5 Unknown Tips To Hack Your Retargeting

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We’ve all experienced our fair share of retargeting and there are good reasons for why marketers do it.

Retargeting ads have a 10x higher click-through rate than display ads – and visitors subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to complete a conversion compared to non-retargeted visitors.

All great stuff, but as you and I both know, retargeting ads can be as annoying as people who play music from their phone in public places (ugh).

If you’re not using your retargeting opportunities strategically to provide value to your visitors or solutions to their problems, then you’re no good. You’re just noise.

Here are five tactics you can start using today to get the most out of your retargeting efforts while still delivering value to your prospects.

Retargeting tactic #1: Unique segmentation

Again and again, I’ve seen companies serving the same retargeting ads to everyone, regardless of which page they visited, keyword they searched or device they’re coming from.

This is sloppy at best. Different people behave in different ways and that should call for different ads, different messaging and different creative.

Did someone find you from a non-branded search on Google or are they already on your email list? Each will be at a different stage of their relationship with you, and you should only hold hands when you need to and french kiss with the others.

I’m talking about segmentation.

An example of unique segmentation in action

Noah Kagan, former employee of Facebook and Mint and current CEO of AppSumo, has written extensively about his retargeting campaigns.

While some of his retargeting ads are a softer sell (asking people to opt in to a leads list in exchange for a freebie), people who visit his product page but don’t convert are given a harder sell: Noah runs his retargeting ads to bring them back to a product purchase landing page.

Note how Noah tells his own personal success story (to appeal to his target market of entrepreneurs who are chasing the dream) rather than throwing them generic ads about his product. Image source.

What kind of results does he see from his retargeting efforts?

In the example he writes about in this article, he spent $4,168.19 to make $9,365 through his Facebook retargeting – a 200% ROI.

Not too shabby.

Use unique segmentation in your retargeting campaigns

To get you started with segmentation, take a look at your Google Analytics and determine if there are more visitors on certain pages compared to others. Ask yourself why that is and then craft retargeting ads that speak directly to them.

Some of these audience segments may be small portions of your overall traffic, but they will have a higher chance of converting since you’re being more specific with your messaging.

Here’s some inspiration to get you started:

  • Do your visitors spend a lot of time on your “About Us” page? Why not show them a retargeting ad that offers a 15-minute, one-on-one consultation from your CEO or another prominent employee from your organization? The visitor wanted to get to know you better – here’s your chance to start that relationship.
  • Do you have different categories on your blog? Why not create a guide on your most popular subject and retarget it to frequent visitors to that category?

Bonus tip:
When users convert, be sure to use burn pixels to remove them from your retargeting audience so you don’t continue to show the same ad over and over again.

Retargeting tactic #2: Use old school marketing tactics

People were on your landing page for a reason, and hopefully, it was because they’re interested in what you have to offer.

But with your competitors just a click away, there’s no reason people shouldn’t take their time in making a decision.

This is when good ol’ urgency, scarcity and social proof can be used to supercharge your retargeting.

An example of old school marketing tactics in action

Here’s an example of how Birchbox uses social proof in their retargeting campaigns:


Don’t ask me what I was doing on Birchbox.com.

Birchbox’s ad is effective is because it teases you.

Maybe you visited the site, left and forgot all about it. But when you see this ad a week later, you may be more intrigued because “other people” are beaming about it.

So many people are focused on new and fancy ways of running successful retargeting ads, but sometimes it’s the easy-to-overlook old school methods that can make the biggest difference.

Use old school marketing tactics in your retargeting campaigns

  • Give people specific numbers: Only have a few left in stock? Tell people that! Or tell ’em that hundreds (if not thousands) of people are already using your service.
  • Show people countdowns: Why not add countdown timers to your retargeting ads? Creating urgency by telling people that there are only X days left in your sale is a surprisingly motivating force that can drive conversions.

Retargeting tactic #3: Reach your audience on a variety of retargeting channels

Retargeting on only one channel unnecessarily limits your reach.

Your retargeting ads might be following visitors around on the Google Display Network, but are they being shown on other channels where your audience hangs out?

Social media retargeting is a powerful tool that allows you to show your ads either directly in the newsfeed (Facebook or Twitter) or in the right-hand sidebar (Facebook).

Social media retargeting in action

If you’ve ever been on AdRoll’s site and then checked your Facebook, you’ve probably been the victim of a lot of pointing people.


Or maybe you went to Perfect Audience’s homepage and then were stalked on Twitter later with something like this:


Note that to be able to advertise on Facebook, you have to use a platform that is certified by Facebook’s Ad Exchange network (FBX). AdRoll or Perfect Audience (now part of Marin) are both safe bets.

Each social media network also has pretty specific creative guidelines that you should be aware of. For example:

  • On Facebook, only up to 20% of your ad image can be used for text. You can use this Facebook tool to make sure your ads comply with this policy.
  • Unlike the animated capabilities of ads on the Google Display Network, Facebook retargeting ads have to be static.
  • There is now only one Facebook ad size (1200 x 628 pixels) and one Twitter ad size (800 x 320 pixels) – Facebook will automatically adjust your ads to fit the newsfeed and right hand sidebar.

Retargeting tactic #4: Upselling and cross-selling

You got them to convert! That’s awesome. But what if you could sell more?

When a person has just converted, it’s because they like what you do. You now have a perfect chance to give them more value, and in return, get more money from them.

Image by Tom Fishburne.

Whether it’s a complementary offer or something to move them down another funnel, retargeting is the perfect tool for making that happen.

In fact, upselling through retargeting has been found to increase conversion rates by an additional 3-5%.

Upselling in your retargeting campaigns

Are you a SaaS company with a freemium user base? Why not use retargeting to explain your premium features (and hopefully score some upsells)?

Or you could create new audience segments for people who have converted through different offers and use regular display, email or social media retargeting to upsell relevant packages to them.

The possibilities are endless!

Retargeting tactic #5: Testing your ads

Retargeting ads are extremely effective, but only if you’re dedicated to constantly improving them. As with all things conversion rate optimization, you’ve got to work out a testing plan.

You’ve probably got tons of ideas around how you can test your ad creatives: your headline, CTA, hero shot and copy.

But consider going deeper and testing other things such as a completely differently offer and the frequency of your ads.

Maybe your first offer wasn’t the hook the visitor was looking for. Or maybe you’ve been bombarding your prospects with so many ads that you’re causing banner blindness.

A/B testing can help you find that “sweet spot.”

Testing as research

The beauty of A/B testing your retargeting ads is they give you insight into the preferences of each particular audience.

Once you see what works well through your retargeting, you’ll have more insight into what could be effective on your landing pages as well.

Think of retargeting as a way of bringing back lost sales, but also as a research tool.

A final word of warning

With so many different ideas and options for you, how do you even decide on where to begin?

Your best bet is to pick a tactic and start testing today.

No matter what you do, make sure you only use one retargeting vendor per retargeting channel so that you don’t compete against yourself and artificially drive up your costs.

What have you found works best for your retargeting? Let’s school each other in the comments!

— Johnathan Dane

Hear Johnathan on the Call to Action podcast:


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About Johnathan Dane
Johnathan Dane is the founder of KlientBoost, a California-based PPC agency that's on a mission to grow companies. He's been interviewed by Google and has a German Shorthaired Pointer named Tanner. Connect with him on Twitter.
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