Ad retargeting can help your business bring visitors back to your site, increase conversions, and build better brand awareness. In this blog, we explore what it is, how it works, best practices, and strategies for success.
When a prospect sees a retargeting ad, there’s a 70% chance that they’ll purchase your product over your competitor’s. The click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad. Website visitors who are retargeted are more likely to convert by 43%.
The stats speak for themselves. Retargeting ads are one of the best ways to bring more visitors back to your website and improve conversion rates.
In this guide, we’ll get into what ad retargeting it and how it works, plus provide you with tips and examples that will increase conversions and eliminate unnecessary wastage. Let’s go.
What is ad retargeting?
Have you ever visited a website and then noticed a bunch of ads following you around all over the internet? Put simply: retargeting is a type of PPC advertising that displays ads to users who have previously visited your site while they are browsing other sites.
Unlike traditional ads which are intended to attract new traffic, retargeting ads are designed to retarget known website visitors or contacts in your marketing database (like leads or customers) with a personalized call to action.
In the example below, you’ll see how Apartments.com have used retargeting to deliver more personalized advertising experiences to website visitors.
The Rule of Seven is one of the oldest concepts in marketing, referring to the idea that a customer will need to interact with a brand seven times before they’ll take action. Things have changed a lot since this rule was popularized and the exactness of the number seven is highly debatable, but the general principle still applies — a customer is unlikely to take action until they have had multiple interactions with your brand.
Retargeting allows you to get control of the situation, and show your ads to bring people who haven’t taken a conversion action back to your website. That conversion action could be filling out a lead form, opting-in to a newsletter, registering for a webinar, or signing up for a free trial.
In an age where customer acquisition costs are skyrocketing, retargeting is appealing to audiences because it can dramatically decrease customer acquisition costs. Consider the rule of seven. If all of those interactions cost you money, your CPA really starts to add up. If instead, you are retargeting visitors who have stopped by your website or signed up for your newsletter of their own volition, you are removing some of that advertising spend and targeting a qualified audience who are more likely to register and react to your advertising messages.
Not only is your audience more likely to remember a repeated message, but they are also more likely to believe it and take action on it.
How does ad retargeting work?
You can then utilize this cookie data to serve personalized and relevant ads to the users through search, social, video, and other platforms. Google and Facebook are the two most popular choices for marketers.
Where does ad retargeting fit in my marketing strategy?
At this point you might be asking yourself where retargeting advertising fits into the customer journey — should they go right at the beginning after one website visit, or is it better to place them halfway through? And when a customer does the thing that the ad is asking them to do (for example, purchase your product), how do you then ensure they keep buying? Should this first-time buyer then be shown a different, more relevant ad, or no ads at all?
Below we will provide you with some retargeting strategies that can set you up for success. But it’s important to note that these big questions will continue to pop up if your data is siloed. Without a single view of the customer journey, it’s impossible to see how your retargeting efforts are impacting the metrics that matter to your business like conversions, MRR and CLV or to deliver a positive customer experience.
Solve this problem, by unifying your data in a platform that allows you to sync your advertising audiences. This essentially means you can incorporate, personalize, and optimize your ads into the customer journey to give your customer a seamless experience and eliminate wastage.
Ortto’s Google and Facebook ads integrations allow you to do just that, syncing your advertising audiences to ensure you are reaching the right person, with the right message, at the right time. With UTMs implemented, you can also track the results of your campaigns within your existing reports and dashboards.
Ad retargeting strategies
Retargeting performs best when it is part of a long-term strategy. Here are some of the ways marketers commonly use retargeting:
Remember the rule of 7? Retargeting can be used to remind new visitors why they were visiting your site in the first place and help ensure your brand stays top of mind while they research competitors and weigh up their options. The more personalized you can get, the better.
For example, if your user was browsing a page about a productivity feature, you could target them with a customer testimonial that speaks to saving time and streamlining workflows. In another instance, a user may be browsing a page that references goal tracking. In this case, your money would be best spent targeting them with an advertisement that speaks to your product’s ability to track progress and drive measurable results on company goals.
Convert users on a free trial
You got a new customer on a free trial — congratulations! Now it’s game time. Those free trial weeks are crucial and retargeting can play an important role in converting your new user to become a paying customer.
While your organic marketing efforts like email, pop-ups, and SMS should be used to help your user along their onboarding journey, your retargeted ads can act as the seller.
Using a platform like Ortto, you can add your free trial users to an audience segment and sync this audience with Facebook and Google ads. As they’re browsing, they’ll be targeted with customer testimonials, stats and facts, or messages about features that are only available to paying customers. You could also offer a discount on the first 6 months to try to nudge them over the finish line.
Once they become a paying customer, they are removed from the free trial ad audience, so they will no longer be shown ads regarding the offer. They could then be added to a new ‘customers under $X MRR’ audience, where they could be targeted with remarketing ads around new feature releases or referral campaigns.
Nurture newsletter subscribers who aren’t customers yet
For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36. In other words, when a customer signs up for your newsletter, they are one step closer to buying from you.
With Ortto’s Facebook and Google ads integrations, you can complement your emails by displaying ads to subscribers who aren’t yet customers. Think of it as a one-two punch for nurturing people towards their first purchase from you.
Let’s say you’re a SaaS company that gives workplaces a way to support their employee’s well-being. You’ve built a newsletter that customers and non-customers can subscribe to sharing content around stress management, work-life balance, desk-ercise, and healthy recipes.
