Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.
In 2013, my company, WordStream, was named to the Inc. 5000 for the first time, ranked No. 184 of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. We've also appeared on this prestigious list in the past two years.
Making this list is a huge honor. So how is an Inc. 5000 company made? And how can you turn your business into a multimillion-dollar company and make sure you appear on this list next year and for years to come?
As someone who's created such a business, I'm going to tell you about one technology that is guaranteed to accelerate your growth and make 2016 your breakout year: remarketing.
While you can invest in a staggering number of technology options, none will help your growth as much as remarketing.
Remarketing is essential, and it should be the first technology you focus on.
A Quick Primer on Remarketing (a.k.a. Retargeting)
Not familiar with remarketing or need a refresher? Then this section is for you.
First, forget everything negative you've heard about remarketing so far. It's not online stalking. People don't actually find it creepy.
Remarketing is awesome.
Essentially, remarketing is a type of technology that shows ads for your business to people after they have visited your website, used your mobile app, or given you their email address. People will see these ads when they visit or shop on other websites, use social media, watch videos, use other mobile apps, or search on Google.
And it can be your most powerful tool.
People are busy and easily distracted. They can leave your site or abandon items in their cart for any number of reasons--an incoming phone call, the need to answer a pressing email, stopping to watch a YouTube video, or a tweet from Inc. about a must-read story on productivity hacks. Whatever the reason, they're gone.
Remarketing helps you to reach a huge percentage of those people who came to your site and left without converting--potentially several times per day or week, across a variety of websites, over the course of 30 to 60 days.
Think of your remarketing efforts as a gentle reminder, one that encourages people who visited your site to finish what they started, while reinforcing your branding and messaging to that user every time they see you around.
There's a reason I spent nearly a million dollars on remarketing last year.
Here are six proven ways that remarketing will make your business ridiculously successful in 2016.
1. Save Money
Remarketing isn't free--but nothing in marketing that drives effective, real growth is free. Still, remarketing is dirt-cheap.
Display ads average around $10 for 1,000 views. Not very expensive at all!
Display ads can cost anywhere from two to 100 times less than search ads in super-competitive industries, and though the typical click-through rate is extremely low (about 0.2 percent), the conversion rate is competitive with search ads in many industries.
So what do you get for your remarketing investment?
In my case, it boosted repeat visits by 50 percent, increased conversions by 51 percent, and grew time-on-site by a whopping 300 percent. These are huge numbers for a minimal investment.
Without remarketing, these people would have been lost to us. The money and effort we spent to initially get them to the site would have been wasted.
Instead, remarketing gave us a second chance (and third and fourth, etc.) with people who were already interested in our brand or something we offered. Our engaging, clickable ads had a relevant message for the right people and brought them back.
2. More Leads and Conversions
You want to make sure you're converting or squeezing the money from people who are already in the market for your stuff. This is your low-hanging fruit.
Chances are you're spending enormous money and effort to get people to your site in the first place. Only a small percentage of those people will actually do what you want them to do, whether it's to make a purchase or sign up for a white paper, free trial, newsletter, or something else.
A successful remarketing growth strategy here is to examine the intent of the people on your site.
For example, a person who tried our product has indicated greater intent to become a lead than a person who read one of our blog posts. For a retailer, a person who abandoned a cart is more likely to convert than a visitor who browsed a few minutes and left.
Before remarketing, we saw less than 2 percent of traffic converting.
After remarketing, we improved our website visitor-to-lead-form-submitted conversion by 51 percent. Additionally, we saw a 50 percent increase in the number of repeat visitors to our site.
3. Higher Visitor Engagement
It's critical to start converting your audience into more engaged fans and advocates so that you can grow your following.
Once upon a time, we suffered from an embarrassingly low average time onsite: one minute and 34 seconds. Again, we were attracting plenty of new visitors--about 79.2 percent to be precise, but the people we did attract just weren't that into us.
Retargeting to the rescue!
By crafting compelling, personalized messages and targeting the right people, our time onsite grew to almost five minutes per visit, an amazing increase of more than 300 percent!
Retargeting helped us give people more of what they wanted from us.
4. Improved Brand Recall
Before we became a big-time Inc. 5000 company, we had a serious brand recognition problem. We invested heavily in SEO, which brought us lots of organic traffic, but just 3 percent of those half-million or so monthly views came from branded searches.
Our investment in SEO had greatly outpaced our investment in brand building. We ranked well in search and got plenty of traffic, sure, but nobody remembered us.
Remarketing changed all that. After implementing remarketing, we saw a serious increase in direct traffic and people who found our site by searching for the company brand.
There's a certain magic to display ads that a Google search just can't replicate. The right visuals will make an impact--and help people remember you and your message.
Remarketing is critical for smaller, less established brands that are serious about growth. Start building your brand now through remarketing if you want to succeed in 2016 and beyond.
5. Maximize Your Marketing ROI
In an ideal world, a customer would search for you, visit your site, never be distracted, spend time exploring your content or product pages, sign up, buy, and become a loyal customer forever.
But we don't live in such a world.
If you're investing a good chunk of money into your marketing--your search, content, and social media--why would you spend all that time and money to get people to visit one time? That's insane!
Yet many businesses fall victim to this definition of insanity--doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Do something drastically different this year. Maximize the value of those initial visits you got from your amazing content they found via search or social!
Retargeting is the most leveraged ad spend you can possibly spend. Remarketing simply makes everything work better.
Get smart about remarketing in 2016, and you'll see your business grow like never before!