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Retargeting is a pretty big deal these days. In fact, AdRoll reports that over 80 percent of marketers ran retargeting ads last year.

And really, that’s no surprise.

As a business, there’s nothing quite so frustrating as a potential customer who comes to your site, pokes around a bit… and leaves. So, it’s natural that we would want to get our ads back in front of these people, hoping that they’ll come back and actually convert this time.

The only problem is, for our potential customers, there’s often nothing quite so frustrating as a poorly timed, overly pushed retargeting ad.

How do you fix this problem? How do you get those non-converting visitors to come back? How do you create retargeting campaigns that give your potential customers what they want, when they want it?

Retargeting: Are you doing it wrong?

If you’ve ever done any research into retargeting, you’ve probably read that 92 percent of your website’s first-time visitors aren’t ready to buy.

Isn’t that frustrating?

I mean, you spend a ton of time and money getting people interested enough to click on your ads. And then, instead of buying (like you know they want to), they just leave! It must have been temporary insanity, right? But, if you can just show them a few more ads, they should click and convert this time…

However, there’s a big problem with this line of thinking. Clearly, your ads and your landing page didn’t work the first time. Why would they work tomorrow instead?

The problem is, even on e-commerce sites, 58.6 percent of site visitors report that they abandon their cart because they aren’t ready to buy. In other words, the majority of your hard-won traffic is simply gathering research, just curious, or the result of an accidental click… you name it! Regardless of how they ended up on your site, most of your visitors aren’t ready to buy yet, and retargeting them with the same message won’t get them ready to buy.

So, what do you do about it? Give up on them? Hope that you can eke out a few extra conversions from the potential customers you didn’t convert the first time around?

That might help some, but the fact remains that most of your traffic was interested enough to click on your ad. Odds are, most of them are potential customers — they’re just not ready to buy yet. But, with the right retargeting approach, you can help them get ready to buy and ensure that you’ll be the company they choose once they’re ready.

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Nudging them along

Depending on your business, your ads, and what you’re selling, there are a lot of possible reasons why people don’t convert on your site. In most cases, though, those reasons boil down to three basic problems:

1. They have an unresolved concern

In many cases, your potential customers don’t convert because of some sort of unresolved concern. Maybe they feel that your price is fair, but it’s more than they can afford. Maybe they’re privacy-conscious and aren’t sure that what they’ll get from converting will be worth giving up their information. Maybe they feel that signing up will take too long.

If many of your potential customers are hesitating because of an unresolved concern, a smart retargeting campaign can be a great way to help people feel comfortable converting.

For example, most people shy away from building a website because they think it will take too much time and effort. Wix is a website builder, and to help alleviate any concerns their potential customers have about building a site with Wix, the company runs a retargeting campaign that shows how easy it is to create a site using their builder:

The video itself is nicely done, but what really makes this campaign shine is the message: if you use Wix, you can quickly build the website of your dreams.

2. They think they can get a better deal

Sometimes, people want to buy, but they think they can get a better deal on what you’re selling. Let’s be honest, unless you’re selling a one-of-a-kind product, you’re competing with the internet. It’s easy to price shop online, and most people will look around a bit to see if they can’t get what you’re selling at a better price.

If price is a sticking point for your potential customers, offering a discount is one of the best ways to nudge people down your funnel. By adding a little urgency (“Deal Expires July 15th”) or an exclusive offer (“15% Off if You Like Us on Facebook”), you can help people feel that they are getting a deal and motivate them to act sooner, rather than later.

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For example, take a look at this ad from Cabela’s:

If you’re looking to buy something Cabela’s has to sell, this ad does a great job motivating you to buy now!

3. They have multiple needs

At times, people don’t convert or make a purchase because your offer is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. They need a phone… but they also need a cover. They need an oil change… but they also need their brakes checked, and their tires inflated, and a headlight replaced, and… you get the idea.

Even if they like what you’re selling, they still have to get all of the other pieces in place before they’ll pull the trigger.

Fortunately, this is a problem you can help solve, especially if you also happen to provide all the other things they need, too. Clothing companies use this tactic all the time by showing the product you liked along with several complimentary accessories:

This sort of approach simultaneously resolves a concern and upsells the customer. Not too shabby, eh?

Even if you aren’t selling clothes, if you can create a retargeting campaign that addresses the bigger picture that your customer is struggling with and offers solutions, you can help nudge them towards conversion.


If you really want to get the most out of your retargeting, you can’t just show the same message and hope it works better the second time around. Effective retargeting is more than just repeating yourself to a potential customer.

To turn the segment of your site visitors who aren’t ready to buy today into paying customers, you have to understand their potential concerns and create retargeting campaigns that gently nudge them through your buying cycle. It takes a bit more thought, creativity and patience, but ultimately, the results will be worth it.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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