Are you running Retargeting for your business? Here’s why you should be.

Paul Kovalski
Mar 8, 2018 · 8 min read

Making decisions on where to allocate your marketing dollars is a difficult and complicated process.

The sheer amount of channels available today is both a blessing and a curse.

Determining the optimal strategy can be overwhelming.

I get it. I’ve been in meetings with teams that had to determine how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The growth of their companies (and their jobs) depended upon their ability to make the right decision.

Here’s the thing- Marketing at a high level comes down to one simple truth.

Attention is the only thing that matters

Your goal as a marketer is to determine who your customer is and where they are spending their time.

Sounds simple right?

Not so fast.

The reality is that no matter what you are selling or who you are selling to, your potential customers have extremely short attention spans (and they are getting shorter).

Do you know how many websites you visit in a day?

What about how many Facebook or Instagram posts you scroll through?

How many YouTube videos did you watch last week?

Answer- Human beings consume a unsustainable amount of information- more than they ever have before.

It’s no wonder that people find it more and more difficult to concentrate on one task at a time.

What’s the implication for your business? It is increasingly easier for your customers to forget about you.

If you don’t have a strategy to stay top of mind with potential customers you are leaving money on the table.

While there are many ways to do this, Retargeting remains the most straight forward and scalable solution.

At the end of the day- it comes down to intent.

How do you determine a customer’s intent to purchase?

Companies are spending millions of dollars trying to figure this out- probably because it will make them millions of dollars.

Before we get too deep into it- Let’s give a simple definition.

User Intent: What your prospect’s intentions are and how likely they are to convert. (from Unbounce)

This can be determined in a wide variety of ways. Are they searching for your products in google? Did they visit your competitors site? Do they fit within the characteristics of previous purchasers?

These are all signs of intent but the most valuable data you have is your own. It’s the people that are visiting your site.

I’ll make a bet that you can’t find a more “in market” customer than one who added an item to their cart and then left your site. They were THIS CLOSE to making a purchase.

Retargeting allows you to serve ads to those individuals to keep their attention and get them to come back.

Would you rather show an ad to a random person who might be interested in your product or somebody who visited your site multiple times?

This is low hanging fruit that all businesses should be plucking.

There’s a reason that Retargeting is consistently a top performing marketing channel. If you aren’t doing it (or aren’t spending a lot of time on it) I implore you to reconsider.

You can run even a simple retargeting campaign so that those prospects that leave your site continue to see ads and are influenced to come back to purchase.

But I’m sure you still have a bunch of questions.

How Should I organize my Retargeting Campaign?

The way to think about an effective Retargeting campaign is the same way you should be thinking about the rest of your marketing efforts.

Website visitors are bucketed into different segments based on their level of intent.

Somebody who put an item in their cart is more valuable than somebody who visited your homepage and bounced.

You should spend more to get the first prospect back to your site and organize your strategy accordingly.

However, one of the biggest mistakes I see advertisers do is allocate all of their Retargeting budget to the cart abandoners.

I always recommend equally allocating budget across your site visitors so you are continuously moving prospects down funnel.

If you are spending all your money on the cart abandoners, you will eventually run out of cart abandoners.

Think of Retargeting as helping to keep the funnel moving and you will be successful.

Make sense? I hope it helps you make dollars. Having a basic understanding of organizing your Retargeting campaign will help you succeed.

Now that you know a little bit about how to organize a Retargeting campaign, you are probably interested in learning about the companies that can help you get up and running.

Looks Messy

How are you going to decide who to work with?

When deciding who to use for your retargeting, it essentially comes down to a few options.

You can either go with a DSP (like AdRoll or Criteo) that will be able to run ads across all of the places you care about or you can run direct through Facebook and Google.

