Retargeting ads are a personalized strategy to target people who’ve previously engaged with your brand. Learn from these real-world retargeting examples and expert tips to improve visibility, traffic, and conversions for your campaigns.

Here, you’ll find:

  1. What are retargeting ads?
  2. How do retargeting ads work?
  3. Real-life retargeting ad examples and tips
  4. Why are retargeting ads effective? 5 reasons retargeting ads convert
  5. Types of retargeting ads
  6. Retargeting ad mistakes to avoid
  7. 9 questions to improve your ad success

“You only get one shot.”

Eminem is clearly not in digital marketing. Digital marketing is centered on taking every shot — every opportunity — to get in front of your target audience.

Retargeting ads are one of the best ways to re-engage past customers or target brand-aware people, who’ve interacted with your website or business, but need an extra nudge to return and convert.

Ready to seize everything you ever wanted? Let’s stop quoting Eminem and get down to the good stuff.

We share successful retargeting ad examples, ad types, and best practices across different platforms; explain how retargeting ads work; and share retargeting ad mistakes to avoid.

What are retargeting ads?

Retargeting ads are a personalized advertising strategy to display ads to people who previously engaged with your brand and past website visitors.

Marketers run retargeting ad campaigns on platforms across the web (like Facebook, LinkedIn, mobile apps, and third-party websites) to get previously brand-aware website visitors to return to the site to complete a purchase or pick up where they left off exploring your business.

How do retargeting ads work?

Imagine you’re shopping for Fluffy’s new dog bed. You visit a pet website and look at options, but want to do additional research before choosing a bed.

Behind the scenes, a small piece of code on that website, called a pixel or tag, is capturing your website activity.

When you leave without purchasing, the pet website now uses that pixel information (e.g., web pages visited, products viewed, website abandon date, time on site) to display ads across other websites or social media platforms you visit. This pixel-based retargeting reminds you that the perfect dog bed for Fluffy is waiting for you to take home.

Real-life retargeting ad examples and tips

Effective retargeting ads offer flexibility to re-engage your audience across the many platforms they spend time on online.

Let’s take a look at retargeting ad inspiration across popular platforms:

  1. Facebook retargeting ad example: Stonewall Resort makes a compelling offer
  2. B2B retargeting ad example: Yelp uses data to grab B2B attention
  3. Google remarketing ads examples: DSW Weaves a Web
  4. Remarketing on X: Twitter example of remarketing ads

1. Facebook retargeting ad example: Stonewall Resort makes a compelling offer

Retargeting ads on Facebook are competing with a whole host of competition — organic social posts, chatter in Facebook groups, other Facebook ads, and so. many. cat. videos.

Stonewall Resort stands out from the crowd by featuring a high-quality video of its beautiful resort and the many recreational activities you can do if you book a stay.

What Stonewall Resort does right:

  • Grabbing attention through high-quality video
  • Convincing copy, tapping into FOMO — who doesn’t dream of their next vacation?
  • Clear incentive, repeated in the descriptive text, headline, and video messaging
  • Descriptive CTA — “book now” versus “click here”
  • Consistent landing page experience — the ad links to a targeted landing page that repeats similar messaging and deals, for a comfortable experience that makes it easy to convert


Follow Stonewall Resort’s lead and think through the full ad experience, optimizing it end-to-end. Make sure the copy, imagery, and offer is consistent and compelling across both the ad and landing page, so you don’t confuse or frustrate your audience.


2. B2B retargeting ad example: Yelp uses data to grab B2B attention

More than half (53%) of B2B business buyers say they would ideally like to buy without interacting with a salesperson at all. And one-fourth say they want to get all the necessary information about a product/service online before contacting a salesperson.

This move towards self-serve buying offers B2B businesses an opportunity to use digital advertising to get in front of buyers during consideration phases and guide their buyer’s journey.

Yelp for Business recognizes that business buyers are consumers at the end of the day, so social media ads can target its audience in a natural and non-salesy way. Plus, business buying is all about quantifying ROI to higher ups — Yelp leans into this by placing buyer research front and center in their ads.


