Ask the Snail! Introducing New Marketing Programs

Zippy Covid

Whether you are new to your marketing role or a veteran, the variety of marketing programs and segments can be complex. Check out some points to consider when reviewing your options.

Dear Zippy,

I head up marketing for my family’s eCommerce business that was launched in 2019. Not only is the company just a few years old, I am new to this marketing role.

Fortunately, we have been able work with best-in-class marketing partners, and are rapidly growing. More recently, several of my partners have been introducing new programs to me and I am not understanding the similarities and differences of these programs. They all sound the same to me.  But, as I mentioned, I am new to this role and prefer not to remind my partners of that (😊). Could you please let me know how I should think about digital retargeting, direct mail retargeting and trigger programs?


Newbie in New York

Dear Newbie,

This is a reasonable question no matter how long you have been working in marketing! It’s confusing to many of us.

Retargeting refers to the act of targeting a consumer after they have taken some action that indicates interest in your brand. Retargeting, most commonly refers to digital retargeting, which is the act of targeting a consumer after they have shown interest in your brand by visiting your website. After that consumer leaves your website, having not taken action, paid digital ads are served to those consumers when they appear online elsewhere, with the intent of bringing them back to your website to transact. 

Retargeting is not limited to digital channels. Retargeting can be executed through email and even more successfully via direct mail.

When is the right time to retarget a consumer?

The act of visiting your website can serve as the “trigger” to activate retargeting. When we talk about trigger programs, we are referring to a marketing action that occurs, automatically, after a specific predefined event transpires. When a consumer visits your website, that visit is the event that can trigger a retargeting program. It can trigger outreach via social media, outreach via email or outreach via direct mail, as more specific examples. In this context, a trigger program can be a digital retargeting program. 

It can be a direct mail retargeting program – hence the confusion.

To further add to the complexity, you can and should create different segments to retarget to, each based on different triggers.

  • One visit to your website from a known customer can serve as a trigger and initiate a digital, email or direct mail retargeting program.
  • One purchase through your website or retail store can serve as a trigger and initiate a digital, email or direct mail program to secure an additional transaction.
  • One visit to your website from a prospect (never purchased from you before) can trigger and initiate a digital retargeting program via social media or the open web.
  • One visit to your website from a prospect can trigger a direct mail retargeting program, when the provider is able to associate a postal name and address to that site visitor.

Many companies can create and execute triggered programs, via digital channels, to known customers. Options are limited when the consumer is not known. Direct mail is not an option. Very few companies can create and execute triggered direct mail retargeting programs to those new consumers. When talking with your partners, don’t hesitate to get this level of clarification by asking these questions:

  • Is the trigger program focused on customers or prospects? If just to customers, you may want to consider other partners that can include prospects as well.
  • Is the trigger program to be executed via digital or direct mail channels? If just digital channels, you may want to consider other partners that can include email and/or direct mail…
  • …because, one of the most important questions to ask is: What performance can I expect from digital, email and direct mail retargeting programs?

I promise you, you will not be exposing yourself as someone new to marketing by asking these questions. Everyone should be asking them!

Good luck!


Hitting the (re)Target Directly