Retargeting campaigns: 25 tips from marketing experts


Retargeting is an essential piece of every well-run digital marketing program. It helps you get the one that got away, as well as boost customer retention, brand awareness and brand recognition. It also encourages customers who have previously purchased one of your products to return and buy more. To offer you the best advice the industry has to offer, we reached out to over 20 marketers to bring you the best tips for optimizing your retargeting campaigns.

Check out what they had to say:

On Strategy:

Segment your audience based on interaction

“Firstly, segment your audiences by how they have interacted with your website. If someone has only viewed the home page, then serve them ads displaying a rotation of the different products or services that you offer. If someone has viewed a specific service or product, then remarket them with ads specific to that…

“All of this depends on one core thing – you need to know when a user has converted. Without this, you’re serving them ads for a service they’ve already engaged with you for. And very importantly, you may be serving them an ad offering a discount on a product that they’ve already bought!”

-Gavin Duff, Head of Digital Performance at digital agency Friday

Retarget those who haven’t quite completed an action

“Take advantage of Google’s ability to target specific pages, and remarket a similar page. For example, to users who visited a blog post about Topic X, suggest they check out your whitepaper on Topic X as well… Remarket to people who visited your pricing page but did not convert. This also works well with whitepaper downloads – by targeting those who visited the whitepaper page but did not visit the “thank you” page. meaning they didn’t submit the form.”

-Matt Solar, VP of Marketing at nDash.co

The way you structure your retargeting campaigns matters

“Look at how your retargeting campaigns are segmented. Are your image ads and text ads in separate ad groups? Does each audience have its own ad group? Are campaigns segmented by theme? Make sure that the structure makes sense, and is easily understood by anyone else who may be looking into your account.

“Here’s an example of how to outline campaign structure and strategy. This is useful when launching new retargeting campaigns or restructuring current ones.”


-Rachael Law, Senior Account Analyst at Hanapin Marketing

Do routine optimizations

“People ‘set it and forget it’ with retargeting campaigns the majority of the time. There are some tests and optimizations you can do to help improve their performance. First off, you want to analyze your placement reports and do your best to exclude very irrelevant sites you are showing up on the Google Display Network. Second, focus your ad scheduling to show during the most relevant times for your business or service because it doesn’t always make sense to retarget at 1AM…

“Keep in mind, sometimes the best converters aren’t on mobile so be sure to analyze your device performance.”

-Daniel Henderson, Digital Marketing Consultant at SearchPerfection

Keep your sales funnel in mind

“Have a clear idea of the sales funnel so you can direct your content marketing team to develop materials for every part of it – we work with homeowners going solar and define the steps as Curious, Serious, and Customer. For each stage in the process, our ads feel a little different – a curious person just wants to learn about the unique value of your product and a serious person wants to be convinced you’re the right vendor.

“Luckily remarketing makes it really easy to set up content marketing programs for each stage of the funnel.”

-Fred Greenhalgh, Digital Marketing Director, ReVision Energy

Use targeting layers too

“Don’t forget about using additional targeting layers to better sculpt audiences. Just because site visitors are low-hanging fruit, already familiar with your brand or product, and are rightly considered to have a higher degree of intent, that doesn’t mean they’re the perfect target for all campaigns. Instead, utilize additional data layers as much as possible. Take site visitor audiences and narrow said group by other targeting layers to better assure you’re focused on the best audience possible. Helpful psychographic targeting layers may include location, age, income, and/or campaign-specific interests.”

-Dan Gardeen, Founder and digital marketing operator at Adnomadic

What’s the best way to track conversions?

“One critical factor to keep in mind with remarketing campaigns is attribution models. If you use first-touch attribution models, your retargeting campaigns won’t get credit for most sales they drive. If you use last touch attribution, remarketing campaigns will get credit for most sales they drive.”

