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 for any ecommerce business. 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. Every time 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? A website visitor is  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, they will more likely choose your company over competitors thanks to brand recognition. A social media retargeting campaign can help increase brand awareness. With more brand awareness, the likelihood of conversion increases since customers are more likely to purchase from brands they are familiar with or have seen before.


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, a retargeting ad campaign promotes increased return rates.


By integrating retargeting into your social media 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 & 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 a social media site 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.

Social Media Retargeting: Navigating the Changing Landscape of iOS14

In an attempt to quell the growing fears around privacy breaches and data sharing, Apple included one very relevant update in its latest software, iOS 14. Not only will users be able to opt out of ad tracking, but they’ll actually have to opt in. 

Where tracking preferences were once hidden in a maze of settings, they’ll now pop up front and center, asking users to choose between two options: Ask App not to Track and Allow.

When the choice is presented so plainly and clearly, many advertisers fear that users will almost certainly select the option that preserves their privacy. Of all the pros and cons of advertising on social networks, this seems like a definitive con. However, this pop-up only seems to appear when users redownload an app with ad tracking (like Facebook), plus it’s impossible to know whether users will actually opt out or simply accept the notification without a second thought.

If you’d rather not leave it up to chance, there are ways to lessen the blow of iOS 14. For starters, you can segment your audience to specifically include Android devices only, as they have no such update for you to worry about. 

As for advertising on Facebook, their new tool Conversions API provides alternative tracking solutions that aren’t inhibited by the iOS update. However, Facebook will only gather data for eight Facebook events and conversions, so take some time to determine your top priorities.

Check Them Out: Two Brands with Social Media Strategies That Work


Anastasia Beverly Hills: Harnessing the Power of Instagram Viral Marketing

With the growing interactivity between brands and buyers on social media, Instagram has become a place to not only share but also find new content. By launching campaigns with branded hashtags (#ABHBrows, for one), Anastasia has been able to reach the audiences of their existing customers, build brand loyalty, boost engagement with new and old followers alike, and generate free customer-created content to re-share and repurpose as needed.

They took it one step further with their integrated “Shop the Look” feature on their website. Their homepage and other relevant pages now showcase a feed of Instagram images using their branded hashtags, allowing users to click the photos and instantly add the featured products to their cart or jump to the product detail page for more information. 

Scuf Gaming: Exporting Consumer Customizations to the Social Media Sphere

One of Scuf’s strategies, much like Anastasia’s, was to get their customers to advertise for them. In this case, they created a customization tool for their online gaming controllers, then implemented a simple share function that encourages users to post their personalized design to their social media. 

This shareable link automatically creates a snapshot image of their custom controller. When users post these to their social media accounts, they expose their followers to Scuf’s unique offering and build an integrated community of gamers. 

Written by Guidance
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