How to Make the Most of Your Retargeting Campaigns

Ready for a crazy statistic? For most websites, only 2% of traffic converts on the first visit to a website. That’s right, only 2%. If we do a little math - this means that the other 98% of the traffic knows your brand exists and has some level of interest, but needs more to convince them to interact with your site and convert. That is where retargeting campaigns come in.

Retargeting, in the world of advertising and marketing, is exactly what it sounds like. It puts your brand and your message back in front of the consumers who visited your website and ended up part of your site’s bounce statistic.

If you are wondering how you can know who visited and left your website, it has to do with those cookies you might find annoying as a consumer but need to embrace as a business person. A JavaScript tag is put on the website that embeds a cookie on your visitors and then allows you to retarget them with native ads as they browse other websites. Website platforms, such as Squarespace, make it easy for your site designer to integrate the appropriate coding.         

(Follow this link to our article on Native Advertising to learn more.)

description of a consumer’s retargeting journey

When it comes to engagement, retargeted consumers have a rate that is 152% higher than consumers being targeted for the first time. They also regularly outperform new users when it comes to purchases and retention. Before we get into suggestions on how best to retarget your site visitors, let's take a quick look at how retargeting actually works.

We’ve put together a list of ideas for retargeting campaigns and tips to get the best return from your efforts. While not exhaustive, the list is an excellent starting point!

1. Create Separate Ad Groups for Each Audience

Audience segmentation allows you to create optimized ad experiences for each group within your general target audience. Consumers in different parts of the buyer’s funnel require different messaging. Visitors can also be groups based on their behaviors on your website. Split your audience into different buckets depending on the specific pages they’ve visited. Then redirect them back to those pages and highlight the services or products each group previously viewed. (Follow this link to learn more about becoming Customer Centric.)

2. Cap Your Retargeting Frequency

You know when someone asks if you want food, you say no, they ask again, you say no again, they ask again…it gets downright annoying! The same thing will happen if you overwhelm visitors with an overly assertive retargeting campaign. It is a careful balance you must achieve. Frequency caps help you to be more strategic in your retargeting efforts by letting you specify a set number of times a particular ad will appear. A reminder to block your own office’s IP address as you or your IT department are setting things up.

3. Experiment with the Durations of Campaigns

Setting a duration for a retargeting campaign basically creates a point in time that the campaign cookie will no longer be placed as consumers visit your site. Depending on what you are offering to consumers, you may find that longer-scale campaigns convert better than shorter campaigns. Or vice-versa. Certainly, the duration of any campaign should be aligned with the length of the sales cycle.

4. Utilize Burn Pixels*             *If it makes sense for your brand and that specific campaign.

A burn pixel is a line of code that lets you mark visitors who have converted on the current campaign. It keeps that consumer from being shown an ad that is no longer relevant. Integrating burn pixels makes sense if your service or product is a one and done type of thing. That being said, burn pixels can also be used to remove consumers from the original retargeting campaign for the purpose of moving them into a secondary campaign with a different message. The key is to continue putting the right message in front of the right consumers at the right time.

5. Conduct A/B Tests

It is important to understand which ads perform well and which don’t. To determine which are most effective, we’d recommend conducting A/B tests that focus in on specific aspects of your ads. You can test the size of your retargeting ads, the type of content (i.e. image versus text), and different, but relative, value propositions.

6. Swap Out Your Creatives

Regardless of how impressive your creatives are when they are first launched, they will, eventually, become underwhelming. There is a certain element of surprise and unpredictableness (is that a word? I’m just going with it) that is necessary to grab the attention of consumers and get them excited about your brand and what you have to offer. To make sure you are keeping curiosity levels high, it is important to have a rotation planned to purposefully swap out your creatives on a regular basis to keep things fresh. It also gives you an opportunity to test out different ad copy.

7. Offer Coupons or Discount Codes

The ease that the Internet brings to the task of comparison shopping makes the job of advertisers that much more complex. A potential customer may have positive vibes towards your products and brand but just might leave your site to double-check that he can’t get a better deal somewhere else.

