Search & Site Retargeting: 7 Steps for Creating a Successful Campaign

Published: July 1, 2015  by 

BigWing Blog Featured Images (2)Have you ever been surfing the web and seen a banner ad for a product you recently searched for or a branded website you’ve recently visited? This didn’t happen by coincidence, you’ve been retargeted.

Search & site retargeting allows businesses to target users who have expressed an interest in your product. Whether a user has searched for similar products/services, such as your own, online or browsed your website directly, you can use these mediums to capture conversions and increase your ROI.

Search retargeting enables an advertiser to target individuals, based on the searches they perform across multiple search engines, such as Google, Yahoo & Bing. This lets the advertiser to speak directly to the needs or interests of the targeted customer, based on the exact keywords they have searched.

Site retargeting grants the website the ability to target users who have already visited your website. You can choose which page(s) within your site to use for your campaign. After the visitor leaves your site you can target them with your ads as they browse the web.

Retargeting opens up the opportunity to bring potential customers back to your site and also promotes brand awareness.

1. Determine a CPM Bid

Retargeting campaigns use the CPM (cost-per-thousand) bidding system, which is a maximum dollar bid of what you are willing to pay for 1,000 impressions. CPMs vary by niche markets and are best for delivering specific messages or heightening brand awareness. Increased bids typically show your ad higher & more often on a page.

I’ve found that the average CPM bid amongst several general markets is $3-$6. If you are running a search retargeting campaign, it’s important to use a retargeting platform that can report on individual keywords costs, so that you can optimize your bids to show for the most relevant search terms for your campaign.


2. Set Impression Goals

An impression goal is the number of times the ads in your campaign will be shown across the internet. It’s important that you choose a retargeting platform that can provide an estimate of available internet traffic for your niche for your targeted geographical location. Search retargeting impressions will vary by location and on the keywords you choose.

Impressions for site retargeting campaigns should depend on how much traffic exists for your website and/or landing pages that you are targeting. Various paid resources exist for measuring site traffic and impressions. If you decide to run a search & site campaigns in tandem, I suggest running a 90(search)/10(site) impression split.

Once you have your impression traffic estimate, you then should decide what percent of those impressions you would like to buy. In my experience, buying into 10%-30% of these impressions provides a healthy ad space for most campaigns. An example of this would look like the following:

  • Available impressions for Seafood Restaurants in Oklahoma City: 1,000,000
  • Impressions buy-in: 10% – 100,000 impressions
  • 20% – 200,000 impressions
  • 30% – 300,000 impressions


3. Calculate Your Retargeting Budget

Setting a budget for your campaign is something that you may have already established due to monetary limitations; however for those who have the flexibility, setting your budget is the next step in building a campaign.

Now that you understand the bidding system & and how to set impression goals, you can calculate your budget by dividing your impressions goal by 1,000 and multiplying it by your bid (CPM).

Here is an example:

  • Seafood Restaurants in Oklahoma City: 1,000,000 available impressions
  • 10% Buy-in: 100,000 impressions
  • $4CPM
  • 100,000 buy-in /1000 (impression set) = 100 CPM shares 100 CPM Shares x $4 = $400


4. Choose Your Keywords

Choosing relevant keywords is the foundation of a successful search retargeting campaign. Keywords may be relevant to several different types of industries and businesses, so keep the user’s intent in mind when choosing them for your campaign. Remember, the number of keywords you choose won’t necessarily make your campaign better, but you will want to do expand your keyword list as much as possible.

The use of contextual keywords can be quite effective in rendering well qualified traffic. The practice allows sites – outside of large social networks and advertising sites – that share similar customers and interests to exchange pixels or cookies. This means that if a visitor to one site leaves and lands upon the other, the advertisement for the original site is displayed to that site’s audience. You’ve placed a highly targeted ad without spending a lot of extra money; everyone wins.

5. Select Ads That Make Sense

Choosing your ad creatives is one of the most important parts of running a successful campaign. The ads you choose are the front facing aspect of your campaign and are what influences the user to take action. Choose ads with a strong call to action and clear brand messaging.

The most common ad sizes are 300×250, 728×90, 300×60, 120×600, 160×600 and 320×100. There are a variety of other effective ad sizes available, but these sizes have proven the most effective.


6. Link to a Relevant Landing Page

Landing pages, like the ad creatives, should have a clear message and strong call to action.

Remember, the landing page you choose is the backbone to every search and site retargeting campaign. Yes, a user may have clicked on your banner ad or video, but if you don’t bring them to a relevant landing page where they can convert, you will have nothing more than a click with no ROI.

7. Choose the Right Locations

Choosing the right geo-locations is crucial in making sure that your impressions are being delivered optimally. Most retargeting platforms allow you to target locations by radius, zip code, or metro areas. If you target too broad of an area, you risk serving impressions to users who are unlikely to convert.

However, if your target is too narrow you may miss the opportunity to extend your message to interested and available users. Take some time and research where your sales market is located and set your attention to those areas.


Retargeting Success


A successful retargeting campaign is continually optimized after setup.

It is important that you choose use a vendor platform that allows reporting on the constituent parts that make up the campaign. Keyword performance, domain placements, and hourly performance reports are key indicators of how your campaign in performing. With good reporting you should be able to interpret data and make changes that will increase your campaigns overall success.

Remember – successful campaigns may not be born overnight – give yourself at least 30 days to gauge performance; eventually you will begin to see an increase in CTR’s and ROI.