Live From SMX Advanced: Getting The Most Out Of Retargeting From The Pros

By Chad Rhodes | Jun 5, 2012
More Articles by Chad

For session 3 of SMX Advanced 2012 I am attending Getting The Most Out Of Retargeting From The Pros. Speakers will be covering ways to maximize your investment and drive conversions using retargeting.

Kelly Gillease, VP Marketing, Viator (@kellpickles)

Use dynamic creative that is very well targeted. You can put a lot of data into an ad that makes it more engaging to interact with. The inclusion of ratings and sales information can also be successful. Anything that portrays a shopping experience through the ad can increase engagement.

However, there are also some thing you do not want to do. Do not be creepy! Nobody wants to buy from an internet stalker. You want your target audience to feel like it is destiny to click the ad, not like they cannot get away from your advertisements.

Going beyond US based ad networks can also be advantageous. A lot of additional performance can come from new markets.

In addition to retargeting people who did not convert, consider focusing some ads on trying to gain repeat business. Retarget with complimentary items or with other offers.

What other assets do you have that you can use to retarget people? If there is an audience who consistently visits a certain type of content on your site, blog, or even your YouTube channel you can also retarget them based on content you already know they are interested in. Microsites and mobile websites should also be considered for retargeting. You may need to change your strategy and creative based on these individual options, but each might be worth trying. It is difficult to say what will work best for you until you try it.

Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and CMO, Acquisio (@marcpoirier)

In the room, most people are doing retargeting with Google, but very few raised their hand when Marc asked who makes media buys outside of the Google Network.

The idea with regards to Acquisio’s own campaigns is to bring in as many qualified leads as possible. Search can only take you so far because you have to rely on people looking for what you’re offering. Before retargeting began, Acquisio saw a cost per lead of $200.00. This was a mature account that brought in approximately 20 qualified leads per month. They felt this was the maximum number of leads possible with their paid search account.

Starting in February 2011 Acquisio started trying retargeting for their own campaigns. This campaign ran through October 2011. Here are some results.

The retargeting campaigns started providing an additional 20-30 conversions per month. They started gaining more volume, but cost per conversion went through the roof. The cost of gaining the extra impressions took the cost per lead up to $600.00 at some points. The plug was pulled on this project but here are some results and insights from individual efforts.

Site retargeting

  • All people who visited the site or the blog were retargeted with a CPA of $200-$300.

Site lists

  • Over $800 in cost per conversion

Search Retargeting

  • There was low volume but cost per conversion was only around $150

Registration Retargeting

  • People who visited a registration page but never submitted the form also had low volume, but gave an $80 cost per conversion


  • Lead volume doubled
  • Maintained a cost per conversion of about $200
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Able to scale volume massively
  • Cost of scaling was very high

Tracking Challenges

These campaigns are not like search and cannot be treated as such. For example, view-through conversions might be relevant for your search campaigns. However when it comes to retargeting, these should just be viewed as influence, not direct conversions like people who clicked your ad then converted.

Planning ahead for a tracking system is critical. Which lead or call tracking systems are you going to use, and how will they work together? Who is responsible for tracking what? Map it all out before you begin.

Quality was also a challenge. Keep an eye out for sites that drive a ton of impressions, and then weed out the hundreds of unwanted ones. The list of sites that are showing your ads will change constantly and must be optimized frequently. Create a report and check out the sites that drive the most impressions to find those that are not relevant or appropriate for your retargeting efforts.

White lists are not enough to generate big volume. They are great to use since they sites you have selected based on their relevancy, but to increase volume you need to look at other tactics.

Display is cyclical. Acquisio saw difficulties competing and keeping volume high at the end of quarters. This was attributed to other advertisers expanding their efforts at the last second of the quarter to try and increase lead numbers.

Attribution of conversions can also be difficult. Can view-through conversions be accurately attributed? Are they worth as much as a click-through? Marc suggests that they are not.

Branding issues also ocurred. You need to either optimize for click-through-rate or for branding. It is difficult to be both. Acquisio saw a correlation with an increase in branded search traffic that came long with more brand focused ads.

Volume may be a larger issue than you expect as well. Acquisio had $250,000 set aside for this project and spent only $35,000. This could just be a difficult reality for B2B retargeting.

Lisa Williams, President, MEDIA forte marketing (@mediafortemktg)

Strategies for Smart Retargeting

  • Understand what “re” means. Make your ads dynamic or give them a new offer. If you just use your standard text ad to retarget, what extra reason are you giving somebody to click?
  • Discover platforms for lower cost testing. Try new things. Without experimenting you will not discover better alternatives.
  • Try multiple platforms. There are a ton of networks besides Google who are excited to have your business and will gladly work with you to get started.
  • Study the behavior of the audience you’re retargeting. Take a look at personas and use social networks to get to know your audience better. The personas you want to target might not actually be the ones who engage with your site and you may discover a new audience that you did not know existed.
  • Think beyond search. Change your mindset and look at your campaigns like a media buyer or a consultant might. Take a step back and be open minded.
  • Share your successes. Search marketers focus on the transaction based aspects of a campaign. Take advantage of new tracking tools to make sure that you are attributing conversions correctly. Let your clients in on the successes. Explain the benefits of what you’re tracking. Clients get used to receiving data on conversions and cost-per-conversion data. Find that extra bit of data around brand awareness and let them know what you are doing for them.

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