17 Retargeting Campaign Tips
I Learned From Big Brands

Chelsea Baldwin
Chelsea Baldwin

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with a few new tips and additional information on existing tips.
Original Publication Date: November 10, 2015

You’ve been hit by a retargeting campaign before, even if you didn’t realize it.

We’ve all been around online marketing enough to know that retargeting is a big deal, and that the people who are good at it say it works wonders.

The thing is, your paid retargeting campaign actually is a big deal, and if you’re not doing it well (or are only half-assing it…you know who you are), it’s something you really need to pony up and start paying attention to.

Dominate Web Media’s founder says he’s seen it reduce customer acquisition costs by up to 50%. AdEspresso’s Max Chieruzzi says they use it to reduce a $0.10 email collection into a $0.03 email collection. Body Glove, a specialized eCommerce company, used Facebook retargeting to turn a $114 Facebook ad budget into over $18,000 in sales.

Retargeting is no joke. And it isn’t something you can afford to skip out on if you’re really trying to generate ROI and growth for your brand. So let’s take a look at this vital practice and see what you can learn about optimizing your own campaigns.

What Is Retargeting?

As a general definition, retargeting is the practice of targeting your ads (or emails) towards users who have previously visited your website and failed to convert — or in some cases, those you want to get additional conversions from through upsells/cross-sells.

By placing a tracking pixel from an ad platform on certain pages that you identify as high-converters (or sometimes across the whole site like when you want to target people who have spent a certain amount of time on site), you can track users who leave that page without converting or taking another desired action (e.g. playing a video).

Here’s an example of a classic retargeting tracking pixel.

Here’s an example of a classic retargeting tracking pixel. – image source

Then, you can retarget new ads towards these users within the Google Display Network (you know, those image and banner ads at the top and on the sides of certain blogs/websites) to bring potential conversion back to your site.

Retargeting actually doesn’t stop at the GDN (Google Display Network). By creating RLSA campaigns, you can also leverage the power of retargeting within the Google Search Network (where the ordinary search engine ads are found). RLSA campaigns allow you to create custom audiences based on lists that you develop via your retargeting pixel that you can then advertise to directly in the Search Network.

Here’s a basic diagram of how remarketing works.

Here’s a basic diagram of how remarketing works. – image source

Retargeting, at its core, is a second chance to close conversions. By targeting users who have already shown interest in your brand, you can engage with a far more conversion-likely audience, thus converting at a higher rate (hopefully).

This is how you can raise the bottom line of your campaigns and improve the ROI of your paid search efforts as a whole.

The Real Returning Value Of Retargeting

I’ve already mentioned how the chief value of retargeting campaigns is improving the ROI of your paid search efforts. By engaging with more conversion-ready audiences, you can improve conversion rates–but that doesn’t mean you have to stop there.

The real returning value of retargeting, as in the compounded increase in ROI, comes in three different forms:

1) Second Chances To Convert Visitors

The first benefit of retargeting is obvious: You get a second crack at closing that potential lead/customer. In today’s tangled digital world, the buyer’s journey is far from linear. If you rely on your potential leads/customers to find your brand and convert on the first touch, you’re going to be struggling to generate legitimate ROI.

Because retargeting ads focus on users who have already engaged with your brand, they have been seen to be 76% more likely to convert than ordinary channels.

This means that retargeting ads not only give you a second chance to step into the batters box, but they radically increase your chances of hitting a homer.

2) Capitalize On Organic Tracking

Your retargeting audience is going to be built upon whatever page you place your pixel. This means that you don’t have to limit your retargeting campaigns to PPC landing pages.

You can also place your tracking pixel on organic service/product pages within your domain. This way, you don’t have to rely on your advertising budget to generate initial traffic to the pages you’re tracking in order to build lists for more targeted campaigns.

Once these lists are generated of moreconversion-ready users with a higher expected conversion-rate, theoretically, you can increase your conversions from this audience without increasing ad spend). That’s an easy calculation for a higher ROI.

3) Up-Sell / Cross-Sell To Converting Users

I’ve already addressed two different ways to use retargeting on different pages. So I may as well show you a third cheeky way to use retargeting to convert more users towards the bottom of the funnel.

Considering the higher conversion rates of retargeting ads, the more sources you can use to build up your retargeting audience the better.

