Retargeting Ad Campaign Strategies: Tips for Optimisation

Retargeting ads can be an efficient way to boost sales for your online shop. Whether you’re new to this advertising technique or you’ve run them for a while, we’ll share our best tips for making the most out of your retargeting campaigns.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is the strategy of displaying advertisements to people who have already interacted with your website in some capacity.

That could mean user-activities as simple as having visited your website, or something more specific like viewing a particular product page or placing products in the shopping cart.

In recent years, retargeting ads have actually extended beyond website interactions since many brand interactions occur on social media. With so much brand activity on social media, the platforms (e.g. Facebook) allow advertisers to target their ads through brand interactions on their platforms along with the interactions that occur on the shop’s website.

Thanks to cookies and pixels, advertisers can track users’ activity on their website and then push their ads to the same users in other platforms (e.g. Google, Facebook, other websites, etc.)

google ads guide whitepaper

You’ve surely come across retargeting ads in your time private life. If you’ve ever seen an ad from a shop that you had recently visited, there’s a very good chance this was a retargeting ad. There’s also a pretty good chance some of those ads have worked on you.

Retargeting campaigns are known to perform better than standard (digital) ad campaigns since the audiences are filled with users who have shown some previous interest in the brand.

Why are retargeting ads so effective?

Often times, consumers will take some time to do research before purchasing a product. Sometimes, this research phase can take a few days. You can think of retargeting ads as a friendly reminder of your offer as the ads generally appear shortly after a website visit.

Is there a difference between retargeting and remarketing?

It’s worth noting that the terms retargeting and remarketing are often interchangeable today. However, there is a difference worth mentioning:

  • Remarketing refers to the reaching out to users who’ve interacted with your brand via email.
  • Retargeting focuses on digital ads, not email.

With recent GDPR regulations put in place to protect consumer privacy, emailing users who haven’t given consent to it is considered illegal (at least for European residents). This fact, combined with the rise of social media, has led to the blending of these two strategies and therefore, it is quite common to use both terms when talking about these types of ads.

Tips for optimising your retargeting campaigns

Now that we’re clear on what they are and why they’re useful for e-commerce businesses, let’s look at some tips on retargeting optimisation:

Define clear objectives

For most online shop owners, the objective can only be one thing: sales. However, there is a chance that you may have other objectives.

For example, you might want to build rapport with a niche audience. Therefore, it’s possible your goal may be to boost traffic and brand awareness as part of a long-term strategy. Naturally, setting up such objectives in your marketing platforms (whether on social media or in search engines) can be more cost effective than a campaign set up to accomplish more conversions.

If, however, you are focused on conversions, then you need to also pay attention to key KPIs. Conversion rates are one thing, but so is your return-on-investment (ROI) or return on ad-spend (ROAS). You will also want to pay attention to your cost per click (CPCs).

person checking analytics

Source: shutterstock/chainarong06

Choose the right products

Retargeting campaigns can be incredibly effective. That’s also why they can get a bit expensive if you’re not careful. With your marketing budget in mind, it’s important to choose the right products to use in your retargeting ad campaigns.

Touching back on your ROIs, ROAS, and CPCs, you’ll want to make sure your profit margins are higher than your costs. Therefore, it often makes sense to focus your retargeting campaigns on those products that drive in the biggest profits.

If your online shop sells audio equipment, it probably makes more sense to remarket the high end speakers that bring in £300 in profits rather than the speaker cable that only brings in £3 profit.

All in all, you should consider your ad spend, your budget, pre-existing traffic, and profit margins when considering which products to focus your retargeting campaigns on.

Choose the right audience

Another important factor to consider for your retargeting ad campaigns is the target group you will focus on. In other words, which consumers are you aiming to turn into customers.

Retargeting, by definition, aims to push your ads to people who’ve visited your website before. However, you can be pretty specific about which site visitors you’ll target.

For example, a website visitor is quite a broad audience. Depending on your product offers, this could really be a wide range of people. However, once you get into the specific product pages they’ve visited, you’ll know which products to push to which customers.

If you’re looking for branding opportunities – with a focus on traffic rather than conversions, you might want to push new, informative content to blog visitors or other informative website pages. This can be great for building loyalty in a niche market.

content marketing for online shops free whitepaper

However, the audience you’ll probably want to focus most on are the customers who’ve come closest to completing a purchase. A great audience to focus your retargeting strategy on are users who’ve abandoned their shopping carts. This is a group of users filled with potential since they’ve already zeroed in on the products they’re interested in and have come the closest to completing a purchase.

Last but not least, you’ll also want to target previous customers. This is a group of users who are even more likely to buy from you since they’ve already “taken the plunge” and put their trust in your brand. As long as they’ve had a good experience, they’re an important audience to focus your retargeting strategies on.

Hint: Loyal customers will be helpful later on as well.

Recommended reading:
How to Use Micro-targeting in E‑commerce

Optimise the timing and frequency of your ads

The following tips are good to keep in mind for any kind of digital marketing campaigns. It really comes down to keeping an eye on your campaigns and making tweaks here and there as you gather new insights.

Timing is everything

When it comes to timing, consider the time of year when marketing. If certain customers visited your website close to certain holidays, consider retargeting them heavily as those holidays approach again this year. This really works for any seasonal topics. Naturally, the usual gift-giving holidays should come to mind here: Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc.

