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How to Build a Campaign Strategy for Retail

Randi Neal

New Business Account Executive @ AdRoll

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Global retail e-commerce is slated to reach a staggering $4.5 trillion by 2021. It’s no surprise, then, that standing out against the crowd is the number one battle retailers face when it comes to marketing their products. So, how do you break through the noise and outperform your competitors? An excellent place to start is by creating an effective email and display campaign that accurately targets your audience. 

Know Your Audience 

Before we explore how you can craft your own highly effective retail marketing strategy for ads and email, it’s critical to get as much customer insight as you can to customize targeting. Your brand identity, chosen location, and other vital aspects of your business will meet the needs of a particular group of customers. In essence, your job is to pinpoint this target audience and pick apart and understand everything from their gender and age to their interests, needs, and challenges. 

For example, let’s say you have an e-commerce store for athleisure wear. You must understand the lifestyle and behavior behind the people who purchase these types of products (in this case, fitness, etc.). 

Start Your Planning Early 

When it comes to planning marketing campaigns, the most significant difference that separates retail from other verticals is the focus around seasonality. For example, if you’re hoping to run campaigns on holidays such as Valentine’s Day or the Fourth of July, then the planning for each would be entirely different. This means that when you’re in the retail marketing space, you have to be mindful of timing and plan out campaigns far enough in advance so that they have enough time to build, optimize, and grow. 

Have Your Creatives In Order

In the retail e-commerce space, optics and branding are everything. You’ll want to have the following prepared:

  • A mixture of lifestyle images
  • A good high-quality logo
  • Cohesive copy — messaging that goes over who your brand is, the brand values, why customers should shop on your site, what sets you apart, etc. 
  • Effective call-to-actions (CTAs)
  • The correct ad sizes, depending on what channels you use (you can find the top six ad sizes here). 
  • Evergreen content 

It’s paramount to note that your creatives — everything from copy to images — should line up with the seasons you plan on running campaigns on. 

What Ad Types Should You Use? 

This really depends on what you’re trying to achieve and your marketing goals. For instance, dynamic ads are essential for most retail brands. Why? Because retailers have a feed of products — often up to 200-300 featured on their site — so it’s easy to bring back hesitant customers by serving them tailored ads based on what products they’ve viewed. 

There are also native, video, static, and social ads to consider. Below, I’ve broken up the fundamental components of building a marketing campaign into three stages: Brand awareness, consideration, and loyalty. I’ve also included suggested ad types to serve.

Brand Awareness 

During this stage, your goal is to be top-of-mind with customers who haven’t even started shopping yet. A mix of static, native, and video ads are best during this phase. 

Here are suggested campaign types to run: 

Lookalike campaigns: These ads focus on new people who are similar to your best existing customers (and so are most likely to be interested in your products). 

  • Audience to target: Website traffic lookalike

Demographic and interest campaigns: These ads reach people who are interested in a subject or topic that’s related to your product.

  • Audience to target: Demographic information such as education, net worth, age, and people with an interest in fashion

Contextual targeting campaigns: These ads are placed on sites that have to do with retail, such as fashion blogs. While contextual ads are most popular when it comes to other verticals such as travel (because the ultimate conversion is much higher), they should also be considered for retail because of the brand recall they create. So, if brand awareness is at the forefront of your goals, serving your ads alongside content related to your brand is an excellent strategy. 


This phase is when people are considering your brand, and they’re performing actions such as googling shoes or dresses. 

Here are suggested campaign types to run: 

Web and app / Facebook and Instagram retargeting - low-intent: Consumers are low-intent if they’re just browsing.

  • Segment: 1+ pages viewed (such as the homepage)
  • Creative: Video, native, and static

Web and app / Facebook and Instagram - mid-intent: Mid-intent consumers are starting to look for specific information. 

  • Segment: 2+ Pages viewed, people looked into the products you offer
  • Creative: Dynamic

Web and app / Facebook and Instagram - high-intent: If consumers are high-intent, they’ve made it to the checkout page, and then abandoned it.

  • Segment: Checkout page viewed
  • Creative: Dynamic

Emails: Create and serve an email newsletter series to get people acquainted with your brand. It helps if you provide an incentive (like a discount or promotion). 

  • Segment: Emails captured on your site


The “loyalty” phase is when you’re working towards creating long-lasting customer relationships. CRM retargeting campaigns with discount codes and on-site personalization, such as AI-driven product recommendations, would work wonders at this stage. 

Here are suggested campaign types to run: 

Web and app / Facebook and Instagram retargeting - loyalty: The goal is to target past customers. It’s vital to engage with your customers continuously, even if they’ve already made a purchase. 

  • Segment: CRM audience - 6 months since purchase 
  • Creative: Video, native, and static

Emails: Serve re-engagement email campaigns to past customers featuring products that complement their previous purchases

  • Segment: CRM audience - 6 months since purchase

Loyalty is Key

As a marketer, your journey isn’t over when somebody makes a purchase. This is particularly true when it comes to the retail world — new trends are always popping up, and it’s your job to inform your audience of these updates and convince them that your brand is the best option. If there’s one tip that I can’t stress enough, it’s that it’s essential to experiment with different types of customer loyalty programs.

To Recap

Because retail is such a noisy marketplace, marketers would be wise to use more segmented forms of ad campaigns and promotions to gain the attention and loyalty of consumers. I hope that this article helped you understand how to set up an effective retail strategy (and gave you some great ideas!). 

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