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What is Customer Journey Retargeting?

The brand landscape is changing. There are more ways to message to and influence consumers than ever before. Most brands are responding by using engagement marketing or more personalized marketing to create individual connections with consumers. 

But, every one of these practices – whether it’s increasing the interactivity of your social channels or adding personalized product recommendations to your eCommerce site – can be enhanced by being put in the context of the customer journey. 

For instance, if your consumer is just discovering a brand through your homepage, would you necessarily present them with only one product in the re-marketing ads they see? You might prompt them to get a product recommendation or interact with a multi-product landing page instead. 

But what happens then? And after that? That’s where customer journey retargeting comes in. By thinking about how to personalize each step of the customer journey – both before and after a purchase – you can increase the performance of each campaign and get closer than ever to the kind of one-to-one experiences consumers love

Customer journey retargeting is uniquely suited to converting more of today’s modern consumers for a variety of reasons. Retargeting (also known as re-marketing) campaigns have already proven historically effective, and customer journey retargeting is already being implemented in a variety of ways that are just starting to become popular among major brands. For major brands, however, combining customer journey retargeting with the insights generated by conversational AI will be a true difference-maker that’s hard to top.

Why Did Re-Targeting Get to be so Popular in the First Place?

Retargeting is based on the idea that “actions speak louder than words”. Those actions, simple as they may seem, are clicks, mouse hovers, interactions and exits that are all assumed to indicate interest in a particular product, service or in some cases content. The problem is that thought actions speak quite loudly, we don’t always know what exactly they’re saying. 

Retargeting takes the inferred intent that comes from someone visiting a web page, using a mobile app or clicking through an email and capitalizes on it by targeting a specific message to them. That’s why it’s got the “re” in front of it – because the consumer or user has already been targeted in some way, and that targeting simply becomes more refined after they’ve done something that a brand perceives as an indicator of interest. 

This “hack” of sorts has been a go-to for most marketers looking to drive appreciable revenue from advertising campaigns. Many claim that retargeting accounts for a disproportionate amount of the conversions made through channels like Facebook, Instagram and Google Display. Some even claim that retargeting for display ads alone produces 10x clickthrough rates and 70% higher conversion. Facebook retargeting, is also meant to promise 21x clickthrough rates, 79% lower cost per click and 63% lower cost per acquisition. 

Those numbers might seem a bit outlandish, but given the fact that nearly every brand uses retargeting in some way, they definitely have a grain of truth. How does customer journey retargeting improve upon this? Well, in a world where everybody’s retargeting, brands can get better performance by tailoring and personalizing their retargeting to their individual consumers’ goals.

How Customer Journey Retargeting Improves Ad Experiences and Outcomes

Retargeting is usually a one step process. Somebody adds red shoes to their cart and then they see an ad for red shoes plastered across their favorite websites and social channels. This is, by definition, a one-off. There are only two outcomes: purchase or no purchase.

We usually assume that this doesn’t matter because the conversion seen with retargeting campaigns is higher than the conversion seen without them. However, today’s audiences are more prone to “ad fatigue” and irritated by irrelevant marketing than ever before. For large brands – ones who can actually spend enough to exasperate their audiences – does it really make sense to burn them out?

Instead of relying on purely binary purchase decisions, customer journey retargeting focuses on nurturing audiences and driving gradually more engagement until more consumers surpass a purchase threshold. This means, instead of prompting consumers to buy or dumping them back into a general retargeting audience, brands can think about sparking interest in particular products, driving consideration with educational content, getting users onto their website and eventually driving them to convert. 

This may seem like a meatier funnel to manage, but the right insights can make it easy to execute in a simple and effective way. Whether someone’s shopping for pleasure or for necessity, understanding their goals can help ensure that you don’t have “too much to aim at”. In the B2C world, this can mean almost anything, because most products are designed to either help consumers do something (e.g. soothe their dry skin) or be something (e.g. show off their shiny new BMW to their friends). 

But this isn’t a one-off process either. Fortunately, there’s some inspiration to be taken here from the B2B world, where customer journey retargeting is already practiced along the stages of a sales cycle. Companies here identify brands they’re either prospecting or have had conversations with, and as they move through the funnel can personalize the content they target them with – whether it’s purely informative, instructional or provides some kind of social proof – which accelerates their likelihood to complete one stage, move on to the next and ultimately make a purchase.

Applying this kind of practice at the scale of a major brand could, for some, be revolutionary, but with the right kind of insights it can only get better. 

Customer Journey Retargeting and Getting the Right Data

To reiterate: the challenge for any traditional retargeting campaign is that it’s all based on inference. Just because someone looks at a product page or interacts with a piece of content doesn’t mean that they are necessarily interested in buying what’s being presented. Brands are constantly guessing and playing probabilities in order to drive higher conversion through retargeting. 

For brands, opt-in, first-party data is increasingly essential to every aspect of their marketing funnel – in no place more critical than if they choose to practice customer journey retargeting. In this circumstance, conversational AI that generates these kind of disclosure-based insights is essential to being as successful as possible with your campaigns. 

Why guess what your consumers want when you can get them to tell you exactly what their goals are? Goals are essential to customer journey retargeting, so in the conversations that you offer – whether it’s through conversational advertising, a virtual product advisor or other forms of conversational AI – you can use the expressed concerns, desires and product interests your consumers have to create audiences, refine your targeting and boost conversion. 

Consider the a consumer who visits a skincare brand’s website and interacts with a virtual product advisor. In this context, they’ll provide a variety of disclosures about their skin (e.g. it’s dry, oily, they have fine lines or lack firmness). They’ll likely complete a recommendation, receive an explanation of why individual products are good for them and possibly buy something as well.

Even though these experiences convert more consumers than traditional websites, all isn’t lost if the consumer doesn’t convert. Every insight generated about what a consumer is looking for can be used to target a consumer – whether based on one concern they’ve shared, multiple concerns they’ve shared, a product they’ve been recommended or actively considered, or products that they’ve added to their cart but failed to check out.

Yes, virtual product advisors can even be used to build carts and then enhance cart retargeting for consumers. It’s not an abstract science, it’s simply what’s possible when new technology allows brands to talk to consumers, personalize their experience and sell them more of the products they’ll love. 

Customer Journey Retargeting and Conversational AI

Customer Journey Retargeting doesn’t require a devious mind or some scintillating insight, but it does require systematic thinking about which consumers want which products and why. Brands and marketers conduct interviews, analyze reviews, collect feedback and observe consumer behavior to understand their decision journey and goals. 

All of these practices require large amounts time in developing strategies, planning efforts and executing initiatives, but they offer little flexibility or insight for marketers and eCommerce managers who need to optimize their campaigns on quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily basis.

Unique first-party insights are essential fuel for campaigns, retargeting and broader marketing messages that will truly stick – if only between the last phase of market research and the next one. Personalization is a part of it, but even though many leaders discuss its importance, they don’t always speak to the processes, use cases and technologies you need to get the job done. With conversational AI and best practices like customer journey retargeting in tow, your brand can revolutionize the way you talk to your consumers.

Still have questions?  We’re fired up to help as many brands as possible to raise the bar of user and customer experience in eCommerce.  If you need help implementing website engagement tools for your brand or want to talk further about any of the tactics in this article, we should talk ASAP!

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