Last Updated on August 1, 2021 by Elevate Digital

For the most part, when browsing through social media or our favorite websites, the advertisements dissipate into a now well-accepted ambiance, only occasionally rising to the level of perception.

It’s no surprise when we’re supposedly exposed to around 4,000 – 10,000 ads per day!

As such, our brains have got extremely effective at blocking out the noise, otherwise, we’d probably all end up insane (or just chucking away our laptops and phones in a blind rage)

time board GIF

However, retargeting ad campaigns (when done right) can stand out from the noise. Simply because they are highly contextual and leverage previous the previous interactions with a brand or company.

So instead of spending all your money advertising to a cold audience who have no idea about your brand. Retargeting campaigns display ONLY to people who have previously engaged with your ads, signed up to a list or visited your website. 

For whatever reason, be it disinterestedness, distrust, or forgetfulness, users may not have made a purchase or signed up initially… a well-placed retargeted ad might be what is needed to put them over the edge of conversion.

If you want to get straight to the examples just click here.

What exactly is a retargeted advertisement?

Exactly what it sounds like, a retargeted ad is any advertisement that targets a user who has seen a previous advertisement, engaged on your social media or has visited the website before. However, there is a large variety of how exactly these retargeted ads try to reach their audience. 

Types of retargeting ad campaigns

There are two main ways of retargeting, pixel-based or list-based.

  • List-based: The less tech-savvy version of the two, list-based targeting requires an already built contact list, such as an email list. It stands to reason that if you already have the contact info of users who have visited your site, you could contact them again. 

A good example would be a user browsing through your site, entering in their email, but then forgetting to return. Your retargeted email ad would be reminding them of their visit to their site or any specific items they viewed. 

  • Pixel-based: Pixel-based, or cookie-based, retargeting is a bit more involved. Instead of having their contact information on hand, marketers can use tracking pixels or cookies. Cookies can track users on a specific browser and are stored on the same browser. The difficulty with this is that it cannot track users across devices (unless the browser is synced) and that these can be easily blocked or deleted. 

Tracking pixels send the user information to an external server, typically a 3rd party that deals directly with tracking pixels, and can track users across multiple devices.

*Social media-based ads are also tracking and targeted towards certain audiences, but they are more platform-specific.

Both methods come with their pros and cons. For example, list-based retargeting is more difficult to construct, as it requires the contact information of users but it can be more personalized and rests upon the fact that the user gave their email, making it less invasive. Pixel- or cookie-based retargeting, though more effective at tracking users can be way more invasive and off-putting if done incorrectly.

When thinking of building your retargeting ad campaign, the main thing to consider is why exactly the potential customer chose not to go through with their purchase or chose not to click on the advertisement. This consideration can help determine what approach to take on the retargeted ad.

What are the benefits of doing retargeting ad campaigns

As mentioned above, because re-targeting campaigns only go out to a warm audience (either existing customers or people who have engaged with your content or visited your website) it is generally far easier to get a conversion than going out to a cold audience.

Your only job here is to identify why people didn’t buy in the first place, and then serve an ad that addresses that potential fear or objection. For example, if people weren’t 100% sure your product/service could help, retargeting with testimonials and case studies can be a great way to bring down this barrier.

Maybe it was the first time someone had come across your company so they just didn’t have enough trust at the time. In this case, just seeing your company pop up in multiple places to help build credibility can be enough to push people over the line.

When you get this balance right, retargeting ad campaigns can serve a range of benefits from:

Shortening the sales cycle (especially in B2B marketing)

Building trust with consumers

Accelerating the customer/buyer journey

Cheaper CPA’s (cost per acquisition)

Higher overall conversion rates of your website visitors

What’s the difference between retargeting and remarketing campaigns?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but the main difference between remarketing and retargeting is that retargeting campaigns typically use ad platforms to reach website visitors who haven’t yet converted.

Remarketing on the other hand, can apply to almost any form of marketing to either current leads or existing customers; including things like email marketing campaigns.

Where you can show retargeting ads?

There are a number of platforms that support retargeting ads. The most common of which are probably Facebook (which also includes Instagram & the Facebook Display Network) and Google (which also includes YouTube Pre-Roll Ads and the Search/Display Network).

