We’re no longer surprised when we go to a website and see an ad for a product that we just viewed on a different website. What’s more, we know how to disable pop-ups and cookies so that won’t happen if that kind of “personalization” annoys or disturbs us.
A similar kind of thing is happening in the brick-and-mortar world, where brands can communicate to us (or at least to our smartphones), as we walk through a store. The retailer installs “beacons” throughout the store that connect with an app on the shopper’s smartphone. The app tracks shoppers in the store and collects data on their shopping habits. It uses that data to send them personalized text alerts about sales or product information related to where they are physically in the store.
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Retargeting Combines the Best of Both Worlds
The latest iteration of this technology blends virtual and real environments. The trail of offline shopping data collected and used during your visit in a physical store continues when you log in online. Those sneakers you had in your hand appear for the next week or month as an ad on a website. This is called “retargeting.”
So far, less than 1 percent of the 3.5 million retail stores in the U.S. have rolled out beacon technology, according to Umbel. However, companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Starwood Hotels, and not to mention Major League Baseball, are implementing the technology, suggesting an increasing adoption rate as the concept proves itself with retailers, advertisers and consumers.
“Little Brother” Personalization and Convenience
For those who immediately think, “Oh no! Big Brother!” the technology is not quite as invasive as it might sound. You have to download an app to your mobile device that enables monitoring. There’s nothing nefarious or surreptitious about it. Indeed, Business Insider points out that retargeting was launched as part of a partnership with Unacast, a media platform and ad server based in Norway. Keep in mind, this is a country with very strict privacy laws that require consumer opt-in and prohibit sharing location data with third parties.
And anyone who thinks consumers might resist such an invasion into their privacy obviously hasn’t heard of selfies and sexting. Today’s consumers are less interested in privacy and more interested in anything that increases personalization and convenience.
What Retargeting Means for SMBs
All of this means you should get in on the start of retargeting from the get-go, not wait around until it becomes standard operating procedure. Why?
- As a seller of goods, you want to position your brand with consumers in the way that is most familiar to them. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers did at least half of last year’s holiday shopping online and more than a quarter are comfortable using mobile devices to pay for merchandise (a number that reaches 41 percent in the ‘25 to 34 years old’ demographic).
- Beacons and retargeting are considerations for any digital or mobile strategy. B2C notes that SMBs without a proper digital or mobile strategy are missing out on tapping into potentially high incremental revenue sources.
So just don’t target your customers. The time has come to retarget them.