Retargeting: 6 key factors for a successful campaign

If you have no idea what a retargeting strategy is, you may have experienced being on the web and suspecting that someone is stalking you. Indeed, you are not entirely wrong.

With all those banners following you everywhere, the doubt is legitimate. But don’t worry no one is following you with malicious intent.

The banners you see on the web that seem to be targeted directly at you are the result of specific action plans called retargeting campaigns or advertising.

Here, I will explain what they are and, more importantly, provide you with some tips to create the best retargeting campaign so you can understand its characteristics and no longer feel disoriented.

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What is retargeting and what is its purpose?

What is the purpose of retargeting in digital marketing strategies? Let’s start with some numbers: recent studies have shown that only 2% of visitors convert during their first visit to a site.

It’s like saying that you, as a new user reading this article 100 times, would only go beyond, clicking on some call-to-action in two cases on average.

It’s a negligible number, especially for those who own a website or an e-commerce and strive daily to keep the user’s interest high and, therefore, obtain as many conversions as possible.

The question that will naturally arise is: what should be done with that elusive 98% to increase the chances of conversion? Know that this is precisely the purpose of retargeting.

retargeting marketing strategy   

Let’s start by defining it as a digital marketing advertising technique aimed at reconnecting with all those users who have left the site without completing any action, such as a purchase, download, registration, subscription, opening an email, click, or other.

To further understand, this technique, among its many uses, is often used in retargeting ads in the shopping network because it has been observed that repeatedly presenting a product that previously sparked interest significantly increases the likelihood of a future conversion and, therefore, in that case, a purchase.

Thanks to these strategies, during future navigations, the user will see an advertising announcement (or banner) corresponding to their recent searches.

Together with other strategic promotion activities on search engines, it is the perfect method to always be visible, be remembered, and encourage the user to visit us again, leveraging their already demonstrated interest.

Retargeting and Remarketing: what’s the difference?

Since these two concepts are often confused, it’s only fair that I give you the most accurate definition of retargeting and remarketing to eliminate any possible doubts.

When remarketing is done, all the people who already know the brand and whose name, surname, and contact information are known are considered.

We’re not talking about users but leads, meaning people who have provided their details through one of these possible actions:

  • Fill out a registration form
  • Purchase on the site
  • Request for information via live chat
  • Any previous conversions

On the other hand, when we carry out retargeting activities, we must rely solely on the user’s behavior since we don’t have the person’s contacts.

We need to profile and differentiate based on the actions taken, such as:

  • Visit our site
  • Visit a specific page (homepage, contact page, etc.)
  • Executed downloads
  • Clicks in specific areas of the site

Now that you understand the substantial differences, it’s also fair to ask: how do I track people who have visited my site but haven’t completed any conversions or, in some cases, have added items to the cart but haven’t completed the purchase?

Criteo is the answer! This is a platform for personalized retargeting that, based on the analysis of user behavior, offers the possibility to use specific banners to bring prospects back to your site.

Therefore, we can affirm that remarketing and retargeting share the same strategy: trying to engage anyone who has shown interest without completing the conversion.

It is from this rule that we begin to understand which channels we can leverage during our journey.

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What are the channels for retargeting?

First of all, when setting up a digital strategy, one must think about their target and, therefore, the audience they want to reach.

The major channels that allow reaching a large number of users are:

  1. Ads on Google Ads. They allow you to recover inactive users who have visited the site but have not taken any action. You can also track customers who have already converted, retaining them or inviting them to purchase again.
  2. Advertisements on Meta Ads, dedicated to ads in the Meta ecosystem, namely Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Similar to Google Ads, here too you can track users who have already made a purchase or intercept targeted prospects.
  3. Newsletters with DEM campaigns. Unlike the previous channels, here the focus is on finding customers through email marketing campaigns.

Now that you have understood what the retargeting channels are, you can begin to understand the types that exist and then, subsequently, start building the right campaign for you and your business.

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Types of retargeting

The purpose of retargeting is not only to recover as many users as possible from the 98% who leave the site without converting.

