The Blog

Retargeting, What’s its Purpose

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” -Einstein 


In an ideal world, every single person that comes in contact with your company would find the product or service they are looking for and follow a straight path to purchase. But the reality is much different. Outside of that minuscule two percent that buys the first time around, most buyer’s paths are not so linear. There are many factors that distract buyers from following a direct path to purchase – phone calls, ends of lunch breaks, putting their phone up or stepping away from their computer to complete life’s million other tasks. The reasons for distraction are literally infinite, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pull them back to complete that purchase.

What is Retargeting

The basis of retargeting is converting window shoppers into buyers. Generally, only two percent of shoppers convert on their first visit to an online store. Retargeting brings back the other 98 percent by keeping track of who visits your site and displaying ads to them as they visit other sites.

How Does it Work

It works by following your visitors or audience by as they travel across the web. When a person visits your site, a browser cookie or pixel is dropped, collecting the basic information on them. This data then embeds itself into your users’ browser, making it possible to see what websites that the user is visiting and their general web habits. Then, a retargeting strategy will be implemented by strategically placing ads for your business on other sites, encouraging that visitor to come back. The ads are only dropped or targeted for users who have been to your site but haven’t yet purchased anything.

Basically, here’s the SparkNotes – customer visits; customer leaves because distraction; customer continues surfing the web; your ad is displayed on other sites; ad draws customer back; customer buys; win.

Still need another opinion? Check out these facts.

  • According to CMO, retargeting marketing represented 1,046 percent of lift in trademark search behavior in a study that analyzed various strategies for lifting search activity.
  • Only 11 percent of consumers feel negative about retargeted ads. On the other hand, 89 percent feel either positive or neutral about them, according to e-marketer.
  • Retargeting can boost ad response by a whopping 400 percent.
  • Jeff Jarret, the VP of Digital Marketing at Kimberly-Clark, the corporation known for its personal and healthcare products, has stated that it sees a 50 to 60 percent higher conversion rate amongst customers who have been retargeted versus those who haven’t been.

How is it Measured?

Unlike your normal display advertising measurement, retargeting gives credit to click-through and view-through conversions. Often, if you work with an agency like us, we will report both the click-through and view-through rates. It’s up to you to decide which metric is most important to you.

Click-through conversions are any conversions that happen as a direct result of someone clicking a retargeting ad they were served.

View-through conversions would be like assists. They are conversions that are attributed to another channel (on last click attribution tracking) but these conversions were at one point served a retargeting ad.

What Should Your Goals Be?

You have the basics on what retargeting is, now is the time to set your goals and figure out what your aim is with retargeting. What do I mean by that? The types of ads you plan on running. The most efficient types of ads that you can run are awareness and conversion ads.

Awareness campaigns are the most useful when you want to re-engage website visitors and tell them about relevant products, features, and announcements. The immediate drawback to an awareness campaign though is that you’ll be serving less targeted content to people who haven’t engaged heavily with your brand. They aren’t contacts in your database, and often lower expected clickthrough rates will come when compared to other campaigns.

But, since the goal is to make consumers aware of your products, impressions and engagement are okay metrics to track. Oftentimes awareness campaigns are the precampaign to the real campaign – conversions.

Conversion goals are just as they sound, get someone to click your ad and buy something or fill out a service on your site. Conversion campaigns are best used to align a specific step in the funnel and can be measured with typical conversion metrics like clicks, form submission and cost per lead.

Even better is that you can use a conversion campaign throughout multiple parts of your marketing funnel. You can use pixel-based ads – which is more directly relatable to the consumer – and use them to better direct them down the marketing funnel to the end goal, which is to buy your stuff.

Get the Right Creative

Regardless of the goals you set, they’re worthless if there isn’t any good creative to follow suit. Having a boring ad or an ad that doesn’t make sense to the consumer, will turn them off or continue to go ignored – which means your retargeting efforts are all for naught. Nearly 60 percent of consumers don’t remember the last display ad they saw. That’s a problem. Reasons being are one, consumers are pelted with thousands of ads daily, and two, a lot of those ads are forgettable.

Getting your creative right is no simple task either. If you’re selling Mercedes-Benz vehicles, for instance, don’t just have a cut-out of the car. There needs to be some emotion to it. Showcase it zipping down a back road or California cruising on the Pacific Coast Highway. Which one of those do you think would be more memorable? Bland cut-out with white background or setting a scene in the buyer’s mind and giving them a daydream about what they could be doing.

More Best Practice Tips for Retargeting

Ads shouldn’t be retargeted to any customer who has already purchased that product. Retargeted ads should be tailored to individual customers through segmentation. Just because the website I visited happens to sell Barbie dolls doesn’t mean I want to buy Barbie dolls. I have no use for them other than to give them to my nieces, so they can destroy them.

Don’t hit customers with the same ad over and over for weeks on end. If that customer hasn’t come back to your site after a few reminders they probably never will. In fact, that ‘brand recognition’ will turn into something far more negative. Provide a clear call-to-action button in the ad, and upon clicking through, take the user to a relevant landing page or product page, not just the homepage.

Think a retargeting campaign will work best for your stuff? Schedule a meeting with us or give us a call. We’ll gladly walk you through the steps of creating the most effective campaign to see the highest dollar per dollar return for you.