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How to Convert Visitors Into Customers With Retargeting Ads

John-SevenAtoms
By on June 16th, 2020 Reading Time: 7 minutes

Imagine this: you’re an enthusiast cyclist. While browsing your choice of social media platform, you see an ad for a product that intrigues you—say, new pedal clips. You click the ad, get taken to the site, and after browsing for a bit, decide against the purchase. Perhaps you don’t have the funds, perhaps the weather outside isn’t quite the cyclist’s dream, or perhaps you’re just not interested. 

Some time later, you see another ad for the same pedal clips. This time, you’re already familiar with the brand, and you go back to the site with a new sense of purpose. This time, you pull the trigger and buy.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been here. This is a classic example of the marketing tactics of “retargeting” and “remarketing.”

I’m a marketing specialist for SevenAtoms, a digital marketing agency based out of the Bay Area. We use remarketing and retargeting constantly for our clients, and today, I’m going to give you a quick overview of how you can put these powerful tools to use for your business, and convert visitors into buyers.

While the terms “remarketing” and “retargeting” are often used interchangeably, there are differences between remarketing and retargeting.

What is remarketing?

Remarketing refers to engaging with people who have shown interest in your product or service before, like through an ad or a post on social media.

Some common examples of a remarketing campaign include shopping cart abandonment emails, upsell and cross-sell emails. Another good example is lifecycle marketing emails—email campaigns that deliver messages tailored to shoppers at different stages of their interactions with you (for instance, regular customers vs. new contacts).

What is retargeting?

Retargeting, on the other hand, refers to paid online advertising that is aimed at people who have previously visited your site.

As you can see, the difference lies in the channel:

  • remarketing is mostly email (and other marketing methods that don’t include paid advertising);
  • retargeting is mostly paid advertising.

In any case, they’re different methods of the same tactic: reaching out to people who have previously engaged with your brand.

How does retargeting work?

Retargeting primarily uses online ads on social media and search engines—typically called PPC (“pay per click,” since you don’t pay any money unless someone clicks on your ad).   

Setting up retargeting

Setting up a retargeting campaign is easier than it might seem. You should start by creating an ad account or visiting your preferred ad platform to find a retargeting pixel code, then copy-paste the snippet of code to your website, and you’re good to go.

This can be done manually, but most major ecommerce platforms have this functionality built in. For instance, when using Google Ads, the pixel is found under “Audience Sources” and then the “Google Ads Tag” tab.

This is an example of what the code for adding a remarketing pixel might look like in a Google Ads campaign.
This is an example of what the code for adding a remarketing pixel might look like in a Google Ads campaign.

Tracking your visitors

As new users visit your site, the tracking pixel will drop an anonymous “cookie” on their browser, which will follow them around as they browse online. When that user lands on a website that hosts ads from your ad network provider, the user will start seeing your retargeting PPC ads. 

During the page session, the cookie will gather data (e.g., age, gender, interests, etc.) and build a profile based on the collected information. These profiles are extremely valuable, since you can use them to build narrowly targeted ads for your retargeting campaigns. 

For those new to the world of retargeting, a single ad campaign is a perfectly fine place to start. Later, when you’ll have more experience you can move on to more advanced techniques: you can set different cookies on different pages of your website, or track based on specific behaviors, such as time spent on site, number of pages visited, people who abandoned their shopping carts, and so on to move them further along the sales funnel.

Since retargeting pixels fundamentally work based on site cookies, according to the GDPR and CCPA, you can only set cookies on a user’s browser after they have accepted cookies on the site, in order to improve a user’s privacy.

Depending on the page visited, our retargeting campaign would show one version of the ad or the other.

You can have different retargeting pixels on different pages, you can tailor ads to the pages that your users visit. For instance, depending on if the user had visited a page about Magecart attacks or a page about detecting malicious bots, we showed them a different variant of the ad. The solution being offered was the same in both cases, but by tailoring the ad to the need they’d shown interest in, we made it more likely for them to convert.

Why is retargeting important?

Aside from keeping your brand in front of your potential customers’ minds, a well-designed retargeting or remarketing campaign also increases the chances that they will convert.

Considering the fact that only 2% of website visitors convert during the initial visit, retargeting can help you bring back a portion of the 98% who left without doing the thing that you wanted them to do—typically, buying something.

PPC retargeting gets higher clickthrough rates 

This campaign’s retargeting ads have 3 times the CTR of other ads.
This campaign’s retargeting ads have 3 times the CTR of other ads.

Retargeting gets more conversions, too

If you’re saying “Sure, John, but this is all just about retargeting, and I’m not ready to really dive into PPC campaigns, what about remarketing? Would it work if I sent some emails to previous customers instead?” That’s a totally valid question, and the answer is—it’s just as important! Here are some interesting facts and figures that indicate why remarketing is important for business.

