How to use retargeting ads to make more sales 

6 min read
Kara Stokes

How often have you browsed a website then hopped over to Facebook, only to see ads from the site you were just on? These are called retargeting ads.

By showing up wherever visitors to your website go on the internet, your products and services stay at the top of their thoughts. These ads are also an excellent way to boost brand recognition because potential customers see your logo, brand colours, slogan and images everywhere they scroll.

It takes around six to eight touchpoints before a consumer will buy from you.

If you’re already paying for ads or considering using pay-per-click for your business, retargeting ads have much higher click-through and conversion rates than standard display ads.

What are retargeting ads?

Retargeting ads means paying Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or other retargeting platform to show your advertisements to people who have already visited your website.

The main goal of retargeting ads is to get people to finish their purchases.

They put the item in their cart, so you know they want it. All they need is a nudge.

Retargeting is an important marketing tool for every business because around 74% of online shoppers abandon their carts.

(Wondering what makes people leave without checking out? Find out here.)

So how does it work?

Graphic showing how retargeting ads work

Google retargeting gives you a pixel or tag (a small snippet of code) to place on your website. This tracks the actions of your site visitors by placing cookies in their browsers and adding them to your remarketing audience.

In the beginning, you can serve up general ads to everyone who visits your website. This does cost more to start with, but it also helps to build the number of people on your retargeting list.

After running your retargeting campaign for a while, you’ll be able to segment visitors into specific groups.

The beauty of retargeting ads is that they’re not just for new customers. You can target past customers too.

Try offering past customers a:

  • Small discount on their second purchase
  • Free low-cost product as a bonus with their next purchase

Doing this not only shows them you value them as customers, but that you also understand them and what they’re looking for.

Retargeting ads are about giving each type of customer the specific attention they need to lead them towards a sale.

What is an example of retargeting?

If you’re a graphic designer, you could serve up ads for creating a logo to everyone who looks at your logo page.

Or if you’re a personal trainer, you could display ads about:

  • Online coaching to everyone who reads your blog post about working out at home
  • Face-to-face coaching to everyone who visits your gym page

For e-commerce stores, break up your retargeting groups by product categories. A linen store might have four retargeting segments – one for towels, one for home décor, one for sheets and one for quilt covers.

This also enables you to cross-sell items. So, if they’ve looked at a set of linen sheets, you can promote a matching linen quilt cover with retargeting ads.

What is the difference between retargeting and remarketing ads?

Example of an abandoned cart email reminder

Both retargeting and remarketing are focussed on bringing people back to your website. But they use different channels – retargeting uses ads and remarketing uses emails.

Think about the emails you get reminding you of a cart you filled but then walked away from. That’s one form of remarketing.

Google remarketing focuses on engaging everyone on your email list, even if they haven’t purchased from you. That’s why it’s important to offer an attractive freebie (aka lead magnet) or free membership so you can get potential customers to give you their email addresses.

Combining retargeting ads with remarketing is a powerful way to stay connected with your customers and entice them to return to your site.

What is the purpose of retargeting ads?

Retargeting ads are customised ad displays with a personalised call to action. The aim is to remind past visitors (aka warm leads) of the products or services they selected to bring them back to your website.

With over half of Aussie consumers leaving a website after visiting just one page, it’s vital to attract them back.

The more time they spend on your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

As mentioned before, a person has to see or hear your business name six to eight times before they’ll make a purchase. Sales after just one touchpoint are extremely rare.

Seeing your ad in their Facebook feed, while they’re reading a recipe or scrolling through the news brings them one step closer to buying from you.

Retargeting ads also give a better return on your ad investment because you know the people who see your ads are already interested in your business.

Woman standing outside looking at her smartphone

What is a retargeting strategy?

A retargeting strategy means planning out the actions you’ll take and how you’ll measure the success of your ad campaign. Not only does this make organising your campaign easier, but it also helps you budget for it.

The first step in your retargeting strategy is to divide converted visitors (aka customers) from new visitors. You don’t want to show ads about 10% off their first purchase to people who have already bought from you.

Also exclude people who spend less than 10 seconds on your site, because their interest level will be too low to justify the ad dollars.

Three retargeting tactics to focus on

To start increasing sales now, you’ll need to tackle these three tasks:

1. Reduce cart abandonment

If they’ve gone all the way to the stage of adding items to their cart, it means the shopper is keen to make a purchase.

But there’s usually something small that stops them.

Two of the most common reasons shoppers abandon their carts is because they:

  • Can’t find the shipping costs
  • Think the shipping rates are too high

A retargeting ad campaign that states the shipping costs or offers free/discounted shipping rates is a brilliant way to land the sale.

Example sale ad

2. Build FOMO

If your offer is time-sensitive, you can generate a sense of urgency by showing ads with a countdown timer or last-minute deals to people who have recently spent time on your website.

3. Run a giveaway

Consumers find giveaways hard to resist, so run a competition that involves them visiting your website. It’s a fast way to grow your retargeting list.

Plus, they’ll often share links to giveaways with family and friends, which helps to expand your audience.

Retargeting: worth the effort

Along with getting a better return on your ad spend and increasing brand awareness, retargeting helps you to gain insights on your website visitors. You’ll discover who’s interested in your brand and what they’re looking for.

Once you know what they’re searching for it’s much easier to create attractive offers and promotions aligned with what they want.

Editor’s note: Make your business look legit with a logo you create yourself for free.