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7 Best Practices for Retargeting Ads: Get the Most Out of Your Retargeting Campaign


As marketers know, making a sale can be a long process. Of one hundred people who visit your site, only about two are likely to make a purchase. Retargeting helps you target and serve ads to the other ninety-eight shoppers, reminding them of their initial interest and, hopefully, bringing them back to complete their purchase.

To make sure your campaign is fully optimized, it’s important to follow the best practices for retargeting ads. From setting up your campaigns right from the outset, to making sure your ad creative is constantly being updated and refreshed, there’s no step too small for overall success.

Here’s our list of the seven best practices for retargeting ads to make your campaigns efficient, effective, and profitable:


1. Build Specific Audience Segments

Carving out audience segments seems obvious, but there are four specific ones that your retargeting campaigns need to focus on. For starters:

Product Viewers – these are shoppers who are already interested but need an extra push.

Cart Abandoners – these are shoppers who are even closer to purchase than Product Viewers, and who’ve left items in their cart without completing the purchase.

Conversions – These are people who visited your site and actually purchased something. This might seem like a strange segment to name here, but it’s important to either exclude them from certain retargeting campaigns or use different messaging to reach them.

Mobile Audience – For marketers with a mobile app, it’s essential to create a segment of unique mobile audiences.


2. Make Campaigns Cross-Channel and Cross-Device

As we find in our Global Commerce Review, desktop usage is on the decline.

Consumers all around the world are doing more and more shopping from their mobile devices, with 71% of mobile sales in the U.S. happening in apps. Marketers who take an omnichannel, cross-device approach to their retargeting campaigns will likely see better results from those who don’t.


3. Use Geotargeting to Reach Local Audiences (When It Makes Sense)

Best Practices for Dynamic Retargeting Campaigns

To make your campaigns even more relevant, geotargeting ensures you’re only reaching customers within your service areas. You can set geographic limits down to a specific zip code, if needed.

While this is particularly useful for mobile or social retargeting, there are drawbacks to how narrow geotargeting could potentially make your reach. Make sure you evaluate whether it makes more sense to geotarget or to combine larger geographic boundaries with other strategies for a larger reach.

(Learn more: How 3 Retailers Used Facebook Retargeting Campaigns to Increase Sales)


4. Control Impression Frequency and Necessity

Like Goldilocks, marketers need to find the “just right” number of impressions to serve customers. Serve too many ads to a segment and you risk irritating potential customers. Show too little and your retargeting campaign is about as effective as if you didn’t have one.

To avoid both issues, set frequency caps to limit the number of times a potential customer sees your ads. A good retargeting partner will help you optimize your impression frequencies to balance clicks and conversions with exposure.


5. Use Burn Pixels to Prevent Retargeting Converters

Likewise, if a shopper has already converted, it can be annoying for them to see ads from a company they’ve just purchased from. Retargeting a recent customer is also money down the drain.

The fix is easy: placing a burn pixel – a single line of code – on your order confirmation or Thank You page is all it takes to move the shopper to a converted user and avoid retargeting them.


6. Make Ads Clear and Direct

No matter what, hitting the right number of impressions is difficult. But making your ads as creative and dynamic as possible can prevent impression fatigue. Ads should first and foremost be bold and well-branded, have clear copy, and CTAs that are easy to click.


7. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

An example of a personalized ad retargeting

Take advantage of dynamic retargeting by importing your product feed into the retargeting platform to further personalize your impressions. Targeted, dynamic messages drive more engagement and ROI than other retargeting solutions – Criteo’s see an average of 13X return on ad spend (ROAS).


Retargeting in an Omnichannel World

At the end of the day, retargeting campaigns are about building relationships with shoppers and potential shoppers. But as the landscape changes, retargeting campaigns must solve for omnichannel challenges in new ways to keep shoppers engaged and brands and retailers top-of-mind. By leveraging personalized, dynamic content across channels like mobile, video, and social, you can keep shoppers engaged and your brand top of mind.

Smart Marketer's Guide to Retargeting

Originally from Orange County, CA, Betty moved to New York in 2013 for a two-year creative writing program and never left. When not writing for Criteo Insights she can be found at a handful of $1 Oyster Happy Hours in Manhattan. She loves dogs but doesn’t have one.

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