Posted July 9, 2012 4:52 pm by with 0 comments

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The internet is getting downright spooky. Last night, I used iTunes to locate the old song Escape by Rupert Holmes, a big hit at the time, but not top on the charts at the moment. An hour later, I switched on Spotify, chose 80’s Pop and the first tune was Escape.

Coincidence? I suppose it could be but more likely Spotify picked up a thread of data somewhere that showed my interest in the song. Was this an instance of retargeting or am I just getting paranoid?

Normal people (not ones who live on the internet 24 / 7 like me) no longer fear the data cookie. They see retargeted ads as a useful tool for navigating the web.

Bizrate Insights conducted a study about retargeted ad behavior and feelings and here’s what they came up with:

The majority of folks (60%) feel neutral about seeing retargeted ads. They notice them, but then they move on. Only 15% said they don’t like it, which is pretty amazing given the privacy issues connected with retargeting. That leaves us with the 25% who said they liked these ads because they were a good reminder of something they’d previously viewed.

I tested this theory by asking the folks around me how they felt about these ads and I’ll be darned if they didn’t use the words “good reminder,” too. Personally, I’ve never thought of these ads as reminders, more of a gentle nudge toward an abandoned shopping cart, but then again, I’m not your typical web shopper.

Bizrate then drilled down to those who actually clicked on a retargeted ad. Why, they asked and people answered:

Clicking because they liked the product is a no-brainer. But look at the number two reason, “It is a convenient way to visit a website I already intended to visit.” Sounds like those not-so-subtle nudges are working, at least for nearly 30% of the population.

Further down the chart, you’ll see a similar line that about the link being convenient. The difference between the two is intent. More people returned to sites, that in their mind, they were going to visit anyway. Would they have completed that visit without the nudge? Probably not.

You can extend this logic to other kinds of outreach, not just display ads. If a retargeted ad nudges a fence-sitting customer to return, what would an email to that person accomplish? Or even a direct Tweet or a post on Facebook?

The lesson here is, never underestimate the power of suggestion, particularly on a current customer. Just this morning, I received two email newsletters from websites I haven’t visited in awhile. I clicked on both to check out the offers. I would not have visited those sites today if I hadn’t received those emails. It’s really that simple.

Out of sight, out of mind is true. So you need to do all you can do to make sure your customers get regular reminders to visit, be it through retargeted ads, social media, or direct contact.