30 Expert Tips for Optimizing Your Retargeting Campaign


Tailor your targeting to specific regions or languages: focus on relevant locations for monolingual sites and create separate campaigns for each language on multilingual sites, leveraging Google Analytics for data-driven decisions.

Retargeting is an online advertising technique designed to convert visitors and enhance website performance. However, it is not widely adopted in the tech community. Therefore, I have compiled the best practices I use for my clients to help them improve their ROI. These tips may vary depending on the retargeting platform you choose.

1. Segmentation

Segmentation is an essential practice in retargeting that involves categorizing your audience into distinct groups based on specific criteria such as behavior, demographics, or purchase history. By creating targeted segments, you can deliver more relevant ads to each group, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion. For instance, you can segment visitors who abandoned their shopping carts and show them ads with special offers to encourage them to complete their purchase.

2. Geotargeting

If your services are region-specific or your website is available in only one language, target only the relevant regions, countries, or cities. For multilingual websites, create separate campaigns and adjust geotargeting for each language. Additionally, use Google Analytics to identify which areas to include or exclude based on your visitor data.

3. Use the Conversion Funnel

Adapting your advertising message to the conversion funnel is crucial for effective retargeting. Your campaigns must align with the stages of your prospects’ journey. The funnel consists of three steps: upper-funnel, mid-funnel, and lower-funnel. In the upper-funnel, target your homepage or visitors not yet in specific segments, as some retargeting platforms segment automatically. For the mid-funnel, focus on product category pages or specific product pages. Finally, for the lower-funnel, include the “thank-you” or “order confirmation” page that appears post-transaction.

4. Target Your Visitors with a High Intent of Purchase

If your website’s performance falls short of your CTR (click-through rate) KPIs, leading to many impressions but few clicks, you can reverse this trend by targeting visitors with a high intent to purchase. Focus on audience segments such as those who have added items to their cart, filled out the contact form, and, if supported by your retargeting platform, visitors who have viewed multiple pages on your site.

5. Exclude Existing Clients

Serving ads to your existing clients can diminish your campaign’s performance since they are unlikely to make another purchase shortly after their initial one. To improve efficiency, exclude these users by targeting the “thank-you” or “order-confirmation” page URL patterns that appear after a transaction.

For instance, use patterns like “/thank-you” or “/order-confirmed.” Keep the consistent part of the URL and add a wildcard to capture all auto-generated links (e.g., change “/order-confirmed?ID=234RF78XW56-page4-53456…” to “/order-confirmed”).

Consult your retargeting platform’s support center for specific instructions. Also, use the final URL that appears after any third-party tracker redirection.

6. Adapt Cookie Duration to Sales Cycles

You can also choose to target your existing clients after a specific period, defined by the cookie duration of your user lists. To do this, create an excluded segment with a cookie duration of 60 days, for example, and then duplicate this segment with a longer duration, such as 90 days. This way, you will serve ads to your existing clients only between 60 and 90 days after their first purchase. Adjust the cookie duration based on your sales cycle and the nature of your products or services to find the most effective timing.

7. Segment with Clicks

When you cannot segment your visitors based on the URLs they have browsed, you can create different audience segments based on their clicks on specific buttons. This approach is useful when an event, such as sending a message through a contact form, does not trigger the loading of a new page or change the URL. To achieve this, you need to implement a code on the page where the event occurs.

8. Use Other First-Party Data

With Google remarketing, you can target or exclude visitors based on the time they spent on your website. Google Analytics provides this information, which you can export to Google AdWords. For example, you can create a remarketing list of visitors who spent less than 15 seconds on a page. Detailed instructions for this process can be found in a tutorial on the Google support page.

9. Exclude Your IP Addresses

Excluding IP addresses is essential to avoid wasting your budget by retargeting your colleagues. Machine learning algorithms often bid higher for visitors who show significant interest in your products or services, considering factors like time spent on the site and the number of pages visited. Consequently, team members frequently browsing the website might be mistakenly identified as potential clients and targeted with ads.

10. Use Banners

11. Change Your Banners Regularly

Refreshing your banners regularly is crucial to maintain the interest of your visitors, particularly those who have been retargeted for a while without seeing any changes. Consider updating your ads every month or aligning them with your sales cycles to ensure that your advertising message remains engaging and relevant.

12. Use All Add Sizes

A CPXI study highlights that 96% of impressions are allocated to three standard ad sizes: 728 x 90, 300 x 250, and 160 x 600. Furthermore, 92% of campaigns exclusively utilize these formats, indicating untapped potential.