What Yelp does right:

  • Speaking clearly to the audience — messaging like “your brand,” “your next customers,” and “hire or buy from a business” clearly targets B2B buyers, not consumers who frequent Yelp
  • Clear incentives and offer — $100 gift card for a demo
  • Compelling research to drive the B2B buying decision
  • Imagery shows off the product

Our one critique? The ad is a little busy, with a lot of competing messages fighting for attention. We’d recommend moving some of this copy to the landing page. For example: replace the survey citation with “independent Yelp study, 2022” and then further explain the survey methodology on the landing page.

Follow Yelp’s lead and retarget B2B buyers across social platforms and other websites. Step into your audience’s shoes and write ad copy to their unique needs and motivators — in this instance, quantifiable research to make the case for a corporate purchase.

3. Google remarketing ads examples: DSW Weaves a Web

Google is the king of ads, with increasingly more sophisticated and varied ad placements and formats to get people clicking.

DSW takes advantage of Google’s robust retargeting ad options by serving up dynamic, search retargeting ads. When searching “kids shoes size 10 toddler,” the second option I see just so happens to be the exact pair of Marvel Spiderman shoes I looked at with my three-year-old.


What DSW does right:

  • Dynamic retargeting displaying a previously viewed product
  • Clear, high-quality product imagery
  • Social proof (aggregated product reviews with Review & Rating Google Shopping Ad Extension)

Google ad extensions, like Google Merchant promotions, sales, shipping details, and review ratings, are a big-time component of Google’s ad ranking algorithm.

Ad extensions offer extra details at-a-glance for a more optimized customer experience, while increasing impressions, conversions, ad rank, and Google Quality Score.

4. Remarketing on X: Twitter example of remarketing ads

X (formerly Twitter) may get a lot of news time for more polarizing reasons than their ad strategy, but that doesn’t change that X enables advertisers to reach buyers across industries and walks of life.

X offers many different ad formats, including video ads, dynamic product ads, carousel ads, and more, and unique audience targeting options, like the ability to target individuals engaging across 10,000 conversation topics.

Karma Shopping uses X to promote its app, used to find coupon codes and incentives for online purchases.


What Karma Shopping does right:

  • Clear value messaging — “don’t overpay,” “maximize savings”
  • Social proof by sharing a customer testimonial
  • Outlines the sign up process in 5 clear steps
  • Imagery shows off the tool in use

There is no one-size-fits-all advertising platform. Experiment with different platforms to find the right fit for your audience, business goals, and budget.

Phil Strazzulla, Founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, reminds us not to overlook three critical components when evaluating retargeting ad platforms:

  • Tracking and Analytics: “Look for platforms that provide comprehensive tracking, metrics, and analytics tools. These tools help you measure the performance of your ads, optimize marketing campaigns, and make data-driven decisions.”
  • Integration Capabilities: “Consider the compatibility of the retargeting platform with your existing marketing technology stack. Integration with your website, CRM, and other marketing tools can streamline data sharing and improve campaign efficiency.”
  • Budget and Cost: “Evaluate the cost structure of the platforms you’re considering. Some platforms may have a minimum spend requirement or charge based on impressions, clicks, or conversions. Align the platform’s pricing model with your budget and campaign goals.”

Why are retargeting ads effective? 5 reasons retargeting ads convert

Continuing our dog bed example, when you scroll through Facebook later that day, you see the pet store’s retargeting ads. You’re familiar with the pet store website and recognize the product right away — reminding you that Fluffy needs a new dog bed.

The ad is super relevant and helpful to you — it’s the exact product you need, within the time frame you’re considering this purchase. You click the ad and buy the bed, crossing another task off your list and delivering a retargeting ad conversion win for the pet store’s marketing team.

Retargeting strategies strike while the audience is hot, capitalizing on previous interest in your business or products (versus targeting first time, cold prospects).

Using website activity data, retargeting ads can be extremely relevant, personal, and effective at driving conversions. When executed right, the ad recipient feels like the business understands their needs and is helping to fulfill their buying journey.

Why retargeting ads convert higher than cold prospecting ads:

  1. Audience familiarity and brand recall: The audience is already familiar with your service or products and has visited your website or engaged with your business. Retargeting ads trigger repeat brand recognition and make visitors more comfortable buying from you.
  2. Personalization: Retargeting ads are extremely personal, as they use a visitors’ past website activity and interest to serve up the right creative, products, or messaging to guide your next action.
  3. Timing: Running retargeting ads shortly after a person visited your website is a surefire way to catch them in the consideration phase, before they purchase another product.
  4. Improved ROI: Everything above — audience, personalization, and timing — combine to deliver far higher return on ad spend (ROAS) and lower customer acquisition costs by focusing on this highly targeted audience.
  5. A/B Testing: A/B test different messaging, product imagery, creative, and themes in your retargeting ads. Use these insights to refine other PPC campaigns and inform optimizations to your email marketing, landing page, social media, content, and website strategy.

At HawkSEM, retargeting ads are one of many paid and earned strategies used to take our clients’ success to the next level. Enterprise-class software company Peer Software Inc. is a prime example.

Peer software came to us to increase brand awareness and drive lead generation on an international scale. By implementing intelligent retargeting ads, as a part of their PPC strategy, we were able to help Peer Software increase their conversion rates by 128%.

Types of retargeting ads

There are many different types of retargeting ads to reach different audiences across the websites and platforms they engage with daily. Let’s look at six types of retargeting ads:

Display retargeting ads

Display retargeting ads are the gold standard for website visitors who abandon your website without completing the desired action (e.g, buying, registering, downloading, reading case studies). These ads leverage your website’s tracking pixel to serve ads on the Google Display Network and other ad networks or platforms.

Use display retargeting ads to re-engage visitors that arrive on your website, but don’t stay long enough to convert or interact in a deeper way. It’s a wider net to stay top of mind to cold prospects and motivate deeper engagement.

Key benefits of display retargeting ads? Marketers can expect higher conversion rates and improved ROAS, as you’re targeting an audience that’s already shown interest in your product or service. Potential customers, meanwhile, receive more relevant ads and a more convenient shopping experience.

Dynamic retargeting ads

Dynamic retargeting ads use website activity data or data from an ecommerce site’s product feed to serve up the exact products or services a website visitor browsed or similar recommendations, to urge them to return to the website to convert.

Use dynamic retargeting ads to display your products and services to interested website visitors. If you’re an ecommerce website with high-quality product imagery, this is the perfect ad type to target customers window shopping your products or abandoning shopping carts.

Key benefits of dynamic retargeting ads? They display the exact products or services a customer viewed. Dynamic retargeting ads are personal, relevant, and more likely to see higher conversion rates, more sales, and lower customer acquisition costs.

Search retargeting ads

Search retargeting ads target people who visited your website and later search for complementary information or products in search engines. For example, if a previous website visitor later Google searches “blue beach umbrellas,” the ads returned will feature “blue beach umbrellas” and similar variations — attempting to fulfill the searcher’s needs and drive them back to your website to purchase.

Use search retargeting ads to match the best of both worlds: previous website visitors with some level of brand recognition and a high level of search intent.

Key benefits of search retargeting ads? Consumers benefit from seeing relevant ads to their search queries, improving clickthrough rates, ad targeting relevance, and revenue for marketers.

Email retargeting ads

Similar to cult classic cart abandonment emails, email retargeting ads use your email list to target subscribers and remind them to take actions, like complete a cart check out or revisit the website. Remarketing emails and retargeting ads can be used together to drive engagement, just be careful to cap frequency, so you’re not inundating email subscribers with marketing messages.

Use email retargeting ads to re-engage email subscribers that have gone cold. Include compelling offers and discount codes to incentivize them to visit your website, engage deeper with your brand, or complete an action, like buying or downloading.

Key benefits of email retargeting ads? Email retargeting ads use your owned, first-party data to target “fans” who subscribed to your email list. By incentivizing engaged subscribers to revisit the website, they’re much more likely to convert and become loyal, repeat visitors.

