By Craig Barrett
Pay-per-click (PPC) is expensive and getting more costly by the day. So I find it surprising that many self-storage facility owners still aren't taking advantage of remarketing in their AdWords accounts. If you're not using remarketing, its time to add it into the mix. It's as close to a sure thing as you are likely to get in the world of advertising.
What Is Remarketing?
Remarketing is simply the Google AdWords term for retargeting. In fact, you've probably seen this remarketed advertising already. Have you ever noticed that after looking at an item on Amazon, ads for it and similar products appear on every site you visit thereafter? Its like being haunted by marketing ghosts! What youre seeing is retargeting, and it exists because very few purchases ever happen in the predictable, linear fashion we would like.
Consider it from your customers perspective. He might be looking at your website and thinking about a storage unit, but then gets distracted by a knock at the door. Or maybe he decides to wait until he's completely packed before making a reservation. This is very frustrating for us as marketers because we spent a great deal of money on PPC, SEO efforts and other advertising to get that customer to our website in the first place.
That was a highly qualified customer, one who will probably end up renting storage because he nearly made a reservation. The worst-case scenario is you spent the PPC money, but Big Brand Storages familiar sign on the highway ends up getting the rental after you did all of the education.
But all is not lost! If we can find that visitor and get an ad in front of him later, on whatever website he happens to visit, then we might be able to save that rental. Thats the magic of retargeting: You get ad placements on other websites, limited to the view of a customer who already visited your website. This is the most targeted form of display advertising.
How Does It Work?
Remarketing is actually pretty simple, and thanks to Google AdWords, its no longer limited to companies with massive marketing budgets. Heres how it works: When a visitor hits your website, a piece of code that you built into your website sends data to Google. This lets Google know this particular visitor was on your site. Then, later on, when Google sees this same visitor on another site where it controls ad space, it can select your ad and display it to that user. Pretty slick, huh?
In fact, depending on how sophisticated you want to get, you can actually make the advertising even more targeted. Remember how Amazon showed you the specific product you were looking at earlier? You can do the same thing if you have more than one facility. You can show the customer an ad just for the location he was viewing.
So, Whats the Catch?
There are two points to consider before taking the time to launch a remarketing campaign. The more people visiting your website, the greater return rate and volume. In most cases, I contend it's only worth your while if you have at least 1,000 website visitors per month. First, check your Google Analytics to see if you hit this number (you are running Analytics, right?). Second, you'll have to make some easy changes to the code on your website. If you dont manage your own site, get your webmaster to handle this.
Making It Go
Okay, so you have at least 1,000 visitors per month to your companys website, and your Web developer is not whining about a basic code change. This is great news, because you are already 70 percent done.
Log into your Google AdWords account and find the Audiences tab. (Note: This tab keeps moving as Google updates the application, but its currently under the Shared Library tab on the left-hand sidebar.) Click Audiences to land on a new screen, where you can click the New Audience button. From there, click Remarketing List, and then Define a list of site visitors." (Yes, I know, Google doesnt make this as easy as it could be. Dont get mad at me; just be happy that your competitors are too lazy to stick with this.)
From there, select New Tag and give it a name like Entire Website, if you plan to put one tag on your whole site, which I recommend. Save that, and you should see a screen with some code. Just give this to your Web developer, or if you are your Web developer, place the code before the </body> tag for each page on your site. If you dont know what this means, your Web guy does.
Whew ... Still with me? I know it's a pain the first time.
So now that you've tagged your site, all thats left is to create the campaign that will use this data. This is different than your other AdWords campaigns, as those are based on keywords. This is based on a tag of audiences, which you earlier defined as all of the people who visit your site. Once the new code is placed on your site, log in to AdWords and create a new campaign. Select a Display Network campaign, and you will have the option to choose Remarketing. From there, just follow the prompts to complete setup.
Optimizing for the Best Results
Given that the campaign is already targeting people who visited your site, you can rest assured your audience is highly qualified. Optimization will focus on writing good ad copy or creating new banner ads. The core goal is to remind people about the benefits of your location, the benefits of making a reservation, and how you differ from your competitors.
If you lock this down, you can expect a couple of extra bookings each month with very little maintenance on your part. Remarketing can take a little bit of effort to set up, but given that its usually one of the lowest cost-per-acquisition forms of marketing, I feel it is well worth the effort to configure.
Craig Barrett, director of search marketing for SpareFoot.com, has created pay-per-click marketing campaigns for a variety of companies, from big companies that spend millions of dollars a month to smaller ones with minimal budgets. Craig also has a fundamentally sound grasp of most digital-marketing activities. Follow him on Twitter: @craigabarrett.