How to Build an Effective Retargeting Strategy

graphic showing woman looking at an ad, amongst other ads, to illustrate retargeting

A retargeting strategy is an essential piece of your media plan. With retargeting, you can deliver online ads to a user based on their previous intent-based actions on the web. It’s an important tactic for moving users down the funnel to conversion, or another desired action.

To create a really successful retargeting strategy, you’ll want to include retargeting as part of your multi-step media plan that uses different channels and messaging to achieve your campaign goals.

How a Retargeting Strategy Works

Retargeting allows you to re-engage a user that has shown interest in your brand or product. To create a successful retargeting strategy, you’ll first need to identify where in the funnel a user should be when they are served a follow-up ad.

In some cases, it may be at the top of the funnel, when a user has just been introduced to your brand. Or, it may make sense to retarget when they are in the middle of the funnel, in the consideration stage, once they are familiar with the brand and continuing to explore your product or service. 

Once the correlation between a user’s action and their position in the funnel is assigned, you can set up retargeting to issue an ad that is relevant for the user to take the next step towards conversion. There are many approaches to retargeting and each strategy will provide valuable insights and methods to engage your audience. 

Types of Retargeting Strategies

There are various strategies you can use to retarget users. To be as effective as possible, you’ll want to use a strategy that aligns with the goals of your campaign. Here are some common retargeting strategies that you can consider.

1. Site Retargeting

Site retargeting is one of the basic types of retargeting that is easy to implement with any campaign. You can leverage site retargeting by placing a pixel on a website or landing page to create an audience of users who have visited or interacted with the site. Then, tailor the next message that you deliver to them to act as a follow up to their exposure to the brand—or to remind them of the brand. 

This strategy often retargets users that have visited your landing page but did not complete the form fill, users who shopped on the site but did not purchase, or users who added product to a cart but did not complete their order.

2. Engagement Retargeting

Similar to site retargeting, engagement retargeting allows you to deliver messaging based on a series of actions on a site, landing page, or social page. This strategy is especially useful for CPG clients because it determines whether a user is an engaged visitor to the site. From there, you can craft your follow-up messaging accordingly, to remind them of what they had previously interacted with. 

Engagement retargeting can be done by creating an audience pool of users who spend a certain amount of time on the site, download recipes, look for where to buy a product, or other similar actions.

3. Impression Retargeting

Impression retargeting enables you to retarget anyone who has been served an impression, which means they saw a programmatic ad but did not necessarily engage with it. You will build a pool of users who have been served impressions and retarget them with other messaging on a different platform, using an image pixel. This allows you to increase reach across your marketing mix. 

4. Listen/View Retargeting

If your marketing plan includes awareness tactics, listen or view retargeting is a valuable strategy. Audio, video, and connected TV (CTV) campaigns allow you to collect audiences that have listened or viewed 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of your content. These user pools can then be used to deliver the next message in your marketing plan depending on how much they engaged with your awareness content. 

5. Click Retargeting

With click retargeting you can compile an audience based on users who have clicked on an ad, and then re-engage them with another message and strong call to action (CTA). The click from a user is a qualifying indicator of interest in the brand, product or service.

You can also exclude those who have completed your desired action which allows you to even further qualify your click retargeting audience as those who need further messaging to push them towards conversion. 

Retargeting is typically a lower funnel tactic, and so native and display are common channels to use for retargeted ads. For example, with HTML5 display ads, you can provide custom content related to what a user has previously seen.

And with programmatic, display ads will provide good conversion data to support performance. Depending on your messaging and how you are looking to use the retargeted audience, there could be a case to use other channels, like CTV or programmatic audio, as well. 

Retargeting is typically used to support conversion campaigns since it is intended to move customers through the marketing journey. But you can experiment with it. For example, try using engagement retargeting to further engage your audience and provide them with offers or messaging that can drive interest towards brand loyalty and increased engagement.

Dynamic Retargeting for E-Commerce

Dynamic retargeting is a strategy that is particularly useful for e-commerce brands. It allows you to serve ads to a user featuring the most recent product page they’ve visited. You’re able to serve a native or display ad that contains the exact item a user viewed on your website, or custom messaging based on that product’s headline or body copy. This reminds users of the product they’ve shown interest in throughout their online journey. 

This strategy is different from standard retargeting where generic ads are served to users who have visited your site. Standard retargeting ads remind the user of your brand message, while a dynamic retargeting ad reminds the user of the exact item they were looking at.

Since dynamic retargeting ads will vary depending on the item the user viewed, the ads will look slightly different to provide a unique and personalized experience.

For e-commerce brands, dynamic retargeting can lower abandoned cart rates and keep the brand and product top of mind for the user who has yet to convert. Or, use dynamic retargeting  as a re-engagement customer strategy for customers who have previously converted. 

Get Started With Retargeting 

To get started with a retargeting strategy, you’ll want to determine your overall marketing goal and budget. Knowing your goal and budget will help you identify which channels are right for your plan and where you will see success based on your budget.

Once you have chosen your channels, make sure you have at minimum a prospecting line and a retargeting line. Prospecting is important because it helps to fill your retargeting pool by driving awareness. Finally, decide what actions will result in a user being served a retargeted ad, and what the follow up messaging will be.

Introducing retargeting into your digital media plan will help to drive engagement and conversions. With a strong retargeting strategy, you can ensure your campaign performs by communicating a strong call to action to your qualified users.

Want to build an effective retargeting strategy? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

Jessica Uttley
Jessica Uttley

Senior Director of Creative Services


Jessica is passionate about helping brands get the biggest bang for their media buck by utilizing innovative and data-driven ad design. She is a keen and rapid learner, thriving on challenges that call for fast, creative solutions.