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A Guide to CRM Retargeting

Brock Murray
A Guide to CRM Retargeting

The digital marketing landscape is ever changing, and it’s important to keep up with the new trends and developments if you don’t want to get left in the dust. CRM retargeting, also known as data onboarding, is an innovative retargeting approach that helps turn window shoppers into satisfied customers.

Only 2% of shoppers actually buy something on the first visit to an online store. CRM retargeting helps you capture the remaining 98% of potential customers and keep your brand at the top of their minds. Here’s everything you need to know about CRM retargeting and how you can make it work for your business.

What is CRM Retargeting?

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms can help any business collect and organize data to better serve their customer base. From customer support to marketing techniques, CRM platforms can do almost anything. This data used to have its limits in terms of digital marketing – until the idea of online retargeting came along.

CRM retargeting takes your existing offline customer data and finds an effective online use for it to reach a targeted audience, increase brand exposure, cultivate repeat customers and drive conversions. CRM retargeting has proven so effective in such a short time period that it has revolutionized the way businesses allocate their online marketing budgets.

How It Works

Launching a CRM retargeting campaign is simple. To start, you upload your CRM data to a CRM retargeting service like AdRoll, LiveRamp, and ReTargeter. This should include emails culled from purchases, website sign-ups, and newsletter subscriptions. These email addresses are then matched to unique online users within connected online segments. These unique users are then “cookied” by the CRM retargeting service. The privacy of individual users is protected through anonymization, so you cannot connect the user data back to any one person.

Users across all devices are then served targeted ads that suit their particular interests and needs. Repeat customers could see one ad announcing a new product line, while would-be customers could be offered a discount to entice them to follow through with a purchase. According to CRM retargeting service LiveRamp, CRM retargeting ads have double the click-through-rate (CTR) of regular display ads, with 20% lower cost-per-thousand views (CPM). In one very successful AdRoll case, the client improved their CTR by nearly 700%.

CRM retargeting is differentiated from regular retargeting because it takes your offline data online. In regular retargeting, you are primarily limited to retargeting customers who have visited your website. With CRM retargeting, you bring your offline customer data “onboard” in order to enhance your existing customer relationships and leads with the precision of modern digital marketing strategies. These customers were previously in a unique segment that was overlooked by traditional digital marketing approaches. Thanks to CRM retargeting, customers like in-store buyers and email prospects can now be targeted with direct advertising across the display network even if they have not yet been to your site.

Why It Works

CRM retargeting is an effective marketing tool because it engages with every type of current and potential customer. You can re-engage dormant customers who have otherwise fallen off your marketing radar. CRM retargeting also allows you to nurture relationships with repeat customers. You can remind customers with items in their shopping cart to finish the transaction. Finally, you can convert leads and prospects into paying customers. It allows you to deliver a direct message to a specific customer, at the time and place of your choosing.

CRM retargeting campaigns typically experience far higher click-through rates and conversion rates than normal display advertising. This is because you are connecting with an audience that is more receptive to your message and has already shown an interest in your product or service.

Managing an Effective CRM Retargeting Campaign

You too can take advantage of the huge increases in click-through rates, conversions, and return-on-investment that businesses around the world are experiencing thanks to CRM retargeting.


The first step in managing an effective campaign is to segment your data for direct advertising. The most obvious segmentation strategy is to divide between converting shoppers and non-converting shoppers. Ads targeted towards converting shoppers would encourage them to come back for more, to buy related accessories, or to renew a contract or subscription. For example, a customer who recently bought a new laptop computer would see targeted ads for a laptop case or wireless mouse.

Non-converting shoppers, on the other hand, would be targeted with ads compelling them to return to your store to complete a purchase. You can target your ads to be more enticing to a non-converting shopper. Often, retailers will offer discounts and promotions to try to speed the sale along.

You can also segment based on many different factors, like geographic location, age, gender, or product viewed/purchased.


Timing is everything in marketing, especially if you sell a seasonal product. A customer who bought flowers last Mother’s Day would start seeing targeted ads to return to your online store for another purchase this year. Meanwhile customers who almost bought flowers last year would see similar ads but with a 10% discount for first-time customers, or ads promoting the inclusion of a free red rose.

Timing goes beyond seasonal products, however. A car dealership may want to start advertising new car models as a customer’s lease expiry nears. Customers who purchased an HDTV three or five years ago may be due for an upgrade, so create a segment to target these customers. This allows you to use your ad budget wisely without targeting people who are unlikely to end up in a sales conversion.

Depending on your product or service, your timing urgency may vary. If it is the week before Spring Break and you are a luggage vendor, you’ll want to retarget eager vacationers right away. Some products, especially luxury goods, have a wider window to close the deal.


The best retargeting ads include a clear call-to-action and promote a specific offer that is compelling to the customer. Use strong action verbs like “shop now,” “save now,” “learn more” or “order now.” You want to create a sense of urgency and inspire prompt action. Otherwise, even a willing customer will probably scroll away and forget about you.

Frequency Cap

In an ideal world, your ad shows only once, the customer is impelled to action, and you make a sale. This doesn’t always work, so you should consider setting a frequency cap. What starts as friendly reminder about your great product or service can quickly turn into a negative association if the user sees your ad everywhere across the internet. Focus on driving conversions with quality ad placements and relevant content, not bombardment.

Loyalty Branding

Nowadays, customers access your website on a variety of devices. They might scout your products on a desktop, start a purchase on their smartphone, and complete the sale on a tablet. This is why it’s important to target quality ad placements cross-channel and cross-device to synchronize with customer behaviour. You can unify your messaging and branding across all platforms and devices and make a strong brand impression in the eyes of dormant, active, and potential customers. Integrate your offline, email, and display campaigns for a seamless strategy that delivers results.

Don’t stand idly by while 98% of your shoppers make purchases elsewhere. With CRM retargeting, you can dramatically multiply your conversion rate thanks to something as simple as your customers’ email addresses. Make CRM retargeting a key part of your digital marketing strategy and close the deal.

Have you used retargeting campaigns? Let us know how they worked and what you learned by posting a comment!

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Brock Murray is a digital marketing specialist for seoplus+. His unique ideas and passion for all things SEO-related have helped hundreds of SMBs establish and maintain their online presence. Brock's last article for SEMrush was "My 5 Favorite Things About Being an SEO."
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Brock Murray
Thanks Glenn! Awesome feedback -- apologies for the delayed reply I just saw this now. Indeed some of the best tools are easily accessible to anyone. Cheers
You've brought a novel twist to the concept of loyalty marketing, Brock. This type of thinking can help us regardless of our industry and our technology stacks. Your example of plowing converting shoppers back into campaign targeting is now something that can be done using Google Analytics, An AdWords account and minimal budget. Thanks for getting the ball rolling; it's up to the rest of us to get creative and deploy some campaigns!