European Sales Holidays 2024 & 2025  Different countries = different holidays. Download calendar

Don’t forget frequency

This tip is pretty simple. Be careful not to overuse your ads. If you bombard your customers with retargeting ads (or any ads for that matter), it might end up having the opposite effect of what you want.

Think about when you see the same ads over and over again. Does it annoy you?

On the one hand, the customer may well remember you. On the other hand, they might be so annoyed by your ads that they’ll vow never to shop with you. With Google Ads, you can control how often a shopper sees your ads, so make sure not to overdo it.

Mix it up!

Although you've been warned against advertising to the same users too frequently, you may have a big budget and may want to really push your ads to these high-conversion users.

In order to avoid advertising fatigue, banner blindness, or feelings of resentment towards your brand for being too pushy, you could also create multiple versions of your ads. This way, users are seeing something different. The themes can be similar and the product can be the same. Just make sure a visual component is different enough so the ads don’t all seem exactly the same. In other words, be the Andy Warhol of advertising.

image of hamburgers in Warhol style

Andy Warhol would have been a great online marketer, harnessing the power of repetition without being repetitive.(Shutterstock.com/m2art)

Utilise A/B testing

There’s another reason to consider making multiple versions of an ad.

In the old world of advertising, you had to think of a perfect headline, slogan, tagline, image, and call-to-action in the earliest stages of a marketing campaign. Companies would have their posters printed, ads recorded, and balloons inflated in advance and then prey that their intuitions were correct.

These days, it’s important to plan ahead as well. However, many platforms allow advertisers to test different versions of their ads and then eventually choose the most effective one to continue running. This is called A/B testing.

By creating two or more versions of an ad and sending half of your audience to one version and half to another, you are essentially testing out each one’s effectiveness. Many platforms will automatically send the better performing ad once significant data has been collected.

Some things you might want to test in A/B tests:

  • an emotional headline vs a statistic
  • a funny headline vs a serious headline
  • different imagery
  • different calls-to-action

What's important to remember is that it's often best to test one variable at a time. In other words, an A/B test should only have one element changed per test. For example, the two versions would have the same headline and copy, but the image will be different. Conversely, you could run the same exact ad, but lead them to different landing pages to see the impact on conversions.

Optimise your landing pages

This is another tip that should be implemented for all your ad campaigns, but it shouldn’t be forgotten with retargeting ad campaigns, especially since they’re more expensive to run than normal digital ads.

Did you know that if your ads lead to sales, it actually brings your CPCs down?

Most advertising platforms (i.e. Facebook, Google, etc.) want to reward good advertisers because well-performing ads bring them more revenue. This, among other reasons, is why it’s important to focus on the details of your landing pages in order to improve the odds of getting conversions.

Does your landing page (or your website, for that matter) inspire trust? Consider getting service reviews on your website as well as product reviews for your product pages. Social proof is an important part of the purchase decision.

perfect landing page checklist

Likewise, using a Google-certified reviews provider (like Trusted Shops) can help boost your ad campaigns as well, particularly in search engines like Google, which often display star-ratings in both organic and paid results. Star-ratings in search engines are a known conversion booster along with other ad extensions.

Having a trustmark on your website can also improve conversions. Third-party certifications can help improve a shop’s reputation at first sight, especially when consumers know they will have a 30-day Buyer Protection in case there is a need to return the product (or if they never receive it).

Learn more about the Trusted Shops Trustmark.

Of course, there are lots of things you can do to inspire trust. In the example below, Future Shop uses the Trusted Shops Trustbadge to display the Trustmark alongside their service rating.

Additional elements they’ve included are two phone numbers as well as other trust signals in their navigation, including information on their 60-day money-back guarantee for cables, free cable burn-in, free deliveries for orders over 99, and free expert advice.

website showing trust elements

Read more about Future Shop's experience with Trusted Shops.

Not only are they open about their ratings, but they put lots of effort into showing off their unique services as well as the other benefits they offer their customers. Their footer section includes even more information about their service as well as links to their WhatsApp, email address, blog, and About Us page - all great trust-builders.

Monitor performance

We touched on this topic earlier as well. However, it’s a point that deserves it’s own mention. Monitoring your retargeting campaigns is important to do. Ads get stale, trends go away, demands change, and costs fluctuate.

Keep an eye on your ads and use the KPIs you’ve planned ahead in the first tip of this article. If you notice a decrease in performance (or an increase in performance from another ad), it may be time to redistribute your budget or even review the other tips in this article and continue optimising your ads.

It’s important to remember that optimisation is a task that never really ends, especially when it comes to marketing. It can be difficult to pinpoint when an image gets old or a headline becomes less effective. That’s why consistent monitoring of your campaigns’ performance is crucial to making the most of your marketing resources.

confused person on smart phone

“Why am I getting ads for Christmas cookies in April?”
(Source: shutterstock/DC Studio)

Conclusion

Retargeting campaigns can really drive quality users to your website and boost sales. It’s just important to go in with a plan, stay flexible with your options, and continuously monitor your campaigns to make sure you’re not wasting your marketing budget on ads that don’t perform (or don’t perform like they used to).

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12/07/23

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg has been the Content Manager UK at Trusted Shops since 2017. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2004.

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