13 Advanced Retargeting Tips to Take Your ROI to the Next Level

Ehud Basis|

Advanced Retargeting Tips

Last month we added a new feature to the Outbrain Amplify dashboard that gives marketers more control over the ability to add third-party tags to any campaign. Now you can add the tags in this field on the campaign setup page:

Outbrain 3rd party tags

Third party tags, which you can learn more detail about here, can help to optimize your campaigns in a number of ways. For me, third party tags is exciting because it enables extremely easy retargeting setup. With the release of Outbrain Custom Audiences last year, retargeting visitors to your website throughout Outbrain’s premium network has helped thousands of customers round out their Google and Facebook retargeting strategies.

In honor of this much requested feature, I’d like to share 13 retargeting tips to take your digital marketing ROI to the next level.

1. Retarget readers of amplified earned media

We all know that getting great press coverage and positive third party reviews is one of the best ways for your business to grow, but it’s very difficult to scale. That is, until Outbrain introduced the ability to promote this earned media across our network of trusted premium publishers.

However, while this is a great way to make sure your company’s news doesn’t disappear with the 24 hour news cycle, it can still be difficult to reach the people who read this content, UNLESS you install a third party retargeting pixel that triggers when someone clicks on the content recommendation. This is exactly what the above feature enables. You’re not limited to retargeting people who visit your own content, but can actually reach people who have read your great press coverage!

2. Retarget by your Google paid and organic search results

Your retargeting message is only effective if it’s tailored to the audience you’re reaching. If someone visits your website with a specific search term, that shows a high level of intent. The next advertisement or piece of content you show them on Facebook, the Google Display Network, or Outbrain, should be something related to the search term.

The easiest way to do this is by creating a list of retargeted users per Ad Group subject by using the UTM parameter. For example, those who search “promote my youtube video” and click on our ad will visit this page:


Google search example

If they do not convert on that visit, we will serve them the following ad on Facebook:

Facebook video ad

And the following YouTube how-to article on Outbrain:

Outbrain YouTube article example

3. Retarget the people who spend more time on your site

Every business is going to be different, but by looking at your analytics you should have a good understanding of how much time someone spends on your site before they perform your desired conversion. For us it’s about five minutes, so we have a separate retargeting list for those who have spent four minutes on our site in one visit.

By that same token, don’t retarget those who have spent less than 10 seconds on your site, as they likely visited by accident or for a different reason than you desired.

4. Retarget by the number of visits to a specific page within a certain period of time

If someone visits our case study section more than one time within 10 days that’s a strong indication of their interest in using our product. We create a separate retargeting list for this visit behavior.

5. Use a coupon to retarget those who leave the checkout page

If someone makes it all the way down the funnel and leaves right before they decide to buy, their decision to leave most likely has to do with the price and is emotional in nature. Quickly serve them a coupon through retargeting to entice them back to buy. Be sure to demonstrate urgency by putting a time limit on the CTA (24 hours often works) — but try to tie the offer to a timely event like March Madness so the customer doesn’t necessarily connect the fact that they are seeing the ad because of their activity on your checkout page. Here’s an example of one of our Facebook ads.

March Madness Facebook Ad

6. Retarget by custom audience lists

One of biggest advancements in retargeting technology is the ability for you to upload a list of email addresses to your platform of choice and reach those specific people. So if you’re building your email list through your registration funnel or newsletter signup, you’re not limited to reaching these people through the inbox. Of course, different email types work better than others. For example, because we’re selling a B2B product, usually our lists that contain @workemail.com perform better than personal emails.

7. Retarget by your LinkedIn connections

This is a bit of a hack, but hey, you earned those connections, so if you’re retargeting needs a kickstart I recommend checking out the Linkedin export feature. Now you’ll think twice about accepting those connections from people you don’t know, right?

8. Cap your retargeting frequency and exclude people by IP

OK, so retargeting can obviously be annoying if it’s done too much. We don’t want to annoy or disrupt, so make sure to put a cap on how many ads one person can see. I recommend no more than two to three times a day. And of course, don’t forget to block your office’s IP address. Make a habit of checking with IT, as these can sometimes change. Unfortunately, only Google currently allows you to set the frequency and block certain IPs. Facebook and Outbrain do not yet have these retargeting features.

9. Bid less on homepage and non-converting page visitors

Usually, a truly interested buyer is going to go deeper than just the Homepage or About page, so make sure you’re not bidding the same for this type of visitor as someone who has thoroughly explored your product pages.

10. Retarget with a story by number of days

It’s important to think through the entire customer journey you want your visitors to take. We serve specific content and ads to people based on the how long ago they visited our website. For example, we use a specific set of creative between days zero to five. A new set of creative is used between days six to 10. Finally, another set is used between days 11-15. Be sure to continuously refresh this creative in these sequences as they are consumed. Refreshing your creative is especially critical on Facebook.

11. Retarget to converted customers for onboarding and upselling

Once someone converts, it doesn’t mean retargeting is done. You still want to reach them with relevant messages that will help them get more value out of your product through the onboarding process — or upsell them other products. Education is particularly important with more complex products. This will lead to a more valuable customer, so work with your customer success team to get budget and resources for this type of retargeting.

12. Retarget with content that solves problems

If you know a prospect or customer is struggling with a specific problem based on a page they visited on your Help Center, serve them a helpful “how to” blog post to move them along in the funnel. Again, educating them at exactly the right time is an extremely effective way of helping your audience, and retargeting is the ideal channel to accomplish this continued communication.

13. Retarget by the length of a customer’s subscription.

Let’s say you know someone buys an annual license to your product. Once the last month of their license comes you may want to target them with a few key messages to ensure they renew their subscription. Keep their list on pause for 11 months, and then flip the switch in the last month.

In conclusion

Now that you have full control over adding the third-party tags to your Outbrain campaigns, and you’re armed with these expert tips, I hope you’ll start working to improve your retargeting strategy. I would love to answer your questions, so please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments. But first, let’s review the 13 tactics I just covered.

  1. Retarget readers of amplified earned media
  2. Retarget by search results
  3. Retarget by time on site
  4. Retarget by number of visits
  5. Retarget by checkout page visits with a coupon
  6. Retarget by custom audiences
  7. Retarget by LinkedIn connections
  8. Cap by frequency and IP address
  9. Bid less for homepage visitors
  10. Retarget for onboarding and upselling
  11. Retarget with a story by number of days
  12. Retarget to solve problems
  13. Retarget by length of product license

Now, the questions…  lay them on me!

Ehud Basis

Ehud Basis

Ehud is a Senior Online Acquisition Manager at Outbrain. He previously led the PPC teams at Conduit and eTeacher, using his breadth of knowledge to analyze and optimize performance to achieve company goals. Ehud lives in Israel with his wife and 3-year-old son. He loves following the NBA.

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  • Penelope Jackson| September 20, 2017 at 3:03AM

    Thanks for such an educational article. Insightful and perspicacious. The 13 retargeting points are especially useful. I’ve used the services of Treepodia to great effect. Seen higher retention rates on site. Criteo and Adroll are useful options and I’ve also had some success with them. I’d be interested to hear other people’s opinions on this matter.