7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Retargeting Ad Campaigns

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a powerful form of digital advertising in which audiences (potential customers) are targeted with specific ads based on their behavior online.

In other words, retargeting campaigns turn internet “window shoppers” into real paying customers for your business.

While we as marketers would love to live in a world in which a majority of online visitors became customers, the truth is the buying process is extremely complicated. In fact, roughly 98 percent of your website traffic won’t convert into customers upon first visit.

Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned expert, these 7 easy retargeting advertising tips will help take your campaigns to the next level.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Retargeting Ad Campaigns

Feel free to jump around and explore the 7 ways to improve your Facebook retargeting campaigns:

Let’s dive in!

Retargeting overview

As we mentioned in the introduction, roughly 98 percent of shoppers are visiting your store or website and leaving without ever buying from you. Check out this data from Statista on the trend over time:

Statista Conversion Rates

What if there was a way to communicate with those people?

What if you could sell more products to people that are already familiar with your brand?

Luckily for us as marketers, there is! It involves a highly-effective marketing strategy known as retargeting. Retargeting helps you win back visitors — turning them into customers, email subscribers, product advocates, and more.

Retargeting ad campaigns play into one of the oldest concepts in marketing: The Rule of Seven.

The Rule of Seven simply states that the prospective buyer should hear or see your marketing message at least seven times before they buy it from you.

It is predicated on the notion of building trust with the buyer over the course of several messages or interactions.

Which brings us to the seven easy improvements you can make to your advertising campaigns starting today.

Tip #1: Understand the buyer journey (or buyer cycle)

Understanding the buyer journey (or buyer cycle) is crucial and applies to all of your retargeting campaigns.

It’s similar to the sales funnel, in that the process begins with more customers at the top in the awareness stage and ends up at the bottom with much fewer people in the conversion stage. Here’s a nifty graph showing this process from McKinsey & Company:

Customer Buyer Journey

Retargeting is intended to capture more of those consumers as they proceed through the funnel. But if you’re not careful, you can actually damage conversion rates by ignoring the buy cycle.

If you’re considering letting your retargeting ad campaigns roll along on their own: don’t do it.

It’s not just about showing your ad to the wrong person multiple times, which by the way, can be quite annoying to customers.

It’s more about losing all awareness of the performance of your ads. If there’s one thing that marketers need, it’s a detailed understanding of their data and the effectiveness of their marketing initiatives. That means understanding what’s successful and what’s not. Who’s converting on what? Which ad set or ad creatives have the highest ROI?

Tip #2: Improve audience targeting

We’ve talked to lots of brands that start out with targeting anyone and everyone that visits their website in their retargeting campaigns.

Needless to say that approach isn’t always the most effective.

Customers visit to your website for lots of different reasons. They visit different pages. The pages they visit represent different buyer intents. Perhaps they’re not looking to buy your product at all.

The key is to match your custom advertising audiences to those shoppers’ intents.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand and someone visits your website shopping for shoes, make sure that you segment those people into a custom audience labeled “shoe shoppers” or “footwear.”

Over the past year at Buffer we’ve created various audiences based on the subject matter our visitors are interested in learning about. We have a custom audience for traffic to all Facebook marketing pages, Instagram marketing, customer experience, case studies, etc.

That allows us to be hyper-focused on what type of content we deliver, which helps to drive down costs.

Tip #3: Keep a close eye on advertising frequency

Frequency is something that many advertisers don’t necessarily consider in their campaigns, but should be thinking about in terms of improving their overall performance.

A recent study on U.S. consumer emotions associated with retargeting ads determined that ad frequency had a negative impact on buyer emotions.

Heavy ad frequency changes a buyer’s outlook from positive to negative. It can be intrusive, annoying, and worse yet — it may cause customers to become angry with your brand. Which will affect current and future sales.

Make sure to implement some sort of ad frequency limit on your campaigns. At Buffer, we’ve implemented a frequency limit of three. If the audience starts seeing the ad more than twice, we’ll either shut it off or change up the ad creative (which is a best-practice regardless).

Tip #4: Experiment until you find a highly-compelling offer

We had the pleasure of hosting Facebook ad expert Molly Pittman the Buffer Podcast back in episode 42 and she discussed this idea of lead magnets.

Lead magnets are your most compelling call-to-action. Something that you know your customers love and that other people will love, too.

If you’re not sure what that lead magnet could be, start with a quick analysis of your website traffic. What products, pages, articles are people visiting most frequently?

Then if you want to take it a step deeper, analyze conversion rates for those products or pages. In other words, what’s the total number of people that convert from a specific page compared to total number of visitors?

The higher the conversion rate, the better the magnet.

At Buffer, we had no idea where to start with retargeting. After some investigation, we found that one of our posts on Instagram marketing was generating a ton of traffic and had an unusually high conversion rate to product trialists.

Today that ad has driven more than 175,000 visits to our website and thousands of product trials.

Tip #5: Utilize Dynamic Creative Ads on Facebook

You’ve probably experimented with dynamic product ads on Facebook, but have you tried dynamic creative ads?

Dynamic creative ads are a tremendous advertising tool because they ultimately take the guessing work out of your advertising copy.

You can upload multiple images or videos, headline and description variations, as well as CTA button texts – and Facebook will test and automatically optimize for the best combinations. This graphic from WeRSM demonstrates this concept perfectly:

It’s important to note here that, because Dynamic Creative Ads only work with Traffic, Conversions, and App Install campaigns, it’s best to use these types of ads in the middle and the bottom of your sales funnel.

For instance, if your ecommerce business sells sunglasses, you could easily test standard product photos, action shots, vs. customer testimonials in your ads.

Facebook will then put your budget to the ads that are performing best.

Tip #6: Set up simple sequential engagement campaigns

When setting up sequential engagement campaigns, you’re taking a very large audience and converting them into a smaller, more qualified audience.

This is different from segmenting your audience because this is based on people who interact with your content. It’s a great way to grow your brand awareness while also moving people down the funnel.

Let’s say your a small-to-medium sized ecommerce brand that sells unique hair products.

Start by boosting a video that has performed well organically on Facebook or Instagram.

After a while, the views of that video will slowly start to pile up. You can then create a custom audience based on people who have watched 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 50%, 75%, or even 100% of the video and target them with an ad that makes sense sequentially.

Blenders Eyewear Instagram Stories Examples

Blenders Eyewear does an incredible job of this – delivering ads on Instagram when and where they are most relevant.

Put yourself in the mind of your audience here. Think, if I saw this ad, what would be the next logical step? Then map that out over the course of a few days to a few weeks.

Tip #7: Embrace the emotional element of advertising

We all like to believe that we’re intelligent buyers who always act rationally, but that’s only partially true. Our emotional side has a lot to say when it comes to purchasing products.

A simple list of product features might convince the rational self in some users, but it tends to have no effect on their emotional self. Our emotional self-doesn’t care about features, that part of us wants to see and imagine the benefits.

Coca-Cola’s recent Super Bowl ad, A Coke is a Coke, is a wonderful example of how emotions can elicit strong feelings of connection and understanding:

It’s important to address both the rational and emotional side of potential customers in your ads. Speak like a human. Use emotive language. Talk about benefits, not features.

Help people imagine a life with your product – one they never knew existed.

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About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 27,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...

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