Retargeting For Startups: A Guide

Retargeting is one of the most useful techniques in the marketer’s toolbox. It’s a great (and effective) way to get users back to your website. Maybe your website visitors found you via search or social, they browsed, but you somehow lost their attention. Maybe they just had to head out the door before they had the chance to really learn about you. As you analyze your Exit Rate in Google Analytics to see where you lost them, retargeting allows you to also follow your prospects around the web (unobtrusively, of course). This way, you can remind them of how awesome your startup is; especially if you are e-commerce focused, retargeting can really work.

The Facts

A retargeting ad is not your average display ad. Retargeting only reaches people who have visited your site before. This is what can make remarketing so effective – but also tricky. You want to draw users back to your site without overexposing them to your brand. However, regardless of risks, retargeting allows you to get creative, test like crazy, and make the most of your budget, regardless of its size.

The basics: retargeting allows you to place ads on sites relevant to your users. Your website uses cookies to track visitors. After they leave your site, that cookie follows your users around so that you can serve them ads about how awesome your startup us. From Facebook to, there are so many websites you can use to showcase your product. Just make sure you are placing ads on sites that would be relevant to your users.

The best part? If you are selling individual products, you can advertise that particular product to someone who visited its exact product page. This is better in many cases than displaying a generic ad with which individual users might not connect. Remember, you can place your retargeting pixel on certain parts of your site, or across the whole thing.

Year over year, more and more marketers are investing in retargeting: larger portions of their budgets are going towards these ads. According to recent statistics, in 92% of cases, retargeting performs the same or better than search; 91% for email and 92% for other types of display advertising. Retargeting on mobile is also growing, with over half of marketers saying they employ this technique.

Retargeting Best Practices

As with any other marketing technique, you shouldn’t overdo it with retargeting. This can be especially damaging– it’s easy to annoy a potential customer with overexposure. Make sure you have fail-safes in place that keep you from over-advertising or advertising to those who have already made a purchase. Here’s how to make the most of your campaigns:

Set Frequency Caps. Often, retargeting technologies will have these built in. Make sure to do your research on the system you use to ensure these are in place before you start. If they aren’t, set them up! Frequency caps limit the number of times a prospect can see your ads and will prevent ad overwhelm. Pick a number that you want users to see your ads on a daily basis, and stick with it (we set these daily at 3-4).
Avoid Serving Ads to Someone Who Has Just Purchased. Don’t get us wrong – loyalty is important and bringing back existing customers can often be more lucrative than bringing back new customers. Just don’t serve these people the same ads they were served before they hit “buy”. Create new ads for existing customers to see, perhaps on a less frequent basis. You may even want to include a referral bonus or discount specifically for them. Use a Burn Pixel, which will deploy once someone makes a purchase – it takes them out of the audience to which you are advertising. (You can implement a different pixel for existing customers to keep them coming back).
A/B Test Like It’s Your Job. You’re running a startup. It probably is your job. It’s your job to A/B test, run social media, and re-stock the office/garage toilet paper. You’re doing it all. Luckily, the retargeting ad technologies available can do a lot of the work for you – you just need to create a large set of creative pieces and rotate which ones you’re using every few months (every 2-3 months will work). If you don’t do this, you’ll risk your Click-through-rates taking a tumble.
Create Something Your Users Will Want to Click On. This one seems like a no-brainer, but always create ads that are memorable – aesthetically pleasing and not overwhelming. You may not know exactly what users want at first (testing will reveal that), but your ads should be clear, concise and include a call-to-action. A clear and appealing picture with just a small number of words should do the trick. You can even try to be a little different, maybe even quirky for this type of remarketing – remember, your goal is to create something interesting enough to draw someone back into your website.
Along the lines of A/B testing, tracking is extremely important. There are two main metrics you can use to determine your retargeting efficacy: Click-through-conversions and View-through-conversions. Click-throughs are self-explanatory – these mean that you made a sale based on someone clicking on your retargeting ad. View-throughs mean that the sale cannot be attributed to the ad, but the buyer did at some time see your retargeting before making a purchase.
Think Outside of the Box. If you’re using Adwords to do some remarketing, you can do some cool and different stuff. For instance, if you’ve created an interesting video promoting your startup, you can use your remarketing list in Google to remarket YouTube videos. With video remarketing, you can show your ads to users across YouTube and other video sites based on how they interacted with your videos or channel.

What and Who

Whatever you do, retargeting is incredibly important for recapturing leads, no matter where they are in your sales funnel. We found this image to be particularly helpful at showing what types of ads you should show, and to whom:

[retargeting funnel]

An excellent image from

Important Tools

One of the most popular and user friendly tools for retargeting is Adroll. Other popular tools include Retargeter, Fetchback and Chango. Pick the one you think will be the best fit for your business – but only pick one. Don’t try to use them all – you’ll end up with an uncoordinated strategy that will be more trouble than it is worth.

Retargeting can be an incredibly effective and affordable tool when time and thought is put into it. For more tips and tricks for maximizing your startup’s budget, view our previous posts in our series, “How To Market Your Startup”:

How to Market Your Startup: An Introduction

Make the Most of Your Budget with Campaign Measurement

Let’s Get Technical

Have other topics you want us to cover? Give us a shout on Facebook!

[Featured Image Via Flickr.]

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