-Adam Thompson, SEO / PPC Manager at Comodo SSL Store


On Messaging:

Change it up

“One of the most important keys to successful retargeting is rotating creatives. No matter how impressive your creatives are at launch if you keep running the same set of ads month after month your campaign will ultimately underperform. In fact, according to a ReTargeter study, clickthrough rates for ads that have run for more than five months drop precipitously, as much as 50%.

“Use Simple A/B tests to gather and analyze data to run successful retargeting campaigns with high-performing ads.”

-Frankie Russo, CEO and President of Potenza

retargeting-campaigns-13 retargeting-campaigns-14

Try different messages

“When developing the messages for retargeting ads, there are two approaches that have worked for us:

“Re-iterate your key selling points. If prospects are comparing multiple products, I want to keep our key distinctions at the front of their minds. Present a different message than what they saw before. For example, a product review, then an ebook, etc. If they didn’t convert on the first offer, I’ll make them another offer – maybe they’ll like it better!

“In most cases, I recommend not limiting campaigns by budget. Campaigns should be limited by profitability. If increasing a campaign’s spend will increase profits, that’s an easy win in my mind!”

-Adam Thompson, SEO / PPC Manager at Comodo SSL Store

Make your retargeting campaigns personable

“Replace those stock photos with pictures of your employees/sales team. We found a spike in retargeting conversions when we replaced stock photos in our ads with real employees. People are much better at recognizing people and seeing the same person over and over again builds a subconscious rapport.

“We also like ads that address specific concerns of our clients. If you show enough randomized retargeted ads to a potential client, then you’re bound to address that major concern that’s holding them back. But don’t just send them to your homepage. Send them to a targeted landing page that addresses that concern in detail and you’re sure to get a final conversion.”

-Evan Roberts, Managing Director at Dependable Homebuyers, Baltimore

Be careful not to annoy customers

“Messaging and offer are crucial, I have seen many retargeting ads that show the viewer the same adverts used in the standard campaigns, with remarketing you need to give the viewer something new, a new piece of information, benefit or offer they may have missed on your site.

“You should also make sure to add those who converted to an exclusion list. Unless you are trying to upsell, or your product is something people could buy daily, targeting those who converted will only annoy them and reduce your CTR.”

-Daniel Rosenfeld, CMO at HearMeOut

Be careful not to annoy those who haven’t converted yet too

“Always cap frequency at two. Nothing is worse than your audience seeing the same ad over and over again. They will get annoyed and will start disliking your brand. It’s pretty similar to your mom telling you to do something over and over and over again. At the end of the day, you’re not going to do it because you’re annoyed by her telling you to do it.”

-Melanie Balke, Marketing Growth Strategist at BAMF Media

Surprise consumers

“Retargeting is all about appealing to consumers that are already in your database for one reason or another. This means that this isn’t your first dance with this group of customers – they already have some familiarity with your brand. Well, re-introduce yourself with surprising ad copy. If you’ve been producing content and messaging in the same way for a long time, this can prove to be particularly effective. By utilizing surprising or particularly loud messaging when an older customer may not be expecting it, it can entice them into buying from your brand again.”

-Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager at Maple Holistics


For e-commerce:

Use a stacked bidding strategy

“We spend a great deal of money on Google AdWords and will likely continue to increase our budget. Search ads make up 90% of our revenue, while Shopping brings in more new customers. Optimizing our Google Shopping Feeds with DataFeedWatch has made a huge impact on our shopping campaigns… We’re able to show ads to our customers on other competitors’ keywords to steal away traffic and sales from them. We’re able to control where our traffic lands, which is especially useful for promoting sales and special promotions.

“Our most successful campaign is hyper-targeted to our customers using ad groups full of closely related keywords. I use a “stacked bidding” strategy which consists of bidding higher on exact match terms, less on phrase match, and even less on broad match. This allows more control over our ROI and pretty much guarantees that our top performing keywords will have over 90% search impression share.”

-Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager at iHeartRaves.com

Segmenting by time

“Once you choose your platform, decide on your audience and segmentation approach. The more visitors you’re getting, the more segments you will want. I like 1-day visitors, 3-day visitors, 30-day visitors and 90-day visitors segments.

