Get with the program(matic): segmentation, the key to an effective retargeting strategy

As a follow up to my last last column ‘Get with the program(matic): the meaning behind the jargon’, this column aims to break down and simplify segmentation.   

What is segmenting?

Traditionally marketers have used segmentation to divide their customers into groups to make it easier to market to them. For example, many companies segment their customers by gender, or where they live. They then target ads based on these attributes. It’s also possible to segment people by a feature set, or how they use a particular product. Segmentation strategies are generally unique to each product, company or brand.

For retargeting, segmentation is about grouping visitors to your website based on what they did. Once arranged into groups, you can target those groups with the most relevant advertising for them.

Perhaps the most basic version of segmentation is to divide your site visitors into those who have made a purchase and those who have not. Segmenting this way allows you to implement additional strategies to enhance your campaigns. For example, if you have a user who ends up making a purchase from your website, you can then retarget them to cross-sell with complementary products or set up a loyalty campaign to turn them into a brand advocate.

If a site visitor has not made a purchase, then depending on the level of segmentation implemented, that visitor can be retargeted with anything from a simple brand advertisement or free shipping offer to a specific product they have viewed on your site.

Why is segmentation important?

With this approach, marketers can serve targeted, personalised ads at scale. Consumers are sick of being served generic, irrelevant ads. To mass target consumers with either content or advertising and with marketers seeing a lift of up to 44 per cent on their dynamic personalised ads compared to static retargeting, it’s time for marketers to take action. It also will save the marketing team money, as they serve fewer ads to people that have no interest in your product. It’s no longer acceptable.

How else can I segment?

Basic URL segments are based on specific pages users visited on your website. By understanding which pages your customers or potential customers have visited you can measure their level of intent, assign them a value and retarget them accordingly.                                                                                                                                         
Some common ways of segmenting are by:

Homepage – Potential customers that have landed solely on your homepage can be retargeted with a branding message or general discount offer, for example ten percent off everything online.
Category page – If a site viewer looked at a specific category (for example shoes), the viewer can be targeted with a general category ad for shoes.
Specific product pages – If a site browser looked at a specific product (for example men’s blue Nike Air shoes), they can be retargeted with an ad for those specific shoes.
Shopping cart – Let’s say a customer then puts the shoes in his/her basket but abandons. That customer can be highly targeted with an ad for those specific shoes and an enticing offer, such as free shipping, to come back to the site and purchase.

What if my site doesn’t have product pages?

Retargeting can work in a number of ways and is not a product specific solution. Check out some advanced segmentation strategies which allow you to make the most of your first party data even if your site doesn’t have differentiated product pages or don’t allow for URL segmentation:

Fixed segments – A fixed segment is set to a page or pages of interest. They work especially well to track conversions. Fixed segments work in much the same way as URL segments, but can be applied to websites that don’t allow basic URL segmentation.
Event segments – An event segment tracks users that take click-triggered actions on your website. This is handy if there are buttons on your site that trigger an event but do not change the URL structure. For example, your interest button opens a form fill box, but the the page URL doesn’t change. You can’t track this new segment through basic URL segmentation, but you can by setting up an event pixel.
Pages viewed segment – Allows you to retarget users based on the number of pages they visited, regardless of how those pages are related. This populates based on a minimum number of pages viewed within a 30-day window, giving you a high-intent audience segment not fixed to any particular page.

When implementing a retargeting campaign it’s important to work with a vendor that gives you choice and control, is transparent and delivers against your specific campaign objectives.

Make sense? If you want to learn more about segmentation and best practices for retargeting at every stage of the funnel check out our Next Level Retargeting Guide.

  • Ben Sharp is the managing director of AdRoll in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Click here to read more stories in the Get with the Programmatic series. 

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