A creepy alligator has been stalking me. Yes, an alligator. Ads for HostGator, perpetually offering 20% off, have been on nearly every site I visit. Unfortunately for HostGator, I already chose a hosting provider, and now, I’m tired of HostGator’s advertising and their alligator mascot.
Retargeting ads are inexpensive and for online direct marketers, they usually perform very well on click rate, conversion rate and cost per conversion metrics. However, like companies that once used telemarketing during the dinner hour, some companies are focusing on measurement and forget about their audience.
The Downside of Retargeting
How do you feel about prospects describing your marketing as creepy, annoying or obnoxious? [Tweet this] That’s the way many of them describe retargeting.
Over the last six weeks, I asked people around me on my commute what they think of online ads for sites they recently visited or for products they recently looked at. This was an unscientific survey of approximately 30 people, but the results were stark.
The words most often used were creepy, annoying and obnoxious. Some people asked if these ads meant they were being tracked, highlighting another potential negative implication for marketers. Only two people told me they liked the ads or the ads were relevant. Both are marketers.
I asked the same question in a simple online poll, sent out via Twitter and LinkedIn. In the poll, 54% of respondents described the ads as creepy or annoying, 13% say they love them.
Beyond the unscientific nature of the two surveys, they are different audiences. My commuter survey was a broad audience, marketers likely represented a small percentage. However, my personal network is heavily skewed towards people in online marketing.
Get Out of Your Bubble!
The difference shows why it is so important to focus on your target audience. When your marketing decisions are based on the perspectives of others in marketing instead of the perspectives of your target audience, you make the wrong decisions. As a marketer, you may think you are providing value. But unless you are marketing to other marketers, prospects just might think you are creepy.
Another example of marketers not being aligned with their audience is comparing the content valued by marketers and by buyers. In research from IDG Connect and MarketingSherpa, 79% of marketers say peer best practices have an impact, yet only 48% of buyers agree. Buyers rank news and articles first out of 10 types of offers, but marketers put news and articles in 6th place.
I will post a followup specific to changes marketers can make in their retargeting programs to limit their negative impact next week.
Have you ever seen retargeting ads go too far? Are there other marketing activities that annoy you or may do marketers more harm than good? Share your examples in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).