14 Advanced Retargeting Tactics To Ramp Up Re-engagment

By Greg Finn

Retargeting is one of the most powerful tools available to advertisers. However, most companies aren't harnessing the full capacity available today. These 14 under-utilized tactics can help bolster your targeting, increase your ROAS, keep your brand top-of-mind, and recapture conversions you may have otherwise lost.

1-email-list1) Make Sure To Use Email Retargeting Lists

Sure, this might seem remedial, but it is surprising how many folks simply stick to pixels for retargeting efforts. Email targeting is an amazing way to target users across devices, platforms, and networks - even down to offline leads (those who sign up for notifications at trade shows, or enter contests, etc) to audience lists. With proper customer and lead lists, we can spread our message out across all main networks including:

The beauty of email address targeting is that various pixels are removed from the equation and targeting is based solely on address. This allows the marketer to keep targeting lists across mobile devices and networks the same, dissolving the need to start from scratch when a new network adds this capability.

The bad thing? This targeting does not work as well for B2B. Not as many users provide their business emails while setting up their Facebook accounts.

Pro-tip: Emails can be used to craft audience lists for both those who have visited but also converted when properly combined. For many retailers in today’s cross-device world, a pixel-driven converted customer list isn’t enough. A more accurate list of converted customers can be created by mixing pixel and email conversions.


Let’s say that we don’t want to keep advertising to those who have recently become customers. By only relying on pixel targeting, ads may continue to be shown to a converted customer on desktop/tablet who actually signed up via an app. By mixing both pixels and customer lists into a converted customer list, we can help to make targeting as accurate as possible.

2-link-click-retargeting2) Add Link Click Retargeting (Don’t Just Target Clicks To Your Site)

New tools out there like Geniuslink provide a bit of modern day wizardry that can help to expand retargeting lists -- even when a user doesn’t visit your property*. These utilities allow a shortened link to perform the typical tasks (include branded URLs and look pretty) but also fire pixels when the click occurs. To illustrate: with this technology, a Twitter account can link out to Vimeo, never have a user land on their site, but pixel them in the process. Yeah. Powerful.

This is a great feature for brands and businesses everywhere as it can give them the ability to share third party content, while still obtaining a beneficial building in the process. This link-pixeling technology can fire all needed code seamlessly on the way to delivering them to their final (off-site) destination.


A brand’s Tweet sending users to a 3rd party review can now add them into a specific retargeting list - a huge win for tracking teams everywhere. Furthermore, any links shared by other accounts will also contain those retargeting pixels as well.
This removes the requirement of site visitation from retargeting and instead builds alternate retargeting avenues through simple link clicks out to any destination.

Pro-tip: This type of targeting is powerful - and easy to utilize incorrectly with the wrong strategy. Using link-click retargeting is great when people clearly know where they are going. You’d likely want to add a user clicking to read a review/watch a new product video on Vimeo/download a relevant podcast appearance/etc. The scent-trail is there, they are a potential lead.

However, using link-click retargeting on a link headed to a funny viral video or unrelated news article/etc may muddy up your lists and make them swell. The point of retargeting lists is not to have the largest, but instead, to have the best.


3) Don’t Leave Out Content Retargeting Networks

When you think retargeting, you typically think of big names like Facebook & Google. Other content distribution ad networks can help you deliver your message in a pseudo-organic fashion. Networks like Taboola allow marketers to retarget users with content.
Many times, this can be either mixed in with articles or found at the bottom in the “related” articles” or “promoted stories” section. Don’t be fooled, however, as this is very much driven by retargeting.

Pro-tip: In order to be successful with this form of advertising, your content is critical as it essentially is the ad. The content to use in ads should look further down the conversion funnel. So if someone arrived on a landing page about a specific service, making an ad (and supporting content) around exciting case studies or fantastic results is ideal.

geniuslink-retargeting-mobile4) Use Mobile Phone Numbers

As mentioned above, pixel targeting (and even email targeting) isn’t the only way to retarget. You can target Twitter followers, social ID #’s and most networks like Google/Facebook/Twitter support cell phone targeting lists. This is another great way to unify customer and lead lists across multiple networks and devices. Simply vet your list of customer phone numbers and toss in as their own audience - this will help give you extra coverage across all networks.

Pro-tip: Mobile number targeting may perform better in the B2B space. While most folks don’t sign up for social accounts with business emails, there may be a significant overlap with mobile numbers of leads and mobile numbers used in social account set up.

5-retarget-gsp5) Retarget With Gmail Sponsored Promotions

You are reading this right now for one of two reasons:

  • You are looking at getting into retargeting.
  • You are looking at getting more out of retargeting.

If you're here for the latter, Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) are likely a venue that you aren’t leveraging in your retargeting efforts.

GSP may be one of the most underrated tactics over the past few years due to it’s ability to target highly specific and sought after terms. A little known fact is that you can also retarget through GSP as well. If your efforts are going well so far and you are looking for a greater reach, GSP is your answer - test away. Setup is simple and done right in the AdWords platform. There are no excuses to not give GSP a whirl.

Pro-tip: Don’t worry about CTR, Gmail Sponsored Promotions are notoriously horrific in this department. Instead, look at things like saves, forwards and of course, conversions.

geniuslink-search-console6) RLSAs & New Search Partner Retargeting

Looking for the least sexy tip of the whole bunch? This is it. Advanced advertisers have likely been using Google Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) for awhile. These allow marketers to remarket in the search engine results pages by optimizing bids to folks in remarketing lists, or by bidding on keywords that aren’t typically bid for in those specific lists.

Pro-tip: Last month, Google opened RLSAs up to include more than just Google Search, now including Search Partners as well. Looking for an extra boost and the most retargeting reach? Flip the Search Partners on and look for some additional reach!

7-utm-codes7) UTM/ValueTrack Tracking For Analytics

Showing the value of each retargeting effort is of the utmost importance when looking to secure budget and prove value. Make sure you get credit where (retargeting) credit is due. To achieve clear and correct attribution, you should discuss all attribution modeling and make sure the proper tracking is in place across all mediums.
Using UTM codes can help inject campaign data into GA & other analytics platforms, while ValueTrack information can give even more granularity to your data. By setting up a tracking plan that covers all audiences, lists, and targeting, you’ll be able to confirm success and command more budget for the sources that work.

Pro-tip: Both Google and Bing support ValueTrack parameters and can pass additional information through regarding where traffic originated from. This can include placements, creative, keywords, matchtypes and more. This information is phenomenal for those who rely on outside analytics and yearn for maximum intel.

geniuslink-youtube8) Retarget on YouTube

Much like the aforementioned Gmail Sponsored Promotions, Advertisers can retarget on Youtube directly within the AdWords interface.
Toss in your Audience List in the “remarketing” tab and you are good to go!
You can also target those that watched (or took action on) a YouTube video - off of YouTube entirely.

Pro-tip: If you don’t have video ads and are already using AdWords for retargeting, there won’t be a need to do any additional steps, so skip this. Just make sure you have text ads, 300x250, 300x60, 468x60 or 728x90 ad units.

9-segment-retargeting-lists9) Segment Away!

When building your audiences, you’ll obviously want to segment by content consumed and actions taken. The real value, however, comes from advanced segmentation. Would you bid more for people that spent a long time on your site but didn’t convert? What about those that view multiple pages? Page depth? Amount spent?

Think through what makes a visitor valuable to you and then reverse engineer specific and detailed segmentation to use within your retargeting lists.

Pro-tip: Daisy-chain actions together (or create custom combinations) to create advanced personas for retargeting like this:

10-view-through10) Don’t Forget View-Through Conversions

When measuring the effectiveness of retargeting campaigns, marketers can get too caught up with instant gratification. When looking at reports, the conversion metric can only show one aspect of success, especially when bidding at the cost-per-click flavor.

Just because people don’t click and convert on your ads does not mean that they don’t view and convert from seeing your ads. Don’t give up on campaigns solely due to a lack of conversions. Make sure that there isn’t additional benefit in the form of view-throughs before killing off campaigns.

Pro-tip: Don’t be afraid to show different messaging to those that stop mid-conversion. If the goal is to push them through and convert, you can measure the effectiveness of some impressions by monitoring view-throughs.

11-lead-gen11) Mix Lead Generation With Retargeting

Some networks like Twitter and Facebook offer Lead Ads that streamline the lead process. If you are in the business of attracting leads, it may be worth testing lead ads to retargeting lists. Instead of bringing these users back to your website, try turning them with a lead generation ad.

This allows customers to stay on their network of choice for a frictionless conversion -- no site visit required.

Pro-tip: You can customize Lead Ads, making it easy to convert (while obtaining all required information).

12-higher-bid12) Bid Higher For Traffic You Purchased

Not all traffic is created equal. Don’t treat it the same as your retargeting efforts. If you are dishing out premium dollars for paid search traffic, treat it accordingly with your remarketing efforts. Build out audiences for those high dollar acquisitions and don’t be afraid to bump your bids to bring them back - they are likely worth more than your average visitor!

13-gallery-solutions13) Test Using Pre-built Gallery Solutions Audiences (Google Analytics & AdWords)

Frankly,we haven’t heard as much about Gallery Audiences as we should have. These allows users to choose pre-built remarketing criteria from a library setting. They look quite similar to pre-defined attribution models in the analytics library, and instantly give people new remarketing lists.

To get to this feature, hop into GA and navigate to Audience Definitions, then click on Audiences (it only works on accounts synced with Google AdWords).

Once you're in, you can choose from a variety of pre-built audiences that may work well with your business objectives.

Pro-tip: Filter by not only rating, but also by category to quickly find the best audiences to target.

14-similar-audience14) Lookalike/Similar Audiences are NOT Retargeting

This is the last, but certainly not the least recommendation. When setting up campaigns, it is important to remember that more does not always mean better when it comes to retargeting (except in tip #2, where you are able to systematically target external links). In fact, most times a tighter list performs better.

When setting up your retargeting, you’ll likely be prompted by networks to target like-minded audiences. Depending on the network, this will be called Similar Audiences, Similar Users, or Lookalike Audiences. You should know that this is not retargeting. This tactic is fine to partake in, but it shouldn’t eat away at your retargeting budget (in our opinion). These can be very beneficial, but are more of an audience match than re-messaging, and that is a fact.

Pro-tip: Test similar audiences out in their own campaigns and see how they perform. This will guarantee that they don’t eat away at your retargeting budget and that they avoid diluting your retargeting numbers. This isn't retargeting - don’t report it as such.

... And there you have it! If executed properly, these 14 tactics can help you take your retargeting efforts to the next level. Oh, and if you'd like some professional help with retargeting setup/optimization we're here for you. Let us know what you're looking to accomplish and we'll come up with a plan.

*Cypress North has worked (and is working with) Geniuslink on the product and marketing aspect. While we are not receiving payment for this post, we’d prefer to disclose the relationship for sake of full transparency.

Categories: Paid Search Marketing
By Greg Finn


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Meet the Author

Head of Performance & Innovation / Partner

Greg Finn

Greg is the Head of Performance and Innovation for Cypress North's digital marketing team and one of the founders of our agency. In 2010, he and Matt Mombrea started Cypress North in Buffalo. Greg oversaw the opening of our second office in 2022, located in his hometown of Rochester.

As Head of Performance and Innovation, Greg co-manages our digital marketing department and works closely with our team to ensure all our clients achieve the best possible results. He is always looking for ways to test new digital marketing techniques and technology, and oversees all teaching and training efforts to ensure our agency stays ahead of the curve.

Greg is also a co-host of our weekly Marketing O'Clock podcast, where he and the team provide updates, insights, and hot takes on the latest SEO, PPC, and social media marketing news. In addition to weekly news shows, Greg hosts our Marketing O'Torial digital marketing tutorials and often co-hosts bonus Marketing O'Talk episodes that bring together panels of digital marketing experts.

With nearly two decades of experience, Greg is a known and trusted voice in the digital marketing community. He’s a contributor for Search Engine Land, a member of the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) programming team, and has been a featured speaker at some of the largest search engine conferences, including SMX, eSummit, and Pubcon. 

When he’s not working or staying updated on the latest trends, Greg enjoys watching his kids play sports and coaching their soccer team. He’s been named the runner-up “Greg of the Year” on Marketing O’Clock’s annual Clockscars Awards four years in a row. While the coveted award has evaded him for many years, Keanu Reeves has not. Greg once saw him at Gabriel's Gate tavern in Buffalo (and noted he was very tall.)