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How to increase retargeting ROI by reducing ad spend

Aug 31, 2016 · 4 min read

At Shoelace, we are big believers in reducing ad spend for retargeting campaigns in order to increase ROI. It might sound counter-intuitive, but we’ve found this to work very well.

Let’s say you’re spending $200/week on retargeting ads and you’re getting $1000/week in conversion results. This ROI is about 5X. What if you can achieve the same return, by spending only $100/week. This would bring your ROI up to 10X! Does this sound impossible? We think not. Here are a few tweaks you can try for yourself to achieve this!

1. Limit your ads to Facebook and Instagram.

If you use a service like AdRoll or Criteo for retargeting, they may propose that blasting your ads all over the web is a good idea. Let’s consider this for a moment. Do we really want to creep our visitors out by following them everywhere they go? Think about the last time a brand retargeted the heck out of you on every website you visited. How did it feel? Not great right?

Not only can this creep your visitors out, but it also wastes your money. The idea with retargeting is to gently remind your visitors about your brand and encourage them to come back and complete a purchase. Avoid the trap of flooding them with too many ads all over the internet.

You can reach most of your visitors by targeting them on Facebook & Instagram. Is it really beneficial to target them everywhere?

2. Target visitors for only 7 days after they leave your website

Unless you’re selling high ticket items like furniture, don’t annoy your visitors with ads for months after they’ve left your store. Recency is huge in retargeting. Our analysis shows that if a user does not convert within 2–3 days of leaving your website, the likelihood of them converting later on is very low. So don’t waste money buying ads to target visitors who will likely not convert anyway.

We like the 7 window – it’s not too short and not too long. If your audience size is fairly large, consider narrowing this down even further to a 3 day window.

You can be clever about this and from time-to-time, create campaigns to target visitors who haven’t been to your site for over a month or longer – but even here you should limit the number of days that they’ll actually see your ads to a maximum of 7 days.

3. Only target visitors who viewed a product or added one to cart

You might be tempted to take the easy way out and just target everyone who ever visited your website. Avoid this. Break your visitors down into three categories: 1) people who left without viewing any products 2) people who left after looking at one or more products but did not add any to cart 3) people who added a product to cart but left without purchasing.

If your audience is big enough to only target people who abandoned cart, by all means go for that! Otherwise, target people who viewed a product or added to cart but exclude people who bounced on the homepage. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place for targeting people who bounce on the homepage – but not for campaigns with the goal of optimizing ROI. Campaigns targeting homepage bouncers should be aimed at getting them to come back and view a product, not converting them to a sale just yet! Those visitors were not even interested enough to look at any products. Expecting them to make a purchase after seeing a retargeting ad is simply unrealistic.

This might be obvious – but please please create an audience of people who successfully completed a purchase and avoid blasting them with retargeting ads. There is nothing worst then having someone who just bought from your store repeatedly see an ad for the product they just bought! This reflects poorly on your brand, annoys your customer and wastes your precious dollars.

TL;DR, find ways to cut the waste in your current retargeting ads before trying all kinds of fancy new campaigns in order to increase ROI.

Happy retargeting!

CEO at Shoelace

If you have any thoughts/questions/comments on this, please send me an email at – always happy to chat and share ideas!

Or if you want an intelligent retargeting assistant to take care of all this for you and MORE for as little as $19/month, consider trying Shoelace today!

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