminding them of what they just looked at.
In the words of David Ogilvy, your customer is not a moron. They’ve seen your offer, and for whatever reason they said ‘no’. Repeatedly showing it over and over is not very sensible. Have a think: what would convince them otherwise? How can you sweeten the deal, even if you’re just asking for an email opt-in? Might you need to educate them first?
The next step may not always be a sales step. In some circumstances it can be better to link to a video, or blog post. If the visitor didn’t convert because they don’t understand your topic well enough, you have to educate before you can sell.
Clicks are expensive, so there is some nuance to getting this balance right. More on this tomorrow.
Most business owners I speak to are familiar with the concept of remarketing – but the mechanics are often a mystery. Like the clutch in a car, it’s preferable to assume it works by magic.
If you do study the mechanics, things quickly get technical. You end up installing code on your website. You end up fighting with the Google Ads interface. Terms like audience, pixel, lookalike can quickly bamboozle you.
When you strip away the technicalities, remarketing is database marketing. You’re renting a list from Google or Facebook or some other media owner on a pay per click basis.
The best part is you get to build the list before you buy it. And actually you don’t really buy it – you only rent it on a per click basis. Or rather a ‘per engagement’ basis, because somebody could watch a video or like a Facebook post rather than click through to your website.
If you know what you’re doing, this makes remarketing a low-risk way to expand your sphere of influence.
As well as database marketing, remarketing is also a form of micro-branding to no more than a few thousand people at a time. Done right, you’re increasing awareness within the window when somebody is likely to still be making a decision.
Just for a moment, think of your website as a bricks and mortar high street store. A potential customer pops in, looking hurried. You acknowledge them and say ‘hi’. Suddenly, the customer glances at her phone, and abruptly leaves.
“I wonder why she left?” you wonder.
But all is not lost. Thirty yards up the road, your employee Chris is handing out flyers. “Spend $20 and get 15% off with this code”, says the flyer. Three hours later, the customer (looking significantly less flustered), returns holding the flyer and buys.
That in short is how remarketing works. Remarketing is the guy with the flyer, standing outside your shop. (He’s actually more intelligent than that, because he can only offer flyers to people who looked at certain things in your shop, or people who stayed for a minimum amount of time. But I am getting ahead of myself…)
The key strategic question is: what should you put on your flyers? Should you make an offer, like offering a discount? Should you try to educate the customer?
Remarketing clicks aren’t necessarily cheap. How do you make the clicks profitable?
More on this tomorrow.
The maze is a model for nurturing customers across multiple media. Today I would like to illustrate how this works, by using that bastion of design, Microsoft Paint…
The maze could also be thought of as your universe of awareness.
Potential customers who are unaware of you are outside of it. Once somebody first encounters you (sees an ad, meets you, sees a video, etc), they’re effectively here, at the edge:
Unless you operate to a very short sales cycle (e.g. you’re a locksmith), you’ll want people to opt-in to a media form you control. This could be an email opt-in, chatbot subscriber, print newsletter subscriber. Once this happens our contact is now further inside the maze, closer to you inner sanctum.
Once they sign up for your service, they’re basically in the middle (or close to it). The absolute centre of the maze is customers who sing your praises, leave glowing testimonials, and make ongoing referrals.
The problem is that as time passes, everyone in your universe of awareness is moving further away, all of the time.
Even customers subscribed to a subscription service move further away. With each day that passes where they DON’T engage with or use the service they’re paying for, they move further out (and become less likely to renew).
Which is a nice theory. But how do you build this in practice?
For somebody who arrived at your website yesterday (and didn’t opt-in), what do you show them next?
What advertising networks do you use? (Facebook / Google Display / YouTube)? How long should you advertise to them for? What percentage of your ads budget should you spend on nurturing vs selling?
These are all questions I address in this month’s edition of my print newsletter, Maze Marketing Insider. This month’s letter outlines two specific ways to nurture new contacts using remarketing.
A good email opt-in rate on a landing page might be 10%. This is a way to nurture the other 90%.
If you’re a subscriber, it’s already in the mail to you.
If you’re not, you can join us risk-free here. The deadline for this month’s print run is today. You’ll get the PDF version after that.
Membership includes my archive of newsletters and webinars going back to 2015 (now organised by topic), and all my books. Money back if you don’t like it.