The Power of Sequential Retargeting for Ecommerce: How to Boost Conversions and Maximize ROI
The first time the customer sees your product, they might not trust you. Sure, they’re interested, but they’d rather get to know you first. But ecommerce shops aren’t so easily discouraged. They use retargeting on Facebook, Google Ads, and other online channels to reintroduce themselves to their potential customers.
And it’s great. For customers, it means they’ll get targeted ads based on what they actually like. But if you do it wrong, you could waste money—and you certainly might get on a few peoples’ nerves. Here’s how to handle sequential retargeting for ecommerce in a way that invites customers back.
What is Sequential Targeting?
Sequential targeting is a style of advertising you use to try and bring back customers who left your website, but not in a repetitive way. Rather than displaying the same ad over and over, you build a sequence of ads. This should unfold more naturally. That way, the customer won’t feel like you’re baraging them. Instead, you’re telling them a story.
Why bother? There are a few reasons you might try sequential retargeting:
- Novel ads. Repetitive ads can get…well, annoying. Novel ads, in turn, blend in more seamlessly with your customers’ browsing experience. They’ll see a new ad, only for a product that you know they like. It’s just a matter of bringing them back home for the conversion.
- Avoiding annoyance. Yes, repetition is important. But if you do move too far to the side of annoying, you can turn customers away. “Is this what it’s like doing business with them?” they might ask. “I’d hate to see what happens if I end up on their email list.”
- Improved persuasion. You can nurture your potential customers with a “drip-style” campaign that adds a new layer to why they should buy your product. That potentially makes your ads more persuasive, drawing them in.
Aren’t Ad Platforms Getting Rid of Retargeting?
Yes. Updates for the Apple iOS14, for example, are letting users opt out. Facebook and TikTok tracking, for example, is much more restricted on future mobile devices.
This can make things a little dicey. For example, you wouldn’t want to show the same ad to completely different customers. One might be at the end of the buying process and need a little nudge. The other might need a full-on introduction to what you do.
The lack of retargeting capabilities in 2023 and beyond means you can’t always dial up the most relevant ad for your prospect. That’s fine. You may instead try to tell a story that would apply to any customer. For example, your introductory ads are just that—meant to introduce the product in question. Later ads in the sequence should talk about trust and benefits. That’s a broad-sweeping approach to sequential targeting. But in 2023 and beyond, it might just become the name of the game.
Best Examples of Sequential Retargeting
What does sequential retargeting look like specifically? Here are some of the best examples you’ll see:
Early Sequence Example
The point of early sequence ads is to introduce your product and establish its key benefits. You have to think big here: ideas like social proof (showing someone else enjoying the product, or showing glowing customer reviews) can have a big impact.
Take an example from Casper’s pillow ads. There are a few elements that make this a great ad for an introductory sequence:
- Five stars in bold font, right under a positive customer review. This provides the instant credibility and social proof that a brand needs when it can’t rely on a brand name or a celebrity endorsement.
- The image of someone enjoying the product. Is there any doubt when you see someone enjoying a pillow and smiling? Of course not. You know it’s a comfortable pillow. The product is clear, enjoyable, and you can see a person’s facing loving it. This helps the viewer project themselves into that position. It’s a great way to introduce a product.
- An explanation of what the product’s features and benefits are. Casper explains the feature (their design) and the benefit (keeps you comfy). There’s no guesswork for the person viewing the ad.
Put it all together and this ad creates a clear, distinct impression. There’s no doubt what is being sold here.
After learning all there is to learn about the pillow in question, the customer is then ready for the next step. Maybe there are other concerns that the ads have to answer. For example, maybe the customer needs more trust of the brand. Can further ads do that with a guarantee? A 30-day guarantee, perhaps?
Whatever it is, it unfolds naturally. The customer, already knowing the product, is now ready to receive more reasons that they should reach out and buy the product. Which leads us into the next part of the sequence.
Mid Sequence Example
This portion of the sequence is all about amplification. You’ve put your message out there, and now it’s time to make it even more compelling during the next stage. You might do that with a product guarantee, for example. We mentioned that in the previous section.
This is the point at which you should really play up the benefits of what you’re selling, or talk up the features. Rather than social proof, you might want to get people to imagine what their own life would be like if they purchase your product.
