Retargeting capabilities have quickly become some of the most effective (and highly utilized) advertising options on the web, especially now that most social networks have implemented retargeting in their basic ad platforms. If you’re unfamiliar with retargeting, it allows brands to track who’s visiting their website through various tools and snippets of code and then show ads to that same group on other websites or social networks.

While some brands implement retargeting successfully, others don’t plan as well and are confused when they don’t succeed. When running your next retargeting campaign, keep these tips in mind to prevent your brand from falling into the “don’t-do-this” category of digital ads.

Personas still matter. When you’re using a retargeting list in a campaign, you cannot assume your customers are all interested in the same end goal. Keep them segmented, regardless of how small the groups may be. Setting up individual campaigns or ad groups will go far when it comes to how your customers engage with you…especially on social media.

Think about it this way – if you’re exploring a new company online for the first time, you’ll probably start with the “About” page, maybe take a look at some products. Once you’re a little more interested in making a purchase, you’ll spend more time on product/service pages and potentially fill out a contact form or download a whitepaper, for example. Those are two different groups of potential customers at different stages in the sales funnel. Target your ads specifically to speak to the needs of each group in well-refined ad groups or campaigns to generate the best results from the potential customer.

Geo-targeting is REAL, people. Take your retargeting campaign to the next level by utilizing geo-targeting. In layman terms, this means catering your ad copy and images to specific geographic areas. It will help your campaign receive more engagement from consumers and a higher click-through rate.

Here’s a real-life example. As background, I live in Boston, MA. In mid-February, I was browsing new shoes online at Nordstrom. We were already six feet deep in snow with more on the way. The next day, I get served this ad on Facebook:


No, Nordstrom. It was not, in fact, ‘Sandal Season’ here in Boston. By adding geo-targeting to the mix, the department store could have easily avoided this ill-placed ad. Switch up the ad copy to something along the lines of “Dreaming of sandal season? Start here.” Or sell me some snow boots! There are so many directions this campaign could have gone that would have probably got this self-proclaimed online shopping professional to buy some shoes.

Those people you’re targeting? They’re already your customers. As we’ve mentioned, retargeting campaigns help brands get their messages in front of prospective consumers who have already shown an interest in the brand. One of the most frequent mistakes we see made in retargeting campaigns is not filtering out existing customers. It can be as simple as cross-referencing your retargeting list to your customer list, or creating an additional list of customers to exclude from your campaigns.

Here’s another example. I recently moved into a new apartment, and I had to re-stock my new DVR (an admitted #firstworldproblem). Before I could get a good queue lined up, I explored signing up for Hulu Plus to catch up on shows I may have missed in the craziness that is moving. I ultimately decided to sign up, using my Facebook profile to complete my account information. Much to my surprise, a few days later I was served a retargeting ad from Hulu asking me to sign up for the service on Facebook. Hey Hulu, I’m already a paying customer! Stop wasting your money on me!


Whether you’re an advertising newbie or seasoned pro, retargeting campaigns are a relatively easy way to get your brand back in front of prospective customers. Keep these tips in mind next time you work on your campaigns!

Do you have any ill-fated ads you’ve received online? Share them in the comments below!

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Analyst


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