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6 Common Retargeting Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)

Angie Tran

Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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Retargeting is one of the most powerful weapons in a marketer’s toolbox, allowing you to send a “Hey, remember us?” message to shoppers who didn’t convert. Unsurprisingly, retargeting (when done well) produces one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) among all marketing tactics — the average click-through rate for a retargeting ad is 10x higher than those of regular display ads! Armed with these six retargeting mistakes to avoid, it’s only a matter of time until you see the rewards of your successful retargeting campaign roll in. (If you need a quick refresher on what retargeting is, check out this 101 guide.) 

1. Retargeting Shoppers Who Have Already Checked Out

Wasting your retargeting dollars on shoppers who have already converted is a common retargeting mistake to avoid when setting up your campaigns. After all, why would someone want to see an ad for something they already purchased? Because they’re unlikely to take any action, retargeting existing customers will drag your click-through rates down. 

We recommend excluding converters from the last seven to 14 days from all campaigns (unless you’re using retargeting to cross-sell or up-sell them). 

2. Not Managing Your Ad Frequency

Retargeting ads can feel creepy and intrusive if you see them everywhere. When marketers fail to set frequency caps, shoppers may get the impression your brand is stalking them. Not a good look. 

Equally worse is when brands deliver the exact same ad to shoppers one too many times. A good rule of thumb to follow is never showing the same ad to someone more than twice. Instead, you’ll want to mix it up — it’s good practice to have a roster of ads in your retargeting arsenal with testimonials, small deals (such as free shipping or 10% off), and best-selling product recommendations. 

3. Delivering the Wrong Ads

The key to any successful marketing campaign is delivering the right creative to the right person at the right time. However, you’ll be surprised to learn the number of brands that struggle with the first part of that equation. 

Retargeting, among many other tactics in digital marketing, is all about determining your audience, the best creative, and the most appropriate delivery platform.  

Retargeting, among many other tactics in digital marketing, is all about determining your audience, the best creative, and the most appropriate delivery platform.

There are various ways brands might deliver the wrong ads, but one of the most common slip-ups is retargeting shoppers with ads featuring products they haven’t browsed or added to their carts. 

4. Failing to Segment

Segmentation plays a massive role in the efficacy of most digital campaigns, and retargeting is no exception. Rather than deliver the same retargeting ads to all your shoppers, you can segment by:

  • Behaviors, e.g., cart vs. browse abandonment
  • Estimated customer lifetime value
  • Where the shopper is in the funnel
  • Whether they’re a repeat or new customer

Pro tip: Tools like AdRoll make segmentation easy as ever.

5. Including a Mysterious CTA

There should be a clear and concise purpose behind each of your retargeting ads, whether that’s encouraging shoppers to recover their abandoned carts or checking out a limited-time sale. Regardless of what you’re hoping to accomplish, including a confusing or unclear call-to-action (CTA) guarantees low engagement and ROI. 

Facebook’s prominent “Shop Now” button is a great CTA.

Facebook’s prominent “Shop Now” button is a great CTA.

6. Using a Set-and-Forget Approach

The last retargeting mistake to avoid is viewing the tactic as a set-and-forget process — never reviewing the data, never changing up the messaging, and never tinkering with the delivery, even if the campaign isn’t bringing in good results. 

Don’t fall for that trap! Instead, make sure you A/B test every single element in your retargeting campaign, and stay flexible by continuously optimizing as you go along. 

Now that you know all about which retargeting mistakes to avoid, you’re well on your way to launching fool-proof ads that’ll capture attention, boost conversions, and grow your brand. To get started, check out AdRoll’s retargeting tool

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