7 Retargeting Case Studies That’ll Boost Your Current Campaigns

Retargeting Campaigns

You already know retargeting works. But what if you’re doing it all wrong?

What if grouping all audiences into the same retargeting campaign is actually doing more harm than good?

The truth is that a lot of people never give the attention or resources that’s needed to improve their retargeting campaigns. It’s an afterthought.

So today, we’re going to look at seven retargeting case studies that use some seriously creative tactics that I’ve never thought of… or even heard of.

With research showing that retargeting consistently outperforms all other targeting strategies, these tactics can have some huge impacts if done right.

I’ll break down each case study and show you the takeaways so you don’t have to read them in depth (but you can, if you’re nerdy like me).

Retargeting Case Study #1 – Mazda & Merchenta

Mazda had a simple goal of getting more butts in seats to test drive their cars. To do so, they reached out to Merchenta (a retargeting software company) to help get more website visitors into their local Mazda dealerships by way of some smart PPC ads.

Merchenta worked with Mazda to “drive” (pun intended) some impressive results with their proprietary IntelliAds solution. Here are some quick stats:

  1. Visitors who saw the IntelliAds converted at a 53% higher rate than the control group.
  2. The value of car sales through their retargeting was 98% higher than the offline average.
  3. They had an engagement rate of almost 20% from their ads.

So how do you replicate those results?

First, Merchenta created customized ads based on geographic radius to target people who are more likely to go to a specific Mazda dealership.

Second, they dynamically inserted the specific Mazda model(s) the site visitor was interested in (from their website activity) and matched the inventory with dealerships that were local to them.

Mazda Campaign
I’d never buy a Mazda, but this is pretty cool. (Image Source)

The coolest thing about this case study is that visitors went to the national Mazda site (not individual dealer sites) where Merchenta was able to connect with local dealership inventory to personalize the ads as much as possible.

Key Takeaways

To implement something similar yourself, you can use AdWords Dynamic Remarketing and create city-specific campaigns that have individual audience groups paired with specific products or offers on your site.

Even if you’re not a car manufacturer and handle all your business online, you can use the same principle by testing the idea on the cities that drive the most traffic.

You can look inside your AdWords dimensions tab to break down which cities should get their custom remarketing ads first.

Read more about the case study here.

Retargeting Case Study #2 – Watchfinder & Periscopix

Just like Mazda improved their retargeting ads with proximity, Watchfinder did so with audience granularity from Google Analytics.

Being the UK’s largest online watch dealer, Watchfinder had the same goals as any other good eCommerce store: To increase sales.

By using Google AdWords, they achieved some numbers you’ll surely be jealous of:

  1. In just 6 months, they achieved an ROI of 1,300% (for every dollar spent, they were getting $13 back).
  2. Average order value increased by 13%.
  3. Achieved CPAs that were 34% cheaper than non-brand search campaigns.

How’d they do it?

First, they created 20 specific audience lists that showed intent, but did not purchase.

Second, they defined these audiences by funnel stage, location, on-site behavior, and Internet service provider (ISP).

WF&Co Campaign
Ad creative was also split tested. (Image Source)

What’s crazy is that visitors from certain ISPs showed stronger engagement and higher conversion rates compared to other ISPs (this is where I almost cried).

Key Takeaways

Inside your Google Analytics account, you can slice and dice your audiences in different ways with the data there. In fact, you can create up to 2,000 different remarketing audiences within your account.

Once you’ve segmented enough audiences with your GA data, you can then target them as individual groups and import them into Google AdWords, and pair with your specific retargeting ads.

Read more about the case study here.

Retargeting Case Study #3 – eBags & Google

Okay, so you’ve learned two things so far:

  1. Proximity of ads to the location of the visitor works.
  2. Audience granularity shows what combinations work.

But what if you could check a few buttons to spend less time and resources to improve your retargeting performance? Let’s take a look at eBags.

Selling luggage ain’t exactly a sexy thing. But eBags isn’t your typical bag store either.

Selling more than 17 million bags since 1998, eBags knew they had huge retargeting potential, but what they did with their data was pretty creative. Here are some stats:

  1. With their regular ad spend being quite high, their retargeting added an additional 15% in revenue.
  2. Their efficiency (time spent managing retargeting campaigns) improved by 25%.

Wanna know how they did it?

First, eBags decided to automate their retargeting bidding process by using the AdWords Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) functionality.

Second, they used Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and added positive bid modifiers on past purchasers and shopping cart abandoners from the last seven days.

Third, they used Gmail Sponsored Promotions to cross-sell complementary products to people who just bought something from other retailers.

eBags Campaign
Image Source

To review, having the AdWords platform automatically find retargeting opportunities that are closest to your ROAS goals is brilliant.

