Imagine this scenario: a person finds your website and within minutes, decides to complete a purchase — becoming a lifelong customer. Most marketers are wise enough to know that the chances of this happening on a massive scale are small. About 96% of the people that visit a website for the first time are not ready to buy. People need more than one interaction with a brand to feel compelled to take the plunge and become a customer. That’s where retargeting comes in.

Retargeting is a highly effective e-commerce marketing strategy that turns window shoppers into paying customers by serving ads to those who have shown interest. Individuals can show interest through a website visit or a click on a social ad. With people spending more time on social media than ever before (more than 2 hours a day!), marketers have long used social platforms to engage with interested audiences.

Setting up social media retargeting campaigns requires minimal effort, but maximizing efficiency involves significant analysis and optimization. Despite the investment of time and resources, brands continue to commit to the strategy. According to a report by Target Marketing, 68% of marketers surveyed invest in social media retargeting.

About 96% of the people that visit a website for the first time are not ready to buy.

This makes sense when considering that Facebook boasts an average monthly user base larger than China’s population, which produces over 22 billion ad clicks per year. Any brand can take a spray-and-pray approach, but that could entail bloated ad spend and lackluster results. On Facebook alone, retargeting ads drive three times more engagement than traditional ads. Simply put, social media retargeting works and works well. Here are five strategies for creating highly-effect social media retargeting campaigns.

1. Target Specific Audiences

No matter the ad campaign, it’s imperative that a customer experience matches the wants of a specific audience. In other words, it would be ill-advised to deliver an ad featuring a hamburger to a vegetarian. 

A great marketing strategy requires thought into what creative (messaging and imagery) will appeal to a group of customers. Instead of broadly retargeting every website visitor, try segmenting audiences into interest-based groups. This allows you to create messages and ad creative that specifically appeal to each group. On Facebook, brands can create a custom audience based on people who:

  • Visit their website
  • Visit specific pages
  • Visit specific pages but not others
  • Haven’t visited in a certain amount of time
  • Or a combination of the four options

You can create a better customer experience by serving audiences highly-relevant content. The more specific the targeting, the more personalized the experience. This increases ad engagement and boosts the bottom line.

Instead of broadly retargeting every website visitor, try segmenting audiences into interest-based groups. This allows you to create messages and ad creative that specifically appeal to each group.

To use an e-commerce example, a person who visits a product page for sunglasses should be served ads with sunglass options. If another visitor purchases jeans, it might be best to show that customer an ad for matching belts. Other examples include:

  • Deal seekers: Serve ads that include discounts to customers who have visited a clearance section.
  • Past customers: Serve ads that feature new or complementary products from those who have already purchased.
  • Cart abandoners: Show cart contents to those who left during checkout.

2. Simplify Ad Messaging and A/B Test

Nothing will make it easier for a customer to ignore an ad faster than muddled messaging. Focus on creating eye-catching advertisements with enticing calls-to-action. Aim to create memorable advertising with minimal copy and simple design, so your audience absorbs your message quickly and takes action. 

Digital marketing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it exercise; it’s something that requires constant optimization and experimentation. Enter A/B testing. In A/B testing, an ad or piece of content is duplicated but with one alteration. The original (test A) is compared against the duplicate, (test B) to see which delivers a better result. Elements that typically change in A/B testing include:

  • Email subject lines
  • Ad copy
  • Calls-to-action buttons
  • Images

To properly utilize A/B testing in your campaigns, make sure to create two variations of an ad and run them side-by-side until a clear winner emerges. Pause the loser and then create a new variation of the winner so you can keep improving incrementally. Continuous improvement provides insight regarding how your audience responds to particular messages and allows you to make educated refinements to your ad creative.

3. Use Multiple Methods to Build Custom Audiences

No marketing strategy, let alone a social media retargeting campaign, can truly be successful without building an ideal customer profile (ICP). An integral function of B2B marketing, ICPs can and should be used by direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands to form a clearer picture of a target audience. These take into consideration everything from customer demographics, geographics, preferred marketing channels, and pain points. 

A full understanding of your ideal customers ensures that any data collected can be leveraged to personalized ad campaigns. For example, brands can use customer data to create audience segments and deliver ads that call out a specific pain point.

A full understanding of your ideal customers ensures that any data collected can be leveraged to personalized ad campaigns.

Here are some examples of how to gather data from known sources to build custom audience segments:

  • Exporting customer information from your CRM and building lists based on phone numbers, email addresses, and several other identifiers. As noted above, it’s good practice to personalized messaging based on customer behavior. This will encourage audience engagement, improve the customer experience, and boost customer lifetime value (LTV).
  • Building custom audiences based on user interactions with social profiles, posts, and advertisements. With Facebook, brands can create audiences based on behavior like engagement with any ad, followers to their Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or messages sent. Test using these options for your ad account to find the audiences with the most engagement.

4. Use Smart Software to Track and Analyze Retargeting Efforts

Tracking and comparing retargeting efforts across multiple channels or campaigns can be difficult and time-consuming. Business growth platforms have been proven to help manage ad campaigns by leveraging data and AI-driven technology to maximize ad spend and limit costs.

Furthermore, tapping into these platforms’ data-driven approach makes it easier to track, measure, and continually optimize social media retargeting campaigns towards crucial marketing objectives. This eliminates wasted time piecing together reports from various sources and dashboards.

5. Time Campaigns Based on Your Goals

It’s important to think about the timing of your campaigns to avoid ad fatigue while still accomplishing your goals. It’s a delicate balance that is best determined by your audience, offer, and desired outcome. However, there are times when it’s best to up the ante. For example, a campaign with a short-term offer should serve ads without frequency caps to audiences who’ve shown interested.

If brand awareness is the goal, then keeping the frequency cap on Facebook below 4 or 5 per month will help keep audiences from feeling overwhelmed.

When setting up social media retargeting campaigns, it’s important to remember that a campaign should be unique to the organization and audience and tailored to marketing goals. Remember that this is an ongoing and evolving effort, which requires continual testing and refinement. Don’t lose patience if results are not what you imagined in the first round. They will continue to improve the more that you learn about your audience and what they respond to.