Don’t force the sale: Nurture your audience with retargeting
Being relentless with your sales-focused ads is a surefire way to turn your prospects off. Here’s how to do it right.
It’s every retailer’s dream:
A new customer visits your store for the very first time. They take a look at a few different products, add most of them to their cart, and go through with their purchase without hesitation.
In reality, the process is, of course, a lot more complex—and a lot more uncertain. As your prospective customers navigate their path to purchase, they need you by their side: guiding them, answering their questions, and providing value to them along the way.
What they don’t need is for you to just skip all that “path to purchase” stuff and just start selling to them right off the bat.
On some level, we all know this—because we’ve all experienced it as consumers.
Think about that time you were looking for a new car and the salesperson started talking about down payments before you even took a test drive. Or when you walked into your local electronics store and immediately got hounded by a sales rep who clearly worked on commission.
You turned tail and headed elsewhere, right?
Generally speaking, marketers and salespeople know that pushing a sale ad nauseum isn’t the best course of action. However, there’s one area where many eCommerce brands simply get this wrong: their retargeting efforts.
Think about it: How many times have you visited a retailer’s website one time, only to spend the next month scrolling past ads for products you’re never going to buy?
Can selling through retargeting be effective? Absolutely.
But effective retargeting must be based not just on where your prospects are in the sales funnel—but also on their individual buyer’s journey.
How pushing sales on your prospects via retargeting can hurt your business
In any purchasing decision, there are only two overall outcomes:
The prospect either makes a purchase, or decides not to.
On the surface, it’s easy to say the former is preferable to the latter: Obviously, you’d rather a prospect purchase something than navigate away from your site for good.
But, this doesn’t mean that we should be forcing our prospective customers to make a purchasing decision before they’re fully prepared to. Whether they convert or not, pushing a sale on an unprepared prospect can destroy your relationship with them—and can also damage your brand’s reputation, as well.
For one thing, it shows you’re more focused on making a sale than on providing meaningful value to your individual customers. Since you’ve barely had time to get to know your new prospects, you couldn’t possibly know which of your products is best for them—and the irrelevant ads they’re seeing from your company will only serve to turn them off your brand. In fact, Inskin Media found “annoyance” and “anger” to be the two most common responses to repeated exposure to salesy retargeting ads. Needless to say, you don’t want your audience to experience either.
Taking this a step further, getting a prospect to purchase the wrong product (that is, a sub optimal product for their situation) can actually cause more harm than good in the long run. Yes, you made an initial sale—but if the product doesn’t provide top-notch value to the individual, it might be the last time they buy from you.
Similarly, getting the right product in the hands of an unprepared user can be equally detrimental to their overall experience with your brand. If they don’t fully know how to get maximum value from your product before they purchase it, they’re bound to encounter some initial frustration when actually using it. This, in turn, can cause them to turn away from your company for good.
The lesson to take from all this is:
You should be doing more with your retargeting ads than promoting products for sale.
How to use retargeting to nurture your prospects through the sales funnel
By “doing more,” we mean you should be using your retargeting ads to engage with your prospects for a variety of reasons—not just to sell to them.
Take a look at the following ads, as curated by Martin Tang on Medium:
Now, think about what each ad is trying to get the viewer to do:
- The New York Times’ ad promotes an on-site article
- Mountain Dew’s ad leads to more information about the new flavors
- The Bay’s ad promotes an upcoming sponsored event
In exactly none of these situations is the company trying to get their audience to make a quick purchase. Rather, it’s all about getting the individual to engage with the brand on a deeper level—eventually coming to a purchasing decision on their own.
Of course, they won’t really be coming to this decision completely “on their own.” The truth is, these well-placed retargeting ads—and the content offered within them—will have played a major role in the customer’s eventual decision to convert.
Now, retargeting and delivering more specific ads to prospects at different stages of the sales funnel is a good start. In doing so, you’ll be able to deliver relevant content to different audiences, and prove that your main goal is to provide value to them at all times—not just after making a sale.
Your individual prospects are just that: individuals. You need to know more about your prospects than just where they are in the sales funnel in order to deliver relevant value to them.
This is where behavioral targeting comes in.
Behavioral targeting allows you to display specific retargeting ads to individuals based on how they’ve engaged with your site.
For example, you can use behavioral targeting to focus on visitors who:
- Read a specific blog post
- Check out a certain product or product category
- Add an item to their cart, but navigate away before purchasing it
By implementing behavioral targeting, you’ll be able to look at the specific content and products your individual visitors are checking out. In turn, you can deliver highly relevant ads and content that the recipient will truly appreciate—and that will move them along in their personal buyer’s journey.
Pushing a sale on a prospective customer before they’re ready to make a purchasing decision will almost never lead to good things—for the consumer, or your brand’s relationship with the consumer.
Instead of using retargeting just to sell, sell, sell...use it to point your individual prospects toward the other valuable content and experiences your brand has to offer. By continually providing unique value to them throughout their buyer’s journey, you’ll make sure that when they are ready to make a purchasing decision, the choice to convert will be obvious.