By incorporating less commonly used ad sizes, advertisers could enhance their CTR while reducing CPM, CPC, and CPA. This is primarily due to lower competition for bidding on these placements. Exploiting these underutilized sizes presents a significant opportunity for advertisers to optimize their campaigns.

13. Pause Your Underperforming Ads

Monitoring ad performance is crucial for optimizing campaigns and maximizing ROI. If certain ads or ad groups fail to convert or generate clicks, consider pausing them to reallocate resources effectively.

14. Day-Parting

The timing of your ad displays can significantly influence campaign outcomes and audience segmentation. Some platforms allow for day-parting adjustments, enabling you to select specific timeframes or time zones for impression delivery, thereby enhancing targeting precision.

15. Set Up Relevant Frequency Cap

Banner fatigue is a critical consideration in retargeting efforts. Research from the Institute ResearchNow reveals that poorly defined retargeting strategies can deter potential customers from completing purchases. In fact, approximately 55% of respondents surveyed reported being dissuaded from making a transaction due to excessive retargeting.

16. Add a CTA

Adding a call-to-action (CTA) below your banners in the Facebook news feed is a powerful strategy to prompt users to click and return to your website. Facebook offers a variety of CTAs including “Reserve Now,” “Download,” “Purchase,” and “Subscribe.” Regardless of the campaign type, I highly recommend incorporating a CTA on your banners to maximize engagement and drive desired actions from your audience.

17. Implement Ad Networks

18. Choose Your Ad Networks

To optimize your budget effectively, consider allocating it across multiple networks such as Google, Microsoft Ad Center, AppNexus, etc., to broaden your reach. When it comes to retargeting, your budget should be aligned with the volume of unique visitors. Additionally, identify which networks yield the best results for your specific goals to maximize ROI.

19. Blacklist Websites

To ensure your brand is represented effectively and to maximize campaign performance, it’s essential to exclude internet sites that don’t align with your brand or lack performance relevance. However, it’s important to note that ad networks may not always have control over where your ads appear due to their partnerships with various sites.

20. Use Tracking

21. Use UTM Codes

Utilizing Google Analytics to track all your campaigns ensures you have reliable metrics beyond those provided by the retargeting company. Start by creating a new URL with Google’s UTM tracking tool, which you can find on their website. Then, replace your landing page URL with this newly generated one on your campaign dashboard.

However, remember that Google Analytics measures traffic and campaigns differently. For instance, it operates on a last-click attribution model, meaning view-through conversions (VTCs) won’t be directly recorded. If a prospect views your banner but doesn’t click, then later searches your brand on Google to make a purchase, this conversion will be attributed to the search engine, not the retargeting campaign.

22. Track ROI

It’s essential for an online marketing specialist to always track the return on investment (ROI) for their campaigns, especially in retargeting where the primary goal is to increase conversions. This is crucial because not all retargeting platforms automatically provide transaction amount data.

To address this, create a conversion segment and integrate it into your website, typically on the page where purchases are made. This allows you to accurately track conversions and assess the effectiveness of your retargeting efforts.

23. Use a Tag Manager or a Third-Party Tracking Tool

Web marketing specialists often face the challenge of managing multiple tags on the websites they oversee. These tags serve various purposes, from tracking visitor behavior (Google Analytics, Omniture, Kissmetrics) to engaging with prospects (Zendesk, Olark, UserVoice), retargeting/remarketing (AdRoll, Marketo, Mailchimp), and enhancing user experience (Optimizely, Crazy Egg).

To streamline tag management, two tools can be particularly useful: Google Tag Manager and Segment.io. These platforms allow you to centrally manage all your tags and activate/deactivate them with just a single click, offering greater efficiency and control over your website’s analytics and marketing functionalities.

24. Run Campaigns

25. Run Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Retargeting Campaigns

To effectively reach your customers across various channels, running a retargeting campaign on multiple platforms, including mobile, is crucial. Smartphone users tend to be more loyal, making them prime targets for re-engagement efforts, increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases.

By retargeting your audience on both the web and Facebook, you can significantly expand your reach and leverage the engagement opportunities provided by this social network.

However, orchestrating a cohesive retargeting campaign across multiple screens presents challenges. Fortunately, many companies now offer services to address this challenge, allowing you to harness the synergistic effects of different devices and platforms to maximize your campaign’s effectiveness.