Remarketing emails are important, but timing is key

  • Emails sent to visitors who added items to their cart but left without purchasing had nearly 25% conversion rates. Those are rates most email marketers would kill for!
  • According to AgilOne, 57% of US shoppers appreciate receiving an alert email for products that are going on sale, 50% enjoy receiving VIP customer appreciation emails, and 54% of people aged 25 to 34 welcome the thought of getting cart abandonment reminders.
  • Timing is everything in remarketing. Research indicates that you can get 10 times higher conversion if you follow up an hour after your first interaction with a potential customer.

What are retargeting best practices?

Now that we’ve looked at the basics of remarketing and retargeting, here are some best practices for both.

It’s never too soon to start retargeting (but it can be too much)

The criteria for when to start a retargeting advertising campaign varies from marketer to marketer; some marketers prefer to run a constant campaign for all users who didn’t convert. No matter which tactic you choose, make sure you don’t show too many ads to avoid annoying potential customers. 

For a typical ecommerce shop, you can start retargeting customers who have expressed interest in your store but have not converted right away. However, ReTargeter recommends capping your ads at no more than 20 per user per month, lest you start to get on customers’ nerves.     

Consider different offers for different stages of their customer journey

Once you’re more familiar with the basics of PPC retargeting, an easy way to take things to the next level is to create simple segments based on the pages people are visiting. This lets you set up different retargeting campaigns with different offers.

You can offer different retargeting ads to people in different conditions.
Cart page visitors get the “15% Off” and on-cart page visitors get the “10% Off” ad

This is one example for an ad SevenAtoms did for one of our customers, SealSkin Covers. Given that someone who had already been to the cart page was a more likely sale than someone who had just browsed the site, we showed those people ads offering a larger discount. With proper retargeting practices, you can determine which pages someone visited on your site and remarket accordingly. 

Further tips and tricks

Are you ready to implement a retargeting campaign? Here are some useful tips to consider to increase your success rate.

  • Keep things relevant. Segment your audience based on demographic, geographic, or contextual attributes and create retargeting ads based on these variables. Sending the same message to different sets of audience with different needs and interests won’t do anything for your bottom line.
  • Set a limit. More is not always better, so set a frequency cap on your ads. You wouldn’t want your audience to feel completely overwhelmed by your ads to the point that they feel you are stalking them, right? For best results, limit the ads you show to each user, a maximum of two or three per day.        
  • Know when to stop. Here’s a pro tip: use what is called a “burn pixel.” Like the retargeting pixels we discussed earlier, a burn pixel is a snippet of code that you put on your post-transaction page. This can be thought of as the opposite of a retargeting pixel, because it’s designed to remove users from your retargeting list after they’ve made a purchase. Aside from preventing wasted impressions and throwing away good money, it can also eliminate the risk of annoying converted customers. Here’s what this looked like in the backend for our SealSkin campaign.
All converters are excluded from the remarketing campaign.
All converters are excluded from the remarketing campaign.

Alternatively, since post-transaction pages often include certain URLs, another way to avoid showing ads to people who have converted is to exclude any users who have visited pages with URLs including text like “thank-you,” “order-completed,” and the like.

  • Don’t show the same ads. Rotate your retargeting ads to avoid ad fatigue. Exposing your audience to the same ad content for prolonged periods of time can significantly reduce its efficiency and hurt your conversion rates.

Retargeting and remarketing: integral tools for ecommerce

While retargeting primarily uses ads to reconnect and re-engage previous visitors who demonstrated high purchase intent, remarketing uses email to reach bounced visitors and encourage them to complete their purchase.

Both, however, are invaluable at reaching out to prospective customers who have already taken the first steps towards engaging with your brand.

Numerous studies indicate that remarketing is extremely effective since the visitors you’re targeting are already in the late stages of your sales funnel. These people have already visited your site and are interested in what you have to offer. Some may have even gone as far as to add items to their shopping carts, but you haven’t yet sealed the deal.

With a little nudge from a remarketing or retargeting campaign, you can encourage these people to take out their credit cards and complete their purchase.

By using these helpful marketing tools and strategies, you can recapture potentially lost revenue and see effective ROI for your online business today.

John-SevenAtoms
John Funk is the Inbound Marketing Specialist for SevenAtoms, a digital marketing agency based out of the Bay Area. A lifelong storyteller, he relishes finding new ways to communicate in the digital medium, and can often be found playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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    1. mr.haha

      but retargeting by email especially if recipient use gmail, it always go to promotion tab.. ctr is low rite?

      1. Edward Zarins

        Not actually sure about where do retargeting emails go but the CTR might be lower if it does go into the promotion tab.

  1. Digital marketing

    i had confusion about retargeting but now it is cleared thanks for sharing nice information and keep it up!!!

  2. Jiki

    I’d love to use these tips but it seems like all of the clothing wear templates are “temporarily unavailable”, likely due to COVID-19. Does anyone have an estimation of when these templates will become available again?

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey Jiki! We have disabled our push generator for DTG and AOP+embroidery products in the US at the moment to improve our fulfillment times, which means that you can’t add new designs to your store, but it doesn’t affect live products. In addition, you can still place manual orders for these categories.

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