Content-Based Retargeting Strategy

Although I hate the phrase “content marketing”, I want talk about leveraging content to drive business metrics beyond top of funnel traffic. In my presentation in Boston earlier this year, I talked about how to think about users, not traffic, when approaching a link building campaign.

You should be doing the same with your content.

By tackling metrics like COCA, ARPU and LTV, SEO can be used to monetize demand in a way that pure traffic chasing can’t.

Retargeting Basics

Retargeting is the practice of putting your message in front of lost prospects. It’s typically done through forms of paid advertising, such as display ads, which follow a user around the internet.

To demonstrate the power of retargeting, here are some stats that Joanna Lord shared in her retargeting presentation in 2011.

  • More that 95% of visitors who browse a retailer’s site do not complete a transaction in their visit.”
  • “Retargeted consumers are nearly 70 percent more likely to complete a purchase as compared to non retargeted consumers.”
  •  “Retargeted customers spend, on average 50% more than those served with non-retargeted banner ads.”

Retargeting With Content

The same philosophy can be applied to inbound marketing. Behaviors after a site visit can trigger demand, leading users back to search. Keyword demand exists at all stages of the consumer journey, at stages pre- and post-conversion. Using content to retarget customers can amplify the work you’re already doing. It shouldn’t replace your top of funnel tactics or the content you’re creating for links and social metrics. In combination with those strategies, it can decrease your CPAs and increase the ARPU / LTV of your organic search visitors.

The goal of content retargeting is to define a persona of someone who has done something that implies intent, then create content that will target the demand that action will generate.

Example of Retargeting With Content

At Big Fish, we leverage a content strategy that helps retarget customers, while also improving their gaming experience. We publish 7 to 10 games a week, most of which are available via a freemium model. Players can download games for free and try it for one hour. If a user likes the game, they can continue on, purchasing the full game. This generates a lot of prospective customers. Our most avid players may purchase many games each month or week.

This model generates two unique sticking points:

  1. A player gets stuck or frustrated in a game during the first hour of play. As a result, they never purchase and experience the full game. If they’re a prospective customer, they’ll never become a first time customer. If they’re a current customer, they’ll have a bad experience and never purchase the game.
  2. A player gets stuck or frustrated in a game after they have purchased the game. This is a more unfortunate experience, because you want everyone to enjoy the game play. This can turn someone away from gaming or prevent them from progressing through the game to get to their backlog of other games they’d like to play. The faster they can move through games, the more games they can consume and enjoy.

These two potential events generate a “retargeting” opportunity. A stuck gamer may head to Google and search something like “gargoyle eye in the abandoned garden” because they just can’t find the gargoyle’s eye in a hidden object game. This is an opportunity to get in front of them again with a piece of content.

Unfortunately, our “content” is locked in the form of an exe file.

We’ve approached this by writing end-to-end games walkthroughs. So far, we’ve written 583 walkthoughs, which accounts for over 200 days of straight gameplay. This makes up 3,500,000 words of content with annotated screenshots.

This is content that only targets searchers who have already started playing one of our games. It’s solely a bottom of the funnel strategy.

Recently, we’ve taken these walkthroughs and translated them into both German and French, accounting for about a million words of translated content and counting.

Secondary Effects of the Content

This content reaches farther than a search strategy. Customers use walkthroughs to make purchase decisions. Customers link to walkthroughs in our forums, where users discuss and help each other with gameplay. Walkthroughs also reduce customer support costs when customers contact us for game help. In instances where we don’t have walkthroughs, a CS rep may sit down and play through a game to find a solution.

Finding Opportunities for Bottom of Funnel Content

The best way to discover opportunities like this is to work closely with customers. My team manages social media and community management in addition to SEO, which helps a lot. This primarily consists of an active Facebook and forum community. Outside of product, the team we work more closely with is customer support. They do really awesome stuff like this.

Tips for Finding Content Ideas

  1. Talk to your CS, social media, product marketing, and research teams. They’re going to know about content opportunities you’ll never consider. They talk to customers daily, understand what makes customers unhappy, know where sticking points exist, and understand why customers go away.
  2. Ask your CS team if they have any internal wikis or on-boarding material. These are often full of information they’ve never considered crafting as consumable, and indexable, content. If people are calling in about it, they’re searching for it.
  3. Understand how your customer uses your product and the sticking points. We do this through regular game beta testing, surveys, and in-person usability studies. Few things will change your perspective of search more than watching a customer use your product through a one-way mirror.
  4. Look at your internal search logs. There are all kinds of gems hidden in there.
  5. Look at searches in your KB / help articles. Looks for gaps in that content.
  6. Regularly survey your customers. After I took over social, I turned my attention to the forums. We ran a survey with our users there and the feedback was invaluable. It provided us with a lot of insights we hadn’t considered and provided me with ammunition to help make a case for a range of product and content ideas.
  7. Pretend everyone coming to your site is already buying and the acquisition problem is fully solved. Think about the type of content that will either keep them buying or enjoying your product more fully.
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5 thoughts on “Content-Based Retargeting Strategy

  1. Solid post Justin, love looking at content across your funnel and what type of metrics to look at.

    Something I am interested in, is did your survey try to figure out how users search for bottom query content in Big Fish. For example, do you guys have forms, community (which I took from the post you did), if so are these gated? and do members search there before going to Google. I often think a community is one of your best content hubs for bottom of funnel content like this. It’s interesting you have users going to Google to find this stuff. Do you mine your search logs for queries like this, and if so, do you have any type of internal tool created to help?


  2. Great post as always, Justin.

    Customer Service teams have tonnes of good content that are hidden in the form processes in their day-to-day lives. Telcos is another good example, I was working with one a few years back. We took their customer service manual, re-purposed that in the form of FAQ’s on the website and downloadable PDF’s. Great result, more content on the website and reduces the amount of support calls.

    There is always huge opportunity in optimising and leveraging existing content/information. Cost and time savings which C-level execs love.

    Awesome tips on finding content opportunities.

  3. Justin – your blog articles shouldn’t be open and public. I feel like there are so many gems every time you post!

    Understanding the sticking points is crucially important, especially when it comes to a product based business.

  4. Thanks for sharing that experience and technique Justin. That’s pretty cool stuff.

    If course my initial reaction was “Oh, great. This works out well for his specific situation but what about different niches, B2B, B2C, etc?”

    But the more I think about it, the opportunity for this exists in some way shape or form for everyone. Now, how effective this can be will differ. But at the end of the day creating good content that addresses your client or potential client needs is always a good thing and can’t hurt.

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