It’s estimated that 72% of online shoppers abandon their carts before they make a purchase. That’s a lot of traffic, and those are potential sales that you’re missing out on. Here is where retargeting comes in. Without retargeting, only 8% of those customers are going to come back to complete their transaction. With retargeting, that number jumps up to 26%. If you didn’t realize it before, hopefully now you see that retargeting really should be a must for online merchants.

However, it can be hard to effectively use retargeting to capture and hold the attention of your customers. Online consumer behavior is an involved process, with the majority of shoppers doing significantly more research and comparisons for different product options and companies before committing to a purchase.


There are also a number of additional influences on a potential customer, that all contribute to the final decision-making process. Some of these include the sheer volume of available options, as well as a heightened reliance on social media to "get to know" your brand instead of browsing through the website.

This helps explain why it's estimated that more than 95% of traffic does not convert upon the first visit, meaning that an initial marketing campaign is never going to successfully drive sales as a stand-alone strategy. Unless the subsequent retargeting campaign is effective, an acceptable ROI is extremely unlikely.

The goal of retargeting is to establish a brand awareness campaign that is both relevant and current in the mind of a potential customer. This often requires a specific message that is not only enticing but also driven by the customers’ own needs and behaviors. Placement, frequency, and content are other important factors that can affect how the relationship with a customer develops.

With this in mind, there are a number of potential pitfalls to take into consideration when creating a successful retargeting strategy.

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Not Understanding Your Audience and Their Behavior

To design a targeting strategy that will motivate and inspire conversions, it is essential to collect and analyze your visitors’ data which enables you to understand their needs and behavior.

Ideally, this is an initial step when designing your overall marketing and branding strategy, as well as retargeting. The key is to understand what drives your visitors’ behaviors and what their needs are beyond the actual product or service.

Both the psychology of a consumer, as well as any variances or specific behavior associated with the typical demographics of your audience, can offer insights that often help shorten the customer journey or help to facilitate trust in the brand.

Not Refining Your Audience Segments

A foundational requirement for a successful campaign is to segment your audience appropriately, based not only on your demographics but on the behaviors of your site visitors.

Poor segmentation can render your campaign ineffective and waste both resources and the moment of opportunity to take advantage of and increase existing interest.

Start by making sure you understand what your visitors are looking for with robust data and quality analysis. Ensure that you accurately target visitors based on their particular interest in services or products, as shown by their behavioral data.

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This makes any continued exposure to your brand relevant and appropriate to their current needs. Additionally, base any special offers or more information on the particular content they viewed.  

If you're retargeting visitors who did convert, segmentation should be aimed at creating exposure to complementary products, add-ons, or other methods to improve the overall customer experience.

Geographic demographics may also be relevant for retargeting if your service or product has a specific or limited offering based on location. It may be worth limiting the amount of resource used on visitors who fall outside of that locality or targeting your audience differently if you have a range of products that are appropriate in different environments.

Not Setting a Limit on How Frequently a Segment Is Targeted

While consumers are by no means ignorant of the fact that data on their activity online is used to specifically target them in marketing campaigns, there is increasing anecdotal and data-based evidence that shows overexposing your visitors can create a negative relationship with your brand, making them feel stalked, bored, or even harassed by repeated targeting online.

Forgetting to Include a Call to Action

This is a simple but vital step in managing the visitor's behavior, as you're not just seeking awareness of your brand or product, but conversion.  Whatever your offering is, be very clear what you're asking your potential customer to do as you lead them to the next stage in the process.

Limited, Repetitive, or Dull Content

Creating fresh and compelling ad content is essential and should be considered an extension of your brand building and creating renewed interest. The same effort should go into the retargeting campaign as any initial marketing campaign’s content.

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There should also be a variety of creative options on your retargeting campaign, as this not only helps to prevent a sense of staleness or predictability but can also avoid the potential overexposure experienced by your audience if they were viewing the same ad repeatedly.

Varied content is also incredibly useful as a tool for testing the responses and behaviors of your audience in order to continue to refine your strategy.  This does tie in with the correct segmentation of your audience, though, as you'll need to ensure accurate testing groups to avoid any data anomalies or poor quality feedback.

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Not Analyzing Results

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to problems caused by not ensuring that they are collecting and analyzing the results of the marketing and retargeting campaigns. Because of this regular analysis, both during and after campaigns, must be a priority.

In addition to giving you the tools to continue refining segmentation or improving the methods or targeted delivery, the resulting data is the most effective way to spot potential problems with an overall strategy, including content, web design, cart usability, etc.

Careful analysis can show you the exact spot where in the process your potential customer is losing interest, or which particular page or content is inspiring conversions. It also gives you finer tools to define which of your visitors you should retarget and improve your strategy based on their behavior or lack of response. Not only does this continue to improve your ability to create highly effective campaigns but it also drastically improves your ROI in the long term.

Not Stopping Low Performing Ads or Strategies

If your data is showing that a particular test or segment is simply not performing well enough, stop that section of the campaign until you are able to determine why it's failing. Keeping a poorly performing campaign running is not only detrimental to your budget and your ROI, but it can damage any positive association or interest that potential customers had with your brand.

Final Thoughts

Retargeting is an essential aspect of a marketing strategy for any business competing in an already crowded online space for the attention of ever more savvy consumers. But if used smartly and with careful planning, it can define the difference between a successful brand and a failed one.

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