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April 7, 2015

Retargeting FAIL: Three Surefire Ways to Make Your Retargeting Fall Flat

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles via

Retargeting has been the talk of the marketing and advertising world for about two years now. With various search giants taking steps to limit exposure without direct use of their own products, new search algorithms, and other limitations that have made it difficult to reach potential customers, it makes sense. As a solution that enables companies and brands to interact with individuals who have already visited their sites and checked out what they have to offer, retargeting goes beyond traditional and PPC advertising by taking these efforts to a new level, allowing for unprecedented success.

This is not to say retargeting is a guaranteed success story waiting to happen. In fact, too many companies have learned this the hard way. Retargeting, when done incorrectly, can have detrimental effects that have the potential to ruin reputations. Check out these three surefire ways to make your retargeting efforts fall flat, and how to avoid such mishaps.

1. A Lack of Direction

Like any marketing or advertising strategy, if targeted direction isn’t a part of your retargeting plan, it’s not going to breed the intended positive results. Think through retargeting, your purposes, and how it all works.

Retargeting reaches a targeted demographic that has already been to a specific website; they’ve interacted with specific offerings and are already familiar with the products and services available. They get it. However, for some reason, at some point in time, these visitors left before converting.

As retargeting is aimed at driving these visitors back to a specific page on a site, the strategy should reflect it. Ads should have a clear call-to-action and should lead somewhere deep within the purchasing funnel, eliminating any further barriers to conversion and purchase. If a retargeted ad leads to your homepage, the visitor in question is probably no closer to a sale than it was during the initial visit.

2. Failure to Monitor

Once again, retargeting is similar to other advertising techniques – if you don’t monitor your efforts and adjust your strategy accordingly on a regular basis, your campaign will likely remain stagnant, fall flat or fail completely.

Take the time to monitor your banner metrics on an ongoing basis and to refresh and replace them based on key click-through rate and conversion data. If your ad isn’t converting, there’s a reason. It doesn’t mean it’s time to give up, but it does mean it’s time to mix it up – this is a critical factor for success.

3. Going at It Alone

Yes, you could be an experienced advertiser with a solid education and successful campaigns to back up that experience. However, you’re likely new to the world of retargeting – and this is not a bad thing. Fortunately, there are experts available to come alongside and provide a more positive outcome.

Running an effective retargeting display campaign is tricky, takes extensive knowledge, and is more than a basic SEO or other marketing campaign. It’s about key metrics and settings – if a single area is lacking, the whole campaign could fail, leading to lost money, frustrated executives and a company that fails to thrive in today’s online world. If you want success, you need a professional.

Doing It Right

If you’re committed to making retargeting work, avoiding the 3 pitfalls above is critical.

One brand, VF Outlet, is making strides now to avoid these potential problem areas in the future. An online retailer, VF Outlet is launching a new remarketing campaign to website non-converters starting in July of this year. Their goals are simple and obvious – to bring back customers who failed to convert, and to work for purchases that would otherwise be lost.

The brand has made clear retargeting is an initiative that matters and an integral part of their overall strategy. As such, they’ve taken the considerations above seriously. By creating ads that are filled with active language and direct calls-to-action, the brand will be bringing back lost visitors while directing them to an area that matters – an abandoned shopping cart or page close to the actual conversion, not the general homepage. When you only have one shot, direction matters.

Additionally, as part of their upcoming campaign, VF Outlet will be regularly monitoring results and modifying accordingly while working with experts. It’s simple: when something as significant as a marketing budget is on the line, doing it right – from the start – cannot be understated in importance.

Like VF Outlet, when considering a retargeting campaign for a client or your own brand, taking seriously the 3 potential campaign breakers listed above should be a priority. If it’s not, your display campaign is going to suffer. However, if you’re looking to increase traffic that actually converts and relates directly to a positive ROI, it’s time to move forward. Remember to avoid the potential problem areas above and improve your strategy starting today.


Adrienne Erin writes weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to get in touch, or visit Design Roast to see more of her work.