February 16, 2022

How to Use Retargeting Ads

By: Shelby Dias

You’ve probably clicked an ad or visited a site without making a purchase only to see ads turn up everywhere for the item you were looking at. This ad strategy is retargeting, and it attempts to reengage potential customers.

It’d be great if your customers converted on their first visit to your website. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens most of the time. They may not be ready to make a purchase just yet, or they may be distracted before completing an intended purchase. That’s where retargeting ads can make a difference.

What is Retargeting?

This strategy shows targeted ads to someone who visited your website but didn’t convert. An example of a conversion would be making a purchase, filling out a contact form, or signing up for something. If someone leaves your site without doing these things, they see your ad as they browse the web, scroll social media, or even research your competitor.

Google describes retargeting as the online equivalent of turning window shoppers into buyers. These ads target people who are already interested in your business. It helps you stay top of mind and encourages future conversions when the time is right for them.

Retargeting is sometimes confused with “remarketing” strategies. These are similar marketing strategies, but they use different types of messaging. Retargeting campaigns use advertising platforms like Facebook or Google to reach potential customers. Remarketing is typically an effort to re-engage existing customers through email.

Engage Your Audience With Personal Ads

Retargeting ads are about as personal as digital ads can get because they are a direct result of your customers’ behavior. They can positively impact brand recall and revenue, and these ads usually have high click-through rates and conversion rates. Some of the benefits of retargeting ads include:

  • High ROI: Facebook says retargeting ads often yield higher conversions. This is because people recognize your brand or the offer and are more likely to click.
  • Personalization: You can segment your retargeting lists to get as specific as you want. You can show people the products or services they are most interested in. For example, a family attorney would show different retargeting ads to people who requested info about divorce than someone interested in adoption.
  • Build Loyalty: You can stay top of mind with existing customers by showcasing new products and special offers. This type of ad strategy helps increase your customer lifetime value, which is the total revenue you can expect from a single customer.

How Do Retargeting Ads Work?

The retargeting customer journey looks something like this:

  1. A potential customer visits your site.
  2. They leave your website without converting.
  3. Later, they surf the web or scroll social media.
  4. Google (or Facebook) shows them an ad based on their interest in your product.
  5. The potential customer revisits your site and converts.

Retargeting ads are powered by a tracking code on your website, sometimes called a pixel. If someone starts an action on your website and leaves, the pixel follows them. The pixel communicates to ad platforms like Google or Facebook and tells them who to show your ads to.

Sometimes, a customer might see your ad within seconds of leaving your site. This is because tracking information is transferred in a fraction of a second. The ad platform bids on your ad space in real-time, so by the time the page loads, your ad is purchased and displayed.

This type of ad is so effective because it targets people who know who you are and who were already interested in your product or service. It brings back your “window shoppers” when they are ready to buy. If they make a purchase, they are usually removed from the ad segment.

Types of Retargeting Ads

Pixel-Based Retargeting Ads

This is the most common type of retargeting. A pixel on your website tells the ad platform when a visitor left without converting. For example, if someone opted-in to a chiropractor’s new patient special but didn’t schedule an adjustment, the pixel ensures they see an ad encouraging them to schedule.

The pixel does not track any sensitive information about your website visitors like their name or physical address. And they won’t see your retargeting ads forever. You can specify how long of a timeframe you want to attempt to reengage them.

List-Based Retargeting Ads

Some businesses want to retarget people who’ve visited their actual store. Maybe you want to retarget people who signed up for your email list last year or people who you sent direct mail last month. List-based retargeting requires you to upload a list of email addresses and other information you’ve collected. You can create highly-specific ads because you defined exactly who you want to see them.

Customers don’t respond well to overexposure in any one area – whether that be too many emails, too many mailers, or too many ads. However, list-based retargeting helps you share your message over multiple channels instead of overwhelming your customers on one channel.

Things to Avoid

Retargeting ads can be a powerful tool. As a part of a complete digital marketing strategy, they can help you drive conversions. But if they aren’t utilized correctly, they’ll only cost you money.

Some of the common mistakes we see with retargeting:

  • Too many or not enough impressions. When someone sees your ad too many times, they experience ad fatigue. However, people need to see something at least seven times to remember it. You should find the sweet spot between over or under-serving your ads.
  • Poor creative. If your company or your offer isn’t clearly visible, then your display ads will likely be ineffective. In addition to creating good-looking ads, you also can’t let them get stale. After several months, even the best-looking ads will start to lag in performance.
  • Retargeting customers who converted. Once your retargeting works, you should remove customers who converted from your ad group. No one wants to see an ad for a product that they already bought, and it’s unnecessary spending on your part.

Retargeting Ads Best Practices

As you test retargeting with Google or Facebook ads, keep in mind these best practices:

  • Segment your visitors. You can show customized ads to different groups. For example, an insurance agent would show a different ad to someone who requested a car insurance quote instead of a life insurance quote. The agent would also remove clients from the ad group after they purchased a policy.
  • Time your ads appropriately. The retargeting window for your industry or product may be different from other businesses. For example, B2B companies may retarget customers for a longer period of time than e-commerce companies. You should specify a retargeting window that’s appropriate for your products.
  • Use strong creatives. The most effective ads will give a clear call to action and promote an offer that encourages a click. It can also be helpful to have the creative reflect the different interests or segments of your target audience.
  • Measure your success. Just like your other ads, you can measure impressions, click-through rates, and other metrics of your retargeting ads. But, you should also keep an eye on your organic traffic. As people see your retargeting ad, they recognize your brand and may take action outside of clicking the ad.

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We help our clients connect to more customers through their websites and digital marketing. If you have questions about ads for your business, let’s chat.

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