10 Retargeting Mistakes

Avoid these common retargeting mistakes and watch your ROI increase dramatically while keeping your customers happy and loyal.


Retargeting Mistake #1:  Not Frequency Capping Your Campaigns

With most AdWords campaigns, you don’t need to worry about frequency capping.  Chances are, if someone is searching for your product ten times, they are just as likely to click on your ad and buy something with their tenth search as they are with their first search.

With Retargeting, you are showing your ads to the same person repeatedly, so if they don’t click on your ad after seeing it ten times, chances are, they won’t click on it at all (or if they do, its accidental).

I usually launch retargeting campaigns with a frequency cap of 6 impressions per campaign, but I usually also find that the ROI improves as I reduce the frequency cap to an even lower number.

Retargeting Mistake #2:  Not Using Negative Audiences

If someone has already bought your product, you should stop showing them ads, right?

You can do this by creating an audience list from your existing conversion tag (this is an option when you create any new audience segment), then adding this audience as a ‘negative audience’ in your campaigns tab.

By creating negative audiences you will a) improve your ROI and b) avoid pissing off existing customers.

Retargeting Mistake #3:  Not Using a Series of Banner Ads

As mentioned previously, with retargeting, you are showing ads to the same person repeatedly, and if they didn’t click on your ad initially, chances are, they won’t click on it later.

By running a series of banner ads, you can create a value proposition for any type of potential customer.  With a reasonable frequency cap of 6 impressions per week, you can still show 6 unique messages per week per audience member.

Retargeting Mistake #4:  Only Using Text Ads

I’ve had plenty of success running retargeting campaigns with text ads only, and text ads can be a great way to define the best messages for your audience with minimal work, but text ads don’t get nearly the clickthrough rate of image ads.

With catchy image ads, you can improve your clickthrough rates dramatically, cutting your costs down significantly in the process.

Retargeting Mistake #5:  Not Using Multiple Audiences

This is a key tactic referenced repeatedly in our ebook.  When your site reaches more than a couple thousand people per month, its important to create multiple audiences based on browsing behavior, how someone entered your site, and where people visit.  You can even create unique audiences for people who open your emails or visit your Facebook fan pages.

Retargeting Mistake #6:  Not Using a Duration Limit on Your Audience

In almost all cases, someone who has visited your site yesterday is much more likely to buy something than someone who visited your site a year ago.

When creating audience lists, its important to create audiences with multiple duration limits, and then bid accordingly for each audience.  For example, bid more to show an ad to someone who has visited your site yesterday than someone who visited your site last year.

Retargeting Mistake #7:  Not Using Multiple Ad Banner Sizes

With retargeting, you are bidding against thousands of other advertisers to show ads to your past visitors.   Fortunately, not all advertisers are savvy enough to create banners in multiple sizes.  Most advertisers only create banner ads in basic sizes – 300×250, 728×90, and 160×60 – so if you create banner ads in less common sizes – 468×60, 120×600, 250×250 – you can often pay significantly less for clicks.

Retargeting Mistake #8:  Not Blocking Placement Categories

By default, retargeting ads generally run on almost every type of website.  By optimizing placements, you can add an extra level of targeting to your campaigns.

I usually block in-game ads for example with most retargeting campaigns.  Based on your product and your target audience, you could also consider blocking in-video placements, in-app placements, or social network placements.

Retargeting Mistake #9:  Not Blocking Mobile Traffic

This tactic is only appropriate for non-mobile sites.  Every marketer should be looking at their Google Analytics and AdWords reporting to see how mobile traffic converts.  In most cases, mobile traffic doesn’t convert nearly as well as general web traffic, so if that is the case, you should keep your retargeting ads away from mobile phones.

Similarly, if you have a mobile site, you can break your retargeting campaigns into two sections:  One campaign can target general web placements, and send traffic to your main website and a second campaign can target mobile placements and send traffic to a mobile website.

Retargeting Mistake #10:  Not Creating Regional Campaigns

Not only can you block non-converting regions from seeing your ads, but you can also create unique messages for people in different countries, states or cities.

If you use this tactic, you should note that adding a regional targeting layer on top of audience retargeting can often lead to a much smaller audience size, so consider building up your audience list to at least 10,000 people before targeting specific regions.

I’ve Made Some Mistakes.  Now What?

