Whether you’re new to SEM retargeting or an old hand, there is always room to refine the retargeting best practices you build into each campaign. Today we’re going to look at a few steps during the strategy phase to make sure your retargeting campaigns are set up to succeed.

Retargeting shouldn’t be a box your team is checking to make sure you’re ‘covering all the bases’, it should be an experiment you plan to iterate on. The first step in creating your experiment is the ‘who’. Who are you trying to reach?

Two common audience groups for retargeting campaigns are: Engaged Users and Lookalikes. Here are some quick definitions for those groups:

Engaged Users who haven’t converted can be a good bet. They came to the website previously and showed some interest but didn’t convert. Maybe they stayed on site a long time. Maybe they viewed more pages than average. Could a small nudge get them to come back and convert?

Engaged Users who have converted can also be a good bet. Getting users to come back and convert again can be much simpler than selling a new user.

Lookalike Audiences allow your retargeting ad network to help you find users who behave in similar ways to converting users from the past.

Display ads in general–and retargeting ads specifically–need to have an incentive. Think of it as a small nudge to get the user to come back to the site. Some common incentives are: exclusive access to products and services, discounts using a session ID or coupon code or even just a sense of urgency about an upcoming deadline…think, ‘before the sale ends’ calls to action.

It sounds obvious but even if you’re selling a product or service that isn’t exciting to many people, you’ll need to have compelling ad creative. Take the examples below. The ads on the left were clearly a labor of extensive design and messaging work but are they going to compete with the ads on the right? Probably not well. Keep in mind that your ads may show alongside others and will show alongside content the user intended to consume. Your ad creative will need to be interesting without being obnoxious.

Once your ads have been live for a few weeks one of two things will happen: you succeeded (yes!) or your results aren’t great (darn). Either way you’ll want to think about your next iteration. Even the best ads need to be refreshed on roughly a monthly basis. Identify what worked, what didn’t and see if you can design a new test with the knowledge you’ve gained.

Should you wait for a better time of year? Should you create a stronger incentive? Success with retargeting may not happen on the first try but run a few experiments before throwing in the towel. If you have questions about retargeting best practices or want to outsource the project altogether, get in touch. We’d be happy to chat.