Enter the discount codes or coupons. They are an excellent way to convince consumers to make their purchase with you if they’ve left your site without converting, especially if there are items in their shopping cart. Add a special offer or discount to your targeting message. Even better, put a time limit on the offer to create a sense of urgency


The first key to creating effective content is to know your audience, thus the importance of segmenting. Write copy that is relevant to the specific people you are reaching out to. Be concise, keep the voice consistent with your branding guidelines, and avoid rejection-triggering language. It’s hard to know what might turn people off but for starters, refrain from using offensive language and unnecessary capitalization or punctuation. And remember, most everyone has a bit of a grammar policeman in him!

You can also create copy that combats common sales objections. If you are retargeting a consumer, there is some reason he hesitated on the purchase and you need to convince him to return to your site and convert. Keep track of common objections given to your sales team or mentioned in reviews and comments. If nothing else, send out a survey to non-converters to ask for firsthand information as to why they didn’t follow through.

9. Notify Past Customers of New Offerings

Let previous customers know when you have a new product or service, especially if it is related in some way to a previous purchase. Start by reminding them how much they love and appreciate your brand and them let them know how you have newer and more fabulous ways to help them make their lives better. Encourage them to return to your site to check things out. Remember to make it super easy by providing links directly back to the relevant landing page.

10. Cross-Sell and Up-Sell Users at the Bottom of the Funnel

Just because a consumer has made a purchase doesn’t mean they are free from your remarketing efforts. Create a segmented audience of converters and target them with ads the offer products relevant or complementary to those they originally purchased. If someone purchased a beautiful new collar for her pup, show her a matching leash or coat and remind her that her fur baby really should have a coordinating outfit for his walks in the park.

Do be sure to understand which products customers will readily buy together. Offers for bundles or multiple products will have the best success when they make sense. A consumer who purchased home-made cat treats might not be excited about a big dog pooper scooper. A litter box, yes, dog items, maybe, but more likely, not. So, place a tracking pixel on your “thanks for buying” page to make sure you can continue your relationship with that consumer.


To Summarize

  1. Segment your audience based on their previous interactions with your website. Know which pages, products or services they viewed and show them ads specific to where they are in the buyer’s funnel. The more customized your ads are to the specific audience, the bigger the impact they will have.

  2. To avoid the perception of stalking, be strategic and cap your ad frequency. This also helps your budget a bit.

  3. Be purposeful in the duration of your campaigns. Be sure the duration mirrors your sales cycle but experiment a bit to see what works best.

  4. Use burn pixels when it makes sense for the campaign. This goes back to that anti-stalking thought and avoids the appearance that you aren’t aware of a consumer’s previous conversion.

  5. Inform your advertising efforts with A/B testing on various aspects of your ads.

  6. Rotate your creatives to keep things fresh and interesting. Also, use these opportunities to test out ad copy for performance levels.

  7. Offer discount codes or coupons to make your products and services that much more enticing to consumers who may have wandered off to do some comparison shopping. Use time limits on the offers to convey a sense of urgency.

  8. Create content that maintains brand consistency in regards to voice and messaging. Write copy that addresses common consumer objectives and retargets consumers who haven’t fully completed an action. Whether the action is a download or a purchase, remind them to finish what they started.

  9. Use new product and service announcements as an opportunity to reach out to former customers, especially when the new arrivals complement or are relevant to previous purchases.

  10. Cross-sell and up-sell to consumers who have converted. Be sure to target them with ads for products or services relevant to (or at least in the same ballpark) as their original items.


There are multiple platforms from which you can retarget consumers to grab their attention and encourage them to return to your brand and convert. From email to Facebook to AdWords and more, the more segments of your target audience you can reach, the better.

The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing would love to deep dive into your organization to understand where you are and how a marketing campaign can best help your business. Contact us today so we can begin crafting a custom marketing proposal that aligns with your goals and challenges. Let’s get started!