The year was 1994, Modern Media designed an ad for AT&T and placed it on hotwired.com (now known as Wired.com) and people went crazy for it. The display ad took visitors to a virtual tour of seven of the world’s finest art museums, which showed people how AT&T could transport them to any location via the internet.
The ad went viral with a click-through rate of 44%.
What kind of ad do you imagine this was? Surely, it had a persuasive headline and a contrasting CTA button.
Well, not exactly.
Here’s what the ad really looked like:
There’s no logo, no relevant headline, no CTA button — nothing. It’s safe to say that the ad is not optimized for click-throughs when it comes to ad optimization best practices.
And yet the ad still had a click-through rate of 44%. So, what exactly happened here?
This seemingly bland ad charmed its way into visitors’ hearts because it was something new.
Marketers today don’t have this luxury.
There was no concept of banner blindness in 1994. This came much later when display ads took over web pages.
It’s much harder to get a click on your display ads nowadays, which is particularly the case for remarketing ads.
What are remarketing ads?
Remarketing or retargeting ads have one primary purpose — get visitors who have abandoned your website or landing page without performing an action to come back and finish what they started.
Remarketing ensures that even after visitors leave a web page, your brand stays on their mind, and when the time is right for them, they come back and click the CTA button.
Getting potential customers to click on your ads is already challenging as there’s competition for every inch of advertising space on web pages.
Today we’re going to discuss what kind of remarketing ads you should create to get a click, demonstrated by real examples. We’ll also show you how to set up your retargeting campaigns at the end of the post.
Characteristics of optimized retargeting ads
Any ad that gets clicked is an ad that has been created keeping user experience in mind. Because only when you create optimized retargeting ads can you expect to get clicks.
All optimized retargeting ads must possess the following characteristics:
1. Take care of frequency
How frequently your ad shows up on your visitor’s screen plays a significant role on your click through rate. Show the ad too often and you will be like that annoying sales person who is too aggressive trying to sell you something too soon.
Just because your visitor landed on your landing page or website for a couple of seconds, doesn’t mean that they should be bombarded with retargeting ads the moment they leave.
This is what Form Analytics does.
I spent about three seconds on their website and the moment I left the ad below started following me everywhere — from Forbes’ website to TechCrunch:
And because I was served ads so soon and so frequently, I felt hounded and wasn’t persuaded to click the call to action button on their landing page.
Inskin Media conducted a study on retargeting ads, which proved that more frequently ads are shown, the more they annoy visitors:
The bottom line is this: Don’t be pushy with your retargeting campaigns or you run the risk of losing a potential customer altogether. Show the right number of ads to the right visitors at the right time.
2. Make your ads customer-centric
You start retargeting campaigns with the purpose of supplying visitors with information about your service. While this is true focusing on your brand when crafting copy for the ad is a big no-no.
Make your ads customer-centric, focus on the benefits your offer is going to provide potential customers instead of just talking about some new updated feature you have available.
A good example to follow is Autopilot and their Facebook ad. It lets the visitor know that using the service is easy and that their plans are affordable, starting at $4 per month:
The customer centric-copy gives visitors the motivation to go ahead and click.
3. Rotate your ads
Getting a click on your ad becomes difficult if you repeatedly show similar looking ads to visitors.
This is when inattentional blindness takes over.
Users don’t notice your ads because they’ve seen them so often that they consider them to be a part of the page background. This essentially means that your ads no longer visually stimulate your visitors — no visual stimulation means no CTA click.
Rotate creative between your remarketing ads and get your visitors to take notice, like Treehouse does with their ads.
This is the first remarketing ad I saw on TechCrunch:
The ad is a customer testimonial, with an image of a happy customer, it also has a CTA button and their logo.
This is the second ad I saw:
Not only is the ad’s color different, but this one has a headline that explains what Treehouse does, the graphic is a dashboard of sorts, and there’s a CTA button that promises a free trial.
This is the third remarketing ad:
Though this is not a direct customer quote, the ad resembles the theme of the first ad since they’re explaining their service from a customer’s perspective.
We’re still unsure if this is a customer testimonial, but this ad includes a smiling guy featured on a different colored background – once again providing another ad variation to visitors:
Then I saw Bryan again:
The ad has the same image as ad number three, but the headline is different.
And since I saw so many different ads, Treehouse convinced me to take notice and revisit their website.
Segment your audience
Segmenting your audience for your remarketing campaigns is crucial because if you don’t show the right user the right ad they may never convert. This is why it’s important to know where they are in your marketing funnel and direct remarketing ads to them.
Instapage creates different ads for various audience segments.
For example, these are the remarketing ads shown to visitors who have visited the Instapage website within the last six days and haven’t yet upgraded:
Instapage also shows remarketing ads to customers who signed up for an account between 23 to 30 days ago. We do this by excluding all paying users and all signups in the last 23 days while including all signups within last 30 days.
This is an ad shown to this audience segment:
Here’s another ad shown to the same segment of visitors whose trial is about to expire:
Instapage also invests in video retargeting where videos play for the segment of visitors that haven’t signed up yet — or been inside the app. These videos are played on YouTube as pre-roll videos.
Now that you know what characteristics your remarketing ads need to be successful, it’s now time to show you how you can set up remarketing campaigns in Facebook and Google.
Facebook remarketing ads
Facebook allows you to install a snippet of code on your website and then it displays your remarketing ads in front of your target users when they’re browsing through the network.
You can create Custom Audiences through the Facebook remarketing option, which allows you to remarket only those visitors that have shown some interest in your landing page or website.
Facebook also offers marketers the option of Lookalike Audiences, so you can reach more people who are similar to those who visited your website. With just a few clicks you can create a list of audiences that are similar to your current customers.
AdWords remarketing ads
Setting up your Google AdWords remarketing ads is easy (you’ll need to create an AdWords account if you don’t have one yet).
Once you’re signed into AdWords, click the “Campaigns” option and then select “Display Network only:”
Next, choose your campaign name, bid strategy, and budget and then proceed to create your remarketing tags and lists. Google allows you to email yourself the website remarketing tag or the mobile app tag ID. For instructions on this, visit this link.
AdWords will create for you a list of all your visitors, which includes all visitors who have visited tagged pages on your website. You can then segment your audience further with the help of this master list.
With all of this done, click “Save” and enter your ad group name and bid to create your ads.
Don’t forget landing pages
Whether you set up your retargeting campaign on Facebook or Google AdWords, don’t forget to connect your ads with targeted remarketing landing pages. Standalone, one-goal pages like these offer you the best chance at converting visitors with your offer.
Remarketing campaigns offer you the unique opportunity to bring back lost visitors. Optimize your ads, and connect dedicated landing pages to them. Your marketing campaigns will thank you.
Haven’t started creating landing pages yet? Create your first page here.