How to Effectively Use Retargeting as Part of Your Holiday Marketing Strategy


Editor’s Note: This article is a guest contribution from Ari Simchi, vice president of revenue at Group 8A

The fourth quarter often feels like a mad dash to the finish line as companies look to wrap up the year strong. 

For many, the biggest payoff of filling the marketing funnels they’ve built throughout the year comes in Q4, when consumerism, product demand, conversion rates, and average order values are all at their peak. 

With the right marketing strategy, which includes intelligently re-engaging with audiences you’ve already educated about your brand, your company will be able to sprint to the end of the year-long marathon.

The higher levels of consumerism toward the end of the year offer tremendous opportunity, but they’re also coupled with higher levels of marketplace competition. This is especially true in 2020 since the global COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growing trend toward ecommerce from traditional brick-and-mortar retail. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re converting customers who are in the funnel you’ve strategically created.

As opposed to prospecting campaigns, which help you create awareness for your brand and your products, retargeting campaigns re-engage users who have already visited and engaged with your website and help drive conversions. 

Here’s how you can effectively use retargeting to increase sales from new or existing customers as part of your holiday marketing strategy.

Segment your audience

While retargeting is a broad term, brands should be thinking about how to divide broad audiences into specific segments based on distinguishing factors (i.e., men’s clothing shoppers vs. women’s clothing shoppers), for their retargeting campaigns. 

At the highest level, you can segment your audience into two groups: people who have previously ordered from your website and people who have visited your website but haven’t yet ordered. 

Beyond that, you can segment your audience even further. With the amount of customer data marketers now have at our fingertips, strategically putting a segmentation strategy in place can make all the difference between effective and ineffective retargeting campaigns. 

Here are some beginner, intermediate, and advanced marketing tips that can be helpful as you think about how you’ll implement segmentation as part of your retargeting campaigns. 

Beginner tip 

Segmentation can be used to determine who NOT to reach out to during certain time periods. 

For example, depending on the product you’re selling, it often can be beneficial to exclude recent purchasers (past 14 days) from your marketing channels.  

This can help you avoid spending marketing dollars on people who are unlikely to re-purchase currently. It can also help you provide a better user experience for those people who have recently placed an order.

Intermediate tip  

Segmentation can be a powerful tool in ensuring high levels of deliverability, which is a key component of a strong email program. 

For example, by creating a segment of recent engagers/openers (i.e., people who have engaged with or opened your emails in the last 30 days), you should often see high open rates. You can then leverage this performance to consistently expand that audience size (e.g., send to people who have engaged with or opened your emails in the last 45, 60, 90 days, etc.). 

Advanced tip  

You can effectively couple segmentation with your email or SMS flows as part of your email marketing program.  

For example, after 45 days, if someone has joined your newsletter, is engaging with your messages, and has never purchased, send them through a flow and offer them your best discount to see if that triggers them to make a purchase. This is a segmentation and flow combination that I’ve seen success with previously.

Personalize your retargeting campaigns

Once you’ve determined your segments, you can create personalized messaging that speaks directly to their shopping patterns. You can also address potential concerns that might be holding someone back from making a purchase. 

Personalization can also come in the form of how often you communicate with your audience. Here are a few scenarios that show how you can combine segmentation and personalization based on audience behaviors as part of your retargeting campaigns. 


As a first example, companies can look at what pages on their website people have visited. In the case of a clothing company with a broad assortment of clothing, you can create a segment based on groups of people who only browse women’s jeans. Then, you can personalize your messaging to that audience in your retargeting campaigns by featuring women’s jeans as opposed to men’s sweaters or other categories.

You could also look at how far a visitor has made it in their purchase journey on your site. You can create a segment that includes browsers who have reached the checkout stage. Then, you can personalize the messages for that audience in your retargeting campaigns and feature information like discount incentives, trust-building messages, or policy-related messages like free shipping and returns information.


Like with non-purchasers, you can also segment your existing purchasers into different groups and provide more personalized messaging for the purpose of cross-selling or up-selling to them.  

