Your Business Guide to Retargeting Campaigns


Alex Corral

Apr 30, 2018


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Search Engine Marketing

Every online business thrives on obtaining traffic from targeted audiences. If you want to boost your digital marketing success rate, then it's time you paid attention to the people who visit your website and leave without converting. While rejection is a normal part of every business, there are ways of turning the people who leave into paying customers. How can you do this? By using retargeting campaigns. Read on to find out everything you need to know about retargeting audiences in this comprehensive guide for business owners.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is essentially a method of advertising to people who visited your site or are already in your database. This type of advertising, also known as 'remarketing' uses cookies to help you to remain visible to the visitors who have clicked away or maybe even opened one of your emails. This is what sets these ads apart from your typical banner ads. Retargeting ads can be shown anywhere you like, such as on search engine result pages, Facebook, or other websites. Many platforms can be used for retargeting campaigns. We've listed some of them below:

Retargeting Platforms

  • Facebook Retargeting with Custom Audiences
  • Google AdWords Remarketing
  • Twitter
  • Adroll

Why is Retargeting So Effective?

This method of advertising works so well because you already know that the visitor has an interest in your site. If you maintain a presence when this user browses the internet after visiting your website, familiarity develops, which ultimately leads to trust. Retargeting audiences is also an excellent branding strategy. It not only helps to build your base of potential conversions, but the conversions that you do get are more likely to turn into repeat customers.

Looking at Bounce Rates in a New Light

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your site who leave after they visit just one page. These figures are a crucial aspect of standard retargeting practices. Bounce rates are undoubtedly the most discouraging aspect of any campaign, but perhaps it's time to start changing your opinion of them when conducting your campaign analysis. Rather than just viewing your bounce rate as rejection, why not perceive those no's as not yet's? Just because a potential customer clicks off your website does not mean that they won't ever buy from you.

How Retargeting Works

There are two main types of retargeting methods: List-Based Retargeting and Pixel-BasedRetargeting. They each work in different ways and have their benefits depending on what your campaign goals are.

Pixel-Based Retargeting

By far, the most widely used type of retargeting, pixel-based retargeting is a way of re-displaying your material to anyone who visited your site or landing page. Whenever someone comes to your website, their browser is 'cookied' by placing an unobtrusive bit of JavaScript (a pixel) on it. After they leave your site and continue with their web surfing, the cookie in their browser notifies the retargeting platforms so they can serve specific advertisements of your choosing. This is where strategy comes into play as you can have this ad trigger based on the particular pages they went to on your site, or if they exhibited certain behaviors that you are targeting. Pixel-based retargeting has a distinct advantage in that it is quick. Potential customers can be retargeted as soon as they leave your site. Another significant benefit is that you can be as specific or not-so-specific when you are implementing your targeting. This is why behavior-based marketers love it! On the flip side, this type of advertising will have a lower volume of prospects in the campaigns at any given time since it's based on factors that will limit the overall pool.

List-Based Retargeting

This type of retargeting is used when you already have the person's contact details in your database. Your list of existing contacts can be used for various kinds of retargeting ads. To make this work, you upload the email addresses onto your chosen retargeting campaign (it could be Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform). The platform will then identify users through those addresses and show retargeting ads only to them. While it's used less than pixel-based retargeting, this type of advertising allows you to highly customize the criteria for your advertisements since it's based on more than just behavior. You choose who goes on which list and create a custom audience. The negative aspect of list-based retargeting is that if you're using, say, Facebook for your remarketing campaigns, it's possible that the individual used one email address to sign up on your list and another to join the social network. This means that they won't see your ads in such a case. Because this happens quite a lot, it means that you will need a reasonably extensive list to succeed in effectively targeting audiences this way. Yet another drawback of using list-based retargeting methods is that you have to upload and maintain the list, which makes it a whole lot less automatic and more time-consuming than pixel-based retargeting.

Setting Goals for Your Retargeting Campaigns

Your retargeting campaigns are only ever going to be as good as your goals. With most campaigns for retargeting audiences, the focus is on one of two goals: one, driving conversions or sales, and two, building awareness or branding.

Driving Conversions

Marketing is about producing new revenue for businesses, and the ultimate goal of every ad campaign is to drive sales, but that doesn't always happen. This means that if you want to make the most of every click you're paying for, then you have to make use of retargeting campaigns. With pixel-based ads, you can help potential customers transition to actual paying customers by getting them to submit lead forms. If you're using a list-based campaign, you could get those people to attend your webinar, download your brochure, or you could even upsell those who are already customers. Retargeting audiences can be a very effective way of driving conversions and, ultimately, of increasing sales, depending on how your particular business works.