Using RLSA ads to be more aggressive with comparison shoppers is super sneaky.

And cross-selling laptop bags to people who have bought computers from other retailers is just evil freakin’ genius.

Key Takeaways

First, using programmatic remarketing with ROAS targeting allows you to save time optimizing. To set this up, you’ll want to create what’s called a “flexible bid strategy”.

The ROAS flexible bid strategy is one of six you can create inside your AdWords Shared Library under “Bid Strategies”.

Second, RLSA ads help convert people who are comparison shopping on Google. You can add these to any campaign by going to your “Audiences” tab, adding the remarketing audience, selecting “Bid only”, and adding in your percentage bid modifier.

Third, Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) are a great way to target complementary products that go hand-in-hand with what you offer. You can create a GSP campaign by creating a regular display campaign and targeting the placement of mail.google.com.

After that, you’ll want to add in keywords on your competitors’ domains or the cross-sell opportunity domains you know about.

Read more about the case study here.

Retargeting Case Study #4 – Lumension & Just Media

Okay enough with eCommerce stores for now. Let’s take a look at a B2B retargeting example.

This retargeting case study comes from the fine folks over at MarketingSherpa.

With the help of their marketing agency, Just Media, Lumension, a global leader in endpoint security software, realized greater potential and effectiveness with their retargeting campaigns.

And without all the fancy things that eCommerce marketers can do when it comes to retargeting, this specific case study had some very interesting results. Here are a few of them:

  1. Lead volume went up 81% despite a 30% PPC budget cut.
  2. Targeted influencer traffic increased 10%.

Now you may be asking: “What the heck is targeted influencer traffic?”

That’s a phenomenal question.

Because I had no idea either.

Lumension didn’t just take a regular shotgun approach to retargeting (i.e. all visitors in one audience that gets the same message). They actually mixed both online and offline events to get the results they were looking for…

Online and Offline Event Marketing
I need more patience to do cool things like this. (Image Source)

First, they used a tactic they referred to as integrated retargeting. They worked with website publisher partners who covered events that interested Lumension’s target audience.

Lumension then cross-referenced site visitors with conference booth attendees to retarget online afterwards (this can partly be done with Google’s Customer Match feature).

Second, they worked with other media portals to retarget visitors who showed interest in competitor content. They could then target individuals who were in the market for IT security, but not in their funnel yet by using cookies the media portals would drop in the visitors’ browsers.

This is almost too good to be true, right?

Key Takeaways

You’re never limited to your own data when it comes to retargeting. Get creative by talking to publisher sites where your target audience hangs out and see what’s possible.

Read more about the case study here.

Retargeting Case Study #5 – Bebê Store & Google

If you’ve ever had a newborn baby, then you know that lack of sleep severely impacts your retargeting creativity.

The good thing is that employees of Bebê Store aren’t required to be newly baked parents themselves… they just have to be really good at selling stuff to them.

But even without a newborn, Bebê Store knew they needed some additional help when it came to driving more sales. They used some pretty cool Google AdWords retargeting features to achieve the following results:

  1. 98% lift in conversions with Conversion Optimizer in retargeting campaigns.
  2. 10% of all store conversions came from newly implemented Dynamic Remarketing.
  3. 71% higher conversion rates on ads with price installment plans.

Let’s take a closer look at how they did it.

Conversion Optimizer is an AdWords function that allows you to set your remarketing campaign on autopilot while using machine learning to find the best possible combination of targeting metrics to get you a conversion.

Conversion Optimizer will take into account the browsing behavior and other factors that tell Google that they’re ready to buy.

The craziest thing is that the 98% conversion increase was achieved in just two months.

They then used Dynamic Remarketing where they connected their Google Shopping feeds to create product carousel ads from specific product pages the visitor was on.

Bebe Campaign
Image Source

Lastly, they got smart and created static price installment ads that educated visitors that they could pay off their purchases over time. These ads alone got a 71% higher conversion rate compared to their other remarketing ads.

Key Takeaways

Don’t be afraid to switch up your retargeting creative to challenge conventional wisdom and use multiple ads to showcase different benefits of converting on your site.

Many times, changing the offer will help you push people through the funnel who otherwise wouldn’t have converted.

Read more about the case study here.

Retargeting Case Study #6 – Health Insurance & SteelHouse

Okay, so you now know about offline retargeting, the mix of Google Analytics, and some underutilized Google AdWords retargeting features.

These next two examples are nothing like the previous ones.

If SteelHouse is a metaphor for super solid retargeting strategies, then this retargeting solution surely picked a great company name.

SteelHouse, a New York based retargeting SaaS/service hybrid, helped the nation’s leading online healthcare marketplace (take a break and breathe) achieve some high tempo growth.

With over 4,000,000 enrollments, this marketplace turned to SteelHouse to scale their retargeting efforts.