We’ve discussed retargeting campaigns built off landing pages as well as organic service/product pages. But you can also place your tracking pixel on your thank-you page as well. That’s right. Just because you successfully got your user to convert, doesn’t mean your marketing relationship has to be over.

Targeting users who have successfully visited your thank-you page with up-sells and cross-sells via retargeting campaigns can be a great way to generate new revenue on top of conversions.

You can literally start adding conversions on top of your conversions for maximum ROI.

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Learning From The Best

One of the best ways to improve your current retargeting campaigns (or to start them without creating a hot mess) is to pay attention when you’re online. Look at what your favorite brands are doing to retarget you, what they’re doing well, and how they could do better.

Because if you use the Internet at all (and you do since you’re reading this, which is on the Internet), you’re being retargeted…whether you like it or not.

So to help you get started, I took screen shots and made notes over the last few days of how I was getting retargeted by my favorite brands and the lessons I learned from their individual retargeting campaigns.


Let’s start with Nationwide. I use them for my personal checking account, my tax savings account (yay, self-employment taxes), my emergency fund, my business checking account, my car loan, and my car insurance.

You could say I’m a fan.

Originally, I switched to their banking services for individuals. I was fed up with paying $5 a pop in ATM fees, and they offered much higher interest rates.

At this point in time, they’re retargeting me online with paid ads for auto insurance. That’s a service I already purchase from them.

Already got it guys.

Already got it guys.

But when I see their ads online with their happy-looking stock photos (or Peyton Manning singing everything to their jingle on TV), it makes me feel like a happy part of the Nationwide family.

Nationwide’s money would be better spent marketing another service to me.

Nationwide’s money would be better spent marketing another service to me.

Yes, even when they’re marketing things, I’ve already bought in on.

But if their retargeting ads were for some of their services that I hadn’t already been sucked into? Oh my goodness. They just might get even more business from me.

Lesson #1: Make your existing customers feel good about being customers. It increases brand loyalty.

Lesson #2: If your existing customers have to log in to access your services, you can and should track that activity. Don’t waste your ad budgets marketing your ebook to people who already have your ebook. Up-sell or cross-sell something else. If nothing else, offer a non-paid resource that will fall in line with lesson one.


HubSpot usually does an absolutely wonderful job of all things online marketing. But at one point, I got so fed up with them in my Facebook feed that I hid them entirely.

They were running ads that literally said things along the lines of “I wish I’d done this sooner.” “I totally regret I didn’t try this sooner.” “This absolutely changed my life.” and nothing more.

I am not even kidding you. I couldn’t believe this was actually coming from HubSpot, one of my favorite online brands.

Blair feels the same way as I do.

Blair feels the same way as I do.

I’m sure it was just an experiment to A/B test and see how things went, but your experiment failed, HubSpot.

Lesson #3: Don’t use annoying ad language. Also, add context. And, clickbait is ?.

Note: Facebook has been cracking down on their user protection policies. They’re beginning to limit the reach of certain clickbait headlines, and can even remove posts that are completely irrelevant to their own headline.

P.S. I still love you, HubSpot. None of us are above silly marketing mistakes from time to time. And now I know you’re human, just like me.


I used to use Edgar for some of my client work, but I don’t yet have an account for myself.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but the lady in this ad looks like she’s the same age as I am, and is even blonde like me too. (I bet it was intentional. That kind of data is available on Facebook… at least the gender/age thing. The hair color data is probably only a matter of time, if that isn’t already a thing yet. Let’s be honest.

Is that the new Facebook mirror ad?

Is that the new Facebook mirror ad?

Edgar does have a wonderful setup, which I love, and they can keep your social media going without active management — and thriving if you take the time to do a smart setup.

The ad is trying to pull me intoz a free two-week trial, which literally puts me at no risk. I really don’t have much of a reason not to just click through and sign up.

However, I already know what Edgar is and what it does, which they could guess from the amount of time I spend “signed in” on their website from my IP address.

So if they wanted to strike even more close to home for me, they could segment out this particular messaging: Contractors who use Edgar for clients, but don’t yet use it for themselves. (I bet it’s way more people than you’d think.)

Lesson #4: Take advantage of every single piece of data available to you to create tailored ads, especially when you’re retargeting on Facebook.

