Retargeting can be an incredibly powerful weapon in the digital marketer's arsenal. For some marketers, it consistently produces one of the highest ROIs of all digital campaigns.

But even so, many marketers make mistakes that can reduce the efficacy of their retargeting campaigns. Here is a look at six of the biggest.

Retargeting users who have already converted

The productivity of retargeting campaigns can mask waste. One of the more common forms of waste is retargeting individuals who are already customers of a service. For example, a SaaS provider using a pixel-based retargeting solution might not take care to exclude or remove users who are already customers, leading to retargeted ads being displayed unnecessarily to individuals who have already completed the action the ads are attempting to drive.

This mistake can also occur when using retargeting lists that have been manually created. If the lists are not updated frequently enough, individuals who have since converted could be retargeted.

Failing to segment

Segmentation is critical in most digital marketing campaigns, from developing creative to allocating spend. Retargeting is no exception but some marketers fail to apply appropriate segmentation to retargeting campaigns. At best, this leaves money on the table. At worst, it can reduce ROI. 

There are numerous ways for marketers to segment for retargeting campaigns. There's behavior, of course. For example, it can be valuable to segment users based on the pages they visit or the actions they take or don't take. There can also be value in segmenting users based on geography, recency, estimated customer lifetime value (CLV) and where the customer is in the funnel.

Not delivering the right ads

As with any digital marketing campaign, it's often not enough to deliver an ad to the right person at the right time. Instead, the ad that's delivered has to be compelling. Take, for instance, a retailer that retargets website visitors with ads for products that they never viewed. While it might seem like common sense to ensure that retargeted ads promote products, services or content that users have demonstrated some interest in, this type of mistake does happen

Markets should seek to avoid this wherever possible by implementing logic that aims to maximize the relevancy of the retargeted ads. For example, a retailer stands to benefit if it can identify the products a user's behavior suggested were of the greatest interest and delivering ads for those products.

retargeted ad

Ignoring the power of promotions

While discounts and other incentives should not be employed willy nilly, they can be particularly effective when strategically applied to retargeting campaigns. For example, a retailer that is retargeting a user who abandoned a cart with high-value and/or high-margin items might find that it makes sense to promote the availability of a discount in a retargeted ad to incentivize the prospective buyer to complete the purchase.

Not managing frequency

Retargeted ads can be creepy and off-putting if overused. Unfortunately, many marketers fall into the trap of not setting frequency caps on their retargeted ads, meaning that users can quickly get the impression they're being stalked around the web.

Building flawed lookalike audiences

Many marketers that use retargeting also take advantage of associated lookalike audience solutions which can amplify the power of retargeting-based campaigns. But when one or more of the mistakes above have been made, those lookalike audiences might not be nearly as powerful as they could have been.

For instance, if a marketer has failed to segment and has a single retargeting list, it will have a single lookalike audience. But if that marketer had segmented appropriately, it could create multiple lookalike audiences, create custom ads for each audience, and allocate more budget as appropriate to the most important and/or productive lookalike audiences.

For more on this topic, why not try Econsultancy's Introduction to Programmatic training course.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 April, 2018 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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