In Ortto, you can use filters to create an audience segment of ‘newsletter leads’, and retarget them with an exclusive offer using Google and Facebook ads. In the example below, you’ll see how we’ve filtered a list to show subscribers, with no MRR, who have visited the website in the last 30 days. These filters give us a more qualified audience to work with, eliminating wastage.
Once users in this audience have MRR attached to them, they will be automatically removed from the ‘newsletter leads’ audience segment to ensure not a dollar is wasted.
Practice sequential retargeting for long or complex sales cycles
Sequential retargeting is kind of like the ad version of drip nurture emails—it shows a logical progression of different ads to the same person over time with the goal of staying top of mind until that person converts.
It’s a great strategy for a product that is complicated, comes at a higher price point, or simply has a longer sales cycle due to the nature of your customer’s business.
Here’s an example of how a sequential retargeting flow could work:
Ad #1 offers a time-sensitive promo code and runs for 2 days.
Ad #2 changes messaging to focus on a specific feature in your product
Ad #3 pushes an animated version of ad #2 in an attempt to capture attention with movement and reinforce benefits.
Ads #4 and #5 are shown simultaneously, one sharing a video customer testimonial and the other a carousel of 5-star G2 reviews
Ads #6 and beyond become dynamic, showing specific features that relate to content the user has been viewing on your website
On a smaller scale, sequential retargeting could look like this:
Ad #1 retargets a visitor who has been visiting your homepage with messaging about your top 3 most-used product features
Ad #2 shares a time-sensitive discount code
Ad #3 shares a customer testimonial
The important thing here is to tell a story along the way, sharing different proof points and benefits to convince the lead to become a paying customer.
Ad retargeting best practices
Before you start playing around with some of the strategies outlined above, keep these best practice guidelines in mind.
1. Set clear goals
Retargeting ads will bring people back to your website, but what’s more important is how they’ll contribute to your overall marketing priorities.
Setting a clear goal that aligns with your existing marketing objectives will determine the offer you make, the landing page you link to, the amount you spend, the call to action you include and so on.
The question to ask yourself is "how am I trying to grow my business right now?" Here are some ideas to get you started:
Grow marketing qualified leads by 25% per month for 6 months
Upsell 5% of free users into paid this quarter
Recapture 20% of website visitors within 7 days
Turn 1-time buyers into repeat buyers to increase revenue 10%
Drive free trial signups to reach your July goal of 800 trials
Whatever it is that you’re trying to do, make sure you attached UTMs to all of your retargeting activity so you can track the results.
2. Segment those who are most likely (and least likely) to buy
Just because someone visited a site once does not mean they are a potential customer.
A website visitor who looked at your pricing page, spent five minutes reading a blog post, and almost signed up for a free trial is completely different from a website visitor who bounced after being on your blog for five seconds.
Retarget people who’ve shown an active interest in your product or service. To find these likely buyers and save ad spend in the process, segment your audience into precise audiences using criteria like:
Behavior: figure out which pages viewed on your website drive the most conversions. For example, targeting visitors who view your pricing page or click through to a checkout page are expressing openness to making a purchase.
Language & Location: double-check your audience geography and language settings to avoid wasting money on clicks from places you don’t serve or sell to.
Device: research your new audience to find out their behaviors with smartphones, tablets, and desktops to give insight into where and how you advertise. Pro tip:Very few people click on mobile banner ads intentionally. Do yourself a favor and exclude mobile devices from your display campaign.
Named Lists: you can sync lists of people already in your database to retarget. This allows you to go beyond behavioral retargeting and reach specific people who meet criteria like industry, use case, product purchased, or event attendee. In the example below, Influ2 events are targeting Zendesk employees who attended their event. This is an example of hyper-specific named list retargeting.
Exclusions: remember to exclude groups who have already converted, any spam traffic, and visitors who quickly bounced after first arriving at your website. Think about other segments that make sense to exclude for your business. For example, if your app only works on desktop, does it make sense to exclude users on mobile devices?
As you saw in the example above, Ortto makes segmenting like this simple. And with ad audiences synced, there’s no need to waste time downloading and uploading CSV files of audiences (not to mention, take the risk of a file going astray).
3. Set frequency caps to avoid fatigue
Your visitors see ads on Facebook, Twitter, Google search results, website after website after website, and it can become overwhelming.
Avoid overexposure by limiting the number of times your ads are shown—for businesses with longer buying cycles, it may make sense to only serve an ad once every few days. For more impulse purchases, like a pair of socks, the frequency cap can be higher, e.g. 4 times per day.
Sticking within this range will still keep you on people’s minds without sabotaging your retargeting efforts. Another way to overcome ad fatigue is to have a wide range of creatives in rotation. Speak to different product features, benefits, and customer testimonials to bring your brand’s story to life in different ways.
4. Track click-through conversions and view-through conversions
When it comes to retargeting ad performance, advertisers will report on click-through conversions, view-through conversions, and a total of both.
Click-through conversions happen when people convert directly as a result of clicking on your ad.
View-through conversions are counted when people see a retargeting ad and later complete the conversion goal, kind of like goal assists in soccer. Even though the conversion’s last touch is attributed to another channel, these view-through conversions are helpful in understanding the downstream effect of seeing retargeting ads online.
Best practice is to wait until you’ve had 500 to 1,000 clicks (or 50 to 100 conversions) before analyzing the results of your retargeting ad campaign. From there, you’ll have gathered enough data to pause what’s not working and expand on what is.
The final word
Retargeting is a powerful tool to have in your marketing sandbox, and it’s made even more powerful and personalized when your advertising audiences are automatically synced to your CDP.