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Why Your Retargeting Strategy Is Losing You Customers (And What To Do About It)

Why Your Retargeting Strategy Is Losing You Customers (And What To Do About It)

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If someone visits your product page but doesn’t purchase, or visits your email opt-in page and doesn’t complete the form, you’ve probably lost the opportunity to acquire them as a customer – unless you use retargeting.

Retargeting is a powerful tool used for reconnecting with people who’ve visited your website, but who haven’t converted.

In a study of landing pages, the average conversion rate was found to be 2.35%. If this is your conversion rate, that means 97.65% percent of your traffic can be re-engaged using a retargeting campaign.

If someone doesn’t convert on the first visit to your site – it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, it may mean that they’re just not interested at the moment and need more convincing.

For example, I often find that younger demographics convert well on retargeting campaigns at the beginning of the month – since this is when they’ve just got paid.

Likewise, if a visitor arrives on your site late at night, they might not be in a purchasing mood, but if they receive a retargeting ad the following afternoon – they’re more likely to convert.

When performed correctly, retargeting campaigns can dramatically lower the cost of acquiring customers. In fact, research shows that retargeted customers are 70% more likely to finish a sale compared to customers who arrive as cold traffic.

Despite the lure of cheap acquisitions, there are many ways to get retargeting wrong and lose customers. Here are some of the most common mistakes.

No designated landing page

This mistake isn’t specific to retargeting, but it’s important to mention because it applies to all PPC advertising.

I do a lot of market research for my clients to determine how their competitors are running paid advertising and I’m constantly shocked by how many companies are sending paid traffic to their homepages.

If someone has clicked your retargeting ad, it means they’re interested in the specific offer – not your business in general (sorry for the tough love).

Please don’t send them to your homepage and force them to search for the product in your ad. Make it as easy as possible by sending them to a unique optimized landing page with a clear call-to-action (CTA) for every campaign.

Your landing page doesn’t need to be flashy, it just has to communicate your offer and allow people to convert easily.

Lack of harmony between ad and landing page

Creating a designated landing page for your retargeting campaign isn’t enough. You also need to think about user experience.

When someone sees a retargeting ad, they expect a consistent experience when they click through to your landing page.

As a good example, check out this ad image by Zendesk:

Then observe the consistency when you click through to the landing page:

If your ad features a neutral color scheme and friendly, conversational copy – sending them to a landing page full of high octane sales copy and bright flashing colors is not a good idea.

Your ad and landing page should match, both aesthetically and in terms of the tone of voice.

Consider this: if you pasted your Facebook ad onto your landing page, would it look harmonious or awkward? If the answer is the latter, it’s worth going back to the drawing board until you get it right.

No audience segments

Retargeting is a precision marketing tool. Think of it as a laser beam instead of a shotgun.

The more you’re able to speak directly to your target customer, the more effective your campaigns will be.

For instance, you may want to design a retargeting campaign for people who have read a piece of content about a subject, and you want to promote a contextually relevant product.

This individual would resonate with a different message compared to someone who has viewed a product, added it to their cart but abandoned the purchase.

For audiences that have shown high buyer intent (such as adding a product to their cart), you can to be more direct with your messaging.

Finally, retargeting can be used to connect with existing customers who’ve already purchased from you, but who haven’t purchased your upsell. In these instances, it’s best to take a friendly approach and greet them as an old friend who might be interested in something new.

You can make huge inferences based on the data for how people have engaged with your site. Building audience segments allow you to deliver more impactful, personalized retargeting campaigns.

Spamming existing customers

In order to recapture leads who have visited your product page but who haven’t converted, I recommend building a custom audience in Facebook ads manager.

Add everyone who has viewed your product page URL in the last 30-180 days (you will need to install the Facebook Pixel to do this).

When you fire off a retargeting campaign to this audience, you can easily recapture lost leads.

However, when building your audience you also need to remove people who have viewed the URL of your thank you page.

If you don’t, then existing customers will continue to receive your retargeting ad for a product they’ve already bought. This can get extremely annoying quickly, especially if your retargeting audience is small.

Too much selling, not enough value

If you come across like a blatant advertiser trying to extract value from your audience, you won’t have much luck with retargeting.

Particularly for Facebook retargeting where people are scrolling through their feed looking for interesting pictures and updates from friends – it can be unpleasant when you come across an ad that is an overt sales pitch.

I recommend you test this for yourself, but I find the best retargeting ads blend seamlessly into a person’s feed. For instance, ad images where people are using your product in a social scenario tend to work better than traditional ecommerce pictures with a product and white background.

This ad image by MoveGB looks like a typical organic post from a friend that’s interested in fitness:

The best retargeting ads speak to a person’s self-interests. In other words, they deliver (rather than extract) value.

In a study on cart abandonment, 49.3% of online shoppers stay that they abandon purchases when the price is too high. Consider including a discount code in your retargeting ads to combat this problem, and mention that the offer is only available for a limited time (leveraging the power of scarcity).

Here is a good example of a scarcity-based discount ad by Target:

Hopefully, you know your target customer intimately (if not, then why not?). Consider how you can solve their frustrations, help them achieve their goals and generally add more value to your retargeting campaigns.

Not rotating your ads

If you’ve run numerous retargeting campaigns, you’ve probably had the experience of achieving great results at the beginning of the campaign – shortly followed by a drastic decline.

The reason for this is ad fatigue. In Facebook ads manager, you can view your conversions alongside your ad frequency (the average amount of times your ad has been shown to someone in your audience) – usually, there is a correlation.

When someone views an ad multiple times, they stop processing it entirely. In the earlier days of internet marketing, this was known as banner blindness.

If you have a small retargeting audience, everyone is going to see your ad in a short period of time (depending on your daily budget). The longer you run the campaign, the higher the likelihood that people will become fatigued.

The best way to combat this is by including multiple ad creatives in your ad set. When your ads rotate, it diminishes the chance of someone seeing the same ad numerous times in quick succession.

With Google Adwords, it’s easy to set a frequency cap so that your ad isn’t shown repeatedly to someone who isn’t going to purchase. Frequency capping can be found in ‘settings’ for your campaign.

Sometimes, a customer is a good match for your product but they simply don’t resonate with your offer.

Rotating your ads allows you to convey multiple offers in order to encourage a click through. For instance, one offer may emphasize the way a product can impact someone’s life, while another offer emphasizes free shipping.


Despite the power of retargeting, it still isn’t a widely used tactic. In fact, 46% of marketing professionals believe that retargeting is the world’s most underused marketing technology.

Retargeting is a great way to drive cheap conversions, but only if you execute correctly.

When planning your retargeting campaigns, the best thing to do is put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Through this lense, consider whether your advertising would be annoying or valuable.

Are you spamming your website visitors in order to extract as much money from them as possible, or are you carefully taking steps to deliver value and improve their lives?

If your product or service isn’t highly valuable to your audience, then no amount of tinkering with retargeting campaigns will solve your problem. In this case, it’s best to survey your audience and find out about their frustrations and desires so that you can serve them better.

As with all forms of marketing, the winners are those who deliver what the market actually desires. Retargeting is no exception.

Do you have any tips for executing an effective retargeting campaign? Please let me know in the comments.

Guest Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands, including Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Target and others, to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, his blogFacebookTwitterGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

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