Lesson #5: Constantly think about how you can segment out audience sections from one another, and how to tailor your retargeting messages to them.


Full disclosure: this isn’t a big brand remarketing campaign that I’ve experienced first hand. But, having done my research, I can tell you confidently there’s still plenty to learn from this luxury watch brand’s remarketing campaign.

And if you don’t believe me, maybe the stats will convince you:

  • 13% increase in Average Order Value
  • 34% decrease in Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Generated a 1300% ROI from remarketing campaigns

So how did they generate such a ridonculous ROI from these campaigns? Well, first we need to take a look at their primary marketing funnel to see what kind of remarketing was needed to generate such improvement.

For starters, Watchfinder closes less than 1% of their first-time visitors. This is probably because the average online order for one of their luxury watches is around £3500. So, they turned to their marketing agency to capitalize on that missing 99% of visitors.

The remarketing campaign included some significant tracking. First, the agency had to identify which types of user segments were the most profitable and how they differed from one another.

Watchfinder’s agency was able to identify 20 different remarketing segments. Each segment was shown a different ad variant (some appear below). They found the most successful remarketing segment was users who had spent 10 or more minutes on the site without making a purchase.

Segments were defined by session length, watch brands viewed, number of visits, etc.

Segments were defined by session length, watch brands viewed, number of visits, etc. – image source

After the launch, optimization on the remarketing campaign continued. This drove more success, as Watchfinder’s agency continually drilled down on and prioritized the most successful remarketing segments.

Lesson #6: Don’t forget to prioritize your most profitable audience segments. You can maximize the quick wins of your remarketing campaigns to generate the highest possible ROI.

Four Hour Workweek

Yes, I visit Tim Ferriss’ site and podcast from time to time. But what the heck is this retargeting campaign ad even about?

retargeting campaign access tim ferriss

Access to what, Tim?

I mean, I get that it’s to his site, but WHAT do I get access to?

It’s all about clarity, Tim. Clarity. (But I forgive you.) (This time.)

Lesson #7: Be clear about what you’re offering. Even if you assume the people you’re retargeting are familiar enough with your site to know already.

American Airlines

Yes, AA is my favorite airline. They’re just soooo good at customer service in comparison to others I’ve flown. I’ve signed up for two different credit cards and have loads of miles racked up and ready to spend on free flights.

retargeting campaign American Airlines business card

Classy business card to add to my American Airlines services?

I’ve already got a personal version of this card in gold, but not a business card. Sure, the business part could be due to the fact that I was on Business Insider when I saw this ad. They might also be onto the fact, together with data from Business Insider, that I’m a new official business owner.

(And do they know that Capital One is playing THE MOST ANNOYING GAMES EVERRR with the business credit card I just got from them? That part’s probably just a coincidence.)

Use retargeting ads to up-sell after you got the first conversion.

Use retargeting ads to up-sell after you got the first conversion.

But they’re probably onto the fact that I’ve got points to spend. Enough to fly first class over my typical choice of going in coach. Up-sell done right.

Lesson #8: Look for ways to provide a more well-rounded brand experience for your existing customers. Like offering them a business version of your services when they’re already exceedingly happy with your individual version.

Lesson #9: Don’t be afraid to go for the up-sell, especially with dedicated customers that will be interested — or at least not annoyed.


I research everything I buy that costs over $50, like, way too much. And I just bought a Prius. So you can bet that I was doing some hard-hitting Toyota research.

And since Toyota knows I’m interested in a hybrid car from them (or at least that I’ve been heavily researching their hybrid models), I’m obviously a sucker for fuel efficiency and not harming the environment.

Using pop culture/news references can really make an impression.

Using pop culture/news references can really make an impression.

So what does Toyota’s retargeting campaign show me now? A car that’s so environmentally friendly that it only emits water.


I AM SO HOOKED ON THIS IDEA. (Sorry for the excitement, but if you knew me in person, you’d think nothing of my excitement over this.)

Since I still have a few years of payments to make on my Prius, I’m clearly not in the car-buying market, nor do I hope I will be anytime soon.

However, just because I won’t buy today doesn’t mean I’m ever going to forget about how cool this car is, and you can bet this is a car that I’ll seek out in the future when the time comes to replace my sweet baby Prius.

