Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Nonprofits and Associations Can Learn from Retail Marketing

Earlier this summer, I was looking at a gas grill on the website of the big home improvement store I despise the least. Days later, I began seeing ads on unrelated websites, including Facebook, featuring the same grill from the same retailer.

It’s called ad retargeting, and you’ve probably experienced it. Retargeting may seem creepy, but it’s very effective. At its core, ad retargeting is the process of serving advertising messages to web users based on something for which they’ve already expressed an interest.

How does it work?

When you visit a website and view a product, the site places a piece of code called a cookie onto your computer. Other sites see the cookie, and know to serve up an ad for the thing you just saw, but didn’t buy.

Cookies are the essential ingredient that makes retargeting work. We think we hate them, right? But really, they make the world wide web, our world wide web by customizing our experience. I have learned to embrace them, or at least accept them. 

Why it works:

Retargeting provides another touch point to engage a prospect and convert them to take action. It may be just the nudge they need to complete their purchase. Or, in the case for nonprofits and associations, register for a conference, sign up for educational opportunities or make a donation.

Putting retargeting to work for you:

If you have something to offer (doesn’t everybody?), consider retargeting as part of your marketing efforts. The fact that people have visited your site and spent time viewing specific content makes them a more qualified prospect.

Retargeting is all about encouraging a customer (member, donor, attendee) to take a specific action. First, think about the action you want the user to take. Is it to register for a conference, or simply come back to the site to learn more about the benefits of membership?

Next, determine the call to action for the retargeting ad, such as “Register now for early bird savings” or “Exclusive benefits for new members.” As with all advertising, a strong media plan and good creative are key ingredients to success.

Measure! Fortunately, the technology for running retargeting campaigns include some great tools for analyzing metrics. This allows you to very quickly know what messages are working, with the ability to tweak them for the best results.

How to get started:

Decide who you want to target, and the best message for each. You can retarget based on specific pages and content on your website, so take advantage! For someone visiting your conference site, make sure you have a few different conference ads. Do the same for other content like education sessions and membership/

Start with a campaign of four to five different ads for each audience so you can test results. Since the ads are served on multiple websites, you’ll be creating six or seven different sizes for each, most likely with different animation/size requirements, so it’s a good idea to have these ready to go at the same time so you can quickly switch them out based on your results.

Happy retargeting!