When deciding to use this strategy, one must be aware of the benefits that can be gained, including:

  • An advertising ROI of around 300%
  • Targeted branding without loss of money
  • The ability to act throughout the conversion funnel

On this last point, I would like to clarify: retargeting campaigns are often seen as a performance-oriented technique, aimed at direct conversion.

However, we must not forget that it is perfectly capable of contributing at any time and at any point in the funnel.

Below are some examples:

  • Brand awareness: the user, while searching for something, typically opens and consults multiple websites, often without noticing the brand behind them. This is where a good display advertising strategy serves to influence the user during their purchasing process so that they remember us and choose us as the final option.
  • Consideration: a retargeting campaign is the most useful tool to make us stand out in the user’s purchase decision, trying to lead them to consider purchasing our product compared to competitors.
  • Conversion: this is the pinnacle to focus on. There are cases where the sale is concluded thanks to a tailored offer for that user, or simply by reminding users of products that have been forgotten in the shopping cart.
  • Loyalty: it is possible to suggest complementary products to the user’s last purchase; this is certainly a good method to encourage customer return or even strengthen the effect of our newsletters with the help of e-mail retargeting.
  • Advocacy: social retargeting can be used to show relevant content to our users in an environment where they are much more likely to share and spread our message. To date, this is a technique still underutilized, except among major brands.

If, at this point, you are wondering: how can I increase engagement?

A good retargeting strategy is one of the simplest and most effective tools you can use to create awareness of your brand and attract new customers.

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6 steps for a successful retargeting campaign

Now that you’ve grasped the basics of retargeting, you’re ready to discover the 6 golden rules to understand how to set up a retargeting campaign and avoid creating overly invasive ads that would irreversibly harm the effectiveness of your campaigns.

1. Set a frequency cap

The first thing to do when setting up a retargeting campaign is to think about the frequency limit.

It’s highly detrimental to bombard users with the same ads: if I were in a store and a too-intrusive salesperson followed me, my first thought would be to escape as soon as possible, and I believe the same would happen to you.

Frequency, therefore, depends on your business goals, but recent studies recommend exposing each user to a maximum of 17/20 ads per month.

2. Segment the audience

A visitor who has viewed the product page spent time reading blog posts, and registered for a free trial is entirely different from a visitor who exited your site after only 3 seconds.

Don’t waste time and money chasing every type of visitor, but focus on those who have shown active interest in your products and services because they are likely to be more inclined to convert.

segment your audience

To segment your audience into precise groups, there are criteria to follow that will allow you not to waste impressions and/or clicks:

  • Behavior: study the users’ behavior, which is useful to understand which pages of your site bring more conversions and capture attention. For example, if a user has visited the pricing page, it’s clear that they have a clear interest in us, so trying to reach them with the right retargeting strategy could push them toward a conversion.
  • Language & Location: dividing your audience based on language and geographic location is an excellent way to avoid wasting money and build targeted advertising campaigns. Using Google Analytics, you can also find out in detail which geographic areas to exclude or include, based on the origin of your visitors.
  • Technology: users today convert from multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops). Understanding which of these converts more in your business will help you create specific ads.
  • Exclusions: it is crucial to exclude from retargeting campaigns all those groups that are already customers, sources of spam, and all those visitors who linger on the site for a few seconds (performing the so-called “bounce”).

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3. Enter the burn code

The burn code is to be inserted into the Thank You Page (the page shown to the user after conversion). It stops ads from following those who have completed the action, preventing budget waste and targeting users no longer interested in the ad.

4. Choose a single provider

Choosing a single provider is the best option to avoid ads being shown on the same networks, boring or irritating the user.

Remember that ad overexposure leads to increased costs and the consequent ineffectiveness of the retargeting campaign.

If you want to test multiple solutions with different providers, it’s advisable to create distinct campaigns or alternate tests, avoiding the simultaneous display of the same campaigns.

5. Conduct A/B tests

To understand which ads work better and how to structure them, it is vital to conduct A/B tests related to specific variables.

This way, for example, you can study users’ reactions to banners with different creatives, images, and copy, evaluating which performs better.