26. Run Dynamic Retargeting Campaigns

Dynamic retargeting stands out as one of the most effective tools for maximizing ROI. This technology seamlessly showcases the latest products viewed by your site visitors, enhancing engagement and conversion rates. Additionally, it offers versatile options such as promoting top-selling items or suggesting similar products through cross-selling strategies.

27. Relaunch Your Prospects with CRM and E-mail Retargeting

28. Exclude Former Clients

New methods have emerged for excluding past customers, even those from platforms like Kickstarter, regardless of how long ago they made a purchase. When your products were sold on external websites beyond your control, conventional segmentation based on visitor behavior and page URLs becomes impractical.

However, there’s an alternative solution: CRM Retargeting. By creating a segment using the email addresses of your clients, you can effectively exclude them from your retargeting efforts.

28b. Upsell and Cross-Sell

This solution can also serve to re-engage past clients and potential prospects by presenting them with new or similar products.

29. Use E-Mail Retargeting

Furthermore, email retargeting presents another effective method often employed by platforms like Amazon. For instance, after visiting a website, you might receive an email a week later containing a curated list of products based on the web pages you previously viewed.

30. Create Several Ad Groups

Ad groups empower you to customize messages for specific audiences within a single campaign type. This flexibility allows you to target various segments with distinct ads across different platforms such as web, mobile, Facebook, and more.

31. Set a Max Bidding Amount

Raising the maximum CPM or CPC bid presents a strategy for delivering ads to visitors on premium inventories. This approach not only ensures exposure to better-quality placements but also extends reach to prospects exhibiting a heightened intent to purchase.

32. Lookalike

Lookalike solutions facilitate targeting users who share similar interests to your current visitors, increasing the likelihood of product purchases. This strategy serves as a workaround for the primary challenge of retargeting a limited volume of traffic, thereby effortlessly expanding your reach.


E-commerce websites with diverse product offerings must consider seasonal factors when determining which campaigns to pause, such as promoting solar products during the winter season.

Similarly, travel agencies can capitalize on offering promotions just before the end of holidays to entice customers.

Re-think Your Attribution Model

An attribution model solely reliant on the “last click” fails to offer a comprehensive view of campaign performance. To rectify this, your model should encompass conversions attributed to the “first click,” view-through conversions (VTC) without any clicks, and consider cross-device conversions. Assigning attribution percentages and a conversion window (e.g., 15, 30, 60 days) for each factor is essential.

For a multi-touch model, providing a holistic view and accurate understanding of web marketing channel roles, the “W” model emerges as particularly relevant for B2B scenarios. This model allocates 30% attribution to the touch point that initiates contact, another 30% to the touch point that converts the contact into a lead, and a final 30% to the touch point that transforms the lead into an opportunity.

Implement A/B Testing

Conducting A/B tests on various elements such as banners (product, design, message), ad groups, geotargeting, websites, networks, and segments is instrumental in understanding clients’ needs and enhancing ROI.

Multicanal Strategy

Linking retargeting with other campaigns, such as search, rather than treating it as a standalone channel, can significantly strengthen its impact. Integrating retargeting with search campaigns enhances reach by leveraging the traffic acquired through search.

A study conducted by Nielsen consulting firm revealed that retargeting campaigns can substantially boost the volume of clicks from SEM (up by 35%) and SEO (up by 31%) by targeting visitors who have been retargeted.

Follow and Analyze Your Results

Retargeting platforms provide the convenient option to automatically generate reports encompassing all your campaigns and metrics. These reports can be delivered straight to your inbox at the frequency of your choosing.


Enhance your ability to convert window shoppers into buyers efficiently by:

  1. Adjusting Frequency Caps and Day-Parting: Fine-tune these settings along with optimizing website-publisher matching to ensure a successful retargeting campaign, nudging users towards making a purchase.
  2. Implementing Relevant Segmentation and CTAs: Segment your audience effectively and incorporate compelling call-to-action buttons on your banners, coupled with visually appealing designs to encourage ad clicks and boost click-through rates (CTR).
  3. Utilizing Various Retargeting Methods: Embrace diverse retargeting approaches such as social, CRM, dynamic, and mobile retargeting to engage with visitors across different platforms and enhance overall campaign performance.
  4. Optimizing Ad Networks, Sizes, and Budget Allocation: Expand your reach by adding new ad networks, experimenting with different ad sizes, and fine-tuning CPM/CPC rates and caps to maximize the efficiency of your budget allocation.