Building Awareness

Not all marketing campaigns lead directly to sales, and because of this, your sights must be set a little bit higher in the funnel. As previously explained, customers are more likely to buy if they remember your business from before. The harsh reality is that a tiny portion of visitors who land on your site is ready to convert. But, that doesn't mean that they are not going to convert or even make a purchase some time in the coming days, weeks, or months. Awareness campaigns help you stay on the radar until those potential customers are ready to commit. And when that time comes, you'll be the first business they think of. While awareness campaigns may not be profitable in a direct way, they are a great way to improve the performance of all your other campaigns. This makes them well worth investing in.

Segments and Frequency

There are some essential principles that you need to keep in mind when setting up your retargeting campaigns. One is the audience segments, and the other is the frequency with which you show your ads.

Segmenting Your Audiences

Audience segmentation involves crafting your marketing message to cater to the different audiences that you have. For example, sending the same message to someone interested in making a purchase and another who is just looking for information on your blog may not prove useful. Since people are on your site for different reasons, it makes sense to speak to them in different ways. This is where being able to segment your audience comes in handy. You can set up different criteria such as demographics, time spent on your site, pages visited, geographic location, and so on. You could even use different pixels on various pages on your website so that your message will be specific to those people's particular needs. With audience segmentation, you can target someone who left items in their shopping cart with one set of ads while you send a different set of ads to someone who read your blog. That way, you get the most benefits out of each of your retargeting campaigns.

Retargeting Frequency

When it comes to the frequency of your retargeting ads, some recommend capping ad impressions at about 17 to 20 ads per person per month to avoid irritating potential customers. Others advise differently. They suggest that if someone visited your site, then they have an interest in what you're selling, so its best to display as many ads as you can to those people. A plan that is a mix of those two perspectives is ideal. For example, you could set up your retargeting campaign based on the time since the person visited your site. This means that your ads can present themselves to these individuals in the first couple of weeks after they came to your site. But, as time goes on, there is less of a chance of conversion so you can start to decrease your ad frequency. Whatever frequency caps you choose, it's an excellent idea to run retargeting ads for as long as you can since you never know when those potential customers will be ready to buy. Besides, it's a relatively inexpensive way of building brand recognition, anyway.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Other than the frequency of your ads and segmentation of your audience, there are other factors to take into consideration when planning your campaign. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when creating retargeting audiences:

Lack of Differentiation

Is there anything as annoying as being served with a remarketing ad after you just bought the product being advertised? Avoid making this mistake in your retargeting by using a burn pixel. Adding a pixel to your thank, your page excludes them from your standard retargeting campaigns.

Wrong Timing

If you address users at the wrong time, it may result in your retargeting campaigns losing their effectiveness. For example, if one of your customers has just purchased a printer, it doesn't make any sense to send an advertisement for replacement cartridges their way a few days later. Instead, wait a few weeks, and you will have a more responsive audience.

Different Types of Retargeting

So, what are your options when it comes to retargeting campaigns? There are a lot of different portals that you can use online to reconnect with potential customers. In this section, we're going to dive deep into the various ways of regaining contact.

  1. With only about 2% of PPC clicks converting, it seems like a good idea to do everything you can to extend your PPC campaigns a bit more. Using retargeting campaigns is one way to do so. When someone clicks on your PPC ad, it means that they have some kind of interest. If they click away, you can display a follow-up ad to them (via that anonymous cookie we talked about). You can even choose whether the ad appears on the search engine results pages of their future searches, different websites, or their social network feed.
  2. If you already have an email list, you can use it for retargeting people and remarketing your business by sending out an email that leaves a cookie if it's opened. Sending the email already puts your business back in the minds of anyone who has already purchased something from you. The targeted ads that they see as they are browsing the internet extends that familiar relationship. This is a very simple yet extremely usefule method of enhancing your email campaign.
  3. With billions of people using Facebook today, there are vast benefits to using this social network for retargeting audiences. The average person spends over an hour on this social media network every day, which makes it the perfect location for posting both primary and retargeting ads. If you want to take advantage of Facebook ads for your retargeting, you can program your campaign to place a cookie when one of your visitors takes a particular action. This could be a click on your PPC ad, visit your site, or if they open one of your emails. After the cookie is placed, the next time they are on Facebook, your ad will be displayed to them.
  4. The search engine results page (SERP) is the one you see with a list of links when you search google. No matter where your cookies are placed, you can always resort to SERP's marketing space as this is an excellent way of capturing customers early on in their search (before they get distracted by other websites). Using SERPs for your retargeting campaigns presents your potential customers with the opportunity to visit your site once again.
  5. On other websites. Just like PPC marketing, there are a lot of websites that offer space for advertising on their pages. You can choose to place ads retargeting audiences onto these sites either randomly or strategically, depending on which platform you're using. Such ads are often in the form of banners. Appearing on other sites like this can substantially increase your business, although often, it results in the billboard effect.


So what's the takeaway? Retargeting ads are aa straightforward and effective way to build trust with potential customers as well as to brand yourself. Whether it's to capture more of your bounced visitors or to extend your business with the customers you already have – there's no denying just how beneficial these types of retargeting campaigns can prove to be for the growth and sustainability of your business.

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