Remarketing: Getting back those lost customers

Remarketing is highly valuable in a company’s marketing tool kit. Here are some strategies on how to win back those lost customers.

What is remarketing?

At its core remarketing is engaging a user that has previously been on your site with a follow-up message. A main form is through advertising whether it’s on Facebook, a website or on your mobile device. You have probably been retargeted at least once, finding in your Facebook feed an ad for a product you were looking at recently, or browsing and seeing a hotel offer for a city that you were researching hotels in a few days earlier.

Why should I care about remarketing?

Remarketing has some key advantages

  1. You know more about a user and what pages they visited so your messaging can be more tailored.
  2. CPAs (Cost to acquire) are generally lower as the user has shown some interest, they just need an extra push to make the final decision.

Setting up a remarketing campaign

There are many different platforms out there for remarketing but probably the most prominent ones are Adroll, Google & Retargeter. The set up for any retargeting campaign follows a similar path.

Identify your goals: With remarketing you want to identify what are the key objectives. If it’s closing a lead or sale then you want to make sure you are sending the right message at the right time. In some cases it can be for brand engagement and to keep your brand on top of mind.

Allocate a marketing budget: Start with a small budget so you can see which campaigns are the most effective. The allocation of your remarketing budget will be in direct correlation to your unique visits. You don’t want overspend and create ad blindness to the same user. Overtime you can expand and optimize the budgets for the the campaigns that are showing the highest return.

Set up CPA goal: For each campaign, you want to set yourself a CPA goal so you can ensure your campaigns are meeting their full potential. These CPA goals should be similar if not lower to what you you see on your search/content campaigns.

Identify the different campaign target groups: Campaign targets can be broken out by where the user is in the funnel. Below are the recommend groups, for each of these groups you can place a conversion pixel on your site to track how many users are in each bucket.

  • Low intent users: Users who visited your homepage and left. These users require the most work to convert and may need 3–4 touch points.
  • Medium intent users: Users who visited a specific product or landing page. Users in this group hopefully have a good understanding of your brand and product. At this point they might be browsing your competitors to see what other options are available.
  • High intent users: Users who reached the checkout page and abandoned their cart. They are likely having some reservation, or maybe looking to see if other offers, promotions might be coming. These are the users you want to spend the most time and incentivize them to complete the transaction.
  • Upsell/Crossell users: Users who have purchased an item but have the potential to to purchase an accessory or ancillary product or learn about a new aspect of your company.

In some cases your first test will only include a subset of the above target groups.

Where to display your ads

Within each campaign there are options on where you want to target users. Depending on your vertical, customer demographics, and item price point you will want to focus on a particular subset. You analytics data should inform where your users are coming from and what platforms they are using.

  • Websites: Generally better for engagement, and to keep the brand on top of mind
  • Mobile devices/apps: If your product/service lends itself well for mobile conversion this can be a good way to go. It can also be another touch point from having a user switching from their mobile device to their desktop to make the final purchase.
  • Facebook : Facebook offers very targeted solutions with good screen real estate when you choose to retarget inside the newsfeed. This channel has the potential to have your highest ROI channel.
  • Other social/e-commerce platforms: As more social networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat start exploring advertising channels there are opportunities to reach new audiences with retargeting.

Ad creative & messaging


With retargeting creative you want to match the content and image as closely to what the user saw and what bucket they fall in. If they just reached the homepage, then its better to focus on the brand and tell a story through your ads. Make sure to include your logo/name in a visible way so there is a clear association.


If a users reached a particular product page then you want to display the product in your ad and talk to its key features.

Remarketing services have tools to create product centric ads like this one that call your product and price

In the instance of medium/high intent user you may want to offer a limited time discount. A simple 10% off the order can be enough to the tip the scale in your favor.

Additional promo offers can make abandoned cart users take action

Facebook allows you to include action buttons to drive the user to your site

Mix and Match: Most importantly you want to keep testing new copy and images. The ads need to be fresh so ad blindness does not occur. If possible expect to have 3 variations of each ad and to refresh and test new copy/images on a monthly basis.

Alternative Targeting Options

Within certain retargeting platforms there are additional tools to retarget. It’s better to start with a basic targeting methods before exploring some of these more alternative options, but depending on your business these have the potential to boost your ROI.

Email/CRM Database: You can upload your existing database of users who have subscribed to your newsletter, or lead list and target those users.

Search/Email retargeting: Users who search for particular keywords in search engines or opened specific email can be retargeted.


With retargeting the one thing to keep in mind is there are two types of conversions, view-through conversions and direct conversions. It’s important to clearly note the difference between these two.

  • View-through: A user saw your ad at some point in a 30 day window and in that time came back to your site to convert.
  • Direct conversion: A user clicked on your ad and made a purchase immediately.

Balancing the value of view-through to a click-through conversion will depend on your goals. Generally you want to weight your campaign success on direct conversion to get more accurate ROI.

It is ideal which ever retargeting platform you choose that at the end of each month you request an “attribution report.” This should breakout in some form how many conversions occurred in a particular interval

The grid shows an example of how to weight the value of a conversion based upon when they occurred.

As you can see by the table, what looked like a very successful campaign (74 conversions) was in reality less effective (41 adjusted conversions). This indicates there need to be tweaks to copy/creative/targeting to increase conversions in a shorter interval. The weight of these numbers are just a model and can be adjusted based upon other analytics data you find. Similarly on an ad level you want to monitor which ad creatives combinations are leading to the most direct conversions vs view-through conversions.


  • Identify the goals/CPAs you want your retargeting campaign to accomplish
  • Create focused market segments so you can measure ROI and tailor key messaging
  • Make sure ad creative copy and images is refreshed regularly and test across multiple services/platforms to find the one that works best for you
  • Ensure you are validating metrics and measuring interval conversion to understand true ROI of your campaigns.