Winning sales from abandoned carts, 2: Retargeting

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As discussed in the prior blog post, there’s huge sales potential in the pool of shoppers — 88% of all U.S. online consumers — who report having abandoned an online shopping cart without completing a purchase. While most merchants have been reluctant to pursue cart abandoners so far, the ongoing need to target marketing for maximum results means that 2012 may see renewed focus on this audience segment — and the good news is that the latest marketing tools make it easier than ever to reconnect with shoppers and serve them irresistible offers.

One of the most powerful such tools is retargeting, also called remarketing. Broadly, retargeting refers to techniques for reminding shoppers about products they’ve already viewed on your site. The term can be applied to email campaigns, but more commonly retargeting refers to Web site display advertisements that deliver messages attuned to sites shoppers have recently visited.

Adroll and Google — whose display ad offering spawned the term “remarketing” — are only two players in an increasngly crowded field of vendors offering behavioral retargeting services. Most of these services rely on a cookie that tracks shopper activity on the merchant’s site; merchants define which actions shoppers can take that put them in the target pool for later advertising on other sites. For example, shoppers who visit an outdoor outfitter’s winter sports category may later see retargeting ads featuring the merchant’s top-selling skis.

Retargeting tops the list of advertising techniques in terms of boosting awareness, according to a recent study conducted by online measurement firm comScore and marketing service provider ValueClick Media. The study tracked how much search activity was generated for a brand using a number of targeted display advertising techniques, and found that remarketing produced a lift of over 1000%.

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