We’ve created a quick (and free) retargeting cheat sheet that should make it easy for you to update your campaigns in less than an hour.

If you want to take your retargeting campaigns to the next level, you can join our community and download the comprehensive 86-page ebook on retargeting

Is Retargeting Killing Affiliate Commissions? Probably

There’s an interesting string in Warrior Forum where an affiliate sees a drop in his commissions, and he thinks it has something to do with the product running retargeting ads.

A Case for Yes: I think in most cases retargeting will cut down on your affiliate commissions, especially for bigger products that people won’t buy during their initial visit. Most affiliate programs give you the commission if you were the most recent referral source for the customer. If an advertiser is running retargeting campaigns, chances are people will click on these ads just before buying and thus cutting you out of your commission.

A Case for No: Many people see a retargeting ad and then purchase something via direct navigation. So, you could make the case that retargeting campaigns drive more sales via viewthrough conversions (still giving you credit for the sale) than via clickthrough conversions (stealing your commission)

Idea – Use an Email Address in Your Retargeting Ads

Here’s an idea for you.

Trial creating a series of banner ads that display a unique email address (that you set-up for this purpose) as the main call-to-action.

You’ll get to :

  • Measure all enquiries to this email (as coming from retargeting campaign)
  • Reduce click costs (as people wont click that often)
  • Shorten your conversion cycle
Before we go, a few more tips …
  • make your contact page the destination URL for the ad
  • trial the same method with a unique 0800, 1800 or VOIP phone number
  • include a personal message and perhaps photo of the person who’ll be answering their enquiry
Let us know how you get on with this :)

Generate Free Website Traffic with Retargeting

A report from ValueClick media, which came out about a year ago, shows that retargeting ads drive the biggest lift in branded search traffic.

What does this mean exactly?

This means that of all types of banner advertising, retargeting ads drive the most people to search for your company on Google per dollar spent.

Many people don’t click on ads. Instead, after seeing an ad, they navigate to a site directly or search for a site on Google. If you set up a retargeting campaign to only pay per click, then you will be able to generate this direct traffic for free.

Just make sure to set up your viewthrough conversion tracking appropriately.

We discuss tracking set up in more detail in our retargeting kit.

The Best Ad Sizes for Retargeting Campaigns

According to this report from AdRoll, which came out about a year ago, 300×250 ad units get the highest clickthrough rates for retargeting campaigns.

Why is this important? Most importantly, this means that you can drive the cheapest retargeting traffic using 300×250 banner ads. With AdWords, you can generally pay less for clicks as an inverse relationship to clickthrough rate. For example, if you can boost clickthrough rate by 2x, this typically means that you can bring down your cost per click by 2x.

That being said, I wouldn’t rule out 728×90 ad units quite yet. With retargeting especially, clickthrough rates have a big dependency on the ad creative. If you can make an exciting 728×90 banner ad that jumps out at people, I think you can make just as many people click on that ad as would click on a 300×250 ad.

I think its also important to run ads in many different sizes, as often by running less popular sizes, you can run ads on placements where there are less advertisers bidding, meaning you can bring down your cost per clicks even lower.

For example, I’ve had a lot of success with 336×280 banner ads and 468×60 banner ads.

Learn more about banner ad development in our retargeting kit. We also offer some companies that offer cheap banner development services.

Jumptap No Longer Offering Mobile Web Retargeting

We mention Jumptap as an alternative to Google AdWords in the mobile retargeting tactic in the Retargeting Handbook.

Jumptap offers instructions on how to set up a retargeting list in their support forum, but they are now only offering retargeting using UDIDs inside apps, and at a relatively high minimum spend.

You can read more about mobile retargeting on page 30 of our Retargeting Handbook. We dish out a number of techniques to drive immediate sales, downloads, and customers via mobile retargeting. For example:

  • You can promote a mobile version of your site as soon as it goes live. Just continue creating your retargeting list in the meantime
  • A/B test buying traffic on Android vs. iOS or A/B test buying traffic on mobile web vs. mobile apps

We offer about 20 other examples of mobile retargeting optimization and mobile list building techniques in the Handbook.

There’s a huge opportunity in mobile retargeting as the inventory can be significantly cheaper than on general web, and most mobile browsers support cookies, which means they support retargeting.