For example, you can create a segment of people who have only ever purchased sale items from your site and then send them personalized ads or emails that focus on sale items or sale messaging. 

You can also look at when customers made their purchases and segment them for future communications. For example, a baby clothing brand could segment people who purchased baby clothing in sizes for one-year-old babies and then one year later personalize messaging to them that focused on styles for two-year-old children.

Here are a few more beginner, intermediate, and advanced marketing tips on how to add personalization to your retargeting efforts in order to take your segmentation to the next level.

Beginner tip 

When you have an opportunity, personalize the content of your emails with the recipient’s first name.  

All you need to do is add {{ first_name }} to the email in Klaviyo, and the person’s name will appear.  

Use this personalization technique to let your customers know that you know who they are and that they’re not just another email address. Want to take it a step further? Add fall back text, which is the insertion of a more generic term in replacement of the customer’s name if the customer has not yet provided their name (e.g., Hi friend).

Intermediate tip  

If you use a loyalty rewards program, you can send various personalized messages to people.  

For example, if you have customers with 900 points and the next level of your rewards program starts when they reach 1,000 points, send you customers who are nearing that range an email or SMS that lets them know they’re close to unlocking the next level. You can remind customers that they have points to use, how many points they have available, and suggest they use them toward their next purchase.

Advanced tip

A repeat purchase/nurture flow is a fantastic area where you can use personalization. By analyzing your customer data and understanding if your customer has purchased once, twice, or multiple times, you can then use that information and let your customer know how much you appreciate their business by personalizing what your next email says. 

Using a fashion website as an example, you can personalize the email by showing them other products they’re interested in based on their previous purchasing behavior. You can make the customer experience memorable and keep them loyal to your brand.

Track and plan your customer touchpoints

Once you’ve planned out your segmentation strategy and you’ve developed personalized messaging, you can then map out a multi-channel roll-out of your retargeting campaigns in a way that will positively resonate with your audiences. 

You can apply your plan across various channels, like email, SMS, paid social, paid search, display marketing, and more. 

To ensure your efforts are effective, it’s crucial to make sure your strategy is in sync across all your marketing channels. In that sense, determine which segments you’ll reach across which channels, and with what frequency across each channel and with what message. 

Here are a few more beginner, intermediate, and advanced marketing tips to help you properly track and plan your retargeting strategies across multiple channels. 

Beginner tip

If new potential customers have been browsing your website but not adding to their carts or starting the checkout process, consider showing branded content that matches the content in your welcome series. Let these visitors know more about your brand and ensure you stay consistent with your messaging.  

In terms of frequency, it’s best to keep your Facebook/Instagram ads to a limit of three  (the number of times someone will see your ad) over the course of seven days. If potential customers have added to their carts or they’ve started the checkout process, you can increase the frequency to five to seven ads over the course of seven days.  

Intermediate tip 

Monitoring the attribution of your retargeting campaigns beyond just a “last interaction” basis can help you determine which channels drive the most conversions. 

Using Google Analytics’ Model Comparison Tool, you can compare channel performance using different attribution methods (e.g., last interaction vs. first interaction vs. linear vs. time decay vs. position based). 

Advanced tip 

Take attribution one step further by actually viewing and analyzing all of your click-based customer touchpoints. 

You can use the Top Conversion Paths report to see where in the customer journey each channel is most impactful and how frequently customers interact with those channels before purchase.  

This can help you visualize, on a channel basis, your customer’s path to purchase, including the retargeting components of your funnel.


Key takeaway

With online shopping increasing exponentially this year, there’s no question we’re in for a huge ecommerce holiday season. Sprint hard to the finish line and stand apart from your competitors by offering messaging that’s on-point and on-time with your audiences.  

How each brand applies these principles will be unique to their online business, products, customers, and more,  but core techniques like these should help enhance all your efforts towards the goal of finishing the year off strong.

Looking for more advice on how to prepare your business for the holidays? 

Ecommerce experts share insights to help you get your business ready for the holiday rush.

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