Retargeting Ads to Increase Your Conversions

Retargeting Ads That Will Bring Your Audience Back (With Examples)

You know that one ad you keep seeing: The one for that embarrassing t-shirt your friend messaged you about that just couldn’t be real? (It was. Yikes!)

Your curiosity got the best of you for one second, and now that cringe-worthy tee is following you around, cozying up next to your cousin’s baby announcement on Facebook, and squeezing in between your friend’s selfies on IG. 

Experiences like this can make you think that retargeting ads—those ads that resurface products and services you looked at but didn’t take action on—are too pushy and sales-y to be worth including in your marketing strategy. (Nobody wants to be that type of marketer.)

But the truth is that most people kinda like retargeted ads—when they’re well-targeted. 

We’re pleasantly surprised when that book we meant to buy shows up in an ad next to our favorite sports column or when a social ad lets us know that a previously sold-out concert tour has added some new dates. 

Because let’s face it: The internet can be distracting. It’s easy to close the wrong tab, run to read a new email while browsing, or open up a Slack notification before you hit “check out.” 

A well-targeted reminder helps consumers as well as businesses. For example, data shows that retargeting ads can yield a 10x increase in click-through rates (CTR) since users are already familiar with the brand or product.

Since only 2% of web traffic converts, it’s worth seeing if some well-planned and well-placed retargeting ads can help bring those almost-ready-to-buy prospects back into your world.

What Is Retargeting, Really?

Retargeting is a powerful form of PPC advertising that leverages tracking technology to identify individuals who have previously engaged with your brand in some way and serves them ads on a variety of platforms to try to re-engage them. 

That engagement can come in a variety of forms:

👉 Click through an intriguing display ad.

👉 Engage with your social content.

👉 View multiple pages on your website.

👉 Subscribe to your newsletter.

👉 Sign up for your webinar.

👉 Request a demo.

Retargeting ads allow you to finish the job and turn prospects into leads.

The folks at Periscopix are excellent at this. They retargeted 20 audience segments who demonstrated intent to purchase using Google Display Ads based on location, language, and on-site behavior. Six months later, they had decreased cost per acquisition by 34%, generated a 1,300% ROI, and increased the order value for Watchfinder by 13%.

They did this again for global payment client World First, creating segments of nano and micro conversions to increase the relevance of ads sent to those specific audiences. This time they increased account signups for the Australian office by 105%.

Retargeting Ads Increase Brand Recall and Turn Bounces Into Leads 

There’s a winning formula for marketers that can help sales teams move buyers efficiently through the sales funnel:

Awareness + Conversion Retargeting = More Conversions

Understanding what causes leads to drop out before they convert can inform the mix of retargeting ads you create and run, helping you to increase qualified leads and reduce cost per acquisition.

For example, OakBeamUK reached out to Digital Gearbox when they realized over 90% of their traffic was visiting their website without converting. The cost for converting a customer was climbing fast. (Ouch.)

So, Digital Gearbox set out to re-engage past visitors with two CTAs: inquiry and purchase. They doubled down on brand awareness by delivering a total of 340,000 display ads to past visitors and serving varied messaging in their Google Adwords campaign to re-capture 1,419 visitors in just three months. 

It’s important to remember that, as marketers, we’re responsible for end-to-end strategies. Sales teams not only count on us to create demand but to sustain it. 

Let’s check out some brands that are doing it right to see what we can learn. 

1. uses creative visuals for conversion

If you work in business, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t seen an ad from But I’m guessing you’ve seen their general brand awareness campaigns, not their hyper-targeted conversion campaigns.

Take a look at this ad. What stands out to you?

Image courtesy of

Even if you’re not in real estate, you know immediately who this is for.

The text mentions three long-tail keywords: 

  • Portfolio management
  • Property listings
  • Property pipeline

They’re not delivering the general brand awareness message about “managing team workflow and projects on an adaptable platform” here. Instead, they’re using language that’s familiar and relatable for real estate agents. Their target customers see what the platform looks like on the inside within their professional context. 

By personalizing dynamic Facebook ads specific to real estate this way, increased conversion rates by 50% and received 80% ROI

That type of personalized messaging makes your ad 42% more likely to convert, so you probably want to think about building this “just-for-you” positioning into your next retargeting campaign. 

2. Nespresso uses dynamic Display Ads to increase CTR by 23%

Nespresso wanted an “always-on” tool that delivered customized messaging to users who engaged with their website. The aim was to close conversions through both generic and campaign-specific audiences—and have them run in parallel. 

This is a massive undertaking. 

Each campaign would require 200-300 digital assets. So how can you produce real-time creative ads while also guaranteeing relevant messaging?

Designing a template with dynamic elements that can be triggered and changed through a vast HTML structure allowed them to customize each ad campaign’s look, style, and feel.

Image courtesy of Nespresso
Image courtesy of Nespresso

The dynamic banner ads, customized based on key user interactions like “page viewed” or “added product to cart,” found previous site visitors on other platforms.

Nespresso’s impressions increased by 52%, while their conversions skyrocketed by 57%.

While a project this expansive may be out of your scope, Nespresso’s campaign success speaks to the importance of using creative visual templates that can scale your reconnection with prospects through non-intrusive advertising.

3. Airbnb reaches across the globe with Google Display Ads

Airbnb’s presence across social platforms is tough to miss. They’ve been using dynamic display ads for retargeting a global customer base for over four years, seeing real success in 2017 when they reported a 3X increase in return on ad spend and a 47% lowered CPA.


The company capitalizes on search intent by sending location-based ads to folks whose search behavior indicates they are planning their next trip: 

  • “Hotel costs in Paris” 
  • “Cheapest month to visit Paris” 
  • “Louvre ticket cost”

That intent triggers the message match for that customer journey, with custom ads leading to personalized landing pages that focus on accommodation in the place of interest:

Image courtesy of Airbnb

The copy of the retargeting ads not only finds potential prospects but can speak to their specific concerns or interests. Some examples would be:

  • “Book a real home in Paris for less than a hotel room. 😮”
  • “Traveling to Paris this summer? Find an Airbnb with air conditioning.”
  • “Airbnbs with the best walking scores in Paris”

This retargeting strategy ensures Airbnb stays top of mind, even if travelers aren’t quite ready to book just yet. 

Don’t Miss the Mark: Start Retargeting

The social vetting process for products has become almost entirely self-directed. However, brand awareness is only half the battle. Driving purchase decisions requires a sustained effort. 

By creating a budget for retargeting ads and carefully building campaigns around intent, you can move your strategy from relentless chase to strategic distribution

Sign up for an Unbounce trial and start building custom landing pages to support your retargeting objectives.

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About Josh Gallant
Josh is the SEO Lead at Foundation Marketing where he oversees the creation and execution of search-driven content strategies for B2B brands. He's a self-proclaimed spreadsheet nerd who loves all things SEO, content marketing, and fantasy football (with multiple data-driven titles to his name).
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