“Dynamic retargeting then takes this to the next level, by uploading a product feed to your retargeting vendor and placing their pixel on your site, banners will automatically pull in images and text from the page. This is particularly effective for e-commerce sites, so when a user views a particular pair of shoes on your site, they will see images of that same pair of shoes compelling them to return and checkout.

“I also like re-activation retargeting, this reaches customers that purchased some time ago and helps to bring them back. For example, working for a skincare brand, we knew the product lasted about 30 days. So after 30 days we started showing customers banners to compel them to re-order.”


-Ryder Meehan, Digital Marketing Consultant at Meehan Digital

Use dynamic creative ads on Facebook

“You’ve probably heard of dynamic product ads on Facebook, but have you heard of dynamic creative ads? This is a tremendous advertising tool because it ultimately takes the guessing out of your advertising copy.

“You can upload multiple images or videos, headline and description variations, as well as CTA button texts – and then Facebook will optimize for the best combinations…


TheraSpecs’ Facebook dynamic ad metrics

“Not only have we have seen a 10% reduction in the cost per conversion of our remarketing efforts on Facebook, but we are also able to identify the assets that are more likely to resonate with our target audience based on the analytics. This further helps inform other marketing campaigns, both on and off Facebook.”

-Greg Bullock, Marketing Manager at TheraSpecs

Consider imagery and audience overlap

“In the context of an abandoned cart targeted audience, product shots that feature the product will outperform any other creative, but it’s rare that retargeting campaigns use only these. Generally speaking, combining lifestyle and product images and video in the same ad unit, say a collection ad unit or carousel ad unit, tends to perform well.




-John Pellinghelli, Co-Founder of Metric Digital

Convert with coupons

“Use coupons when retargeting visitors who leave your checkout page.
Lots of people make it all the way down your funnel and leave just before deciding to buy. Many times, the decision to leave was due to the price, which is emotional by nature.

“Segment this audience, and use a coupon to bring them back. Be sure to demonstrate urgency by using a time limit on the CTA (i.e. 24 hours). If you can, tie the coupon offer back to some event or brand promotion you have going on and the potential buyer won’t necessarily connect the ad to the fact that they were on your checkout page, which causes even less friction.”

Vincent Magaline, Growth Marketing Consultant at CXMap

On Facebook retargeting campaigns:

Use your retargeting campaigns to follow up on events

“Companies that do combinations of in-person events and digital advertising can see real power in the synergy between efforts. We do a lot of in-person events, which we advertise through Facebook and have been really successful in driving attendance. The best part is we can retarget people who did – or didn’t – attend live events, driving them to ebooks, videos, and webinars. Through this, we have reduced our cost per lead by more than 75%!”

-Fred Greenhalgh, Digital Marketing Director, ReVision Energy


Retarget with high intent video

“Look at the high converting web pages on your website and retarget visitors who didn’t convert with your best performing video. For example, if someone visits your “How It Works” page, retarget that visitor with your “How It Works” video to further enforce your message.

“Still didn’t convert? It’s time to retarget them with a video testimonial about your service. At this point, they now know who you are and how your service works but they need some social proof. A video review or customer testimonial-centered video is a great way to do that.”

-Brannan Glessner, Marketing Manager at Express Homebuyers

Entice customers who don’t open your emails

“Our emails have a high open-rate – though it is never 100% as with any email marketing campaign. We resend another email to users who did not open our newsletter, which again increases the open rate percentage.

“From here we started to use Quokka. This tool allows us to retarget the people who did not open our emails with Facebook ads. This way we extend our overall reach and maintain a higher ROI for each marketing campaign we send.”

-Ben Stanford, Project Manager at Red Cedar Websites Ltd.

Reaching out to a chillier audience

“We optimize a cold audience by using whatever contacts the company currently has on their customer list to create a make-like audience. Depending on the campaign and what the end goal is, we may also include friends of contacts and/or geo-targeting to reach a more specific audience. This allows us to tailor the message appropriately and ensure the highest likelihood that the campaign will be shown to those likely to be interested in the brand.”

