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Putting retargeting to work for your startup (planscope.io)
63 points by brandnewlow on Aug 22, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

I kind of ignored all Internet advertising (adblock plus makes it fairly infrequent, the only exception being on mobile, which I'm working on fixing myself...), but I've been seeing how effective retargeting is firsthand -- the "Tile" bt4.0le tracker tags have retargeted me ~everywhere, and it eventually was enough to make me purchase.

I was curious how one would do this kind of thing as a startup, and this customer case study is really informative. I was assuming it would be a several thousand dollar minimum investment, but it's on the order of an adsense trial, so a lot more approachable.

We've got a $25/week minimum and even offer a free trial. You're right, a few years ago it did require thousands to get started, but like anything else, retargeting is being democratized and productized.

Got a chuckle out of me when I noticed the Planscope news feed ad after reading this post.

I think the important distinction here is about providing value rather than the fact Brennan used retargeting for his product. There is a lot of value in having well educated customers; particularly when their education came from you, the service provider. This is why webinars can be very effective in securing the trust of a first-time customer and elevating the lifetime value of current customers.

Teaching people how to get more out of your product helps them see the path to ROI more clearly and creates more trust.

I'm curious to see how the 5 Day Course performs as lead generation in a normal campaign vs. retargeting campaign test.

I actually did run comparison test for our client - regular product retargeting (a site that is very heavy on educational material) vs content retargeting (specific landing pages with content). The engagement level on content were off the charts (up to 90% download rate, TOS, Bounce Rate). So educating works far better. Only trouble is, you need email, which 95% of visitors are not ready to give you on first hit - that's why retargeting works so well here.

Retargeting can be effective, but it starts getting really annoying a few weeks after you decided against a product and for me creates a negative image of that company because I feel almost harassed. If you use it, I would recommend trying to limit the time frame or frequency of ads shown to something reasonable. Maybe a lot of impressions for a few days, then a few impressions per week for up to 2 weeks, then maybe just a few brief impressions after that. But don't go on for months.

Frequency and time capping are actually a common sense in retargeting. Having said that, current tools are not great at it as it's hard to do proper cohort campaign/analysis. We're addressing it with both time and impression caps, as well as cookie lifetime. Retargeting people on leisure sites or in times when they're usually in 'downtime' mode can also be a problem, which is why precise insight into individual placements is necessary.

I doubt it's retargeting that made the difference. Originally, his CPC was > $1(that's way too much) and he reduced that to ~$0.20. That obviously gave him more clicks for a fixed budget.

Secondly, the "forced sign up" landing page helps as well.

Reference: http://andrewchen.co/2013/07/29/the-highest-roi-way-to-incre...

AFAIK there isn't a way to set a CPC with Perfect Audience newsfeed ads. I plugged in a weekly budget and that was it.

Hmm, that doesn't give you much control. I suggest you go straight to the source and use FB's Power Editor. You get control over everything. Facebook has one of the most comprehensive targeting tool in the world. As a startup, you'll want to think of the way you advertise as a customer discovery process.

Know your target audience and target these people as specific as you can. Then set the maximum price you'll pay to get these people's attention. Fine tuning can come later.

Power editor doesn't do retargeting, with off-site data captured from your visitors. Power editor is just for targeting people using on-site FB profile data and activity. I agree though, Facebook's targeting is indeed awesome.

I didn't know this was a thing, but I'd been noticing this phenomenon. I found it extremely annoying that after going to a website to check something out I'd see ads for the same thing. Even for things that I'd signed up to, i.e. Parse, were showing me ads.

Not excluding current clients is a common problem, which is actually technical. Retargeting requires tags placed in multiple places (homepage, blog, marketing automation, and yes - product). Placing retargeting pixels on product pages is often seen as risky, detrimental to product performance or your clients data. I believe the upside from being able to distinguish between clients and prospects outweighs the risk factors (which are quite superficial to be honest). There are other ways to exclude current clients such as custom interactions and landing pages, but that's a longer story.

Who says placing retargeting tags on product pages is seen as risky? I've never heard anything resembling that nor can I think of a reason why that may be. No need to spread more FUD in the ad space.

Product/tech teams raise that concern (logic being that anything could happen within JS) - in my opinion it's more of a product/engineering/marketing conflict than any real logic/evidence behind it.

Or "How I advertised my startup on HN".

And? It's not like there's a prohibition against promoting your own startup here? In fact, the "Show HN" posts are very explicitly about self-promotion.

If somebody posts something that's genuinely useful to others (and I, for one, did find this post informative) and it also happens to promote your thing, well, hey... that's what I'd call a "win win".

This is surprising. I clicked your username expecting to see a 47 day old account with twelve karma and an average of 1.2, well on the path to hellbaning, with a fundamental misunderstanding of who this site's core users are and what they find useful.

But no, you've been here from the beginning and you run a software business. You've been seeing helpful articles like this for the better part of five years now and, I assume, benefiting from them. Seems like a strange time to snap and make a snarky dismissive comment.

Bad day?

I found it to be a very helpful post. I learned something that I can apply to my own site.

If such a post gets a few sign ups for planescape along the way, I don't see the harm. But advertising was far from the focus of the post. The author doesn't even say what planescape does.

The article wouldn't have hit the front page if it wasn't useful. How many companies are using retargeting + drip email effectively?

Articles hit the front page because they get a few early upvotes, not because they're more useful than the other thousand submissions a day.

And being constantly guerrilla-marketed / growth-hacked / whatever at is tiresome.

(Author, but not submitter, here. A few friends on Twitter asked for a writeup of what I was doing with retargeting, and the guys at Perfect Audience ended up submitting it to HN. Not sure how I'm "growth hacking".)

I say keep sharing what you've learned. In fact, it would be great to see a follow up on this experiment in a couple of weeks, as well.

The author didn't even submit this post to HN himself. If you wrote a blog post on your own blog and someone else submits it to HN, would that be considered "How you advertised your startup on HN"?

Small sample size much?

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