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4 Proven Retargeting Strategies That Support Business Growth

Simon Coulthard July 14, 2021

4-minute read

Retargeting is a marketing technique that allows online brands to target people who have engaged with your company, using data and analytics from various sources. You can run retargeting campaigns to generate leads, turn undecided leads into customers, or get repeat customers.
This guide will walk you through four proven retargeting strategies you can apply to support your business growth using data. Let’s dive into this guide by discussing how to retarget visitors based on search intent.

1. Retarget based on search intent

The beauty of the internet is that most people leave a trail of some sort while browsing, usually through cookies. Cookies are small pieces of data that are sent by the web server and stored on a user’s computer. You can target people based on their browsing history, the search terms they used, the actions they took on a site, and more. 
Search remarketing is the technical term for advertising to people based on search engine use.

You can run retargeting ads on most marketing platforms. There are a couple of search engines that won’t allow you to run retargeting ads, though. The most well-known is DuckDuckGo.
Setting up search retargeting campaigns with platforms that allow retargeting is straightforward.  
The first thing you should do when setting up a retargeting campaign based on search terms is to consider the keywords, strings, and phrases people use to find your website. You want to identify the highest-converting keywords.
Once you have your keyword list, you can then run retargeting ads to people who use those search terms to find your website. You can use retargeting ads across various platforms. For example, you could run retargeting ads on Facebook to people who found your site through a search engine.
The best types of ads to run to people who visited your website, but did not take any action, are lead capture ads. These are ads where you try to get someone to join your email list. Retargeting ads where you try to capture a new lead are often more effective than ads that directly go for the sale. That’s because only a small percentage of people are ready to make a purchase.
For example, if you visit the website King Kong Agency, they immediately add you to a Facebook retargeting list. Here’s an example of an ad that you might see from them.

When you click on the ad, you are sent to a landing page, where you can download a free copy of Sabri Subi’s book. That marketing funnel is far more effective than getting site visitors to purchase a service from their company directly.

You can use this same approach for your eCommerce website.
If you are running retargeting ads based on someone ready to make a purchase, directly promote your offer through retargeting ads.

2. Retarget existing customers

Running retargeting ads to existing customers is a logical way to increase average order values.
Retargeting existing customers works for two reasons. Firstly, repeat customers typically spend more than new customers. Secondly, it’s generally cheaper and less time-consuming to get existing customers to repurchase than to convince a new user to make their first one from your eCommerce store.
Running retargeting ads to existing customers is straightforward. You can run ads that simply raise awareness of your product or service. You could also run incentivized ads with a discount when you have a promotion.

You can run these types of retargeting campaigns at any time of the year. The great thing about these retargeting ads is that as long as you have a tempting offer, the ads will likely result in extra revenue for your business.
You can also run retargeting campaigns for customers that have just made a purchase. For example, you can try to upsell customers.
Upselling works because once people make a purchase, they are likely to keep on buying. Just think about the last time you went into town to buy just one thing and came back with a bag full of purchases. You can run upsell ads in conjunction with marketing campaigns on other channels. For example, you could send an upsell email to a customer and run the retargeting ads to support this campaign. 

3. Retarget based on page engagement

Earlier, we touched on how you can leverage existing keywords and search terms to model and shape your retargeting strategy. Now, let’s look at page engagement.
Retargeting based on page engagement happens all of the time, especially in the eCommerce niche. The most common type of retargeting ads based on page engagement are cart abandonment ads.
Cart abandonment ads target people who added a product to the shopping cart but failed to make a purchase. Cart abandonment is a big problem for eCommerce stores, with up to four out of five shoppers leaving a site after adding goods to their shopping carts.
That’s a huge problem for eCommerce sites. Retargeting ads can help you capture some of those leads.

Cart abandonment retargeting ads are generally straightforward. Most businesses do one of the following:

  • Remind the visitor that they added products to their shopping cart but failed to make a purchase.
  • Offer a special promo as an incentive to go back to the shopping cart and make a purchase.

Here’s an example of an abandoned cart retargeting ad from Red Balloon.
You can see they went for the discount approach.

Providing a discount is a great strategy. However, keep in mind that if consumers become aware they can secure a discount from adding products to their cart and not making a purchase, many will do so. Hence, you need to consider if this is the best strategy for your business.

4. Retarget based on the buyer journey

The customer journey approach seeks to retarget customers based on their current stage in the buyer journey. If you’re running retargeting ads based on the buyer journey, your aim is to nudge leads towards or closer to a conversion, perhaps a purchase or subscription.

The buyer journey has various stages. Usually, customer journey retargeting is based on two things: unique adverts for the journey’s multiple stages and reliance on user intent-based segmentation.

Running retargeting ads based on the customer journey is difficult. You need to track how people are engaging with your brand and your conversion paths. A CRM can provide you with this information.
You then need to determine what you want to share with your audience at each stage of the customer journey. It’s essentially an audience development strategy.
For example, you might run retargeting ads to people who visit a specific URL on your website. Or, you might run retargeting ads immediately after people click on a link in a drip campaign.

Running retargeting ads that align with the buyer’s journey is an advanced marketing strategy. If you have limited experience with retargeting, focus on retargeting existing customers and people who abandon your shopping cart first. Those two types of retargeting offer the highest Return On Investment (ROI) and are the most straightforward campaigns.

In closing

Retargeting is critical to the growth of your business. The truth is, only a fraction of the leads that you manage to bring to your website or landing page are going to convert on the first try. Retargeting strategies, therefore, give you a chance to bring them back again and again.

There are many approaches you can take to retargeting campaigns. This article discussed four different approaches: retarget based on search intent, retarget existing customers, retarget based on page engagement, and retarget based on the buyer journey.

If you are going to run retargeting campaigns, start by focusing on the quick wins - these are generally retargeting for cart abandonment and retargeting existing customers. Monitor the results of these campaigns, and track the ROI. As you get more confident running retargeting campaigns, you can try to run automated campaigns that align with the buyer journey.


Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade ecommerce solution. He's dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.


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