Evan Prokop

Remarketing & Retargeting Done Right and Wrong – 6 Do’s and Don’ts From SES Chicago

SES Tips for RetargetingLive from SES Chicago, I had a fantastic opportunity to learn about the ultra-hot online marketing area of remarketing / retargeting from Christopher Hansen and Marty Weintraub.  Remarketing can be extremely powerful, but is easy to get wrong, and the consequences can be costly both in terms of budget and brand image.

Below are 3 tips to make retargeting campaigns work for you, and 3 potential mistakes.

Retargeting Done Right

#1:  Identify Your Best Content

The key to effective retargeting is finding what is already working in your marketing strategy. Retargeting can be very effective at increasing the success of your content, but the content must be effective on its own in order to see a benefit from retargeting.

Retargeting is best thought of as a content amplification tactic, rather than as a standalone marketing strategy.  Find out where your conversions are already happening, and focus retargeting efforts there for maximum effect.

#2: Analyze Behavior

Similar to how retargeting works best on great content, it is also most effective when used on high quality, relevant traffic.  The best way to qualify visitors is to understand and analyze their behavior.

What are the characteristic behaviors of visitors that are converting?  Some factors to consider:

  • Time on site
  • Traffic source
  • Past purchase history

Detailed visitor behavior analysis should be a part of your marketing strategy already, and is absolutely mandatory if you are considering adding retargeting to the mix.

#3: Look at Context

The third ingredient in effective retargeting is context.  Are you finding that the conversion rates are higher from people browsing entertainment sites than cooking sites?

Specific customer demographics may be more likely to convert when consuming certain types of content.  Make sure you are putting your retargeting dollars where it counts.

Retargeting Done Wrong

#1: Retargeting Bad Content

Content that isn’t working will not magically start converting through retargeting.  Before engaging in any sort of remarketing, overhaul and optimize your traditional marketing strategy to get it working for you, and then amplify it through retargeting.

#2: Being Creepy By Over-Retargeting

We’ve all been a victim of over-retargeting at some point.  The cell phone ad that follows you long after the technology is out of date, the shoe banner that won’t forget the time you let your girlfriend use your computer to shop, the Viagra ad that… you get the idea.

To quote the speaker, “don’t pee in the retargeting pool.”  You’ll cause your customers to hate you, and ruin it for the rest of us responsible remarketers.

There is no hard and fast rule, but a good guideline is to set a limit of 5-7 impressions.

#3: Not Effectively Regulating Your Retargeting Campaigns

Are you re-targeting customers who have already made a purchase?  Or people who have filled out a complaint form?  This is classic remarketing done wrong.

So many companies get this wrong, and it not only wastes money, but tarnishes the brand image, and the online marketing community as a whole.

As much as 90% of web traffic leaves without converting, which is why retargeting is such a popular tactic today.  But with great power comes the potential for consequences if it’s not used effectively.  Follow these tips and amplify your content through retargeting.

TopRank will be live blogging all week at SES Chicago, so tune in to get the latest news, tips and commentary as it happens.


PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (No Ratings Yet)


  1. How granular would suggest to get with retargeting. For me I review products, and get a decent amount of traffic to the posts. Should I create a new retargeting list for each product I review and then advertise that list or just retarget as whole?

    • Hi Eric,
      Great question. The key to effective retargeting is to get as granular as possible, so I would definitely recommend generating lists on a product by product level, and tailoring the ads to speak to the customer segments you have identified as your highest converters. It’s more work, but well worth it.

  2. I want to market my site using re-marketing, whats the best resource to read about it?

  3. That was such an awesome speech.

  4. This should become the de-facto starting point for building integrated PPC campaigns. At the very least, have one campaign for those that have never visited your site, and another for those that have.

  5. Basic things here, we know all but don’t follow all the time. Sometimes customers become annoyed with telephone calls informing offers and new products. Marketers should more rely on survey and make research on customer’s data and behavior before re targeting for sells. I like to suggest marketers if they unable to follow the first 3 steps (done right), they must follow the last 3 steps (Done Wrong).