In this case, it is good practice to study user behavior regarding your display ads appearing on their devices.

study user behavior

To keep a user’s interest alive, you should update the message or banner creativity as frequently as possible, as a decrease in interest inevitably leads to a drop in clicks.

Conversely, by maintaining high engagement through constant innovation, you can also gain in terms of ROI.

6. Be creative

An ad should convince visitors to return to our site and complete what they left unfinished. A banner must be impactful: it should be readable in a few seconds!

The text should be concise but clear in its intent, while the visual element should display an engaging image that attracts the user’s eye. I suggest focusing on these two elements:

  • Benefit: indicate the benefits or solutions your product or service provides to the problem.
  • Urgency: propose a time-limited or quantity-limited offer, creating a sense of impending deadline, and encouraging the user to act quickly.


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Retargeting: examples

Understanding the 6 winning tips for creating the best retargeting campaigns is important, and it’s also crucial to have a clear understanding of how they work.

A confused or mistaken idea of this discipline can lead to a disastrous campaign. But fear not, if you follow this guide carefully, it won’t happen to you.

As you’ve seen in the creation of the right strategy, various factors come into play, and one of the fundamentals for creating a functional and successful campaign is the so-called: Pixel.

The Pixel is nothing more than a Javascript code to be inserted into the HTML code of the website to allow the code to categorize users who visit a page or perform certain actions, assigning them anonymous cookies to the browser.

creating ads campaign

This way, the retargeting ad platform will follow these cookies on the network, showing your ad only to the potential lost contact, to be remembered and potentially achieve a conversion.

Remember: for each tracked user list, a list of specific ads must be created.

To understand how retargeting works, it should be noted that there are different categories, a topic worthy of thorough exploration.

Dynamic retargeting

It is the technique predominantly used in e-commerce, where there are large product volumes. Dynamic ads allow the automatic generation of banners in real-time, based on information provided by cookies.

In these campaigns, the following are primarily offered:

  • The Best-sellers.
  • Products related to the last purchase.
  • Products in the cart.
  • Products viewed and/or compared with others.

Are there top players using these retargeting strategies? Absolutely yes, it is widely used by Amazon, Zalando, Trivago, and many others.

Static retargeting

Unlike the previous one, static retargeting involves creating personalized ads for each consumer.

It requires the use of more complicated technologies such as, for example, machine learning.

To create the personalized ad, user behaviors are analyzed, and thus, the elements to be presented in the ad are determined to maximize the likelihood of conversion.

Email retargeting

It is a very useful tool to improve conversion rates for newsletters, marketing campaigns, and offers sent via email.

People check their email inbox daily, but due to lack of time or interest, they don’t open all emails: it’s a good idea to send reminders to get them read.

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Site retargeting

It is the most well-known type. When you visit a website, a cookie is placed in your browser, and consequently, in subsequent navigations, you will see an ad related to a previously visited site.

Many advertisers misuse this technique by not setting the frequency cap, which, as mentioned, allows you to set the number of times the ad appears to a user per day or month.

Oversaturation is often harmful and can risk underestimating the brand.

Social retargeting

This system is directly linked to the cookies of site retargeting, the only difference being that the ads, instead of being displayed on conventional networks, can be seen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Search retargeting

Involves sending ads to users based on their searches in search engines; this means that we can intercept customers of our competitors, hoping to encourage them to visit our site.

This series of retargeting ads is particularly suitable for the consideration and awareness phase, rather than the conversion phase.


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Conclusion and strategic advice

At this point, you understand that no one is spying on you. Companies that want to sell their product simply try to study your searches to offer you increasingly personalized ads.

Through this guide, I hope to have clarified any doubts you may have, and, above all, I hope you can avoid possible future mistakes if you want to embark on the creation of successful retargeting campaigns.

You’ll see! Now you’ll be perfectly able to study your perfect strategy and create your retargeting list of all users who have shown a concrete interest in your products and/or services.

If, however, you still have any doubts or want to delve further into the topic because you feel that retargeting could be the right strategy for your business, don’t hesitate to request a completely free coaching session right away.

Our team will address any concerns you may have and guide you toward the most effective strategy for you.

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