Written by Andrea Atzori

If marketing is the art of persuasion, then retargeting is that art at its finest.

A user that has expressed interest in our brand, products, or services can be considered a warm lead. Therefore, you can expect that – with the right approach – our chances to convert are greater than when marketing a cold lead.

However, no matter how warm our lead might be, the strategic approach is key to closing the deal.

This is where it’s essential that you use all available information about the users and how he/she has interacted with your brand.

Why We Segment Audiences For Retargeting

Information such as demographic, which channel was the source of the lead, whether the interaction was on-site or off-site, and the level of interaction are just a few examples of the data that you can use to segment your audience.

This enables you to cluster users into different lists in order to maximize your chances to convert.

The above is also critical in order to be able to choose the most appropriate time and location for when to re-engage, and for the right messaging.

Think about it – marketing leverages psychological triggers to get people to take the actions you want them to take.

Remember some time ago when Google used to talk about micro-moments?

Retargeting means personalization that makes a connection in those micro-moments.

Understanding our users’ needs and motivations helps us to successfully use all of the above signals and give our retargeting campaigns the best chances to succeed with more personalized ads and experiences.

Let’s have a look at some easy-to-implement, practical examples of how you can segment our audiences into successful retargeting lists.

First, What Not To Do

To start, you must begin with the most obvious and avoid common mistakes that will sabotage your best efforts.

Too often, advertisers create a one-size-fits-all retargeting strategy that doesn’t acknowledge any of the information they have about the users and how they have interacted with the brand. They use the same generic messaging for all.

They might even land them all onto the homepage!

The most obvious place to start is segmenting our audience based on where and how they have interacted with our assets.

If that is on-site, you can create different lists based on the web pages they have visited and how far into the conversion path they went.

Those using Google Analytics with EEC (Enhanced Ecommerce) will find that the platform does the heavy lifting for them straight out of the box.

Different lists are automatically created to split users that have visited a product page from those that have gone a step further and added to the cart, or those who dropped at the checkout.

Here, the retargeting strategy should address any possible barrier for which users have dropped out and consider the appropriate messaging/possible incentive(s) required to get the user to convert.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s have a look at something a little bit more creative, exciting, and sophisticated!

1. Don’t Think Channels; Think Users, Instead

Advertisers tend to think too much in terms of channels and in that way, they compartmentalize their strategy.

The reality is that things are much simpler. This is even more so in the case of retargeting, as you shouldn’t think about channels but focus on your users instead.

If you can overcome that default channel-based mindset, you start opening up to endless possibilities.

For example, you can run retargeting campaigns across multiple channels.

It is quite normal when setting things up to have Facebook prospecting and retargeting campaigns.

But why limit it to that?

It’s easy and quick to create lists of website users based on the source of the traffic.

In Google Analytics, for example, you can do that by selecting Traffic Sources and then Source, Medium, and Campaign as required.

traffic sources on Google AnalyticsScreenshot from Google Analytics, January 2022

In my example, you have created a list of users that have visited your website after clicking on a Facebook ad, advertising a Valentine’s Day promo.

What this means is that you can not only retarget those users within the Facebook network (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, etc), but you are also able to amplify our reach and re-engage with those users across Google Display Network, YouTube, and more properties.

In a similar way, you could retarget users that have clicked on an email or have been referred by an affiliate site.

2. Flirting With Our Competitors’ Users

Now, this could be a bit controversial.

You’ll often see advertisers going to the extent of setting up campaigns that target their competitors.

If you are okay with bidding on your competitors, why stop there?

It’s not often that they follow up and continue engaging with those users that have clicked on their ads.

Most of the time, competitor campaigns are judged by impression share or direct conversions.

But if you’ve started flirting with your competitor’s audience and they have shown interest, you should really make the effort to continue engaging with them.

Additionally, you can use RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) in Google to target users that have been on your website but are now searching for your competitors. Try to stop them before it’s too late!

3. Using Sequential Messaging And Storytelling For Engagement

We often think of ad campaigns as a one-dimensional interaction.

Our target audience shows interest in our ads by clicking on them or engaging with them, and marketers consider the job done.

But what about developing a series of ads that are all linked to one another?