In order to run pixel-based retargeting ads, as mentioned above, you will need to ensure you have the platform specific pixel installed on your site.

For example, LinkedIn (another platform that allows retargeting) requires that you have their LinkedIn Insight Tag installed to be able to retargeting visitors through pixel data.

Here are a few examples of great retargeting ads

  • Sabri Suby: Here is a great example of a social media retargeted ad that uses humor. There are a few things to note here. Since this is a Facebook ad, it technically falls under a tracking advertisement but it is likely platform-specific with Facebook and will not follow across websites. This takes away some of the initial apprehension, as a Facebook user comes to expect a certain level of personalization through social media as opposed to being an (at least perceived) anonymous user on some other website. 

Sabri Suby Sell Like Crazy Retargeting Ad On Facebook

The key to this ad in particular is its use of humor. Being targeting can be off-putting and gives the impression that one is being watched or surveilled, but the humor helps diffuse any negative emotions and creates an amicable familiarity. In essence, it’s an “oh, this guy again,” and not a “wait, how did it know that?” That familiarity not only helps potential customers feel more comfortable, but it helps build more enduring brand awareness and relationships with customers.

Also, it appears that Sabri has considered that a reason why customers did not purchase his book before is that there might have been some distrust. The humor and focus on himself in this ad contribute to building familiarity and trust, directly addressing the apprehensions of the retargeted customers.

  • J. Crew Factory: Another social media advertisement, J. Crew’s “Clock is ticking” ad highlights another key route to retargeting, as it creates a sense of urgency. While this a principle of all advertising, giving customers a reason to purchase right then and there, it is especially well suited for retargeted advertisements. Since the customer is already assumed to have browsed through J. Crew’s products or at least has some familiarity, it is reasonable to think that they did not purchase because there was no reason to complete the purchase then, since they could just come back later. This ad gives the impression that they now have a limited opportunity that is running out soon, addressing the possible reason for not buying. Perhaps that cami top or casual shirt you saw earlier has a special deal right now… But quick, you must act now!

J crew scarcity based retargeting ad with click and 45% offer

This kind of ad can also be used to re-target existing customers, on top of an email marketing campaign. After all, there will always be a percentage of your email list who don’t see your emails, so this is a great way to get back in front of them. What it is missing in the form of humor, it makes up with its sense of urgency.

  • Elevate Digital: Our very own, this ad takes the form of a testimonial ad on social media. Similar to Sabri Subry’s ad, this ad uses familiarity and humor to create an amicable atmosphere, addressing concerns of distrust. We also address concerns and doubts of our audience, who we know are used to generic “website audits” done by a robot that churn out useless information…

The humor in this ad, that Elevate Digital is marketing itself as a human and not a robot, is reinforced with the humorous testimonial (a website being “roasted” with commentary), also serves to further build a familiarity while providing proof that the service is thorough. If you previously saw an Elevate Digital ad connecting the name to marketing and advertising, you now have smiling faces telling you about their product with a few emojis to boot.

  • Xero Accounting: This is a great example of a retargeting ad that is contextual to the customers previous interaction. Xero, have a number of blogs about balance sheets and creating a balance sheet for your business. This blogs generate thousands of organic visitors from Google each and every month. As such, they then use re-targeting ads to serve those specific visitors who didn’t sign up to Xero, or take any further action with a highly relevant ad to download a balance sheet template. This allows them to recover those previously “lost” visitors and accelerate the buyer/customer journey and further build trust before a sale takes place.

Xero LinkedIn Retargeting Ad Offering Balance Sheet Template With Blue Background

All of these advertisements use their form, a social media post, and past brand awareness created by previous advertisements to create a more personable relationship with the brand. 

Advertising campaigns are not one-and-done ordeals and may require retargeted ads to help build brand awareness and develop trust over time. Be sure to consider what type of targeted ad and what medium you will be using and the possible reasons why the potential customers were not converted, as this should affect the content of the advertisement. 

Using the above examples, humor and testimony are great ways to make retargeted ads personable and compensate for the more invasive tracking ads. Ads that use urgency can be particularly effective at bringing back customers who had previously visited your website but did not purchase.

If you are looking to build up your marketing campaigns, be sure to check out our articles on generating more sales from your email marketing.

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    Tom Peyton
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