-Ryan Eldridge, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist at Squirrel Digital Marketing


On Google AdWords:

Stand out with quirky ads

“If you’re just getting started with remarketing, I’d suggest running your first retargeting campaigns through Google Adwords, especially if you already have an active account. You can get started in minutes, and Adwords’ integration with Google Analytics makes it very easy to create many granular audiences to target. Plus, if you already have the Google Analytics code on your site, no extra site tagging is needed!




“When it comes to ads, don’t be afraid to have some fun! The internet’s a crowded place, and ads with the typical “business boring” aesthetic are easy to miss. Unique color palettes, eye-catching imagery, surprising language, or even cute puppy images are all things that will help your ad get noticed. Besides helping you get more clicks, most of the display advertising systems reward ads with higher engagement, creating positive feedback loops that will take your campaigns to the next level.”


-Kevin Hill, Manager of Web and Search Marketing at Bandwidth

Limit your targeting to specific sites

“For example, if your research shows that your audience is likely to visit news sites, use your remarketing to target people there. If they are in New York target The New York Times, The New Yorker, etc…

“When people see your ads in places they are familiar with, and might deem prestigious, it helps your brand. Additionally, if you use AdWords, for example, I have found it cheaper to target a site with remarketing over directly targeting it. This is due to Google prioritizing remarketing ads as the users are more likely to click an ad they are familiar with. Targeting the specific placements also makes your ads more likely to show there, rather than other placements with general remarketing as the budget is allocated only for those sites.”

-Daniel Rosenfeld, CMO at HearMeOut

Move to an audience-first approach

“Using RLSA Search remarketing together with smart bidding, you can bid up or down on returning users, adjust the message or try expensive keywords you’re not using in your search campaign with your return users.

“Google’s Smart bidding has improved dramatically throughout the years.. They now use the same technology for smart bidding as their self-driving cars. With smart bidding, the system will automatically adjust bids for different audiences. It takes into consideration a wide number of signals like time, targeting, device and location. The human brain can’t cope with so many variables together.”


-Jesse Reynolds, Search Co-ordinator at Efferent Media

Use AI for your retargeting campaigns

“If a user browses our site and shows interest in a product that – for example, a Fiat Argo car – then we will later present them with retargeted ads showing the other cars that they are likely to be interested in based on Artificial Intelligence from the Google TensorFlow platform.

“Here is our retargeting using the Google Display Network with the ad and its different alternatives:

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“On the right is an interactive ad, which will show more information if the client positions the mouse on any of the options.

“This helped us improve our conversions by 31.2% – yes, amazing!. It was the best marketing strategy of the last two years because it is NOT about showing the client again what they already decided not to buy, but gives them other options and reasons to return and make the purchase.”

-Cristian Rennella, VP of Marketing & CoFounder of oMelhorTrato.com

A bonus tip from Rebrandly:

Use link retargeting

If you find ad retargeting works well for your business, you can use link retargeting to add even more prospective customers to your retargeting funnel – even if they’ve never visited your website before.

If you share a review of one of your products or media coverage of your business from a third-party website, you can target ads at anyone who clicks on one of these links. Even though they haven’t visited your website, the people who have interacted with these articles are interested in what you do so it’s a great way to follow up with them.

Link retargeting is easy to do with Rebrandly. When you shorten a link to share on social media, simply add a pixel code from Facebook, Google – or whatever retargeting platform you’re using – and whoever clicks on that link can be retargeted with ads at a later date.


What do you think of these tips? Do you think they will help you improve your retargeting campaigns? Or do you have some hacks that work well for you? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • How to boost your retargeting campaigns
  • Retargeting tips
  • Retargeting examples
  • How to boost remarketing campaigns

Photo in the main image by Colton Jones via Unsplash

Originally Posted: March 28th, 2018
Post Updated: August 30th, 2022


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