Here’s what happened:

  1. Click through and conversion rates more than doubled in less than 3 months.
  2. Specific dynamic ads outperformed others by 2x margins.
Wellness Control
Dynamic scroll and countdown timer retargeting ads. (Image Source)

First, SteelHouse started creating a lot of different audience segments depending on different factors to isolate the performance of each. Something that should be done, even with regular search campaigns.

Second, countdown timer ads that spark a legit “fear of missing out” performed better than all other ad creative being tested. This was specifically due to the open enrollment period for healthcare being time-sensitive.

Wellness Variation
So clever. This is where I almost cried again. (Image Source)

Third, they created “lookalike” audiences that had similar browsing behaviors as their current retargeting lists to expand impression, click, and conversion volume.

Key Takeaways

Audience segmentation should be done with care. If your visitor pool is large, then take advantage of additional data points you can use to identify them, just like the Google Analytics Segments tactic we spoke about earlier.

Countdown timers worked best here, but make sure you that if you use this tactic, you actually have an offer that ends. Fake scarcity never works.

Lookalike Audiences are available in Facebook and are called “Similar Audiences” inside Google AdWords (Google automatically creates those audiences in your Shared Library).

Read more about the case study here.

Retargeting Case Study #7 – Chubbies & AdRoll

I’m a huge fan of Chubbies, even though I’ve never owned a pair of their famous shorts.

But even cool shorts don’t sell themselves.

So that’s where the retargeting platform, AdRoll, stepped in and delivered these stats:

  1. Social retargeting on Facebook that achieved a 35.5x ROI.
  2. Lowered the average campaign CPA to 72% below average.
  3. 4.6x above average conversions within 12 hours of campaign launch.
  4. 4.8x above average CTC rates.

As a lot of people use tools like AdRoll and Perfect Audience for social retargeting on Facebook and Twitter, Chubbies took advantage of AdRoll’s beautiful Liquid Ads to retarget beyond the social networks.

These things almost sell themselves. I want bacon and shorts. (Image Source)

They created a celebration campaign called “Fourth of Julyber Monday”. Basically, their own Black Friday.

Who does that?!

So in an addition to having an unfair advantage, what else did Chubbies do to achieve those impressive retargeting stats?

First, they split up their retargeting campaigns with different placement specifics.

One campaign was targeting the Facebook newsfeed, another was targeting the right-hand side bar, a third was targeting Twitter, and the fourth was across publisher websites.

This then allowed them to quickly optimize and prune ads / placements that weren’t performing well.

Second, they focused heavily on targeting past and present customers, which helped drive a Twitter cost per engagement (CPE) 81% below industry benchmarks.

Key Takeaways

Take advantage of all platforms that can target specific outlets. AdWords may have the biggest display reach, but AdRoll allows you to target Facebook too.

People who have already bought from you, whether lead gen, SaaS, or eCommerce, are perfect potentials to buy even more. Target old customers to re-engage.

You can create specific “Buyer” audiences in AdWords and AdRoll. Just make sure they don’t expire too soon (like 30 days). Set the retargeting pixel to expire 180 days or greater if you plan on running retargeting campaigns to bring past buyers back.

Read more about the case study here.


You’ve read the case studies and seen the proof. It’s time for you to act.

We both know that it’s easier to convert people who already know you.

What other retargeting case studies have you found that helped you improve your PPC performance?

Let me know with a quick comment or I’ll retarget you until you do.

Join the Conversation Add Your Comment

  1. Lol hey Johnathon

    I told you I was a retargeting nerd!

    We ran a case study recently with an ecommerce company where they generated $18,750 in sales in 48 hours for $114 in Facebook retargeting (90 was traffic generation only 24 was actually retargeting)

    They made more sales in 48 hours than months combined – the case study was inbound.org article of the week (just search $18,750 and you’ll find it)

    Would love for you to check it out if you get the time


    1. Hahaha, no you weren’t!

      Just checked out that article, and that’s INSANE!
      I’m a huge fan of multiple steps (although it takes more time) to really knock something out of the park.

      Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Hey buddy

    Thanks for checking it out!

    Yeah it definitely takes more time. I tend to specialise in higher ticket items so I follow a process of relationship building towards the sale

    A lot of offline methods duplicated in an automated online environment, so it can tend to be a longer game plan but with more focused and eager leads when they hit the offer :D

    Looking forward to your next post!


  3. EXCELLENT material Johnathan! Now I just have to figure out how to implement the suggestions.

  4. Great article, I tried searching for Mercenta but couldn’t find it because they’re called Merchenta :)


    1. Shanelle Mullin

      Thanks for catching that, Omar! We’ve fixed it.

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7 Retargeting Case Studies That’ll Boost Your Current Campaigns