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5 Ways to Get More From Your Retargeting Budget

April 19, 2019

You can get more out of your retargeting budget by segmenting by topic, category, and recency, increasing the quantity and variety of ad creatives, only targeting those who have not converted, and adding upsell and cross-sell campaigns.

Retargeting is by far the most efficient type of advertising when measured by cost per lead (CPL), cost per sale, lead quality, and average order value. Most advertisers have some sort of remarketing strategy but are barely scratching the surface in terms of effectiveness.

So, I’ll share 5 techniques to maximize effectiveness that I’ve painstakingly learned from working with more than 60 clients and spending more than $78 million over the past 5 years.

Why should you listen to me? I am the founder of a digital marketing agency in the Washington, D.C., area that has won many awards, including 6 consecutive appearances on the Inc. 5000 list and top rankings in agency directories such as Clutch.

If you're not familiar with retargeting, it’s an advertising practice that targets people who have already visited a business’s site, and it’s typically more efficient because these users, by definition, have already been exposed to your brand.

So, if you’re advertising online and you’re not retargeting visitors, you should be. It’s a no-brainer. Google even makes it easy to set up.

If you’re already retargeting, here are 5 tips to get more bang for your buck.

1. Segment by Topic and Category

Most advertisers set up a 30-day retargeting list broadly for all visitors — there are two problems with this approach. The first problem is a lack of personalization.

If you’re selling bananas, pistachios, and granola online, users are likely interested in one of those items more than the others — so mention what they’re interested in with your ad copy.

In the below image, you can see we target different segments by which page the user visited.

Target different segments

We treat segments differently based on where users came from and/or where they landed.

Having segments instead of one general target audience can help you offer personalized messages to each group.

Start with three to five segments and call them “core audiences.” Having a few segments of people to target will help drive better response.

2. Segment by Recency

The second mistake with retargeting is having the wrong audience list length.

Advertisers tend to use 30-day lists. But if you get significant traffic, you may have 20,000 to 50,000 or more people on that list.

The person who is most likely to buy is the person who has been there the most recently. Unless you break your list to a 7-day or 14-day list, there’s no way to ensure the most recent users are the ones seeing your ads.

A large home services client recently approached us to help with retargeting – its remarketing CPLs were actually higher than non-branded search CPLs.

If see you that, there’s something wrong.

The company was getting about 100,000 visitors per month and had a single retargeting list with a 30-day length. My clients didn’t realize that a large portion of their most recent visitors were barely seeing any ads because their budgets were being chewed up by the older visitors.

So, we broke their 30-day list into smaller segments (e.g., a 3-day list, a 7-day list, and so on) and re-launched the campaigns with sufficient budgets allocated to more recent users.

The results? The company’s remarketing CPLs dropped by almost 75% overnight.

The longer it’s been since someone visited your site, the higher your CPL will be. When you break out audience length, you can ensure the “hottest” prospects are seeing your ads, and you’ll see a nice lift.

3. Increase Quantity & Variety of Ad Creatives

Most advertisers launch with one general ad concept in a bunch of different sizes (e.g., 300x250, 728x90, etc.) — you should do the opposite.

Why? Because it takes time to make all these ads, and the concept is completely untested.

Doing the opposite means creating three or four very different ad concepts but only in one size (e.g., 728x90). Use very different images, very different offers, and cater to different appeals and interests.

Run those concepts against each other, and you’ll see which concept does best. Once you have a winner, only then build that concept in different sizes.

As you can see in the image below, we can test various ad concepts in the same size to find a winner.

Test concepts in the same size

Once we’ve found the ad concept that’s most effective, we’ll build out different ad sizes.

When you find a winner, you can use it for substantial periods of time for 7-day lists. But later on in the funnel, for the 7- to 30- day list, rotate different creatives because prospects will be on that list for 23 days (days 8 to 30), and you want to show different ad concepts to prevent banner blindness.

Testing out a variety of ads in one size will help you save time and effort until you find the most effective ad. Then, you can create it in different sizes.

4. Only Target Those Who Haven’t Converted

Ever see an ad for a product that you’ve already purchased? That’s sloppy retargeting, and it is a too-common occurrence.

If someone already bought your product, he or she likely doesn't want to buy the product again or be shown an ad for the product.

Don’t be sloppy — be sure to exclude and redirect converters. And if you want to be slick, upsell and cross-sell converters.

5. Add Upsell and Cross-Sell Campaigns

Once you exclude converters from seeing ads, put those converters into a different marketing sequence. You can show them offers that are related to but different from what they just bought and thereby increase revenue per user and deepen relationships.

The same home services client was focused on selling window replacement services, but we found that moving converters into campaigns offering door and siding services cost little in ad spend but multiplied revenue.

Cross-selling converters was affordable because the list size wasn't big, and consumers were often interested in replacing doors and siding while getting their windows done.

Measured CPL was higher than in the original retargeting campaigns, but actual revenues became massive because customers started wondering about what else they could buy. These cross-selling campaigns also facilitated the cross-selling and upselling conversations salespeople were initiating.

Upselling and cross-selling, when done right, isn't seen as a nuisance but as a benefit to the consumer and the advertiser, so add them into your campaigns.

These 5 Techniques Will Increase Your Retargeting Effectiveness

Retargeting is by far the most cost-effective form of advertising based on various metrics. Most advertisers aren't using it or aren't using anything close to its potential.

As the founder of a digital marketing agency that has made it six years on the Inc. 5000 list, I’ve seen many mistakes regarding retargeting.

By using these 5 tips, you can save and make a lot more money with the budget you’re already using.

About the Author

Headshot of Chris MechanicChris is the co-founder and CEO at WebMechanix, a leading performance marketing agency that has spent $30 million on advertising for clients and won numerous Inc 5000 awards.