Retargeting Ads, and 12 Brilliant Ways To Use Them

Retargeting Ads: What They Are — And 12 Brilliant Ways to Use Them

Done right, retargeting ads are an effective method of re-engaging inactive users, upselling current customers, and converting website visitors into paying customers.

When done wrong, retargeting ads can feel like you’re being stalked by a one-time Tinder date.

In this post, I’ll briefly explain:

  • What retargeting ads are, and how they work
  • The difference between retargeting and remarketing
  • 12 retargeting ad examples from the Ladder Playbook to use in your marketing campaigns

Let’s get right to it!

What is retargeting?

Retargeting (sometimes referred to as behavioral retargeting) is a type of online ad that targets a specific audience based on their interactions with your brand online.

To run retargeting campaigns, marketers and advertisers can either install a tracking pixel (which are tiny, invisible graphics) to their website’s HTML code outbound emails to track a user’s activity, or by importing a list of current contacts.

Tracking pixels provide marketers and advertisers with a wealth of information, like what web browser you used when you visited a site, what your email provider is, how much of a blog post you’ve read, and what you clicked on while on a specific page.

(Author’s Note: If you’re tracking EU users, that information “may be used to create profiles of the natural persons and identify them”, which is forbidden by Recital 30 of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Refer to our blog post about GDPR for more information.)

What is retargeting?
Photo Credit: Far Reach

What is retargeting vs. remarketing?

Retargeting, remarketing… it all sounds the same. But are they?

Mike Arsenault from Rejoiner makes a great argument in a blog post about the difference between retargeting and remarketing. Retargeting, he argues, is “most often used to describe online ad placements and display ads, served based on a user’s activity on your site.” This gives you the capability to “retarget” your website visitors on millions of other websites.

On the other hand, remarketing, Arsenault argues, is involved re-engaging your current customer or leads using email marketing, includingshopping cart abandonment email campaigns, upsells/cross-sell emails (think those very personalized Amazon emails you get after you’ve bought a product) and lifecycle marketing emails.”

Emails remarketing campaign example
Photo Credit: Remarkety

Now that we’ve gotten those definitions sorted, let’s get to the fun stuff: tactics! The following retargeting ad examples are pulled from The Ladder Playbook, which contains the exact tactics we use internally to help our clients reach their goals and grow their business. Below, I’ll share 12 brilliant retargeting ad tactics you can use to re-engage website visitors, and your current customers or leads.

 ↑ Back to the Top ↑


12 Retargeting Ad Examples You Must Try


Website Retargeting Onion

This tactic requires media budget

We’ve already talked about creating retargeting ads for website visitors, but try separating your retargeting audiences by time since they last visited your site. This allows you to optimize for each group and speak to each of them differently. For example, you can talk differently to users you haven’t seen in a month than you would to ones who last appeared a week ago. This allows you to approach alternate methods of reactivation.

What you’ll need:

  • A Facebook Ads account
  • a .csv or .xls files of your website visitors, segmented by time
Success Rate:

22%

Marketing:

1h

Website Retargeting Onion

 ↑ Back to the Top ↑


Email Subscriber Retargeting Ads

This tactic requires media budget

You may have many subscribers to your email list that haven’t yet purchased from you, so why not retarget them? There’s a good chance your email subscribers already have high intent and high brand recognition; by using custom audiences on Facebook and Twitter you can target these people and convince them to purchase your product. Not an ecommerce business? You can still use this tactic to reactivate inactive subscribers or to encourage non-subscribers to rejoin your email list.

Pro Tip: Use an exclusive discount or promotion to incentivize users to make a purchase.

What You’ll Need:

  • A Facebook Ads account or a Twitter ads account
  • A .csv or .xls file with your current email subscribers
Success Rate:

64%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

1h

Email List Subscriber Retargeting Ad

  

Video Retargeting Ads

This tactic requires media budget

Retargeting people who have watched your video is a powerful way to turn brand awareness into valuable web traffic. A user that has seen your video is much more likely to engage with your retargeting ad, and will be less annoyed with a harder sell. In fact, data from Criteo shows that 64% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video ad, and 80% are more likely to recall your brand after watching a video ad.

Pro Tip: Some platforms like Facebook allow you to target based on how much of the video was watched, so try that in an upcoming marketing experiment.

What you’ll need:

  • A Facebook Ads account or a YouTube ads account
  • A high-quality video ad for your business
Success Rate:

63%

Marketing:

1h

Retargeting Ads to Video Viewers

 ↑ Back to the Top ↑


Dynamic Retargeting Ads

This tactic requires media budget

If you want to retarget users who have visited your site in the past, consider using a dynamic creative that’s based on the products they’ve browsed through, added to their shopping cart, for placed on their wish list. By doing so, you’ll directly remind them of the great products they saw on your site, which (hopefuly) encourages them to return. The best part is that every ad impression will be customized specifically to the individual that sees it based on prior interest, rather than a generic ad for all viewers.