For example, lululemon used this ad in a mid sequence to remind people why they should buy:
Curated gifts. Paced payments with Klarna. Buy online, pick up in store in two hours
That is a cold, hard lesson in efficiency of language. Look at all it accomplishes. It first lists off two ways that people might be drawn back into the possibility of buying from lululemon. Then it wraps up with a future projection of the purchase.
This is a great “mid sequence” example because it transitions between the introduction and the end-game. The first part of the ad reminds people of the first ad. The second part of the ad transitions to a call to action.
Late Sequence Example
When you’ve done all the above, your last job is to tip them over the edge. Someone who may still buy from you is definitely a “warm” lead at this point. But you still need something that will entice them to finally grabbing the wallet, pulling out the credit card, and clicking your offer.
The way to do that? Add high-contrast incentives.
What do we mean by this? In an example from Fanatics, you’ll notice brightly-colored backgrounds against stark red discount notifications. This creates a sense of urgency: those products that the customer was thinking about buying? They’re now on sale! This is a key way to drive traffic, because it adds urgency to an offer that didn’t have urgency before.
It doesn’t matter how often they’re on sale. If the customer senses that a “sale” switch has been flipped, they might feel that it’s their time to take action.
This works because of the groundwork you’ve established earlier in the sequence. You’ve addressed what your product does. You’ve mentioned why it’s great. You’ve added social proof view reviews. You’ve shown the product. Then, in mid sequence, you’ve transitioned to a call to action. Now the customer is learning what they have to do next.
Finally, when they’re ready, this late sequence example tips them over the edge. It says: “hurry! Conditions have changed, and you have to pounce on this!”
It just doesn’t say so in as many words.
Tips for Doing Sequential Retargeting After iOS 14
- Focus on storytelling, less on personalization. You can still use sequential ads whenever you want—you just need to display ads in an order of your choosing. Make sure that you unfold these ads like the examples you saw above. Tell a story. Introduce yourself, transition to the call to action, and add a final push for the sale.
- Generalize. Yes, with iOS 14, it’s going to be difficult to target specific customers. Don’t fight it. Work with the new rules. Generalize your ads to create a more compelling ad stream. Other media, for example, have no personalization, and they often work. A television commercial isn’t personalized. But it can still be effective—if you’re willing to make an effective one.
- Write compelling copy. With less targeting, it’s up to you to make sure that your copy is going to be compelling enough to people who read it. So know your market and know what moves them. Then create bold, clear, compelling copy that hints at urgency. Remind customers why they have to buy now. Use social proof elements to add to the urgency of your overall message.
Incorporate the tips above and your sequential retargeting will look great, even after the iOS 14 update. What’s most important is that you take a strategic approach to building your ads.
Overall, sequential retargeting is a great way to get noticed—even if your targeting might not be as precise after the iOS 14 update. It’s by learning to embrace these strategies and not fight against them that you can position yourself for success.
What is Sequencial Retargeting?
Sequential retargeting is an advertising technique that aims to re-engage potential customers who have previously visited your website, without bombarding them with repetitive ads. Instead of displaying the same advertisement repeatedly, sequential retargeting utilizes a series of carefully crafted ads that are designed to unfold in a natural and organic manner, encouraging users to return to your site and complete their desired actions.
What are the Other Types Of Retargeting?
- Site Retargeting: This involves displaying ads to users who have visited your website but still need to complete a desired action, such as purchasing or filling out a form.
- Search Retargeting: This targets users who have searched for specific keywords or phrases related to your business or industry, even if they have yet to visit your website directly.
- Email Retargeting: This involves sending targeted emails to users who have visited your website or received email campaigns from you in the past, encouraging them to return to your site or take a specific action.
- Social Media Retargeting: This targets users who have engaged with your social media content or visited your social media profiles, displaying ads on their social media feeds to encourage them to return to your site.
- Video Retargeting: This targets users who have watched a video on your website or social media channels, displaying ads related to the video content they have engaged with.
Further reading 📚
Ecommerce Marketing in 2023: Your In-depth Guide To Doing It Right
The Best Email Marketing Services (Feb 2023): Top 11 Email Marketing Platforms Reviewed and Compared