Ever wonder why – after you do a little research into a product online – you start seeing that product on nearly every page you visit? It’s a tactic called remarketing. You visit a site, and you leave with a bit of code on your computer; it’s called a cookie. Subsequent sites you visit have blank ad spaces that display images of the very items – and their competitors – that you’ve been looking at.
The first few times it happens, it can further whet your appetite for an item. I was looking at some new outdoor furniture for the deck a few years ago, and after I did a little research, suddenly there were deck chairs and umbrellas on every single page I viewed. It got to the point where I was tired of seeing the same stuff, and I never did end up buying more furniture that year. I was oversaturated with images and pitches to sell me furniture.
That’s remarketing. And when it’s done properly, it can be effective. When it’s overdone, it can actually hurt sales.
How does remarketing work? By creating multiple impressions. It’s proven that we’re more comfortable with brands that are familiar, and remarketing uses that principle to generate additional sales. It works for a while, and it’s great for certain products. If you have a seasonal offering or a new, exciting line extension, remarketing may be exactly what you want to kick off additional sales.
But it’s when you look at a long-term strategy that remarketing becomes dangerous. And that’s because remarketing isn’t really marketing at all. It’s really more of a sales pitch.
True marketing is about brand building. It’s the difference between a Coca Cola ad with an adorable polar bear and a hard sell ad that reiterates that a short-term price reduction is about to end and quantities are limited. Marketing is about creating positive impressions that aren’t necessarily tied to an immediate sell. It’s Nike’s “Just Do It.” It’s “Got Milk?” It’s McDonalds “I’m Lovin’ It.”
Marketing wins fans. Remarketing boosts short-term sales.
Both are important strategies, but it’s important to use them carefully and deliberately. Before you implement a remarketing campaign, make sure you’re featuring a new product and you’re doing it for a limited time. What you don’t want is to turn customers off. If you have customers rolling their eyes at yet another outdoor umbrella, then your remarketing campaign has officially backfired.
Most companies benefit from a long-term marketing strategy that captures the spirit, culture, and ethos of the business…coupled with short-term, sales-oriented efforts. And like many other business endeavors, if you have a product or offering you think is a great remarketing candidate, start with a trial rollout of the campaign and measure the results before you launch a full-on version.
While there’s something to be said for seizing the moment, when it comes to marketing – and remarketing – your best bet is to move a little more slowly. Weigh your options, test on a small scale, and preserve the integrity of your brand.