What you’ll need:

  • A Facebook Ads account or a Google AdWords account
  • Custom dynamic ads created by experienced graphic designer
Success Rate:

61%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

2h

Design:

1h

Development:

4h

Dynamic Retargeting Ads

Delayed Retargeting Tracking Pixel/Cookie

This tactic doesn’t require media budget

A great tactic to ensure that you’re not wasting your advertising budget on low-intent customers or leads is to delay the firing of your retargeting tracking pixel or cookie from tracking users for 45 seconds to a minute. This ensures that the pixel or cookie isn’t tracking users who bounce immediately. Instead, you’ll be tracking ones who have actually seen and engaged with your content or products. The subsequent retargeting ads you run will be reaching a much more activated audience.

What you’ll need:

  • An installed tracking pixel or broswer cookies
  • Your preferred retargeting ad platform (i.e. Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, etc.)
Success Rate:

15%

Marketing:

2h

Development:

2h

Delayed Retargeting Tracking Pixel/Cookie

Buyer’s Journey Retargeting Ads 

This tactic requires media budget

Consider retargeting different users based on how far along they are in the buyer’s journey. If they only saw one item on your ecommerce site, you can retarget them with image and copy referencing that specific item. If they’re a little farther along and added an item to the cart, then you can target them with the item and a prompt to come back to their cart. If they still haven’t returned, you can give a discount. This can go as deep as a post-purchase follow-up with a related second item.

What you’ll need:

Success Rate:

88%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Step-by-Step Retargeting Ads
                                                                                         ↑ Back to the Top ↑

Twitter Hashtag Retargeting

This tactic requires media budget

This advanced strategy requires you to run two separate Twitter ads campaigns. First, create an ads campaign that leverages a unique branded hashtag that will interest your target audience and encourages engagement. For the second campaign, you’ll use Twitter’s keyword targeting feature to retarget people who used or engaged with your branded hashtag.

This is a fun, interactive way to retarget an audience that has already aware of your brand, and are more likely to continue the interaction and even make a purchase.

Pro Tip: Consider running a photo contest or another unqiue promotion to encourage Twitter users to include your branded hashtag in their tweets.

What you’ll need:

  • A Twitter Ads account
  • A catchy branded hashtag
Success Rate:

12%

Difficulty:

Intermediate

Marketing:

2h

Design:

1h

Twitter Branded Hashtag Retargeting Ads
Photo Credit: Coca-Cola

↑ Back to the Top ↑


Retargeting By Page

This tactic requires media budget

Retarget prior visitors based on the exact page(s) that they were on during their visit. This lets you create highly dynamic ads that give custom content and custom messaging for the exact visitors you want to target.

Success Rate:

+32%

 
Retargeting By Page

↑ Back to the Top ↑


Dormant Retargeting

This tactic requires media budget

Retarget users that have fallen dormant. As per 500.co, between 60-75% of subscribers on the average email list are dormant– they haven’t opened an email from that list in at least six months. An AdRoll survey showed that 90% of marketers said that “retargeted ads are as good or better than the gold standard in digital marketing.” Using paid ads or email to retarget dormant subscribers with a new offer can be exceptionally effective.

Success Rate:

38%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

2h

Design:

0h

Development:

0h

Retargeting By Page

↑ Back to the Top ↑


Power-User Retargeting

This tactic requires media budget

Try retargeting you power user by creating a custom audience. This can be especially effective when you have a new offering. Since they already feel strongly about your product, they will be more likely to engage with your ads and show more interest in a new offering.

Success Rate:

58%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

 N/A

Design:

 N/A

Development:

 N/A

Power User Retargeting

↑ Back to the Top ↑


Customer Retargeting

This tactic requires media budget

Try retargeting paying customers who haven’t made a second purchase. Retarget them with ads that show products similar to the ones they bought. This helps to reactivate customers who liked what they purchased but haven’t thought to return yet.

Success Rate:

40%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

1h

Design:

1h

Development:

N/A

Customer Retargeting

↑ Back to the Top ↑


Time On Site Retargeting

This tactic requires media budget

Facebook lets you retarget an audience based on the amount of time they spent on your site. You can use this to filter out visitors who were only there for a short visit, focusing in on ones that spent a lot of time but did not convert. They’re more qualified and likely more interested in your products but may have forgotten about you. Get them back to your site by retargeting them with ads on Facebook.

Success Rate:

60%

Difficulty:

Advanced

Marketing:

2h

Design:

N/A

Development:

N/A

Customer Retargeting

↑ Back to the Top ↑


I hope you enjoyed these creative remarketing ad examples!
*This post was updated October 2018, and originally published June 2018
If you liked this post, I’m sure you’ll love these: