We get conversions for less than $1 using retargeting ads
February 22, 2017

We get conversions for less than $1 using retargeting ads

February 22, 2017
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Retargeting ads are a powerful yet unexplored tool for companies. While tech giants like Amazon have been using them for years, few small business has actually tapped into their potential.

If you’re new to the concept, retargeting lets you create ad campaigns for users that performed (or didn’t perform) specific actions on your website or platform. In its most basic form, you can serve ads to your website visitors, but you can be as specific as users who completed your onboarding funnel, users who read your blog or even users who clicked on other ads.

On our presentation tool Slidebean, we are using ad retargeting through Facebook and the Google Display Network (GDN) with amazing results.

How to set up retargeting ads?

Both Google and Facebook provide thorough guides on setting up retargeting campaigns. In a nutshell, you need to add a tracking code to your websites (in Google, this is done through a variable of Google Analytics) that the ads engine then uses to target your customers.


You can find detailed instructions here:

Google Display Network instructions

Facebook Custom Audiences Instructions

If you are not familiar with the Google Adwords interface, then you might want to take a step back and work with a tool like AdRoll. They provide a simplified interface that lets you set a campaign in minutes.

Whom do we target?

Our customer acquisition funnel. We run separate retargeting campaigns for each one of these audiences. 

Our customer acquisition funnel. We run separate retargeting campaigns for each one of these audiences.

The number of ads we serve and the amount of money we spend on each campaign responds directly to the step of our acquisition funnel in which those users are in. The closer an audience is to becoming one of our customers, the stronger our campaign will be.

As you can see, the top audience is extremely broad, a lot of users visit our website simply to view someone else’s presentation, but they are not real customer prospects for us. The conversion rate % for this group is the lowest, and thus our bid per click is only $0.06.

On the other hand, a user who already visited our upgrade form (where you type in your credit card info to activate a plan) and didn’t complete it, are extremely valuable prospects. They were just about to convert and probably just need a final push.  Our bid for this group is $2.00, which pretty much outbids everyone else, meaning that they will see our ads EVERYWHERE.

Once a customer completes a specific step of the funnel, they immediately get taken out of that segment so that no budget is wasted in serving the wrong set of ads.

Facebook and Google also let you do deeper retargeting within your audience. For example, you can exclude users under 18 years old, target them only on specific websites or even increase your bid for specific locations. The level of customisation is huge, and you’ll be able to tweak that more deeply as you start getting traffic and conversion rates for your ads.


As I mentioned, the budget for each retargeting campaign varies depending on how close that audience is to your goal. Both GDN and Facebook Ads have the advantage of being relatively cheap compared to equivalent campaigns for new users.

These are the stats for one of our Google Display Network Retargeting campaigns:

CampaignCPC BidImpressions in the last 30 DaysCostClicksCost per ImpressionCost per ClickAnyone who viewed any presentation$0.06122,912$30.94410$0.000$0.08Anyone who visited our blog and didn’t subscribe$1.00288,658$204.80234$0.001$0.88Anyone who visited our landing page and didn’t sign up$0.2066,268$62.0484$0.001$0.74Users who signed up but have not activated yet$0.2598,024$38.67126$0.000$0.31Users who are active but haven’t selected a paid plan$0.5033,498$14.6435$0.000$0.42Users who visited our upgrade form but didn’t complete it$2.00108,211$111.6183$0.001$1.34717,571$462.70972$0.00$3.76

A few remarks:

  • Notice how bids get higher the closer a visitor gets to converting to a paying user.
  • The average cost per impression is less than $0.001!!! This is extremely useful to reinforce your brand on your users. For many of our audiences we actually don’t design ads with a Call to Action, because that’s not what we’re looking for. In other words, we don't want them to click on the ad, we want them to see and remember our brand.
  • Also, notice how the bids for blog visitors are significantly high. This is because our blog audience is very targeted, we know that our blog readers are likely to become users and that their Lifetime Value is very high.
  • In total, we spent $450+ for 700,000 -targeted- impressions. I don’t believe any other advertising channel can beat that.

+ traffic, + audience

This is the core reason why we've been focusing on generating a lot more content for our blog (welcome, hee hee!).

We've discovered that we can generate blog articles that our potential customers are not only interested in reading, but also bound to share on their own social networks. Thus, our blog is one key initial element in this conversion funnel, one that allows us to gain organic traffic that we can then retarget with our campaigns.

“Our blog would be close to useless without our retargeting campaigns; it lets us convert readers into customers.


Blog content allows us to get in front of new users, quite organically. We then user our retargeting efforts to convert you, I mean, them.

Related read: Content marketing for startups? Here's how we doubled our blog traffic

How do the ads look?

The design of the the ads is also crafted according to the step in the funnel. Visitors who are not yet users need to know what the tool is and what are its advantages; while users who are already active will probably want to know about advanced features.

While the most served ads are usually on 300x200 format, it’s useful to create ads in multiple formats to ensure you get maximum exposure. Furthermore, unpopular formats might allow you to get cheaper clicks because there’s lower competition, so don’t leave any out.


Another extremely useful tool is moat.com. It allows you to (literally) spy on the competition and discovers the designs they are using for their display ads, a great way to find inspiration and to differentiate yourself.

Measure, Measure, Measure

The most important variable here is your ability to measure and act fast. Make sure that you’ve setup your Google Analytics tracking correctly, as well as your Facebook Conversion Goals, otherwise you’re pretty much advertising blindly.

The quicker you can optimize these ads, the faster you’ll find profitable numbers on your CPC. During the first few weeks, plan for at least two hours of optimization every day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. (Google Adwords will delay your conversion data, but you can always check it directly on Google Analytics).

Very low cost, highly targeted audience and low-cost conversion rates. What are you waiting for?

What do you think? Has Retargeting worked for you?