For example, you could have the first ad setting up the story.

A number of ads follow, either in a linear way (i.e. ad 2 follows ad 1, and it is then followed by ad 3, ad 4, etc) or with a few alternative follow-ups that keep the story open and engaging.

Although this would require some creative effort to set up the ads in a storytelling sequence, from an audience perspective it’s actually quite simple.

Segments can be created to feed on each other with the trigger being whether the user has clicked, seen, or engaged with the previous ads.

4. Broaden Your Strategy By Targeting Life Events

Use business knowledge and data to create new segments to target audiences based on life events.

While these are generally readily available for prospecting campaigns, you can create your own audience segments for your retargeting ads.

For example, removalists, storage, and utility companies are likely to want to target people that are actively looking to buy a property, since they could also be interested in their services.

Creating a new audience with the targeting criteria as per below will help reach out and engage with website visitors that are on the move.

demographics displayed on Google AnalyticsScreenshot from Google Analytics, January 2022

Why is this important?

Because knowing the why – the reason why someone is interested in our products or services – allows us to greatly refine our messaging strategy and personalize the user experience.

Continuing with our example, and assuming you run a storage company, you could retarget your in-market audience with a message like this:

setting up the story in adsImage created by author, January 2022

5. Contextual Retargeting

Continuing from the idea of retargeting users based on the moment they are in, something similar you can do is to create audiences based on social and demographic profiling.

For example, you could segment avid TikTok or Instagram users and retarget them based on the context they are in.

A higher education provider such as a University or College could create ads and campaigns that are triggered when their users are in a specific location or attending an event of public interest – when they are in the proximity of a campus or attending an Open Day, for example.

Here, the profiling and segmentation of our audience is key to the success of the ads as you must understand our target users and their expected behavior.

6. Retargeting Users That Have Run A Site Search But Not Transacted

An often underutilized resource, site search can be turned into a powerful way to gather valuable information about our website visitors, especially those that haven’t converted.

Going back to Google Analytics, you could create a new audience by selecting the following criteria to segment our audience.

First, you need to specify the conditions which will define our filter, so after going into Audience Builder you choose Conditions, and select Site Search Status equals to Visits With Site Search.

After that, you can add an additional condition and select AND Days Since Last Session is equal or less than 2, if you want to focus on retargeting warm leads.

For the last condition, you also add the AND operator and select Transactions (per user) are equal to 0.

Now you can save the filter and create the audience.

For a practical example, imagine being a florist in the business of selling online fresh flowers delivered locally and nationally.

It is sometimes impractical to have a website that can cover every possible flower type with a dedicated page, or at times availability could be scarce and the stock quickly sells out.

So it is common for users to use the site search.

In this case, you could retarget our new audience with display ads as soon as stock is back on sale, or offer an alternative arrangement.

7. Retargeting Our Most Valuable Audience Segments Through (Buying) Personas

The concept of personas has been around since the beginning of marketing.

But we often think about them as a complicated piece of work that requires a lot of time and effort to put together.

In reality, anyone with access to website analytics is likely to be able to at least create a simplified version of personas.

For example, in Google Analytics, it’s easy to identify the gender, age, location of our most valuable customers.

But not only that – you can see what device they use, the model and OS, when they are most likely to be active on our site, and much more – including what they are (broadly) interested in and even what they are looking to buy (in-market).

With that information, you can create audiences based on the same exact traits and specifically retarget them after they have visited our site.

The advantage is that you can create ads and campaigns that specifically talk to them and in the way that is most likely to resonate with them.

See How to Use Website Traffic Analysis for Persona Development to learn more.

Final Thoughts

For many years now, we’ve been told personalization is key in all things marketing.

With increasing channels, competition, and the difficult markets we may now find ourselves operating in, it is certainly important.

Retargeting is often be overlooked and underutilized but as we’ve discussed, it doesn’t have to be a complex undertaking.

You know your customers and no doubt have the information you need.

Investing a bit of time and using the points above, you can convert more of those warm leads with smarter segmentation for your retargeting campaigns.

Not only will you add incremental value but you will also engage more personally and successfully with your customers, creating better experiences with your brand.

And that’s a win.

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Featured Image: mentalmind/Shutterstock





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