How to Make Your Retargeting Program Stand Out

Retargeting banners — the online ads that seem to follow shoppers around — may seem little creepy to some users. But if you design your program correctly, these behavior-driven banner ads can be one of the strongest tools in your conversion arsenal, says Amy Africa, chief imagination officer of ecommerce consultancy Eight by Eight.

Here’s a sneak peek of Africa’s upcoming article on retargeting in the May 2011 issue of MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT. Africa – who is a keynote speaker at MCM Live in New York on May 3 and 4 – points out what two catalog marketers are doing with their retargeting programs.

Edmund Scientific (, which sells science-related toys, gifts and supplies, uses a vertical banner featuring several of its bestsellers. What’s good about this banner? Four things:

1) Size and shape. For starters, Edmund isn’t afraid go vertical. A lot of folks just design horizontal banners, which not only limits the places they’re featured in, but can also restrict their potential.

You need to test several different sizes and shapes to know what works best for you and for the property. Each property is laid out differently, so different things work for different properties.

2) Call to action. “Click here” is a good start. Testing lots of action directives is imperative. Sometimes something generic (such as “click here”) works, but other times, specific (e.g., “return to your cart”) works better.

3) Logo at the top. Granted, it’s far too small, but at least it’s in the ad. (A lot of folks scrap this. Don’t. It’s a critical element.)

4) Use of an offer. Test several offers to know which work best for your company. Then try adding a deadline. Deadlines create urgency and cause people to focus.

Costumes and accessories merchant Spirit Halloween ( also has several different banners and offers in its arsenal. One of the things Spirit does best is include the item that was abandoned in the banner.

Many marketers think this is risky or too “Big Brother,” but it typically works like gangbusters. So it’s worth testing even if you personally don’t care for it.

One of the best things about dynamic banners is that you can often change the wording when you change the visual. Spirit Halloween counts down the number of shopping days until Halloween on some of its banners.

On others, the merchant alternates taglines. That means you’ll get “shop children’s costumes” when you abandon the Buzz Lightyear costume for your kid, but you’ll see “shop men’s costumes” when you abandon the sexy pirate Halloween costume you wanted for your husband.

Remember that some banners stimulate revisits and others instigate sales. As you’re testing your banners, make sure you measure each step of the sale to know what’s most effective for you. Some folks find they want to stimulate revisits, and then they use aggressive onsite messaging and trigger emails to convert them from there.

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