Today, we feature a guest post from Ty Magnin, the Director of Marketing at Appcues—a customer engagement software that helps marketers and product people improve their onboarding code-free. If you like what you read, don’t forget to check out our comprehensive new web page on retargeting best practices


77% of people who download a mobile app bounce within 3 days and never come back.

Coming up short on conversion efforts can dig deep into a company’s bottom line and render the large majority of acquisition efforts worthless. This leaves a tremendous opportunity to convert new users into paying customers.

However, driving these new conversions takes more than just good user onboarding. It takes parallel efforts across email, sales calls, webinars, white papers, technical support, and more.

While often overlooked, retargeting campaigns are an easy and effective way to drive new sales and increase your marketing ROI.

Below, we outline real-world examples of how companies optimized their retargeting campaigns for marketing success:

Educate new users with product-focused content

Most of the time, the content that convinces new users to convert closely aligns with the the bottom of your sales funnel. Things like case studies, ROI calculators, and product overviews help bring people who are interested in your product a little closer to buying—and can even be the last straw that tips them.

Here’s an example of content advertised towards trial users of Drip, an email automation tool:

Drip’s Email Marketing Mastery Course educates their users on new ideas and real-world examples to help them better use their product. According to Drip’s Growth Marketer, Zach Grove, “we’re seeing good initial results showing users ads with relevant content, such as [the one above]. We’re finding that simply mirroring our email content on Facebook video gives us a boost in activation that more than makes up for the cost of the ads.”

Encouraging users to take action can require multiple touches, and sometimes emails aren’t opened. Drip solves this with retargeting ads—which are shown to users based on actions taken in their platform.

AdStage, a PPC reporting platform, faces a similar problem. According to Hannah Lennett, a marketer there, users “are often hesitant to start using our Automate product because they are not familiar with PPC automation.” To educate new users on how PPC automation works, AdStage uses retargeting to put a helpful blog post in front of them.

Domo—a business intelligence dashboard—has a different approach when it comes to their retargeting campaigns. Instead of providing “how-to” content, they focus on removing barriers around pricing to motivate new users to buy:

Domo’s ad works well because the motivating statistic is displayed first and foremost. Users don’t have to click the ad to get the message.

Targeting tips for content driven ads

When you advertise educational content, you’re asking new users to do a little work. Because of this, these ads may be most effective when a user is pretty new. This is because your users are most motivated to use your product on day 1—they’ve just been energized by your marketing and your first-run onboarding experience.

That being said, you don’t want to get in the way of new users who are effectively using your product and are unlikely to need any additional education. Find a way to eliminate this group of users when you target your ads.

Create urgency with discounts

Discounts help drive urgency in a sale similar to the way a time limit on a free trial does. Retargeting ads are an excellent medium to offer discounts. Their ephemeral nature—here on one page, often gone on the next—make them desirable due to their perceived rarity.

Udacity, a platform for online courses, has periodically offered a discount to get new signups to purchase a course:

This ad couldn’t be more straightforward. It’s clear what the special offer is and when it expires. Without this clear and not-so-distant expiration date, users may feel less urgency to buy.

Another example comes from Appcues. Appcues’ user onboarding software paired a discount with a product launch to entice new users to buy. This strategy exacerbates excitement by combining a discount with something novel.

Targeting tips for discount-driven ads

Discounts can be a double-edged sword. They can be great for pushing new users to buy. But, if you offer them too soon, or too often, users who would have bought at full-price will buy at a discounted rate. This can obviously cost you revenue.

Segment your audience by targeting your ads to users who are starting to slip away. Maybe they haven’t logged in all week, visited your website in a couple months, or perhaps they just haven’t made a certain action in your product that signifies success.

As previously mentioned, be wary not to over-advertise your discount. Discounts can cheapen your perceived value in the mind of your users, so don’t put it in front of users who signed up and never did anything.

Promote product demo webinars

Webinars are another effective way to demonstrate your product. They are one-to-many, visually engaging, and—unlike a sales demo—they let viewers stay somewhat anonymous.

If your marketing team is focused on providing air cover for sales, or running a self-service business model, advertising a webinar with retargeting ads can help convert new users.

TrackMaven—a marketing analytics software—advertised a product demo webinar with this ad:

The ad shows a webinar that focuses on a particular pain point that the product solves. The ad isn’t selling the product directly in this case, but it is focused on bringing value to new users. This can convince new users who are kicking the TrackMaven tires to become seriously interested.

Event hosting software Eventbrite uses webinars to help users find and host events in their area. Take a look at how they convey this point with the ad below:  

[Source]

Because Eventbrite is mostly a transactional business—they get paid when people run events—this webinar can help bring new or previously paying users to return and transact again.

Targeting tips for demo driven ads

Demo ads are a lot like content ads. They’re good to offer to users up front when they’re still motivated, but not yet convinced to buy.

Also, like content ads, you may not want to advertise demos to users who are doing everything right on their own. The teachings of the demo may not even be applicable to them—ultimately slowing them down and wasting your money.

Last ditch efforts

When you’ve exceeded your average free-to-paid period, or after a free trial is over, it may still be worth reaching out.

Rival IQ, a tool for competitive analysis, uses retargeting ads to make it easy for new users to get back into the product after their free trials have expired:

[Source]

On top of the offer to extend their trial, Rival IQ offers a discount to their pay-as-you-go plan. This sweetener may well be the push new users need to re-engage.

Targeting tips for last-ditch ads

Find your group of users who look just like those who bought—in terms of demographic and behavior—but didn’t, and target these last-ditch ads to them.

Keeping this ad targeted will help keep your spend down.

Measuring effectiveness

There are a few ways to measure the effectiveness of your retargeting campaigns.

The easiest way is to have a clear way to measure the path a user takes from your ad to it’s associated conversion action. This will give you a sense of how engaging the ad is.

Further, you can measure how the completion of that action affects conversions from free-to-paid through comparison of those who did it vs those who didn’t.

Perhaps the truest way to measure the effectiveness of your ad campaigns is to a/b test your bank of ads so half of your users see one set and the other half sees something different. You can then compare your conversion rates between the two groups. This should help you better understand the value of your retargeting campaigns while determining how effective your spend is.

Learn more about retargeting strategies from our newest web page.