blue and red darts

We’ve all encountered retargeting. Remember that time you spent a few minutes browsing a website, mostly likely retail – let’s say you were looking at shoes on Zappos – and the next day an ad featuring the very pair of shoes you were examining appeared next to an article you were reading on a completely unrelated site? This is a common example of retargeting, an online advertising technology that uses data to retarget web users with more relevant ads.

While consumer brands have been quick to incorporate retargeting into their marketing mix, B2B marketers are wary. People are generally uncomfortable with the idea of being followed online, right? The terms “big brother” and “creepy” have often come up when we discuss retargeting with clients. And for good reason. When executed poorly – the wrong frequency, an unrelated context, uncompelling creative, or the wrong call to action – retargeting is ineffective and potentially even a hindrance to your greater marketing efforts. However, when done right, retargeting represents an opportunity for B2B marketers to stay top of mind and deepen a prospect’s’ understanding of your firm’s unique value proposition.

After all, the B2B sale is a considered decision, requiring a depth of sophisticated information and a synchronized approach to marketing at all touchpoints. It’s often a long buying cycle. And you can’t always rely on prospects to come to you for information. What if your website is not highly trafficked? What if a prospect doesn’t open your email? This is where retargeting can be a powerful addition to the digital marketing toolbox.

When used strategically, retargeting offers a way to bring relevant content to a prospect at the right time in the buying cycle. Thought leadership can be an effective tool here. Serving up a webinar, whitepaper or video customized to a prospect’s area of interest ensures that you are not only creating top of mind awareness, but also leading them through the decision making process.

When most people think of retargeting, they think of site retargeting, which focuses on targeting users who have previously visited your website with banner ads on display networks across the web. While this is the most popular method, there are actually five other types of retargeting you should know about: search, SEM/SEO, email, contextual, and engagement. For more detail on each of these, be sure to check out this article from Search Engine Watch.

Of the six, we are most excited about the potential of search retargeting, which targets users with display ads based on they keywords they entered into search engines. That means, even if a prospect has never visited your website, you can still target them based on intent. Search retargeting, therefore, provides B2B marketers with an effective tool for extending reach, getting the right message in front of new and relevant audiences at the right time.

While the potential opportunities that retargeting creates for lead generation and lead nurturing are exciting, marketers must actively manage these campaigns to ensure they don’t cross over into creepy or annoying. Success is a balancing act. As with any aspect of a synchronized marketing strategy, retargeting should only be used in a way that makes sense for your brand. It’s another touchpoint for building awareness and engaging prospects during the buying process. If their first interaction with your brand is through a retargeting effort, you need to make sure that they are getting the right impression.

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