Social Media Retargeting: Pros, Cons & Solutions

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If you’ve ever wondered how your smartphone or laptop magically “knows” you were in the market for camping gear or new deodorant after researching those terms online, that’s retargeting.

Retargeting is a smart marketing tool that promotes efficient conversion through targeting selective groups of consumers based on their web searches and other internet actions. Setting up retargeting on social media platforms through relevant banner ads or ad posts to potential customers’ feeds has become an essential digital marketing tool. After all, 1 in every 5 minutes people in the US are on their social media accounts. That’s a lot of landscape ripe for planting retargeting seeds. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of retargeting, the pros, the cons and some quick-win solutions to get you started today.

How does Retargeting Work? 

There are two types of retargeting: Cookie Targeting + IP Targeting.

Cookie Retargeting works by using a pixel, or line of code, within your webpage. Everytime someone visits your site, the invisible pixel places a cookie, or stored piece of data, into their browser, and begins tracking and targeting them with tailored ads. The results? Website visitors are 70% more likely to convert on a retailer’s website after being retargeted with a display ad.

You can also use IP Targeting, which follows the same concept, but targets ads based on location using IP addresses. This is useful for geo-targeting both households (B2C) and networks of business computers (B2B). Since every computer has an IP address, there’s no way to miss your target. This kind of customization can be very economical for your business when you compare traditional advertising costs to the smart marketing of retargeting.

Social Media Retargeting: The Pros


If your ad repeatedly shows up within relevant user profiles who have either searched for your specific product or a parallel product, the likelihood of conversion increases as they not only are already potential shoppers for that product, they will more likely choose your company over competitors thanks to brand recognition.


If a user was browsing your site but gets distracted, a retargeted ad within their social media feed could be the gentle reminder they need, nudging them to revisit your site and make the purchase. Not to mention that “92% of consumers visiting a retailer's website for the first time aren't there to buy,” according to PR Newswire. They’re likely on your site to research, watch, listen and eventually buy. Thus, retargeting promotes increased return rates.


By integrating retargeting into your marketing plan, you’re spending your money smarter by focusing on already-interested, relevant users that could become potential customers, so you get more bang for your buck and greater ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). The customers you’re marketing to are much lower down--warmer--in the marketing funnel and much more likely to convert.

Social Media Retargeting- Pros, Cons and Solutions

Social Media Retargeting: The Cons


Many online shoppers feel that retargeting is an invasion of their privacy and creates a feeling of being “spied” on. While many consumers are fairly neutral, 34.8% of consumers are “somewhat concerned” and 18.87% of consumers are “very concerned” about seeing retargeted ads.


Improper management and distribution of your ads could feel like aggressive and non exclusive advertising. This essentially pesters your potential customers, leading to opting out, zero conversion, and possibly even a cold complaint email.


If you don’t retarget wisely, such as not segmenting your various bucket groups, you may be spending your money on consumers that have already converted. This is not only ineffective but could seem less personal to your already-loyal customer.

Social Media Retargeting: Quick Win Solutions


A potential customer who was browsing your site a month ago is a “colder” lead than a “warmer” lead on your site 3 days ago. Therefore, it’s important to segment your targets to show users you’re paying attention. This also means curating different copy in each of your ads, based on the segment. Your repeat customers, one-time buyers, one-time site visitors a month ago, and one-time site visitors 72 hours ago should all be different segments and thus different ads with different language.


Including a discount in your retargeted ad on social media provides a feeling of exclusivity and urgency for the user to purchase. This motivation could be the difference between you and a competitor, especially if they’ve already been shopping around and the deal is the motivation they need to convert. Being the brand to provide the bargain could mean winning the sale.


Avoid pestering customers and avoid costly ad inefficiency by including a burn pixel within your customer’s purchase confirmation email or similar communication. This takes them out of the segment that will be on your retargeted ad list.


Digital marketing guru, Neil Patel, offers a great retargeting guide with examples, including these top three strategies:

  1. Retarget specific URL visits
  2. Retarget existing customers
  3. Lead-gen ads based on page engagement

Having branded ads with relevant offers pop up repetitively (but not too much in a single day) to your segmented targets’ profiles can create a bond with those users, along with very strong brand recognition.

According to SmallBizGenius, “it takes 5 to 7 impressions before people remember a brand.” That 5 to 7 times that your ad pops up in their social media feed over the course of a week could create the brand recognition and website return rates social media retargeting is known for in digital marketing.

Written by Guidance
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