Either decision has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of a DSP

  • You can follow your customer across the internet. Whether they are reading a blog post on their phone or surfing FaceBook on their laptop you will be able to show them ads and stay top of mind.
  • This allows for more scale. Remember- you only get a finite amount of visitors to your site. The opportunity to show ads in more places allows you to scale your budget more effectively than if you were just working with FaceBook.
  • Intelligent Bidding. Customer intent is determined by data. The more data you collect on an individual allows you to make smarter bets on how much to spend to show them an ad.
  • Account Management support. I’m a bit biased here because of my time spent at AdRoll. The reality is that Google and FaceBook are huge and you probably aren’t as important to them as you think. AdRoll as an example has teams dedicated to specific industries and can give you a more personalized service.

Disadvantages of a DSP

  • They have to make money and put a margin on top of whatever your ad spend is (this can sometimes be very high). The technology to access multiple ad networks costs money and aggregating all of that data together ain’t cheap.
  • They are slave to the networks they work with. DSPs are a technology that allows you to bid across multiple ad exchanges. However, there are routinely issues with connecting to those exchanges and you as a customer can be negatively impacted.

Advantages of going direct with FaceBook or Google

  • Don’t have to pay the margin. This could make the difference between a positive ROI campaign and a negative one.
  • Simplicity. If you are already running upper funnel on FaceBook or Google you can add Retargeting to the mix and not have to worry about taking the time to learn a new platform.

Disadvantages of going direct with FaceBook or Google

  • Reach is severely limited. As an example- let’s say you get 10,000 monthly unique visitors coming to your site. How many of them have a FaceBook account?
  • Retargeting data is more difficult to interpret. Most of the companies I know that go direct end up running both Google and FaceBook at the same time. Tracking customer data is trickier as a result.

The simple solution is to run direct if you are just getting started and to leverage a DSP if you are a seasoned marketer.

If you are already running FaceBook or Google it won’t be that difficult to add Retargeting to the mix.

I believe in baby steps. Once you have some experience and are confident that it works for your business you can look to work with a DSP and supercharge your efforts.

That brings me to my final point.

I’ve personally managed millions of dollars in Retargeting spend. When I was an Account Manager at AdRoll there was a point where I was working with over 50 different advertisers at one time.

Mind you, these weren’t small businesses. These were companies that were all spending $5,000 or more per month.

While they came from a wide variety of industries and were selling products ranging from sandwiches to accounting software they all wanted to know one thing.

How do I know that this is making our business money?

Determining Success

You’ve decided that you want to start retargeting your site visitors and maybe even have some campaigns running.

You open your dashboard to see all of these different metrics: CPM, CPC, ROI, CPA. What does any of this mean?

The biggest mistake I see with marketers today is a singular focus on clicks as a determinant of success.

I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where campaigns were judged as poor because they weren’t getting enough clicks.

If you are running Retargeting campaigns please please PLEASE do not stress on clicks.

Why? The simple fact is that nobody clicks on ads.

The prioritization of clicks came from a world in which people were mainly running Search campaigns. A customer would type something into google with the intention to click.

Retargeting is a completely different tactic and has to be evaluated differently.

When you are on FaceBook scrolling down your news feed and see an ad on the side, your intention is to continue scrolling.

However, that ad made an impression on you.

When evaluating retargeting campaigns make sure that you are taking views into consideration. Consider the way human beings use the internet and make sure your metrics/KPIs are aligned with that.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you are a small business just getting a website off the ground or the VP of marketing at a large SAAS company it doesn’t hurt to understand the power of Retargeting.

It beautifully combines your valuable website data and the largest distribution networks known to man to ensure that your customers don’t forget about you.

Think about where consumer attention is going. We are only going to continue to be more inundated with information.

Simply having a compelling message isn’t going to cut it anymore.

***Like the article?? Please show some love and clap if you got value out of this. It helps it to be discovered by more people :) Thanks!***

Paul Kovalski

Written by

I’m a marketer, a writer, and a meditator (amongst other things).Here I indulge my thoughts in business and philosophy

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade