Maggie Neiswanger

Pain Points and Solutions for Optimizing Retargeted Ads

target with arrows

So you’ve built your ads, you’ve gotten clicks, visitors have come to your landing page—now what? If you haven’t already pulled the visitor through the sales funnel, it’s time to retarget. And as we’ve been discussing conversion rate optimizations as they apply to both initial ads and landing pages, it’s time to share how to best optimize for retargeting. 

The first step is to determine the desired outcomes and audience types you’ll be retargeting.

  • Is this for brand awareness, conversion, lead generation, etc.?
  • Did the audience see an ad already?
  • Did they visit a landing page from an ad, but abandoned a cart or dropped without conversion?
  • Or are you using 1st party data to retarget?
  • Did the viewer visit your site recently?

Initial Strategies for Retargeting Optimizations

Depending on the previous interactions, the audience’s mindsets are in different places. Retargeting is created to incite a new behavior, but depending on where they are in the funnel their receptiveness to this message may be easier or harder to access. 

From our own experience with client objectives, which matches with data from eMarketer, the top two reasons for retargeting are increasing brand awareness and driving sales. To simplify types of optimizations we will focus primarily on these two objectives for this article, but strategies learned can be applied to other objectives as well. 

Primary Objectives for Retargeting According to US B2B Marketers

Tailoring Audience Segmentation

Just like with initial ads, one of the easiest optimizations is creating separate ad groups for each retargeting audience. Segmenting these can be based on a few criteria, and it’s important to keep in mind your audience types, initial ad goals and retargeting goals.

For users that have seen your ads, you can segment them based on which part of the website they visited. This makes it possible to optimize the retargeting message to something that will best resonate with them. 

Along with audience segmentation, bid strategies are an important factor as well. There are numerous strategies that can be run depending on the end goal, and it’s important to organize based on how you want the ad to run. 

If you want a user to perform a certain action (buy something, fill out a form, etc.) on your website, you would optimize the bid strategy for conversions. But if your aim is simply for people to visit your website, your bid strategy should optimize for clicks.

Tailoring Messaging and Creative

The other side of optimizations lies with the actual ad being shown. Should you update the ad you display or use what you’ve previously done? Rethinking messaging and imagery doesn’t mean recreating an entire campaign. But it can be helpful to revisit the difference in strategy between the first and second touchpoints.

If the retargeted audience has already been served an ad, it’s especially important to consider how you can update their second interaction. Think about what they’ve already seen, and what your follow-up should be.

Limiting Ad Fatigue 

This takes us to another side of retargeting ads: being careful not to over-advertise to your audience. Anyone seeing the same ad over and over will at best start to ignore it, and at worst feel negatively towards the brand. 

Updating messaging and imagery can be one way to help with ad fatigue. For added brand awareness, slight nuances can feel refreshed but increase message views. Or if you’re trying to sell or convert to someone who previously dropped off, it could be helpful to add an incentive that increases that conversion for those sitting on the fence.

Another way to avoid ad fatigue can be as easy as monitoring what is being shown at any given time. Watch the frequency of the ads being served, and set up guardrails to limit the amount of ads. No matter what type of ad you’re showing, too much is too much. 

Following these strategies can help ensure the ads being created are targeting an audience that is most receptive, with a message that really resonates. And similar to optimizing initial ads and landing pages, these optimizations can lead to improved conversion rates with lowered acquisition costs. 

Top Ways to Optimize Ads for Increased Conversion

True conversion takes multiple parts of a sales funnel, which means there are always a few different angles to evaluate and optimize when looking to increase conversion rates during a marketing campaign. 

For this article we’re going to start at the top of one path of the digital funnel: ad optimization. But stay tuned for a couple forthcoming articles for a full scope of optimization techniques. One of the first things to think about in terms of strategy is that ad optimizations are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Ad placement can really determine what mindset a consumer is in when looking at the ad, and can sway what strategy works best.

