3 Retargeting Strategies to Boost Conversions

Digital Marketing


Back in 2016, we surveyed the retargeting landscape and gave some tips on how to get started. For the uninitiated, retargeting is an online marketing strategy that keeps your brand in front of users who have bounced out of your site. By placing a tracking pixel on your website, you can follow them when they leave and place an ad on another unrelated website, just to remind them of how awesome your products or services are—and persuade them to come back over. This is most commonly done through search retargeting, in which ads are served up based on recent searches, and email retargeting, where scripted emails are triggered based on specific user behaviors.

Over the past few years, retargeting has continued to grow as an effective way to acquire new leads and customers. Here are some stats to consider: retargeted customers are three times more likely to click on your ad, and 70% more likely to convert. As a result, 50% of marketers plan to increase their retargeting budget in the next 6 months, and 20% have a dedicated budget for it. Some of our advice from then still holds true, along with other new trends worth discussing.

In this blog, we’ll take stock of the digital marketing landscape in 2018, discuss what’s changed and what’s new, and see where you should be investing your energy.

1. Content Is Still King

The goal of retargeting is to drive conversions, but you need to give people something of substance to facilitate that process. The great thing about retargeting with content is that it provides an opportunity to connect with and provide value to prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy without coming across as too pushy. For someone who currently only casually interested in your product, a well-timed whitepaper or ebook could go a long way towards moving them towards purchase. Assuming you have a well-established set of content already created for other purposes, this tactic should come at no extra cost.

To decide which pieces of content to use for your campaign, figure out what your top performers are based on behavior data. How you define that is up to you—time on page or views/downloads can be good places to start. If you have the capability, sort your content by multi-touch revenue created; if an asset has a proven track record facilitating conversions, it’s perfect for retargeting ads. Next, segment your content, so that users are receiving the right thing at the right time.

Here’s how we segment at Marketo:

Buyer Stage

Ideal Assets

Awareness: users know about your brand, but have yet to engage Infographics, cheat sheets, slides, case studies
Engagement: users have demonstrated interest with downloads or form-fills, but are not quite ready to buy Ebooks, whitepapers, definitive guides, webinars
Conversion: users are prepared to buy, and are choosing between you and your competitors Competitive reports, Magic Quadrants, live demos


By segmenting your best performing content like this, you are in the best position to nudge people towards pulling the trigger.

Timing is Everything

Even with perfectly crafted content for the right audiences, your retargeting strategy will fall apart if your timing is off. Wait too long, and you risk losing their interest, move too fast, and you may creep them out. Nailing down the timing of your retargeting efforts will depend on the type of audience member you are targeting and the type of product you are offering.

Here are some best practices:

Strike fast: Your first retargeting ad should show up soon after first contact. Catch these first-time visitors before they forget about you and go with your competition.

Then slow down: After your introduction, slow down, so you don’t wear out your welcome. Create a “frequency cap” that controls the cadence of your display ads. And for those who successfully convert, make sure you have controls in place to pull them out of your ad stream.

Sync with key events: Important occasions are a great way to reactivate your audience without coming across as too intrusive. Consider retargeting with a registration discount ahead of your next trade show or informing your audience of an upcoming product launch or service upgrade.

Monitor behavior: Use a tool that can track how users are using your website to ensure that your retargeting efforts reflect recent behaviors like page visits, form fills, and recent downloads.

Attribution Matters

15 years ago, the norm was two touchpoints before purchase—now that number is up to six. If you are giving full conversion credit to the first or last ad a user clicked on, you are doing it wrong. By oversimplifying the sales process, you deny yourself the opportunity to optimize spend in the right channels. Furthermore, without the ability to point to the tangible impact of various marketing efforts, you risk having budget reallocated to “higher performing” departments.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for revenue attribution, as that will depend on your buyer journey. This can be difficult, however, with research from AdRoll finding that the biggest barriers to attribution implementation are lack of knowledge and technology limitations. So how do you solve the revenue attribution puzzle? Consider investing in marketing attribution software like Bizible, which combine behavioral and ad data with sales outcomes to help you make the right marketing decisions. Gaining this data gives you the insights needed to properly optimize your retargeting campaigns. Without this information, you are shooting in the dark, spending your money randomly instead of putting it to its best use.

Putting It All Together

Remember that most website visitors do not convert on their first visit, so retargeting them is essential to keep in touch and stay top of mind until they are ready to buy. With the right message and the right timing, you are in the driver’s seat to accomplish this goal. And with meticulously measured attribution, you are in position to prove it’s all worth it.

Are there any other retargeting strategies I missed? Tell me about them in the comments.