B2B Marketing: Retargeting

There has been a lot written on online marketing but the focus is mostly on B2C. As my company wywy is operating in the adtech/martech world, I have had a hard time finding good stuff on B2B marketing. So I decided to write a mini-series on this topic to share my experience. So let’s start.

One of the most difficult things in B2B marketing is to find the right people to talk to. Once you identify them, it is even harder to get them to talk to you. For one, there are so many vendors constantly knocking on their doors (or calling them up, sending emails etc.) that often they just start ignoring all vendors. Second, you don’t know and can’t really influence their decision process as deciding on a B2B product is not a snap decision.

Well, that’s a bit of a bummer. But there is one time where you actually have identified the right people, they are interested in your product, are close to making a decision and probably would even talk to you: When they visit your website. Why on earth would they visit your website otherwise? They probably heard about you from a friend, read something about your company, got a recommendation, maybe you even did some content marketing which ranked high in some Google search results.

Unfortunately not everyone will contact you right away. In fact, our “conversion rate” of people interested in contacting us is about 1%. So now it’s up to you to “follow up”. Just like you would when people visit your booth at a conference. You want to achieve two goals:

Goal 1: Brand recognition. They should remember your name so you are part of the relevant set when they make a final decision.

Goal 2: Brand association. They should associate your company name with whatever you sell. Like Kleenex, Mailchimp, Coke, Oracle.

So while they most likely won’t leave their contact details, you can still get your message across even after them visiting your website. Set up a retargeting list to target your website visitors with additional messages. It’s actually quite easy:

Step 1: Set up a Google Adwords account
Set up your Adwords account. Google frequently offers coupons for new clients so you might want to search for “Adwords coupon” first. You do not have to worry about setting up conversions on your website (why, I’ll explain in a bit).

Step 2: Set up retargeting lists
Google currently requires a minimum of 100 users in one retargeting list. I would suggest to split your website visitors into a few larger buckets so you have 100+ users in each list, e.g. splitting by product or by country. In order to get a feeling of how large the lists can be, just check your Web Analytics tool by looking at the page breakdown (for product splits) or country breakdown (for country splits). I also recommend splitting the lists into different time frames, e.g. visited websites within last 7 days, within last 30 days, within last 90 days. This way you can set a higher CPM for people who recently visited your website as those are the “hot” leads. You can then slowly “fade out” your retargeting by decreasing the CPM for 30 day and 90 day lists.

Step 3: Create online banners
I suggest going with the most popular desktop formats (i.e. Leaderboard, Rectangle, Skyscraper). As you want to catch your B2B clients while they are sitting in front of their work computer, do not bother about mobile formats. Make sure your company logo is clearly visible as you want people to remember your name. Then add a simple message, 3-8 words. Don’t make it too long to read as you have only 1-2 seconds that people will linger on/scan the banner. We use easy to digest catch phrases such as “The TV Analytics Experts”. We also use known brand names to highlight case studies, e.g. “How Nissan increased brand awareness with TV synced ads”. Don’t create fancy banners, this is not a beauty contest. You want people to just acknowledge your logo (goal 1, brand recognition) and to remember certain words (goal 2, brand association). The goal is NOT to get people to click your ads, the goal is attention. Don’t bother with a strong call-to-action button (we use a simple “Learn more >” at the bottom right). That’s why you don’t need to set up conversion tracking. Use freelancers to create the different banner variations for you (we used Upwork for 40 different banner variations in two different formats, cost us $50).

(click on banner to see the animation)

Here’s an example of “find my brand name” and “try to squeeze three messages into one banner”:

Step 4: Create retargeting campaigns
Set up a display campaign in Adwords and use ad groups to set up the different retargeting lists (e.g. Germany 7 days, Germany 30 days or ProductA 7 days, ProductA 30 days). Make sure you use retargeting list combinations for your different time frames, i.e. use the 7 day list and exclude the 30, 90 day lists. Then set a global frequency cap on the campaign level so that people do not fell too annoyed (i.e. 5 or so) by your ads. Set the mobile bid adjustment to -100% as you want to just target people on their desktop computer. As stated earlier, set a high CPM for the “fresh” (i.e. 7 day) contacts, then decrease the CPM for the “older” contacts. You should try to max out the impressions per day at least with the 7 day list (an easy calculation is list size x frequency cap). If you reach too few impressions, set a higher CPM.

Step 5: Check your website traffic
Once you have set up the campaign, check your direct and organic search traffic. Here’s a screenshot on how wywy’s direct traffic went up at the beginning of February right when we started our retargeting campaigns. While I can’t prove causation for sure, the direct traffic had been pretty constant before and there were no other large events, online marketing projects, PR coverage at that time. A nice increase of 40-50% in direct traffic. Not bad for spending a couple of dollars per week.


The whole set-up should take you maximum a day. Yes, it’s a bit of work but standing at the conference booth also takes a full day out of your work time. I’d love to hear your experience, share it in the comments.

1 thought on “B2B Marketing: Retargeting”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *