HomeBlog7 Super-Creative, Crazy-Effective Retargeting Ad Ideas

7 Super-Creative, Crazy-Effective Retargeting Ad Ideas

Author: Erin Sagin
Last Updated: December 1, 2023 | Display Ads

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There’s no doubt about it, remarketing is pretty darn impactful. It gives you the opportunity to show ads to a perfectly primed audience—people who have already visited your site—and nurture them into completing a conversion or coming back to make another purchase. On average, retargeting ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than a regular old display ad.

That said, I’ve noticed that far too many advertisers are failing to make the most of this unique opportunity. Rather than simply reusing eye-catching image ads that you’ve designed for your standard display campaigns, you should go the extra mile to craft creative ads to connect specifically with your retargeting audience. With just a little more attention to detail, you can get even more leverage from retargeting ads on Google or Facebook.

Not sure how to go about creating crazy-effective retargeting ads? Check out these tips to get more out of your retargeting campaigns.

Creative Retargeting Ad Tip #1: Use Copy to Combat Sales Objections

Many of us use image ads to familiarize people with our brand. We know that the users we are targeting on the Display Network or social media platforms are unlikely to click through to our landing pages, so we create basic ads featuring our tagline and primary brand assets with the hope that it will make an impression on the viewer.

Your remarketing audience already knows who you are, so there’s no sense in showing them generic, introductory ads. Remember, these people were on your site, but they didn’t follow through with a purchase. Use this as an opportunity to address their hesitations and convince them to come back and convert.

hubspot ad addressing objections

HubSpot executed this tactic flawlessly in the Facebook retargeting ad above. Rather than stamping the image with their big, orange logo that I’ve already seen umpteen times, they used the imagery and copy to address a common objection. They know that one of the main reasons time-strapped, SMB advertisers are hesitant to purchase their CRM tool is because they’re concerned that it will take forever to set up. Their ad copy quells this fear by addressing this directly and reassuring the advertiser that, not only does it take only 25 seconds to set up, it will also save them time in the long run. The image of the timer reiterates the message.

Not sure what objections you should be addressing? That’s the easy part. Start by hitting up your sales team. Since they’re “on the front lines,” they should know exactly what prospects’ most common initial hesitations are. If your sales are made strictly electronically, you can also try surveying your non-converters to better assess their reasons for cancelling. It’s also worthwhile to dig through your online reviews for helpful nuggets!

Creative Retargeting Ad Tip #2: Showcase Products You Know They’re Interested In

The internet is the perfect place to do a little window shopping. I know that I, personally, spend a ton of time on designer clothing sites with no intention of actually making a purchase. I just like to peruse their latest lines and check out trends that will likely be appearing at my local Forever 21 sometime in the next few months.

Inevitably, I always seem to fall in love a few new styles and linger on the product pages for a while, contemplating whether I can scrimp on food for a month or tap into my savings, before reason prevails and I abandon the page.

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Lately, however, advertisers have caught on to my behavior and begun utilizing Dynamic Remarketing to lure me right back to their site. This feature automatically creates ads that feature the products that I viewed during my last site visit. They’re incredibly effective, as they remind me just how much I loved the product in the first place and tempt me to return and convert.

dynamic remarketing ad

As you can see in the Google remarketing ad example above, ShopBop not only shows me the dresses it knows I’ve been scoping out, it also rotates enticing offers in the upper right hand corner— “free shipping both ways” and “save up to 25% using the code INTHEFAM.” This one-two-punch produces an ad that’s tough to avoid. Check out this post to learn how to set up a dynamic remarketing ad campaign.

Creative Retargeting Ad Tip #3: Push Them to Take the Plunge Using Urgency

Armed with a credit card and an internet connection, I can be pretty dangerous. Travel sites definitely get me into the most travel. I practically troll SkyScanner, Airfare Watchdog, AirBnb and the like, perpetually planning my next vacation. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve overbooked myself so much that I’m running low on PTO/travel cash, so I’ve been trying to exercise more restraint.

I’m sorry to report that it hasn’t been going too well. Since I’m still spending plenty of time perusing my go-to travel sites, I’m getting a ton of remarketing ads. I’ve obediently ignored most of them, but the ones that I really can’t resist read line the Expedia ad below.

expedia last minute ad

Do you see what they’ve done to hook me? The copy incites FOMO (fear of missing out) that I just can’t shake. Reading “last minute deals” and recognizing that I need to make a decision quickly spurs me to take the plunge.

ad customizers

This tried and true tactic works wonders on both click-through rates and conversion rates. The easiest way to invoke this FOMO in your remarketing audience is to take advantage of ad customizers. These are simply short snippets of codes that will dynamically insert countdowns in your ads.

j. crew ad with clock


merrill edge ad with hourglass

Both J. Crew and Merrill Edge takes this strategy one step further by coupling their copy with clever imagery. There’s nothing better than a ticking clock or depleting hourglass to instill a little anxiety in your prospects and drive your message home. Believe me, it works (I’ve got the credit card statements to prove it!).

Creative Retargeting Ad Tip #4: Offer Discounts Codes and Coupons

When I was a kid, comparison shopping meant hours upon hours of my mother dragging me through the mall checking prices for the same pair of shoes at every department store my hometown had to offer. Oftentimes, we’d lose steam halfway through and give in and buy the shoes wherever we’d landed up.

The advent of the internet has drastically changed this behavior. Comparison shopping is easy nowadays; you can bounce from site to site and find the desired product with pricing information in seconds. This is troubling for advertisers who work tirelessly to introduce people to their product. A prospective customer may land on your site and love your products, but neglect to follow through with the purchase because they want to shop around first. The moment they leave your site, you risk losing them all together. They may find a more appealing offer on a competitor’s site or get distracted and fail to make any purchases at all.

The best way to mitigate this risk is to intercept these prospects with remarketing ads that up the ante. Sometimes all it takes is a discount or special offer to sweeten the deal and reignite their interest in you and your products.

cosmopolitan ad with discount

As you can see in the example above, the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Vegas has this strategy down pat. Earlier this month, I perused their site while I was scouting venues for my friend’s bachelorette party. As enticing as the Cosmopolitan was, it was far outside of our price range, so I held off on booking it and started scoping out cheaper options.

Before I knew it, The Cosmo’s remarketing ads began appearing in my Facebook feed, promoting a pretty cool deal: $150 toward food and drink at the resort. Granted, this will only cover a meal and a few drinks, but it was the extra incentive I needed to book the hotel. I already wanted to stay there, I just needed a little nudge to follow through!

Creative Retargeting Ad Tip #5: Encourage Cart Abandoners to Complete the Check-Out Process

According to Forrester’s latest report on shopping cart abandonment, 88% of web buyers say that they’ve ditched their online carts before completing a transaction. Even worse, 70% of these carts were abandoned just before the order was completed. Reading stats like these is incredibly painful for advertisers. We’ve done everything right—captured a qualified visitor, led them to a targeted landing page and showed them products that were so aligned with their needs that they went so far as to add them to their shopping cart—they just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

best buy ad featuring abandoned cart

You’ve already invested so much in these prospects; don’t let them forget about you! Instead, take a page out of Best Buy’s book and remind them that they never actually completed the check-out process. Sometimes this gentle reminder is all it takes to convince them to come back and convert!

Creative Remarketing Ad Tip #6: Show Complementary Products to Cross-Sell to Existing Customers

Just because a prospect converts, doesn’t mean the party’s over. Instead of simply excluding these groups from your remarketing efforts, try targeting them with different sets of ads to sell them products to complement their original purchase.

best buy ad featuring phone case

For example, if I purchase an iPhone at Best Buy, there’s a low likelihood that I’ll be returning to buy another smartphone anytime soon, so there’s no sense in continuing to show me ads featuring iPhones. However, it IS likely that I’ll be purchasing a case to protect my beautiful new phone. So, Best Buy very astutely is prompting me to buy an OtterBox Defender case.

buy a cell phone, receive a plastic surgery discount

If you decide to go this route, make sure you take the time to understand what products your customers frequently purchase together, so you can present an offer that truly makes sense for them. If the products aren’t truly complementary to one another, your ads will fall short. For example, one of my friends recently shared the post above—he bought a new phone at the mall and, upon check-out, he was offered a coupon for a plastic surgery discount. Probably not the wisest cross-sell combo!

Creative Retargeting Ad Tip #7: Remind Past Buyers How Much They Love Your Brand

For many businesses, the same customer can convert multiple times. In fact, happy customers are your easiest targets! They already know and trust your brand, so they typically require less coaxing than a new lead. If you’re using remarketing to connect with these customers, be smart about your copy. There are several creative ways you can go about doing this.

modcloth ad featuring new arrivals

It’s wise to remind fans how much they love your brand, but this is rarely enough to compel them to click. Drive them back to your site by featuring a clear call-to-action in your ad text. As you can see in the example above, ModCloth uses remarketing ads to notify fans when new arrivals have been posted to their site, encouraging them to head back and view the new products.

If your company provides recurring services, leverage remarketing ads to remind customers to schedule future appointments. For example, consider a salon that offers online booking for hair coloring appointments. It could set up a remarketing campaign to display ads reminding these customers to book appointments every few weeks to get their roots touched up.

Go Forth and Retarget!

I hope that this list inspires you to craft more creative retarketing ads. Remember, the more customized they are to your audience, the more impactful they will be. Have any brilliant design tips you recommend for remarketing ads? Feel free to share them in the comment section below!

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Meet The Author

Erin Sagin

Erin Sagin worked at WordStream for five years with roles in Customer Success and Marketing. She lives in California.

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