Retargeting has become a prolific technology in the advertising world. The ability to methodically serve targeted image ads to specific audiences provides an unparalleled opportunity for companies to build brand awareness while systematically recapturing previous visitors. Configuration of retargeting ad campaigns is relatively straightforward, but as with all pay-per-click advertising, there are many pitfalls that can seriously impede campaign performance. If you’re ignoring these five common retargeting mistakes, you could be drastically limiting the performance of your campaigns.
1. No audience segmentation.
This fundamental component of an effective retargeting strategy often gets overlooked. In an effort to recapture as many visitors as possible, the majority of advertisers will include a single “All Visitors” segment within their retargeting campaigns. While effective at maximizing the visibility of ads to everyone who visits a website, this tactic limits the ability to engage an audience that has demonstrated a particular behavior. Creating multiple audience segments—and serving ads tailored to those segments—can substantially amplify the benefits of retargeting.
For example, let’s say you are an online retailer who sells musical instruments. While you could serve ads to everyone who hits the website, it would be more practical to serve guitar-themed ads to visitors who are shopping for guitars, or percussion-themed ads to visitors who are shopping for drum sets. By delivering a targeted ad to each audience segment, you would be speaking directly to those consumers, demonstrating that your brand is conscious of their interests.
This can get tricky, however, as audience segments can often overlap. To stay with our example, consumers who looked at guitars might also look at the percussion section. How can we effectively manage this based on interest? Well, that’s where conditional rules come into play. Google, for instance, provides several opportunities to serve ads to specific audiences based on the segments of a site they visit. This provides the ability to serve ads to people who viewed a particular product category, added a product to a shopping cart, but then abandoned the cart before purchase. As an online retailer, creating a dedicated retargeting list for “shopping cart abandoners” is a fundamental strategy to help increase sales. In our music store example, we would create a conditional rule that would serve ads only to visitors who added a guitar or guitar accessory to the shopping cart but did not purchase.
Regardless of whether you sell a product or a service, leveraging audience segmentation effectively through retargeting technology will improve the overall performance of your campaigns. Consider the audience you want to reach and anticipate their behavior within your site. Build lists using conditional rules to serve relevant ads to an audience that demonstrates a specific pattern of behavior.
2. Unrestricted geographic targeting.
This is a common mistake in many retargeting campaigns. You could make the argument that to build brand awareness, it’s important to target everyone who comes to your website, but if you’re a proximity-based business, geotargeting is key. Without placing any limitation on geotargeting, you could wind up serving ads on a global scale, which could burn through your budget with no return. Having some sort of geographic limiter in place—typically domestic—will help to serve ads to an audience that is more geographically relevant to your business. Depending on your vertical, you might consider using radius targeting to start, then expanding incrementally until you’re able to serve ads within desired geographies.
3. Bogging down ad distribution with topics & interests.
While it’s important to use topics & interests as a display-targeting component in crafting a retargeting campaign, it’s essential to not go overboard with this. It’s best to keep your targeting broad, since you never really know where your consumers will travel during their browsing sessions. With retargeting technology, you must stay in front of your target audience as effectively as possible—if you restrict where retargeted ads can be shown based on a narrow set of topics & interests, you could miss out on intercepting a consumer while they are researching the decision to buy/contact you. Use topics & interest broadly after the retargeting campaign has been active for at least 30 days. Typically, you should not leverage this feature when launching a campaign—use it to refine targeting, not anticipate it.
4. Not utilizing similar audiences.
Let’s take a careful look at how “similar audiences” are formed according to the Google Support documentation: “AdWords looks at browsing activity on Display Network sites over the last 30 days, and uses this, along with our contextual engine, to understand the shared interests and characteristics of the people in your remarketing list. Based on this information, AdWords automatically finds new potential customers whose interests and characteristics are similar to those of people in your remarketing list. The more characteristics and interests people in your remarketing lists share, the better similar audiences works.”
What this means is that utilizing “similar audiences” enables an advertiser to target a population that shares the same interests as your existing site visitors. This is an opportunity to engage an audience that may not have any previous knowledge of your brand! It’s an incredibly effective way to reach a fresh, qualified audience that is likely to behave similarly to the site visitors you’re currently engaging. This is a powerful asset that should not be ignored. If you’re looking to grow an existing audience segment, this is an extremely effective way to do it tactfully.
5. Not using conversion optimizer.
In many respects, this is Google’s silver bullet. Conversion optimizer technology adapts the rotation of ads and bid strategy to capture more leads/sales. It is typically utilized on the search network more than the display network; however, in the context of retargeting, it can give you a decisive edge. When you enable conversion optimizer for an established retargeting campaign with adequate conversion data, Google will automatically serve ads more aggressively to your designated audience segments—the methodology being that a user can be lost if conversion doesn’t take place within 48 hours of leaving the website. If you have enough conversion data in your retargeting campaign to activate this feature, activate it and compare the results after two weeks.
Avoiding Retargeting Mistakes
As with any paid search marketing, it takes diligence to ensure that Adwords campaigns function effectively. If there is one other common mistake that should be avoided at all costs, it would be neglecting performance metrics. Retargeting technology provides an unparalleled opportunity to stay in front of your target audience with precision, but that can go awry if you aren’t careful when it comes to making adjustments regularly.
Take the time to evaluate the performance of your retargeting campaigns and don’t be afraid to experiment with new features or opportunities. The biggest mistake you can make is not managing your retargeting efforts to the best of your ability.
MDG Advertising is a full-service advertising agency and one of Florida’s top branding firms. With offices in Boca Raton, FL and New York, NY, MDG’s core capabilities include branding, logo design, digital marketing, print advertising, email marketing, media planning and buying, TV and radio, outdoor, newspaper, video marketing, Web design and development, infographic development, content marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, and SEO. To learn more about ad retargeting, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797.
Written by Michael Del Gigante