Social media retargeting ads

Maximize the value of your social media audience and possible reach by serving social media retargeting ads to encourage deeper website engagement.

Social media sites offer multiple ways to build custom audiences to target your ideal customer profile on the platform they prefer. Use social media to interact with people interested in your brand and then social media retargeting ads to convert them into customers. Social media is a great way to test creative, messaging, and themes, and then take the most engaged content to use for retargeting ads and other paid channels.

Key benefits of social media retargeting ads? Complement social engagement with retargeting ads to drive prospects to your website to convert, maximizing your social media ROI and driving customer acquisition goals, while delivering a consistent brand experience to your social audience.

Video retargeting ads

YouTube’s potential advertising reach is 2.53 billion people — wouldn’t it be great to expose a fraction of that audience to your business? Video retargeting ads display on video sharing platforms like Youtube, offering you the opportunity to drive traffic from those third-party platforms to your website.

If video is an important channel in your marketing mix, then video retargeting ads are an opportunity to serve up targeted ads to people who watched your video content.

Key benefits of video media retargeting ads? Get the most out of your video budget by moving interested watchers from the video to your website to convert. This increases brand awareness, capturing sales attribution to the video channel, getting more eyes on your videos, and improving conversion rates.

Use retargeting ads to stay top of mind, lower customer acquisition costs, increase conversions, and ROI across channels — just focus your retargeting budget on the channels your ideal existing customers engage with most.

Retargeting ad mistakes to avoid

Poorly executed retargeting ads risk frustrating your audience and wasting ad budget on uninterested parties.

Let’s look at five common retargeting ad mistakes:

1. Frequency and ad fatigue

Set frequency caps to limit how frequently your ad is served up to the same individuals to not overwhelm your audience. Seeing an ad for a recently abandoned product may convince you to purchase, but seeing that ad dozens of times across every website or social site you visit, may turn you off that brand altogether.

Shawn Plummer, CEO at finance website The Annuity Expert, explains, “High-frequency levels can lead to ad fatigue and decreased engagement, while too low a frequency may result in missed opportunities. Striking the right balance is crucial.”

2. Poor context and timing

Retargeting ads work best when triggered by defined events (e.g., last visit date is 30+ days), with ad copy aligning to that event (e.g., re-engagement copy and incentives). Use ad scheduling to serve ads to your target audience at their most opportune time. Marry context of the customer journey to the right copy, creative, offer or cross-sell — that’s where the magic happens.

3. Overlooking Ad creatives

Quality creative design captures attention and boosts your brand’s credibility.

Your retargeting ad creative should be:

  • Well-designed and high-quality
  • Reflecting your ideal audience
  • Optimized for both the display platform specifications and mobile devices
  • On-brand and recognizable

You spend a lot of time improving your website product experience – don’t ruin that positive product impression by serving up a low-quality product ad. To customers, every interaction forms a single, positive or negative impression of your business.

4. Lazy segmentation

Poor segmentation means wasted ad spend. Don’t risk your ad budget retargeting everyone with the same irrelevant ads. Take the time to segment your audience based on behavior and engagement and then serve up complementary ad creative and copy for a more personal, relevant, and higher converting experience.

5. Irrelevant landing page

Your ad copy should link to a relevant website page (e.g., a “get a free consultation” ad should link directly to the “free consultation” landing page, not a catchall homepage).

Up the relevance by using the same design aesthetic and messaging in both the ad and landing page. A consistent experience puts new customers at ease and helps them convert faster.

6. Never set it and forget it

Continuous optimization is crucial for every marketing strategy. It also makes digital marketing and advertising fun. There are endless opportunities to analyze performance data and audience behavior to incrementally improve ad success.

At HawkSEM, we approach all retargeting ads with a human element. We don’t use automated AI tools to write ad copy, because we know how critical proper messaging and placement is to driving meaningful outcomes. We then use ConversionIQ to track the results of retargeting ads to ensure proper optimization, and ultimately, a higher ROAS.

9 questions to improve your ad success

Busy marketers are balancing sophisticated digital campaign strategies across many audiences and channels – even the best of us make mistakes along the way.

