You might not even be retargeting your own visitors and you might really be surprised to find out that it's possible for your competitors to advertise to the traffic that is visiting your site and even visitors that are spending time at your place of business. Well, of course, you can target your competitors too. I can't think of a better way to narrow in on the niche market who needs to see your advertising.
First of all, you SHOULD be retargeting your own website traffic. So, just to make sure we're all on the same page, let me quickly define what retargeting is.
If you've ever searched or shopped for something online, very likely you've been retargeted. All of a sudden, that thing you were shopping for starts to show up in advertising all over the place. And just so you know, retargeting doesn't require a direct search or a visit to a website. Alexa can retarget you. So can Google, Cortana and so can Siri. They are listening! ALL THE TIME. All your devices, your smart home, your tv, your phone provide valuable information to those who want to target you to buy their products and services. If you're using free email services, you can be retargeted there too (gmail, hotmail, aol, and the rest). Your credit cards provide more trackable information; maybe not directly but many people want an email receipt for the transaction. For most people, that email ends up in gmail, aol, hotmail or another free email account. You really didn't think it was free did you? And of course, everything you do, say, like and post on social media become part of your retargeting profile. There is no place to hide.
Every business with a retargeting strategy wants to know what you like, what's in your conversations, where you go (what stores you drive by all the time), how much you spend, where you spend your online time, where you spend your offline time and on and on. So don't think that just because you're using DuckDuckGo for search that you are outwitting the retargeters. Your GPS publishes your location to Google and advertisers can even use that information to send you ads (called geo-fencing). Basically, every way that you interact with the outside world is a retargeting opportunity unless you live completely off the grid. Wherever and however you interact with technology, there is something recording that information. Now do you know why the big players are investing so much in facial recognition?
Retargeting is simply marketing to a specific audience that has already expressed some degree of interest in your products or services. The most common retargeting campaign is website retargeting.
FIRST - DO THIS - Website Retargeting
Website retargeting is simply a strategy to improve the conversion rates on your own site. In and of itself, it has nothing to do with your competition. Website retargeting is a paid display ad campaign that I think every legitimate business ought to be doing. 95% of your traffic leaves without engaging (on average). A retargeting campaign can increase your website conversion by 500%! Chase them out the door with ads supporting the benefits of using your products and services. You need to be there when they're ready to buy. That rarely is when they are actually on your website This not only is the lowest cost display ad campaign, it get's the highest percentage of clicks.
COMPETITIVE RETARGETING - ETHICS
Even though he understood the dark nature of tracking technology, even George Orwell couldn't have dreamed this up. It's a fair question to ask: "Is this ethical?" I have my opinions and as with anything like this, I can see the good and the bad. Your ethics are your own relative to this subject. You be the judge. Honestly from a political standpoint I think this SHOULD bother you. Refer to "Permanent Record" by Edward Snowden. It seems every technology comes with a dark side and retargeting is no exception. But while your considering the ethics of competitive retargeting, decide for a moment if you want your business to be the ball or the bat!
COMPETITIVE RETARGETING STRATEGIES
The Direct Strategy: Paid Search: Bid on Competitor Keywords
A direct strategy is always the most expensive but it can be worth it. Google and other Search Engines make it easy to create a paid search campaign targeting competitor brands, URLs, and products. Bear in mind that you are not allowed to use the competitor’s name in your ads. You could also end up paying more per click because you’re bidding on your competitor’s brand keywords that may not be as relevant to your business. Low relevance results in a low Quality Score which increases the bid cost for your ad.
Social Ads: Target Competitive Users
Face Business Ad Manager allows you to create audience segments of visitors that like, follow, mention, or are interested in your competitor(s) and their products. That makes it easy to target these users in your social ad efforts.
Display Ads: Target Competitive Users with Contextual Targeting
Google allows you to set up Contextual Targeting campaigns, leveraging the competitor brand names as the keywords. With these campaigns, you’ll be able to target pages that include the competitive brand keywords. This is the display ad version of paid search (text ads).
Google Sponsored Promotions: Target Competitive Domains
DIRECT FROM GOOGLE: "Gmail Sponsored Promotions — also known as Gmail Sponsored Ads, Gmail Ads, and Gmail Sponsored Promotion Ads — refer to a paid advertising format in the Google Display Network that allows advertisers to serve ads in their prospects' inboxes. You've likely noticed these above all your organic emails."
What this description doesn't say is that you can create a Google Sponsored Promotions campaign targeting users who are on your competitors’ email lists. Whenever the user receives an email from your competitor(s) you can serve an ad for your brand that will appear within their Gmail. How cool is that? OK... it's pretty scary too. But you can do it.
Google Display Network: Custom Intent Audiences
Custom Intent Audiences allow advertisers the ability to use the Google Display Network to find people who want to buy the specific products they offer — based on data from campaigns, keywords, websites and their YouTube channel. Custom Intent Audiences can be setup with competitor domains, keywords, products and more, reaching users across the Google Display Network.
Every smart phone knows where you are at any given time. This is true EVEN IF you have the location services turned off. But given that little tidbit of information, most people have the GPS on their phone enabled because they like the ability to know how to get from their kitchen to their bathroom : )
Honestly, location services are helpful. I don't know how I did door to door sales 20 years ago but I do remember when I got my first DeLorme Big Yellow GPS box and hooked up to my computer so I could see where I was going. Back then, about the only GPS most people were familiar with were the ones included in their rental car and once you had it, you did not want to rent a car without it.
Relative to competitive retargeting, let's say you want to send ads to the customers who frequent your competitor's establishment. A local restaurant would be a great example. Let's say restaurant A pushes a geofenced ad to patrons of restaurant B. The ad could say: "Bring us your receipt from restaurant A and your meal is 1/2 off". You may have gotten wind of the Burger King - McDonalds campaign: A new campaign called the 'Whopper Detour' was allowing anyone within 600 feet of a McDonald's restaurant with the new Burger King app installed on their phone to order a Whopper for just 1 cent. Your phone GPS makes all that poissible!