retargeting and how not to be a creep


What is Retargeting in Marketing?

You know how people have been posting on Facebook about weird advertisement coincidences? Facebookers have been noticing that when they type something in Google, advertisements for that product are suddenly everywhere. Some have even cited having conversations with people and relevant ads appearing on Facebook shortly after. This phenomenon is real and they are called re-targeting ads. There are a bunch of ways to re-target customers online (and be not creepy about it!)

The initial purpose of retargeting ads came from the idea of reminding people about your product.



This is the (high level) retargeting process:

  1. Potential customer visits your site
  2. An unobtrusive piece of code drops an anonymous browser cookie
  3. The (now cookied) potential customer leaves without checking out
  4. Later on, they are surfing the web again
  5. Because they are cookied, the internet recognizes that they were previously on your website and it auto-populates an ad of the product they were looking at
  6. Now the potential customer is reminded of the product and is more likely to go back and purchase from your site!


The whole idea works, but it can also be overbearing. For example, I was looking at a Black Mirror poster a few weeks ago and decided I did not need more posters. However, the internet seems pretty adamant about me having this Black Mirror poster because the ad is actually EVERYWHERE I turn now. After deciding to start counting, I can say I have seen this poster ad at least 30 times since that first search. Now, through sheer stubbornness, I will likely never buy that poster because I am so annoyed about being harassed by the internet. This real-life experience is a good example of why, if you’re going to produce retargeting ads, you should apply these best methods.


Retargeting Best Methods

retargeting best methods



Frequency Limitations

This is exactly what I was just talking about. Familiarity breeds contempt! By limiting the frequency of ads (frequency capping) being shown to a cookied visitor, you eliminate this issue. Frequency capping will limit visitors to only seeing your ad a select amount of times per day, week, or month. Just like most marketing campaigns, overexposure can cause more distance between you and the visitor. If you email a subscriber too much, they’ll likely unsubscribe. If you’re posting sales content to your social every day, you’ll soon see a decrease in followers. Retargeting is exactly the same. If you blast the visitor with an ad of the same item for an unlimited amount of times, it is unlikely you’ll make a sale.


Don’t Retarget Already Converted Customers

If they already purchased from you, don’t keep advertising to them! You’ll only frustrate them and lose a potential return customer or ambassador. You can use a burn code that will automatically untag users who have made a purchase on your site. By doing this, you also cut back on impressions being wasted on people who are already customers! If you plan on advertising to customers, at least make it relevant. Discounts, items they haven’t purchased, and invitations to loyalty programs are ideas for ads that will benefit you and the customer.


don't retarget existing customers

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash



Update your Ads Semi-Frequently

Click through rates decrease by almost 50% after five months of running the same ads. If a visitor sees the same ad for months at a time (see point #1), the ad starts to blend into the background and is forgotten by the visitor. Even if the products are the same, there are dozens of new ways to market it. Changing up the words, images, and design of an ad every couple months can make a great impact on the efficacy of the ad.


change up your ads when retargeting customers

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash



Create Marketing Funnels for Specific Ads

This method is rather simple. You place retargeting pixels on different parts of your website to determine what stage in the marketing funnel the visitor is in. Using this tactic, you can also create a sort of “portfolio” of choices for the visitor based on multiple page views. Did they look at the home page and leave? Maybe they should be shown less than the visitor who went to check out and decided last minute not to purchase. Making more educated decisions in retargeting advertisements is much more useful than blasting the visitor.


create marketing funnels for your retargeting campaigns

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


Finding ways to make retargeting more personal is the best way to run a retargeting campaign. Make the transaction more like, “I know what you may like based on your searches and you know a bit about what my website offers”. What is more effective –  repeatedly showing ads for the shirt a visitor looked at once or recognizing a pattern in searches and making an educated guess of what that user would actually purchase? I think the latter.


These are just a few of many ways to retarget your audience without being a creep! I wish you the best on your advertising journey, and we’re here to help you with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) whenever you’re ready.


Not interested in doing this yourself? We can help. Send me an email!



Chelsea Demastrie

Google Certified Advertising Specialist

chelsea demastrie




Leave a Reply