30 Tips To Optimize Your Retargeting Campaign

Michael Ulryck

Jun 23, 201510 min read
30 Tips To Optimize Your Retargeting Campaign

Retargeting is an online advertising method used to convert your visitors and so increase the performances of your website. But this one is still not harnessed by everyone in the tech community, so I decided to gather all the best practices I apply for my clients in order to boost their ROI.

This advice may change according to the retargeting platform you use.

1. Segmentation

2. Geotargeting

When your services are located on a specific territory or your website is only available in one language, you should target only the regions, countries or cities concerned.

Otherwise, if you own a multilingual website, I advise you to create different campaigns and set up the geotargeting for each accordingly.

Moreover, you can use Google Analytics to know which areas you should exclude or not, according to where your visitors are coming from.

3. Use the Conversion Funnel

Adapting your advertising message into the conversion funnel is the foundation of retargeting. You cannot undertake any retargeting campaign without serving ads in relation to the journey of your prospects.

We can break down the funnel into three steps: upper-funnel, mid-funnel and lower-funnel. For the first one, target the homepage or all your visitors who are not already included in other specific segments (some retargeting platforms create this kind of segment automatically).

For the mid-funnel, target the product category pages or certain product pages.

Finally, include the “thank-you” or “order confirmation” page that appears after the transaction.

4. Target Your Visitors with a High Intent of Purchase

When your websites' performance does not match your KPIs in terms of CTR (click through rate), resulting in a heavy volume of impressions compared to clicks, it is possible to invert this tendency by targeting only the visitors with a high intent of purchase.

The audience segments I advise to target are the cart, the contact form and (when allowed by your retargeting platform), the visitors who saw several of your web pages.

5. Exclude Existing Clients

Serving ads to your existing clients can curtail the performances of your campaign because they are less likely to make another purchase in a short period after their first purchase.

It is relevant to exclude them from your campaigns, so the list of users which is related to the “thank-you” page that appears after the transaction.

You will have to enter the pattern in the URL, which does not change regardless the retargeting platform.

For instance, the page “/thank-you” or “/order-confirmed.”

You will need to keep only the pattern that appears in the URL for each client, whatever the product ID is, and add the wildcard to track all the links generated automatically and randomly (with AdRoll). In this case, “/order-confirmed?ID=234RF78XW56-page4-53456…” will be changed by “/order-confirmed.”

This part may change so please read the instructions provided by your platform on their support center.

Further, you need to use the final URL, so the link that appears after the redirection from the third party tracker if you have one.

You can also decide to target them after a specific period defined by the cookie duration of your user lists.

As a consequence, you need to create a first excluded segment as described above with a cookie duration of 60 days (for instance) and duplicate this one with a longer cookie duration like 90 days.

You will serve ads to your existing clients only between 60 and 90 days after their first purchase. According to the products or services you offer, your sales cycles may vary, and you will have to set up the most suitable cookie duration based on these.

7. Segment with Clicks

When you cannot segment your visitors based on the URLs of the web pages they browsed, you can create different kind of audiences with their clicks on the buttons of your choice. This may be useful when an event on the website does not trigger the loading of another page. It happens that the URL does not change after the send of a message through the contact form, for instance.

You will need to implement a code into the page where the event occurs.

8. Use Other First-Party Data

A technique is available with Google remarketing to target or exclude only the visitors who spent a specific duration of time on your website. These information are provided by Google Analytics and can be exported to Google AdWords. So that you can create a remarketing list of visitors who spent less than 15 seconds on page. You can find a tutorial on this page.

9. Exclude Your IP Addresses

Excluding IP addresses is another thing to take into account if you do not wish to squander your budget by retargeting all you colleagues. The machine learning algorithms can buy ad emplacements at a higher cost for visitors who showed a greater interest in your products or services.

Amongst the factors involved, we can mention the time spent or the number of web pages visited. Thus, the members of your team who often browse the website are considered as potential clients and retargeted accordingly.

10. Use Banners

11. Change Your Banners Regularly

Your visitors can get bored by the banners, especially if they are retargeted since a while and that you never changed them. You should refresh the ads frequently, every month or based on your sales cycles so that your advertising message will stay attractive.