Facebook Ad Optimizations

People looking at Facebook often get targeted by the same ads over and over again. The algorithm will keep pushing ads it thinks are best, but may not always realize it may cause ad fatigue. Or it may be that ads are not placed correctly for the audience it’s trying to reach. 

To increase ad interactions it’s always recommended to create several variations. These variations should include differences in creative, messaging and brand benefits. Utilizing A/B testing up front provides data for which variations perform best on the audiences you are targeting. After testing is complete, choose 2-3 top performing ads, rotating them to avoid ad fatigue. 

Google Ad Optimizations

Optimizing a Google ads campaign utilizes a lot of strategy within message copy and keyword usage. Like Facebook ads, creating variations of ads helps to aid in finding the most optimized ad options for the desired outcome. 

To start, messaging copy should align closely with wherever the ads are headed. It’s easy to understand why Google’s algorithm wouldn’t want to display an ad that doesn’t link to a page of the same topic. No one wants to click on an ad for winter boots that takes them to a landing page about fish tanks. But even if your ad topic aligns with your landing page, copy should still be given a second look to make sure your customer will find exactly what they want after clicking an ad.

The second part of Google Ads is looking at keywords. This means refining keywords at the start of posting, as well as ongoing analysis to determine what is and isn’t working. Doing this gives a chance to purge underperforming keywords for better ad dollar spending. It is also a chance to see if there are opportunities to add new keywords for targeting. 

In the same way we use keywords for targeting, utilizing negative keywords allows you to exclude specific search terms. This helps to focus on only the keywords that really matter, again optimizing targeting and ad dollar spend. 

Another data point to track is the CTR (click-through-rate). The higher the CTR the better your ranking, and the lower your cost for conversion. The click-through-rate is also a key factor in Google’s quality score formula, which they use to determine your ad position and actual cost per click. And just like keyword analysis, if no one is clicking it’s an easy way to determine changes need to be made within the campaign. 

For whichever digital ad type, optimizing the capability to attract a user and lead to conversion is highly dependent on flexibility for change. Work is front-loaded for ad variants and targeting, but once posted it is imperative to track the data. This is necessary for completing optimization at every step of the ad process. 

Offline Conversion Tracking – Data You May Be Missing

A couple of our favorite things about digital advertising are the ability to reach an intended audience more precisely, and to more accurately measure the Return On Investment (ROI) for each ad that is placed. Not only does this data help advertising be more impactful, it gives us data to better strategize future advertisements as well. 

Yes, tell you something you don’t know, right? Did you know that Google offers conversion tracking for offline data too? Google Offline Conversion Tracking helps track things like offline sales, phone calls, form submissions, and downloads. And although it’s there for anyone to access, we’ve found many companies underestimate the value of tracking offline conversions.

Why Offline Conversion Tracking is Important

Without tracking offline conversions it can be hard to tell the quality and value of the leads that the ads are driving. This data can also provide better insight about the Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) of a campaign. Analyzing where and how these conversions are happening will help to get the most out of an advertising budget, and improve a bid strategy. 

For example, let’s say someone clicks on an ad that takes them to a landing page about a specific product. If they read about it, then call a sales rep and give their information, you can have the whole process tracked. It can help you know how the sales call went, and where that customer is in the funnel, and it can all lead back to data on how the original ad is working.

How to Improve Offline Conversion Tracking

 Depending on the needs and intended outcomes for Google Ads, each client can have varying strategies working into their ads at any given time. Our recommendation for companies to benefit from Google Offline Conversion Tracking would be to integrate their CRM data with Google Ads. You can find out more about how to import that data here

This process allows for data and feedback to work together, and help get the highest performance and reach out of the Google Ads that are running. But there are caveats to how this can work properly. For example, ad content from CRM data cannot imply the knowledge of personally identifiable information or sensitive information about your customers.

As with original ad strategy, knowing what to include and exclude can differ depending on your brand and targeted needs. But the more data points that can be analyzed the more improved the contact points can become, leading to increased conversions overall.