The Dos and Don’ts of Retargeting Ads

Last modified:
Alex Cox

PPC Manager

Remarketing is a touchy subject in the world of paid media. Some marketers struggle to find a balance between serving up relevant ads and simply spamming potential customers. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but one that is definitely possible to find.

Couple this difficulty with the cold hard fact that more and more internet users are turning to ad blockers, in addition to the reduction of third party cookies across advertising platforms, and the window for opportunity with remarketing is getting gradually slimmer.

However, when done well, remarketing can be a strong way to recapture otherwise lost business; thus resulting in more sales, greater brand exposure and higher conversion rates. Here, we share our top dos and don’ts around how to target website visitors on Google, long after they’ve left your site.

Do: Refine Your Audience Segments

Strong audience segmentation can make or break your paid advertisements. You could have the most cutting-edge visuals, stellar copy and a highly optimised bidding strategy.

But, if your audience isn’t interested in what you have to say, is irrelevant to your campaign’s messaging, or simply not in the right stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll never see a single conversion.

Not only does this make your campaigns less effective, it results in a significant portion of wasted time creating something that just doesn’t work. If you’ve run a few campaigns, start by digging into your analytics and seeing which of your current audiences respond best/worst.

While doing this, be sure to look out for commonalities within the data. Maybe one audience responds better to video content, while the other is more prone to photos. Or perhaps one engages for longer around a specific message?

Take these learnings through to your next retargeting campaign, and you’ll be in a much more prepared position for results.

Don’t: Rely Solely on Third Party Cookies

Amidst cries for data collection to be more privacy-friendly, a lot of brands now find themselves faced with a dilemma in terms of customer tracking.

Data-gathering platforms like Google Analytics 4 are soon transitioning to a first party only policy on cookies. This means that tracking users across multiple visits and domains becomes incredibly difficult, nigh on impossible.

As you can imagine, this makes accurate, effective targeting much more difficult to pull off. No longer will brands be able to Utilise the platforms built-in third-party audiences to drive initial success.

Thankfully, platforms like Google will allow its users to import first party data into  Ad Manager. Then, in conjunction with its new data approximation process dubbed “Privacy Sandbox”, Google will then gather data to replicate much of the same information once gathered by third party cookies.

The removal of third party cookies will simply impact the ability to accurately target people at a first touchpoint, but really, first party data is  king, because the data is yours, reliable, and accurate.

Do: Set Ad Frequency Limits

With growing scepticism around privacy, data and security; web users are increasingly more wary about advertisements. According to GWI, 26% of all internet users find website ads distracting, despite 22% discovering brands via ads they’ve seen on websites.

This scepticism isn’t to be ignored. But just how much is too much? Sometimes ignored, the industry standards for retargeting frequency dictate anywhere between 15-20 ads in a 30-day period, leaving approximately 1.5 ads visible every day of the month. This frequency is enough to keep your brand visible without causing information overload.

Don’t: Ignore Exclusions

Exclusions are a core part of retargeting. After all, the very point of them is to ensure that you capture new, otherwise lost customers as opposed to those you’ve already got.

It’s crucial to ensure that your prior customers are correctly excluded from your retargeting list – and added to other upsell campaigns. If not, you’re wasting your budget and could risk turning those customers away from making future purchases.

Do: Target with Fresh Content

The goal of retargeting is to mop up otherwise lost leads with your paid media. It’s possible that those who viewed your first campaigns may have seen it and not taken much notice, and there’s nothing more mundane than repetition.

When building your retargeting ads, it’s important to use new messaging. This helps keeps your ads fresh while simultaneously avoiding information overload.

Perhaps you could try a new angle, such as a limited time offer or highlighting the urgency of your offering with a sales deadline – whatever it is, make sure it’s unique enough to be distinguishable from your first attempts, yet relevant enough to retain brand association.

Talk to your creative and PR teams about the latest topics that are being talked about, and how you can co-opt them into your ads.

Don’t: Forget Your Calls-to-Action

Neglecting a clear call to action in your paid adverts can mean the difference between total success and complete failure.

With remarketing especially, these calls to action can be a key distinguishing factor between what ads do and don’t take off. Take for example a customer that has browsed a product on your site, of which you just so happen to have a discount running for users that discover said product in search ads.

Do you retarget towards those people, or leave them out? We’d argue the former. Just be sure to make that discount front and centre, as that could be all it takes to tip them over the edge.

Do: Dissect What Does/Doesn’t Work

Whether you’re picking up the pieces from an underperforming campaign, or purely looking to run a follow-up campaign alongside an existing one, performance is your main indicator as to what approach you take.

For a head start on where to begin, we recommend reviewing your analytics dashboards for all your campaigns, picking out which ones have performed the best and worst. Top performing campaigns should be used as benchmarks; but even these can have flaws.

Don’t: Allow Low-Performing Content to Keep Running

Is one of your audiences not responding well to your campaign? Leaving problematic campaigns going is a quick way to keep your cost-per-click numbers on the rise, reducing the overall effectiveness of your paid strategy.

Instead, investigate why those campaigns have failed (or not performed as you’d hoped). The answers may not immediately be apparent, and can even come down to minor issues like bad grammar, poor localisation, or a plain lack of interest within your audience.

Do: Retarget the Right Way with Liberty

With changes to privacy and cookie collection, running an effective retargeting campaign is becoming increasingly difficult. If you’re still struggling to see the performance you have in mind, why not consult the experts at Liberty.

Whether it’s understanding how to improve your numbers or putting together campaigns from scratch, our PPC services team can help. Get in touch with us today.

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Alex Cox

PPC Manager

Alex has had extensive knowledge of both agency and client side as a senior paid marketing manager, starting his journey off at the paid media team at British Airways. His experience primarily focuses on retail, financial services, tech, automotive, beauty and travel. While he specialises in PPC advertising across all digital channels, he also has…

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