12. Use All Add Sizes

A study from CPXI reveals that 96% of impressions are reserved for three standards sizes (728 x 90, 300 x 250 et 160 x 600). Moreover, 92% of the campaigns only use these kinds of ads which gives us a glimpse of numerous opportunities.

By using all the different ad sizes, so those less employed, the advertisers would increase their CTR and curtail their CPM, CPC and CPA. The underlined reason is that there is less competition to bid on these emplacements.

13. Pause Your Underperforming Ads

Following the ads’ performances is important to readjust correctly the campaigns and so increase or keep a good ROI. Pause your ads or ad groups that do not convert or do not have any clicks.

14. Day-Parting

The moment of the day you display ads can also impact the results of your campaigns. Plus, it is an another way to segment your visitors. Some platforms offer the possibility to edit the day-parting, so you can choose a particular period to serve impressions like days and hours or a time zone.

15. Set Up Relevant Frequency Cap

Banner fatigue does matter in your retargeting campaigns and according to the Institute ResearchNow, when these are not well defined, they can discourage your visitors to make a purchase. According to this study, nearly 55% of the surveyed who have been retargeted say they were dissuaded to make a transaction.

16. Add a CTA

The Facebook news feed enables you to add a call-to-action below your banners to encourage the users to click and get back to your website. You can choose 5 kinds of CTAs: “Reserve now,” “Download,” “Purchase” and “Subscribe.”

But regardless the type of campaign, I highly advise to display a CTA on your banners.

17. Implement Ad Networks

18. Choose Your Ad Networks

If you want to maximize your budget, you will probably need to allocate it to several networks (Google, Microsoft Ad Center, AppNexus, etc.) to expand your reach; the retargeting budget is based on your volume of unique visitors. But also find which ones are the most suitable for you to optimise your ROI.

19. Blacklist Websites

Many Internet sites do not match your brand or are not interesting in terms of performance. Therefore, you should exclude them from your campaigns. Notwithstanding, ad networks do not display every time on the sites owing to their partnerships.

20. Use Tracking

21. Use UTM Codes

It's a good idea to track all your campaigns with Google Analytics to be sure of the metrics provided by the retargeting company. To do so, create a new URL with the UTM tracking tool from Google that you can find on this page. Then, replace the landing page by this URL on your dashboard.

But keep in mind that Google Analytics has his own way to measure your traffic and your campaigns. For instance, a view-through conversion (VTC) will never be recorded as such because GA is based on a last-click attribution model. Thus, when a prospect sees your banner, but does not click on it and search your brand on Google to purchase a product, this conversion will be counted for the search engine, not the retargeting campaign.

22. Track ROI

A specialist of online marketing should never run any campaigns without tracking the return on investment because the principle of retargeting is to increase conversions. This detail is important because every retargeting platform does not automatically provide a code to know the exact amount of the transaction.

Create a conversion segment and implement it on your website (often into the page where occurs the purchase) when needed.

23. Use a Tag Manager or a Third-Party Tracking Tool

The specialists in web marketing are often overwhelmed by all the tags they have to implement on the websites they manage. These tags are used to track the browsing of the visitors (Google Analytics, Omniture, Kissmetrics, etc.), to interact with the prospects (support service with Zendesk, Olark, UserVoice), to retarget/relaunch them (AdRoll, Marketo, Mailchimp) or improve the user experience (Optimizely, CrazzyEgg).

You can use two tools, Google Tag Manager and Segment.io, according to your needs. Directly manage all the tags with one platform and activate/deactivate these with only one click.

24. Run Campaigns

25. Run Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Retargeting Campaigns

If your aim is to reach your customers wherever they are, you should consider seriously to run also a retargeting campaign on several platforms and mobile.

The users of smartphones are more loyal than the others, so if you re-engage your existing clients on this device, they are more likely to make a second purchase.

Moreover, if you retarget your visitors on the Web and Facebook, your reach will be higher, and you will take advantage of the engagement between your brand and them with this social network.

Delivering a cohesive retargeting campaign in a multi-screen world is difficult but many companies offer now the services to tackle this challenge and benefit of the synergistic effects of these different devices and platforms.

