Mistakes To Avoid In Your Next Retargeting Campaign

retargeting campaign

Retargeting is one of the most valuable tools for digital marketers, capable of improving brand recall and ROI. Essentially, advertisers can serve ads to users who have previously visited your website with a specific message that’s unique to their area of interest. Although an oversimplification, retargeting is facilitated by attaching a fragment of code (known as a pixel) to your website HTML, which then collects non-personal information about a user’s online behavior.

The concept of retargeting is a relatively cost-effective tactic for reaching customers, but poor execution can be detrimental to your retargeting campaign’s performance and budget. In this post, I will highlight retargeting mistakes to avoid and two proven methods to ensure you’re maximizing your efforts.

Retargeting Campaign Mistakes to Avoid

  • Serving too many impressions: Oversaturating the digital landscape is perhaps one of the worst blunders an advertiser can make because it comes across as ‘spammy.’ No brand wants their name attached with negative connotations, so it’s vital that marketers implement frequency capping (also known as time cohorts) and for the advanced marketer, cadence modification.
  • Not serving enough impressions: Oppositely, if your retargeting campaign isn’t serving enough impressions then you’re essentially rendering your efforts useless. At its core, retargeting exists to keep your brand top of mind with continuous exposure.

To this point, ensure you’re employing strategic targeting so that you’re serving the most relevant ads to the highest quality prospect (and in turn making the most out of each impression). Before buying third party data, evaluate your own assets and first-party data to determine how your brand can retarget users through existing channels.

  • Not refreshing creative enough: Advances in programmatic technology have simplified testing multiple segments of an ad, eliminating the need to serve static creatives to every user across every channel. Studies have concluded that click-through rates decrease by nearly 50% once the ad has been recycled for five months.  

In order to avoid coming across as ‘spammy,’ advanced marketers can take advantage of dynamic ads to avoid creative from becoming stale. Dynamic creative takes ad personalization to a new level by serving ads that showcase products tailored to a user’s browsing activity. This type of customized ad performs significantly better than static retargeting ads, achieving a 2-3 times boost in click rates.  

  • Neglecting to segment audiences: The key to retargeting is audience segmentation because you can identify and understand the different activity and intent of users as they interact with your website. There isn’t a universal blueprint for segmenting audiences since it depends on the type of business you’re in, however, advertisers can structure their audience segments based on where a user is in the funnel.

For example, a B2B marketer might retarget a user who visited a case study page and didn’t convert with an ad that clicks through to an additional resource page (such as a whitepaper or webinar landing page). Likewise, a retail marketer might retarget a user who abandoned a cart with a dynamic ad of the items in their cart along with a promotional offer.

When segmenting audiences, it’s important to consider the recency of a user’s visit; individuals who visited five hours ago have a higher propensity to convert than someone who visited 10 days ago. In order to get started, you will have to break down your visitors into segments, and then associate each group with a lookback window. I recommend testing out different hours and days to see which makes the biggest impact in ROI. It’s extremely important to not overlap audience segments, so be cognizant of excluding users from segments that are already being targeted in another retargeting campaign segment as well as irrelevant users.

  • Improper measurement: The platform you advertise on will provide you with data and insight into important metrics and KPIs, such as click-through rates and conversions. However, you should also have a Google Analytics account internally measuring your retargeting campaign’s success. In order to fully measure the success of a retargeting campaign, I recommend looking at the lead conversions, cost per lead, nurture touches, view-through conversions, click-through conversions, site visits, email opens and qualified leads.

Getting the Most Out of Your Retargeting Campaign

  • Align retargeting efforts with original source
    • In order to elevate your retargeting efforts, I accentuate the importance of aligning retargeting with the originating traffic source. The originating source, or where users originally land on your site, has an impact on the ultimate conversion. For example, a user that clicks through from a branded keyword search is much closer to a conversion as they obviously have brand familiarity versus a user that reached your site by way of a general category search. Marketers can take advantage of ‘original source’ information by serving users with a personalized, relevant message. Based on Katana’s experience, the initial traffic source has a significant impact on how likely individuals are going to convert, thus, the ad’s message must be related to the original source.
  • Assign retargeting budgets to their originating traffic source
    • According to our research, nine out of 10 digital marketers treat retargeting as an isolated ad source and as a result, it is analyzed in a silo of other marketing initiatives. Instead, your retargeting campaign should be congruent to the overall marketing goal. Once prospecting and other upper funnel channels have successfully driven new users to your website, the baton should be passed to retargeting efforts in order to nurture them along the conversion funnel. Think of each marketing channel (in the conversion funnel) as cogs in a wheel that need to be in alignment with one another in order to work effectively.

Retargeting is undeniably one of the best performing ad channels, and is like getting a gimmie in golf: other ad channels do all of the leg work by bringing users to a website, and then all conversions are attributed to retargeting campaigns. For example, a prospecting campaign on Facebook might have had a significant impact on a user, and ultimately that user converts upon clicking on a retargeted ad. Many marketers assign conversion credit to the retargeting campaign, but the initial influence should be properly attributed to the original channel, which in this case, was the Facebook prospecting campaign.

To fully understand the scope of what influenced a conversion in a retargeting campaign, advertisers should analyze original traffic source data. To conduct this analysis:

  1. Split up the impression cost and conversions received from retargeting by the originating traffic source.
  2. Once calculated, add these costs and conversions to the cost and conversions generated by the originating traffic source.

You will find that the original traffic source has a tremendous impact on what truly influenced an individual to convert down the pipeline.

When implemented and measured correctly, retargeting is a great tactic to keep prospects engaged and interact with online users who have shown prior interest in your brand. Interested in learning even more about retargeting? Join us for Katana’s May webinar, “Retargeting to the Max,” happening Wednesday, May 31st at 11:00 AM PST. Stay tuned for updates!