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Why you can’t afford to skip retargeting

By Anton Babkov
27 November 2018 | 1 minute read

Statistically speaking, only 2.8 per cent of people who land on your website are ready to enquire about your services or a listing. The other 97.2 per cent will wander around for a while, then leave.

To put that into perspective, if a thousand people visit your website, only 28 of them will fill out and submit an enquiry form. This wouldn’t be a problem if the others made their way back to your site when they were ready to take the plunge — but that could be weeks (or even months) down the track, and your website is just one in a long list of tabs they’ve opened.

Sadly, humans don’t have the memory of elephants.


Luckily, savvy advertisers have come up with a way to make sure the people visiting your website don’t forget about what you’re offering: retargeting ads. Or, as Google calls them, “reminder ads”.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, allow us to paint a picture. It’ll help — promise.

Retargeting in the real world

Imagine you’re thinking about a new car. You meander through the dealership, and a little racing green sports car catches your eye. You read the specs, sit down in the driver’s seat and adjust the rearview mirror. Yep, you look good. But you’re not quite ready to buy yet, so you leave.

On your way home, you spot that same convertible driving in the lane next to you. The next day, it’s in your parking lot at work. Then it’s parked on your street.

This is what retargeting would look like in real life. You showed some interest in the convertible, so the dealer is making sure you see it again and again.

Retargeting online

How retargeting online works: Someone visits your website, or clicks on one of your Facebook or Instagram ads. They leave your website without submitting an enquiry. They continue to browse the web and social media, another of your ads appears, they click it, go to your website and enquire about what you’re advertising.

If you keep seeing the same message, and it’s relevant to you, you’re more likely to remember it.

That’s all well and good, but how does it actually do that?


Retargeting is possible because of something called a pixel. A pixel drops an anonymous, undetectable cookie into a website visitor’s browser. This cookie leaves a trail of crumbs all over the web, notifying retargeting platforms that they should show this person more of your ads, because they’ve shown an interest in what you’re offering.

If you’re serious about harnessing the power of retargeting, you need to be using two types of pixel: the Google Ads tag and the Facebook pixel. That means you can target ads to people across both social media and the two million websites on the Google Display Network.

For example, you can target ads to people who interact with (like, comment or share) one of your Instagram or Facebook posts. When they click one of your ads, they’ll be taken to your website — where the Facebook pixel drops that anonymous, undetectable cookie into their browser. This tells Facebook to keep showing them more of your ads across social media.

And, because they’ve come to your website (effectively “interacting” with your website), the Google Ads tag is activated. Don’t be fooled by the name — it’s a pixel, too. This one tells websites across the Google Display Network to show more of your ads to website visitors.

However, if you want to get the most bang for your marketing buck, there’s still two more things you’ll need to do:

1. Segment your audience

Your audience is a diverse bunch. The same ads won’t appeal to all of them. That’s why, when you create your ads, you need to segment your audience (a fancy word for dividing people up into groups) and target your ads to specific types of buyers and sellers, based on their demographics, online behaviour, language, etc.

But don’t stop there. It’s really a two-step process.

Retargeting gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your ad placements even further, ensuring greater relevancy and increasing ad performance. You can segment your retargeting audience based on the particular page they visited or action they took on your website.

That unobtrusive piece of JavaScript (or “cookie”) tracks which page and listings your audience views, and then notifies the ad networks you’ve chosen to serve specific ads to that user based on what they looked at. But to segment your audience and show different audiences different ads, you’ll need to add multiple pixels.

For example, people who visited your agent profiles pages are probably more interested in listing a property with your agency than they are in buying, so you could set up a pixel to retarget them with ads encouraging them to request an appraisal. You could set up another pixel to retarget your listings ads to people who visited your listings. Or you can take things a step further and specifically retarget people who spend more than two minutes on your website, or who view more than three property pictures, or who started filling enquiry form but never finished.

1.1 (Shameless plug)

You can get quite complex regarding the sequence of pixels you cookie your audience with, or you could use an artificially intelligent platform like our social media and online advertising tool Spoke, built to help agents create and publish dozens of strong ads in seconds. Segmentation is the key to successful retargeting, but we can’t share exactly how Spoke does it. It’s our secret sauce.

2. Rotate and optimise

Even if you launch your campaign with incredibly click-worthy ads, continuously running with the same set will result in a lower-performing campaign. Remember what we said about ad fatigue?

After seeing the same ads again and again, your audience’s interest is no longer piqued and the ads are more likely to blend into the background. By rotating your ad creatives, you keep your audience engaged and interested for longer.

To do this, you’ll need to create multiple ads using different images, headlines and calls to action. You could switch these out manually, set specific start and end dates for each ad, or automate it. 

Retargeting isn’t exactly easy, but when you get it right, if really pays off.

It’s no secret that social media is more effective, less intrusive and a better use of your marketing spend. However, it can be hugely time-consuming to manage and expensive to outsource. Add retargeting into the mix and you’ve got yourself a whole other day job. Learn more about Spoke here.

Why you can’t afford to skip retargeting
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Anton Babkov

Anton Babkov

Anton Babkov is CEO of Rex Software, a real estate software provider with 60 staff servicing more than 1,100 agencies.

He talks regularly about the state of technology and innovation in the real estate sector.

Until 2008, Anton practised intellectual property and internet law, working with tech companies from early-stage startups to some of Australia’s largest telecommunications and media companies.

When he’s not busily jet setting across timezones being an international man of business, you’ll find him doing typical CEO things - inhaling tech news and jumping up and down with excitement.

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