To help, follow our retargeting ads checklist to perform quality assurance on every campaign.

Ask yourself these nine key questions to reduce errors:

1. What are your campaign goals?

Every successful campaign stems from clearly defined campaign goals.

Whether you’re trying to increase content downloads or drive repeat orders from loyal customers, each goal requires a nuanced approach to audience segmentation, bidding, timing, creative, and messaging.

2. Who are you trying to reach?

Segment your audience to deliver the most personal and relevant retargeting ads.

Anything from website activity to location or region, can better define your audience to improve ad relevance.

Then, make sure your ad copy and creative speaks to their pain points and needs — not product features or business pitches.

3. Where will your ads display?

Deploy ads to the platforms or channels your customers engage with most frequently.

Each ad platform should be considered thoughtfully, based on audience behavior, ad budget, and campaign goals.

4. Have you optimized your ad creative?

Don’t overlook the visual design of your ads; it’s a crucial part of the customer experience.
Ensure each ad features a:

  • Clear, easy to read message
  • Focused visual (avoid too many competing elements or clutter).
  • High quality image
  • Layout and size in compliance with each platform’s specifications.
  • On-brand look, with colors, fonts, and logos sparking familiarity and reinforcing brand recognition

5. Could your ad be more personal?

Leverage your zero- and first-party data to personalize your retargeting ads, based on the person’s previous interactions with your website.

Display product imagery or complementary services messaging aligned to the last pages they visited to deliver a more compelling and relevant experience and maximize ad spend.

6. Is your call-to-action clear and descriptive?

Your retargeting ad goal is to drive people to act.

A strong call-to-action is clear and descriptive (e.g., “get the whitepaper,” not “submit”), inciting a sense of urgency.

7. Have you optimized your landing page?

Ad campaigns need to link to the logical webpage the visitor is expecting. No bait and switches here — dumping clickers onto a generic landing page is wasted ad spend.

Tailor your landing page to reflect your ad copy and creative for a consistent user experience.

Check that your landing page is:

    • Optimized for mobile devices
    • Consistent and complementary to the ad copy, creative, and themes
    • Tested for any interaction – webforms submit effortlessly, coupon codes work, etc.
    • Features a strong CTA guiding customers to their next action (e.g., downloading, contacting, buying, exploring)
    • Accessible for all users following ADA standards

Secure, fast, and compliant to data privacy regulations

Do not overlook landing page optimization. You’ve paid for the ad click — focus all of your landing page energy on getting that visitor to convert.

At HawkSEM, we use ConversionIQ to deliver AI-driven recommendations to run more profitable remarketing campaigns and lower customer acquisition costs.

8. Have you set frequency caps?

Don’t inundate your audience with the same retargeting ads.

Set logical frequency caps to deliver enough ads to drive conversions, but not so many that customers become annoyed and form a negative impression of your business.

Typically, we’d recommend displaying your ad no more than 3-7 times a month to the same audience. The ad is a valuable extension of the previous brand experience, not an invasive and annoying interruption.

9. How can you optimize your retargeting campaign strategy to improve performance?

Launching retargeting ads isn’t the finish line, it’s only the beginning. Continuously monitor performance to look for ways to optimize the ad experience to drive better outcomes.

Test new creative, messaging, copy, audience targeting, day/time scheduling, channels, and more. Look at all aspects of the digital experience for ways to improve conversions, maximize your budget, and fine-tune your audience.

If you can check each of these nine items off your quality assurance checklist, your ads are ready to successfully re-engage your audience and improve ad performance.

The takeaway

Retargeting ads are a powerful vehicle to increase CTR, grow conversions, and decrease customer acquisition costs.

At HawkSEM, we customize retargeting ads (with messaging and design) to ensure they resonate with your target audience. We think through the full customer journey across audiences, channels, ads, and landing pages for a holistic and higher-converting experience. We A/B test and monitor performance closely to achieve the most meaningful success and ROAS.

Like our approach? Get a free consultation with our PPC experts today.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation