Social Media Retargeting

Building familiarity with retargeting ads

Retargeting ads are the bread and butter of SaaS marketing — basically showing social media ads to people who have visited your website before.

Retargeting is powerful for two reasons.

First, you start with a list of customers that have already displayed some kind of intent with your product. Therefore their interest level is higher than that of customers that haven’t heard of you before, and more customers from a retargeting list will find your ad interesting and will click on it.

Second, seeing ads repeatedly builds familiarity. For someone who has been on your website before, seeing your ad can remind them about that webinar you talked about in your blog, or the free trial that would be just enough to accomplish a work task.

Why retargeting ads are “cheaper” than regular ads on the same platform

Well, technically they aren’t cheaper per impression. Your ads will still compete with other people’s ads for placement, and unless you change the targeting the price per impression will likely be the same.

However, now that you are showing the ads to people who have already visited your website, so know what your SaaS is about, the same amount of impressions will get you more clicks and conversions. The cost per conversion will go down dramatically compared to “cold” traffic.

So if you are paying $20 per conversion, on regular ad campaigns, the retargeting campaigns can generate conversions at $2 or $3.

How retargeting works

To set up a retargeting campaign you need a way to identify specific people you want to market to on a social network. The most common way to get this is to set up a tracking pixel that the social platform provides

The Facebook pixel, for example, fires a request to Facebook every time someone who is a Facebook user visits your website. There are almost 2 billion users of Facebook, so there is a high chance that your website visitor is on Facebook. If your visitor is indeed a Facebook user they will get added to a list which you can later use for ad campaigns. The Twitter website tag and the LinkedIn Insight Tag work the same way.

Once you have a list of people who have visited your website before you can market directly to them. You can also use that list to generate other lists of people with similar interests — for example via Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences.

Retargeting and GDPR

Running retargeting campaigns is generally OK for GDPR, provided that:

  • You have a cookie disclaimer on your website that allows website visitors to decline the cookies.

  • You are not building lists without explicit authorization, for example by scraping websites for email addresses or by copying the email addresses from your business cards.

Building retargeting audiences from existing customer lists

All major social platforms allow you to upload your customer email addresses which they will match with people’s social profiles on their side. You might want to segment your retargeting audiences, for example have one for everyone who signed up for a free trial but didn’t convert to a paid plan, one for people that you’re trying to push to a higher-cost tier, and one for website visitors that haven’t signed up yet.

Multi-channel retargeting

It’s totally fine (and a good idea) to have multiple retargeting pixels from different social platforms on your website. Going overboard on those (say 20+) might slow down your landing page, but if you do it reasonably you can be building retargeting audiences on multiple social platforms at once. This in turn allows you to show the same ads to the same people on many websites and increases your chances of getting noticed.