Remarketing sucks

Remarketing – brilliant, cost effective marketing, or irritating internet plague? We think it sucks.

Why remarketing sucksIf you spend any time at all online, then remarketing is unlikely to have escaped your notice. I’m currently being chased round the internet by a pair of rejected lampshades, and Sonja is being stalked by a scorned summer wardrobe. We don’t like it.

When we talk about remarketing, we mean the practice used by marketers and online merchants of targeting advertising at website visitors who leave websites without buying. Once a visitor has left the website empty-handed the ads appear in many places – from social media feeds to other unrelated websites. The aim of remarketing is to prompt the customer to return to the original website, and buy the product they were looking for.

Remarketing sucks

So what’s your view? Brilliant and cost effective way of staying on the radar of customers who have already shown a flicker of interest in your product until they buy, or irritating internet plague?

“As building long lasting relationships should be the goal of every marketer, it just doesn’t feel right to us.”

For us, remarketing belongs in the Port of Quick Wins – the gaudy glittery place in the Land of Content that promises much but does nothing in the way of building long lasting relationships with customers.  And as building long lasting relationships should be the goal of every marketer, it just doesn’t feel right to us.

Does that matter?

Well, yes. How your marketing makes people feel shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be the main event. Your brand lives in the minds of your customers, not in the copy of your ads. What they think about you is way more important than what you say about yourself. If people are thinking – oh no – not this againmake it stop then your marketing has misfired.

“How your marketing makes people feel shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be the main event.”

We say, invest in marketing that people love. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Create useful, inspiring and helpful content that delights your ideal customers. Invest in better customer services so that people naturally say good things about you. Invest in developing relationships, not ad space.

Idealistic, maybe, but if you see marketing as an extension of everything else your business does – serving your community, making lives better for your customers – it makes long term business sense too.

That’s our view. But how about you? Remarketing – fair game or internet plague? What’s your view?

Check out Sharon’s SlideShare too:

Other content you might like:

If you need any more persuading, this book will help: Marketing – a love story, by Bernadette Jiwa

[SlideShare Design by Daniel Penford]

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  1. David Shaw

    Sonja and I have talked about this before, it’s simply creepy for most and annoying at best. I understand the reasoning why it “works” but at what cost? How many people simply get irritated for the one person that returns and buys? I would love to see some data on this if it ever is available.

  2. Sonja Jefferson

    Me too David. Thanks for the comment. For me, remarketing is a bit like going into a shop for a browse and being pounced on by an over zealous shop assistant who won’t leave you alone and keeps thrusting potential purchases in your face. Enough to make you run screaming from the building – “I was just looking!” Genuinely does not leave me with a good feeling about the brand that’s advertising.

  3. Ben Wheeler

    This post reminds me of a time when I was in a market in Egypt, looking at a few items on a stall but not buying. Maybe I would have gone back later – but the stall holder then chased me – literally running after me shouting ‘I give you good price’. Was this pre internet ‘remarketing’? Perhaps – but it did nothing to further the sale! However, in the present day the ‘quick win’ tactics probably do produce a return – but at what reputitional cost in the long run.

  4. Sharon Tanton

    Hi Ben – it is just like that – but with remarketing the smallholder follows you down the street and all the way home, then sits in the fridge, on the oven, at the end of the bed, in front of the TV – still shouting “I give you good price”!

  5. Diana Jordan

    Ha, funny you should mention Egypt Ben, that was exactly what was going through my mind as I was reading Sharon’s post. But actually it was less creepy than this internet remarketing. And in Egypt, we can well imagine that some of them might be desperate to be able to feed their families and sometimes I bought things more out of sympathy. But I wouldn’t buy anything from a desperate seller in this country. Does remarketing really ever work, or had the people who do go back and buy already decided that they would anyway, they just didn’t have their credit card handy?

  6. Hudson Accountants

    Everything you say resonates however I have had one good experience with remarketing so I wanted to redress the balance a little.

    I was browsing a website for an expensive home purchase that I intend to make at some point as part of a building project. Seeing the subsequent ads reminds me of that dream of the final result.

    It will probably be a couple of years before I purchase so the ads may drive me mad in the meantime.

  7. Tim LeRoy

    That’s brilliant Sharon.

  8. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Tim – really glad you like it!

  9. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks for redressing the balance Della. It will be interesting to see if the ads do drive you mad in the meantime! (And good luck with the dream project!)

  10. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Diana – I think you’re right. There’s often something a bit desperate about the ads, and that’s really unappealing. I feel quite sorry for these poor lampshades that keep popping up at me now. And even if I hadn’t already bought something else, I wouldn’t want them now. Things that look appealing on their own well designed website often look a bit cheap and nasty once they’ve been turned into a remarketing style ad.

  11. Jane Northcote

    Interesting. I have “Adblock” so I don’t see these ads (or any others, come to that). The consumer fights back.
    Some sites notice that I have Adblock, and carefully explain their business model (“we survive through our advertising revenue. If you would like to support the work of please consider subscribing.”)
    I find this a very civilised way of operating and wish more sites did it.
    But I am wandering from your point Sharon.

  12. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Jane. It will be interesting to see what solutions the consumer fight back produces – because something will have to change. Increasing the sophistication of techniques to track you and target marketing at you doesn’t feel sustainable. People will either put up with increased intrusion by switching off whenever the ads appear, or they won’t put it up with it, and opt out entirely like you have done, with Adblock. Maybe more paid for, ad free content is on the horizon…

  13. michael kaeflein

    Interesting article. I agree that remarketing ads can appear a little desperate, but I think it is very much a case of “best practice” which most companies do not follow when it comes to remarketing. It is prudent to set a fairly low “cap” on the number of times that an ad is shown, so you stay top of mind and you also don’t harass the visitor! I would be careful to dismiss remarketing outright, done right it has the potential to generate great results as we have see and the research is there to further back this up!

  14. Sharon Tanton

    Hi, thanks for commenting Michael, glad you found it interesting. You’re right, it probably can be done well, it’s just so often it’s done to overkill that I tense up as soon as I see the first sign of it!
    If someone found a way to make it feel useful, rather than desperate, it could work for me.


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