The Value of Retargeting

Spencer Soloway & Tyler Thostenson
August 17, 2020
With clients and customers increasingly doing their shopping online, here’s how to capture their attention with effective retargeting campaigns.

First things first: What is retargeting, exactly?

Retargeting is the common practice of placing ads in front of someone who has previously shown interest in your brand. Depending on who you speak to and what platform you’re running ads on, retargeting can also be called remarketing, but it’s all mostly the same process of defining a category of users based on website activity or engagement on social media, and reintroducing your brand to those users with targeted advertising. 

Why is retargeting so important?

Would you prefer to market to someone you know has previously interacted with your brand, or someone who might be interested in your brand? Your answer should highlight the value of retargeting. It’s fairly easy to understand why people who engage with your brand on social media or view products on your website are more likely to be interested in your advertising—they have already demonstrated their interest, and they just need some final motivation to cross the finish line. In fact, retargeted users are found to be 70% more likely to convert.

Retargeting is also incredibly useful in keeping users in your purchase cycle. Regardless of how users are getting to your website, they are unlikely to be ready to make a purchase. Only around 4% of people visiting a website for the first time, on average, are ready to make a purchase. Without leveraging retargeting, any traffic that comes to your site becomes, essentially, a gamble. They might purchase, or they might leave. And if they leave without purchasing anything, or without providing their email address, they’re ultimately a lost user—all you can do is hope that they decide to come back some day. With retargeting campaigns, those users remain in your orbit, and you can continue to nurture them until they’re ready to make that purchase.

What are your retargeting options?

With proper tracking and data collection, there are plenty of options for retargeting your consumers in just the right way at the right time. Instagram and Facebook in particular have powerful options, allowing you to retarget users who have…

  • Visited your website
  • Followed you on social media
  • Viewed specific products or collections
  • Abandoned their cart
  • Subscribed to your newsletter
  • Purchased from you in the past but haven’t in a certain period of time
  • Engaged with your posts on social media

Where should you set up retargeting campaigns?

While there are plenty of platforms that allow for retargeting ads, including Google Display, Pinterest, and Facebook, we’ve seen particularly impressive performance with retargeting ads on Instagram in particular. Instagram allows you to take advantage of the well-defined and powerful Facebook Pixel to keep your brand top of mind, announce promotions, and showcase products to cart abandoners. However, its ability to effectively target users on mobile devices is what truly sets it apart, particularly important given that today 67% of consumers partake in “digital window shopping,” and by 2021 we expect 54% of all online sales to come from mobile devices.

On Instagram, Carousel, Shopping, and Collection ads are excellent ways to promote specific products, while Stories, Photo, and Explore ad units can help effectively keep your brand top of mind. (Read about all of the placements and formats available on Facebook and Instagram here.)

How can you personalize your retargeting ads?

Just like any other advertising campaign, tailoring your advertising to your audience is imperative. For example, presenting users that have viewed specific products with retargeting ads featuring those specific products will have a great impact on your ad conversion rates. Likewise, advertising new or supplemental products to past purchasers will be much more effective than advertising the same products you showcase when introducing new customers to your brand.

All too often, we see companies invest in paid media and SEO without taking full advantage of non-converting visitors to their site. Given that showing ads of products that users have previously researched means they are 60% more likely to even notice your ads, this is the lowest hanging fruit in the digital marketing forest, and often the first place we focus when building a successful strategy.

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