Food and water are essential for life – Maslow put them at the base of his pyramid alongside breathing, sleep and sex (interestingly enough). Here in the world of digital marketing I find myself repeating (nearly daily) to new clients and potential clients that a solid email capture mechanism and retargeting are the marketing equivalent of food and water.

What is a “solid” email capture mechanism?

First and foremost, some kind of email sign up option on your website in the footer, header or side navigation is absolutely mandatory. What’s even better is a lightbox that pops up after a small time delay for first-time visitors. This isn’t something that pisses people off the way that many business owners presume that it does. NEVER have I left a website because there’s been an annoying pop up. The key word here is “annoying.” If indeed one thinks that a pop up is annoying, they simply ignore it and move on like I ignore mosquitos or flies at a BBQ – annoying, sure – not a reason to bail on the party. As consumers we’ve seen this in every form and function on the sites we’ve visited in the past decade and most of us know that you can just click on the “X” or press esc. and boom – it’s gone. You’ll double your email capture overnight with a lightbox. With incentivized email capture boxes including offers like “FREE SHIPPING” or “15% OFF your first order” you can start capturing 3x or more what you’ve become accustomed to.

Once you’ve got the email addresses you so expertly captured there are a handful of automatically generated messages you should have queued up. First, a welcome message that provides the incentive you specified (if you specified one) and a bit about your brand, some cool images, a clear call-to-action, etc. Second, depending on what the user did with their first message, there are a host of messages and call-to-actions that should come at them next. These messages are another topic entirely and the mechanics of delivering them to the most receptive audience is a bit of a science.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is exactly what it sounds like – serving ads to people that have already been to your site. You know when you go look at a pair of shoes somewhere and the next 3 weeks all you see is that brand in your Facebook newsfeed? That’s retargeting. Like an email capture lightbox some find this annoying but the reality of e-commerce is that people have been accustomed to this (even if they’re not huge fans) and retargeting increases sales. Some companies stick to Facebook retargeting while others also choose to include display ads across other web properties. Both are effective but in different ways.

In order to retarget the visitors to your site you’ll need to place a pixel that cookies the user and follows them around for a bit. Facebook has one, as do all of the 3rd party retargeting platforms (AdRoll likely being the most comprehensive solution). You may need to ensure that your terms of service/site usage policy informs a visitor that they will be cookied, and you’ll also need to agree to the terms of whatever retargeting platform you settle on. By reminding folks that have already been at least somewhat familiarized with your brand that you are still there – waiting patiently for their attention and orders – you’ll stay top of mind and angle out the competition (or at least keep pace).

Food and Water…

The reason I continually suggest that these two channels or strategies are the food and water of digital marketing is because every other ad spend and marketing effort will be better optimized by having them in place. If you spend money sending a bunch of traffic to the site without a great email capture system when those users are gone you have no way of nurturing them back to your site. Same goes for retargeting – why wouldn’t you want to spend ad money on the customers you know have already seen who you are and what you’re up to? Most executives would agree that securing a new customer is quite a bit more expensive than nurturing an existing one to buy again – the same holds true for site traffic. It’s cheaper to get someone who has already visited your site to return again rather than lure a completely new user…IF you have an effective email capture and retargeting system.

Need some help getting yours set up? Hit me up.

About: Hawke Media is full service outsourced CMO and digital advertising agency with clients in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

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