Lesson #10: Just because someone isn’t ready to purchase right now doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future, or that you should ignore them. Keeping yourself top-of-mind is key, especially if their conversion means you’ll make thousands of dollars.

Lesson #11: Don’t be afraid of pop culture / hot new references. This ad was a clear play on the Back to the Future date, which was when I saw this ad and took the screenshot. It made it more memorable.

Zenni Optical

I’m all about saving money. And nerdy, plastic, colorful glasses.

So obviously I shop for my glasses here.

retargeting campaign low prices

How can you pass up these low prices?

This ad popped up while I was looking up song lyrics reminding me of exactly what I was shopping for on Zenni Optical’s site, but haven’t purchased yet — plastic frames.

Lesson #12: Showing people what they’ve abandoned in their shopping cart is always effective. But so is showing them products they looked at but didn’t actually add to their cart. The friendly reminder of a remarketing campaign ad might be what they need to make a purchase.

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer isn’t necessarily my favorite brand, but their recent retargeting efforts were quite effective and memorable.

It was a Friday night karaoke session, and we were using YouTube for the music and lyrics. (Don’t even tell me that’s not classy.)

Apparently, Digital Marketer really wanted to show up for the karaoke too. I don’t even know how many videos we went through before we finally saw an ad that wasn’t Digital Marketers’.

Ad #1

Ad #1


Ad #2

Ad #2


And, finally, ad #3

And finally, ad #3

A certified content marketing specialist course, a customer acquisition specialist course, and a book on online selling. And that wasn’t even all of them.

So now, just in case I ever had any doubt before, NOW I KNOW that Digital Marketer has exactly everything I need to know and learn about my line of work.

So if I’ve got a question or want to learn more about something? I’ll check them out.

Lesson #13: Stay in their face and don’t be apologetic about it.

Lesson #14: Vary your ads so people don’t get totally bored of you. When Digital Marketer ran out of different, relevant ads to show me, they stopped. (Has anyone else seen Bluehost’s YouTube ad? I’ve gotten soooo bored of it.)

Lesson #15: Make sure your ads are relevant to their interests. I’m sure Digital Marketer tracked the pages I visited on their site to show me the most relevant ads.

Lesson #16: If your retargeting campaigns include platforms like YouTube, you just might be the guest of honor at a very cool karaoke party. (It worked for Ryan Deiss, anyway.)


Effective retargeting means paying close attention to who you are advertising to and where they are in the conversion process.

At large, endpoint security firms, your first marketing interaction is more than likely not with someone who can pull the trigger on an immediate purchase or conversion.

With this in mind, Lumension created a comprehensive retargeting campaign that drove ads to co-workers of their first marketing touchpoint.

This way, if somebody downloaded an eBook from the Lumension site, and another member of their company was also researching the Lumension brand, the second employee started to see ads like the one below.

This is a retargeting campaign, but the first interaction for the second employee.

This is a retargeting campaign, but the first interaction for the second employee. – image source

And they didn’t stop there. Lumension also stuck with the classic retargeting ads to follow up on users who had landed on their trial page without converting.

Instead of the ad above, users in this segment saw ads like this:

Notice the difference in conversion intent?

Notice the difference in conversion intent? – image source

In the end, this advanced retargeting campaign increased homepage views for Lumension by 835%, and increased overall website traffic by 10%.

Because it “retargeted” new users as well through its related coworker integration, this campaign generated an 8% increase in unique visits as well. So, the lesson to take away from this campaign?

Lesson #17: Retargeting doesn’t have to be isolated to users who visited your site and failed to convert. If you’re creative enough with your retargeting campaigns, you can leverage them to expand on new demand generation and lead generation strategies that empower your brand and improve your marketing ROI as a whole.

Wrap Up on Retargeting Campaign Tips

Clearly, the more information you’re able to collect about your prospects, the better you’ll be able to resonate with them and strike closer to home.

Because while retargeting is effective in and of itself, when you focus on showing the right ads to the right people (think Nationwide vs. Digital Marketer above), you’ll get a much better ROI from your investment.

So, that’s enough rambling on my favorite brands and retargeting ads. What are some of your favorite retargeting methods that you’ve seen across the Internet?

Let us know in the comments below, we wanna hear about your experiences!

P.S. Did you like what you read here? Gained some insight? simple smile Tweet and post this to your peeps to share the wealth.