Five Things NOT To Do When Retargeting

Stephen McCance September 18, 2014

Retargeting can be an incredibly effective channel to add to your online marketing mix….but when it goes wrong, it can drain your budget faster than you can say ‘conversion’. Take a look at our top five things not to do when embarking on a retargeting campaign.

Retargeting is an increasingly hot topic in the digital world and, when a campaign is set up and run properly, it can generate an impressive return on investment. However, with it being a relatively new concept to many marketers and businesses, retargeting is still, unfortunately, something that can go very wrong if not done properly, and, similarly to PPC, it can end up costing you rather than making you money. So, what are the main pitfalls involved in retargeting? How do you stop your campaign from turning into a money-sucking black hole? Here are some answers to help you make a start.

Get your impression numbers wrong
Whilst too many impressions can be annoying and will have the opposite of the desired effect (often turning people off from your brand), not showing enough impressions will mean that your campaign is effectively pointless. Retargeting is about keeping your brand, products and services at the forefront of peoples’ minds and their online experiences to entice them to come back and convert. With this in mind, it is obviously extremely important that your ads seem to be in a lot of relevant places without irritating users and causing annoyance to potential customers.
This can be achieved through the use of frequency capping. Not only does this stop your audience from getting annoyed, it also means that your budget isn’t spent up too quickly on impressions that are just bugging people. Around 20 impressions per user per month is around the right amount for a successful retargeting campaign.

Keep converted users in your list of target users
Again, this not only creates an irritating experience for your users, but it also serves to waste your budget. This is one of the most common oversights in retargeting and is often a contributing factor to turning your campaign into a money pit. It is also something that’s incredibly easy to avoid, so there’s really no excuse for marketers showing people banners for items they’ve just purchased! A simple code snippet (depending upon the retargeting platform you are using) is enough to stop this happening and to save you money on those wasted impressions. Of course, you may choose to still advertise to converted users after they have made a purchase, but it’s important to do this strategically. Really think about the cross sell potential of your products/services and what compliments what, rather than showing people the same thing repeatedly.

Have terrible ad creatives (seriously, sometimes these are REALLY poor!)
The whole point of retargeting is to get people back to your website in the hope that they will convert, or to make them more aware of your brand. The last thing that you want is a set of terrible adverts that users won’t only refuse to click on, but will prompt them to never come back to your site again and make them associate poor creative material with your brand. Make yourself some fabulous banners that really grab peoples’ attention with strong calls to action and branding.
When you have your fabulous adverts, it is also just as important to keep them rotated. Showing people the same ads for more than around 3 months will make your campaign performance reduce significantly, so its important to use fresh ad creatives regularly to keep users clicking through.

Get your site segments wrong (or worse, fail to set them up at all)
This retargeting fail is surprisingly common and most often occurs when people set up their campaigns without prior experience. To anyone who is about to set up a new campaign, “all website visitors” is not a proper segment, I repeat, it is NOT a proper segment! Segmenting your website and making adverts that are relevant to each specific section is just as important as remembering to enter your payment details – you might as well not have a retargeting campaign without doing it. Segmenting the site into sections is one of the best ways to make your ads as relevant as possible to the user, meaning they’re more likely to click through and come back to the site, and the adverts are more likely to be showing them something they’re actually interested in. Sending out generic ads does sometimes serve a purpose as a branding exercise, but even this should be approached in a segmented way.

Fail to measure impact
This is really a Red Cow pet peeve, not just for retargeting, but also in general. Measurement should be a main focus of your campaigns and if you can’t measure it in some way then, in our opinion, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. (We realise that there are some brand marketers out there who will disagree on this point, but…well, you’re wrong – clients need and, quite rightfully, want to know the value of the service). There are various ways of measuring the effects of retargeting, most of which can be done from within whatever dashboard you’re using coupled with Google Analytics data. Usually, to get accurate numbers, you will be required to install some further code onto the conversion page of your website, but this is a straightforward task for any web developers who are worth their weight. When you have your campaigns set up properly to monitor them on an ongoing basis, the data you get from it should really enhance your strategy moving forward. With retargeting, sometimes even small tweaks to a campaign can have an excellent effect on the return – providing they’re the right tweaks and are informed by analysing the data from ongoing measurement.

Generally, retargeting can be an excellent form of re-engaging users and generating increased site conversions, but its important to get your campaign set up and strategy right and avoid these common pitfalls.

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