Remarketing vs retargeting in veterinary digital marketing

Posted on January 25, 2018 POSTED UNDER:


(This article is a 7.5-minute read)


1. The meaning of retargeting and remarketing

2. The difference between the two tactics in veterinary digital marketing

3. The way each tactic can help grow your practice

Even though it has simple goals, veterinary digital marketing can get complicated. The goals of your digital marketing are to make people aware of your clinic, then to get them to book an appointment. The tools and tactics available to help you do that, however, are much more sophisticated than they’ve ever been.

This article will look at two of those tools & tactics—remarketing and retargeting. Both are terms you have probably already heard. Both involve the use of some software in a tactical way. Both involve talking to people who have visited your website. Hopefully both result in people bringing their pets to visit you on a regular basis.

While the words sound similar, remarketing and retargeting are slightly different ideas. Retargeting is done by computers. Remarketing is done by people. As a result, retargeting is more efficient, but less effective, than remarketing. The way you use each tactic should really be determined by the life stage of your clinic, and the result you want to achieve.

Remarketing vs retargeting: the devil is in the detail

Both remarketing and retargeting involve the use of cookies. Cookies are a small piece of code that is automatically dropped onto the computer of someone who visits your website when their browser (Safari or Firefox or whatever they use) loads the webpage.

When that computer visits your site a second time, your website recognises it because of the cookie. It doesn’t recognise the actual person doing the browsing—just the computer.

It sounds creepy and stalkerish, but it's an extremely useful bit of technology. By adding a cookie the experience of using your website becomes faster for someone who's a regular visitor. Images can load faster, forms that have been filled out can be repopulated, and any previous transactions they’ve done on the site will be remembered.

Most people aren't aware of cookies at all. Occasionally you'll visit a website and a little message will pop up saying that it uses cookies to identify you. The reason some websites do that and others don't is in Europe it's a legal requirement. It's becoming a legal requirement in the United States as well, and so you'll see it more and more frequently.


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Retargeting in veterinary digital marketing

When you are using retargeting as a tactic, that cookie on your computer lets other sites on the web recognise that it has been on your website. If you have purchased some Google ads from Google’s display advertising, for example, your ads will be fed to the person on other people’s websites (if they have Google ad slots on their site).

You can see this in action on a popular newspaper site like the Sydney Morning Herald. When you open a particular story, there will be display ads down the right hand side of the page. If you open that same story on someone else’s computer, you may well see different ads.

You can enable this on your own website, but you run the risk of an inappropriate ad being associated with your clinic. You can control this to some degree.

As an advertiser, retargeting can be quite effective—especially if you are advertising a particular product that people can buy through your clinic’s website. Often people are interested in buying something online, then get distracted. A retargeted ad can remind them and draw them back to you.



Remarketing for vets

Remarketing differs from this in a small but important way. When you are remarketing, you use some extra device to associate someone’s name or email address with the cookie. You might get that by offering a free download, or a form they can fill in.

By associating a name with the cookie, you can get an idea of who the person is visiting your site—not just the computer. You may also keep some kind of record of which pages that person visits on your site. If you know who the person is and what their email address is, you can send them more relevant information beyond what they’ve seen on your site. This is remarketing.

That extra information might be an email newsletter, or a coupon or a special offer. Best practice should involve offering something they can’t get just by looking online.

Remarketing is often less automated and more personal than retargeting. Remarketing is about trying to start up a conversation with a unique individual.

In conclusion

In the good old days, an ad was an ad. You put it out there in the world. People saw it or they didn’t. Either way, you didn’t know because they stayed anonymous until they became a customer. That doesn’t happen with digital marketing, because nothing in the digital world is truly anonymous.

When people started using this technology, they also started to realise that digital display ads were often ignored or blocked by users. That’s why retargeting was developed—to give advertisers a better chance of having their ad seen, because it automatically appeared in more places.

No-one wants to stalk potential clients. But while the use of cookies looks like a privacy issue at first, it’s less of an issue than you might think. Your website is more like a storefront than an advertisement. If someone walked into your vet clinic, looking around for something, you’d be well within your rights to ask them if they wanted some help.

Trying to find a way to help them solve their problems, by communicating with them again, is not such a bad thing. Just make sure you have some worthwhile content on your site to draw them back. Both those strategies, remarketing and retargeting can work very well. They're both tactics that you should look into using when marketing your veterinary clinic.


basic content marketing for veterinary practices

Rob Johnson

Rob is the co-founder of Bite magazine and Vet Practice magazine. He writes and gives talks about content marketing, and leads a team of good-looking and stylish content folk from their Sydney HQ.

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