26. Run Dynamic Retargeting Campaigns

Dynamic retargeting is probably the most efficient technology to increase your ROI. It enables you to display the last products viewed by your visitors automatically. Other options are often available, as serving ads with your best-seller products or from a cross-selling standpoint, similar products.

27. Relaunch Your Prospects with CRM and E-mail Retargeting

28. Exclude Former Clients

There are now some ways to exclude your former clients who made a purchase from the platforms like Kickstarter, even a long time ago.

When your products were available on other websites that you do not manage, it is not possible to use segmentation based on the behaviors of your visitors and he URLs of your pages.

Notwithstanding, another solution exists with CRM Retargeting. Exclude your clients in creating a segment with their email addresses.

28b. Upsell and Cross-Sell

But you can also use this solution to reactivate your former clients and prospects in order to offer new or similar products.

29. Use E-Mail Retargeting

Moreover, the email retargeting solution is another way to retarget, often used by Amazon. For instance, an email is sent to you a week after you visited the website, with a list or products based on the web pages you saw.

30. Create Several Ad Groups

Ad groups enable you to target specific audiences with tailored messages within the same kind of campaign. Thus, you can target several segments with different ads for a web, mobile, Facebook campaign, etc.

31. Set a Max Bidding Amount

Increasing the maximum CPM or CPC bid is a way to serve ads to your visitors on better inventories. But also reach your prospects with a higher intent of purchase.

32. Lookalike

Lookalike solutions enable to target users who own the same interests than your visitors, and so more likely to purchase your products. It is a way to workaround the main roadblock; that is to say retargeting an overmuch low volume of traffic. And thus extend your reach easily.

  • Strategy
  • Seasonality

Ecommerce websites that sell many products have to take into account the season to decide which campaigns to pause, i.e. solar products during the winter season.

Travel agencies can also offer promotions just before the end of holidays.

  • Re-think Your Attribution Model

An attribution model based only on the “last click” does not provide a complete overview of the performances of your campaigns. Your model should also include the conversions due to the “first click,” the VTC (view through conversions, so without any clicks); and from a cross-device point of view, conversions linked to all the devices. Choose an attribution percentage and a conversion window (15, 30, 60 days, etc.) for each factor.

A multi-touch model enables to have the big picture and a more accurate understanding of the roles of your web marketing channels. The “W” model is probably the most relevant for BtoB: 30% for the touch point that gets the contact, 30% for the contact point that converts it into a lead and 30% for the touch point that transforms the lead as opportunity.

Implement A/B Testing

A/B tests of your banners (product, design, message), ad groups, geotargeting, websites, networks and segments are a means to grasp the clients’ needs and increase your ROI.

Multicanal Strategy

Retargeting can be stronger when linked with other campaigns like search instead of considering it as a standalone marketing channel and vice versa.

The volume of traffic acquired by the search will benefit your retargeting campaign by extending your reach.

According to a study undertaken by the consulting firm Nielsen, running retargeting campaigns can increase the volume of SEM (+35%) and SEO (31%) clicks, by the retargeted visitors.

Follow and Analyze Your Results

The retargeting platforms offer the possibility to create reports automatically regarding all your campaigns and metrics that you can receive in your inbox with the frequency of your choice.


Turn your window shoppers into buyers more efficiently by:

Adjusting your frequency cap, the day-parting and the matching between your website and the publishers are key factors to run a successful retargeting campaign, by convincing the user to make a purchase.

Building up a relevant segmentation, add a CTA on your banners and using an appealing design will entice the visitors to click on the ad and increase the CTR.

Using different kinds of retargeting (social, CRM, dynamic, mobile, etc.) to reach your visitors wherever they are and increase globally the performances of your campaigns.

Adding ad networks, ad sizes, adjusting the CPM/CPC and capping to maximize your budget.

What retargeting strategies work best for you? Let us know in the comments!

Find Keyword Ideas in Seconds

Boost SEO results with powerful keyword research

Free Keyword Research Tool

Author Photo
Michael is working in a retargeting company and spends his spare time reading and writing articles about digital marketing. Previously at Microsoft in Marketing for the Cloud computing. You can visit his website.