Website Analytics Target Advertising to Client Base

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Adam Earnheardt, by his own admission, is “a huge Star Wars geek” and Facebook knows it.

“Clearly they know that,” says the chairman of Youngstown State University’s communication department. When he visits the social media site, ads along the right column typically peddle some sort of merchandise from the science-fiction film franchise.

“The idea behind it is not malicious,” Earnheardt says. “The idea is that you have people who are trying to create and tailor content to your wants and needs.”

The marketing science behind that is known as retargeting, or getting digital advertising to follow an individual around the Internet once that person has expressed interest in a particular site. The way it works is that when someone visits a website, code on that site drops a browser “cookie” onto the visitor’s device.

“Then when that particular visitor is somewhere else on the Internet, and they run across a website that is part of a retargeting network, that retargeting box recognizes that cookie and pulls that display ad,” explains Jason Wood, president and CEO of Actionable Insights in Austintown.

Among the retargeting platforms are AdRoll, Google AdWords and ReTargeter.

People who click through retargeted ads are more likely to buy the product advertised than those coming through other means, Wood notes. However, he doesn’t see retargeting as a primary mode to deliver impressions. “It’s a great ancillary piece to add to a mix,” he says. “It’s just yet another way, another inexpensive way, to drive conversions around an audience we’ve already been successful in engaging.”

Wood also cautions that if a website isn’t properly segmented, retargeting has less of a chance to be effective. “I would tell people that if they want to use retargeting to make sure they have a good, solid website, which is the foundation for digital marketing. Otherwise retargeting can be counterproductive,” he says.

Retargeting is among the digital marketing techniques that are used to help drive traffic – and therefore business – to companies.

There are several ways analytics is used to drive business for clients, Wood says. “One of the primary things we do is test messaging and calls to action, [and] identify what their prospective markets are most receptive to,” he explains.

Interest in retargeting has accelerated in the past year, says Jim Komara, digital media manager for Palo Creative in Youngstown.

“More people are entering the digital marketing space over time,” he says. “The whole digital marketing trend drives the use of techniques like retargeting, which is very effective in the digital marketing space.”

Web analytic tools such as Google Analytics can help a company see what is going on with its site and provide information regarding issues such as traffic and site navigation. “It gives you that magnifying glass so you can make the appropriate adjustment to increase your traffic,” Komara says.

Search engine optimization makes use of such data to tailor content to increase the likelihood they will show up on search engines such as Google.

Palo helps clients analyze the data and understand what pieces they need to pay attention to, he says.

Data-driven decisions help to drive site content, providing what is going to get the most engagement, says Dennis Schiraldi, owner of CYO Marketing in Youngstown. Marketing firms examine data across the entire digital ecosystem and break down who is coming to clients’ websites and how, whether from mobile devices or desktop, for example.

“You use data and those analytics to put out your message, to develop content and content strategy,” he says.

Retargeting is a “highly successful” technique, Schiraldi says, with clients typically seeing a 3% conversion rate for ads they run. The click-through rate for ads, he notes, is often much higher than that.

“The conversion rate goes up exponentially when someone has some kind of interest in their buying pattern,” he adds. When a shopping-cart transaction is interrupted, for example, retargeting becomes “a highly effective way to engage people,” he says.

Mike Tarantino, CEO and designer with iM Image Marketing in Canfield, sees some downsides to retargeting and doesn’t use it often.

“You could spend a good bit of money on advertising to people who already are your clients,” he remarks. If an individual visits a company’s website and decides to take an action, “then what happens is they go to another website and you’re paying to have your ad show up multiple times. We don’t find it as effective in our advertising,” he says.

“There are times and occasions for it,” as with clients who offer more than one service, such as a contractor or a retailer, he allows. “Even there you have to be careful,” he adds.

Earnheardt also notes that retargeting doesn’t always work perfectly. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, he also consumes information online about the rival Cleveland Browns, so Facebook believes he is a fan of both. “So they tailor content to me for both of those teams,” he says. “It can be a little flawed.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.