9 Retargeting Strategy Lessons from SaaS Marketing Agency Life

retargeting strategy lessons from saas marketing agency

As a SaaS marketing agency, we have had the fortune of exploring the digital marketing puzzle from a variety of lenses. With digital marketing platforms constantly evolving, it is hard enough to keep up with primary marketing strategies. That said, retargeting plays an even more critical role in the SaaS marketing funnel. Before we get into the mechanics of it, here are some remarkable 2021 remarketing stats collected by Sharpspring and Ascend2:

  • Marketers are constantly evaluating retargeting solutions
  • B2B marketers worry about resources and brand image when considering retargeting.
  • Only 27% of marketers are extremely satisfied with the ability to determine the ROI of retargeting

Once you read through our thoughts on retargeting, you will see why retargeting is in this constant state of change as indicated by the stats above.

Retargeting is how you will improve your core SaaS marketing metrics – cost per lead, lead conversion rate, marketing efficiency and so on. The purpose of retargeting for your SaaS business will be to build credibility, to increase brand recall and to offer something of greater value, with the ultimate goal of better ROI (than without retargeting).

B2B SaaS retargeting is challenging. The reasons are many – it is hard to measure, it is hard to pinpoint the true value, and it is plain hard to execute and maintain. Executing retargeting and executing it well are two very different things. Based on our experiences as a SaaS marketing agency, here’s our take on how to retarget well.

Must Dos for SaaS Retargeting

  1. Have a robust first touch SaaS marketing strategy in place
  2. Evaluate multiple platform options for retargeting
  3. Have a clear plan to measure the value of retargeting

Do Nots for SaaS Retargeting

  1. Mix retargeting with a primary marketing strategy
  2. Set it and forget it
  3. Assume that retargeting strategy is the same for every lifecycle stage

Things to be Cautious About When Retargeting Your SaaS Prospects

  1. In-market lifespan of retargeted audience
  2. Content Variety for Your Prospects
  3. Retargeting the Device vs the Person

Must Dos for SaaS Retargeting

SaaS marketing strategy isn’t just about doing a bit of PPC, a dab of LinkedIn ads, and a sprinkle of Facebook ads. Your marketing strategy depends on a number of factors. Once fully explored, the actual strategy to implement becomes very apparent. In a nutshell, define your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), where they are typically found, how to reach them, and their level of awareness of the problem your SaaS solves.

For instance, if you are a new SaaS in an emerging vertical, your marketing strategy will be brand and problem-awareness focused. If you are in a relatively well-known vertical, then your marketing strategy and goals should focus on a combination of brand awareness and acquiring bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) leads.

While site retargeting is the most commonly thought of retargeting approach, for SaaS remarketing there are actually a few other platforms to keep in mind when creating a retargeting strategy.

The first option is the most obvious one – retargeting visitors on the site with a different message and different offer when visitors show signs of abandoning without a lead converting action. For example, if the visitor has come to the site searching for “accounting solutions for small businesses”, we know this visitor is in the bottom of the funnel or ready to make a decision. However, if the visitor doesn’t convert (which happens about 97% of the time), then consider showing a pop-up that offers the visitor something that helps make the decision.

Once visitors have left your site, then true site retargeting can happen. Where to recapture your visitors’ attention should be a conscious decision. The first choice should be the platform that your visitors originated on. For example, if you acquired the visitors through LinkedIn, then consider retargeting non-converting visitors on LinkedIn. We call this same platform retargeting. The advantage of this option is that you can leverage options that allow you to easily retarget visitors that clicked on your ad. This is particularly important when using lead Gen forms that keep the visitors on the platform.

Next consider cross-platform retargeting. In other words, your site visitors originated on one platform, and you will capture their attention on different platform. The best platform for this option is the one that provides most access to your audience while allowing fine grained segmentation capabilities. Our top three options for cross-platform retargeting are Google, Facebook, and AdRoll. We would have included LinkedIn in our shortlist, but the segmentation capabilities are too basic to make it a top choice.

For example, you can create very specific definitions for your audience using Google Analytics and then import those definitions into Google Ads:

While Facebook doesn’t have the same level of sophistication, it makes up for it by offering ability to implement up to 100 pixels and defining custom events to expand and refine your target audience:

The problem with retargeting often is that there isn’t always an easy path to tying the conversion back to the retargeting effort. When you design your retargeting strategy, think in advance how it is going to be measured. Because if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Rely on standard query string parameters to tag traffic. For example, when running campaigns on the Google platform, use UTM parameters and not auto-tagging. Use intuitive naming conventions for your campaigns. Understand the exact percentage bump you are receiving by using in-platform lead Gen forms. Make a data driven decision on sending traffic back to your website because cross-platform retargeting requires a common place where pixels for multiple platforms can be implemented. Build a robust SaaS marketing analytics framework to measure both primary and retargeting activities.

Do Nots for SaaS Retargeting

Keeping retargeting activities pure helps maintain the integrity of the retargeting measurement process. The most common and tempting way to mix retargeting is by using lookalike audiences in your campaign. Lookalike audiences are a great way to expand your audience size. You should certainly do it, but create separate campaigns for these lookalike audiences.

Another thing that commonly happens is that the retargeted audience ends up on the same pages that were used in the original segmentation. As a result, the audience gets tainted with you losing control of the retargeting experience as well as impacting the measurement. If you intend to send retargeted audience to the same pages on your site, then define the segments in a way that will exclude them from further retargeting.

Once you have graduated from a single touch marketing strategy, you will need to start thinking of the entire experience when you make adjustments. Graduate your metrics to use visitor level definitions for CPL, conversion, and traffic. This is a great way to ensure that you haven’t just checked the retargeting checkbox in your SaaS marketing process.

Retargeting is actually more resource intensive than single-touch marketing is. You aren’t creating just one asset and one set of ads, you have to create at least 3 assets, just as many ad sets, and constantly monitor and adjust your entire multi-touch experience. When you make the decision to retarget, set these expectations internally so it doesn’t become a one-time tactic that did not work.

For b2b SaaS marketing, the prospect to customer lifecycle stages can be grouped into awareness, consideration, and decision. Within awareness, there are still more distinctions such as brand awareness vs problem awareness. You could acquire prospects in any one of these lifecycle stages. As you build out your primary marketing strategy for each lifecycle stage, know that each strategy could have a retargeting component to it.

Have a strong handle on the opportunity and the metrics associated with strategy so you can prioritize retargeting initiatives for each of these.

Things to be Cautious About When Retargeting Your SaaS Prospects

When you define an audience, it is very tempting to expand the size of the audience by simply increasing the lifespan of the membership of the segment. There are two reasons to be careful about this.

First, whether you are part of the conversation or not, your retargeted prospects are following their own schedule for picking a SaaS solution. As a result, it makes no sense to have a conversation at the top of the funnel if your prospects have made their way to the bottom of the funnel. Create multiple touch points in your retargeting funnel so you have the opportunity to talk to your prospects at various stages. Define the lifespan of this audience carefully so it supports your multi-touch strategy.

The second reason is cost. Many ad platforms use CPM pricing model. They charge for the impression and not for the click. It is very easy to blow your retargeting budget on impressions for prospects that have moved on to the next lifecycle stage.

As mentioned before, you need at least three different assets for a strong retargeting plan. These assets could be for different stages of the buyers’ lifecycle, or they could be three assets targeting the same lifecycle stage. The point is that your prospects need variety. This variety should come in form of ad creative, messaging, as well as the marketing asset.

Saving the best lesson for the last, remember that the pixel placed is on your visitors’ browsers. While retargeting these devices is a fine approach, you will stand to benefit greatly by retargeting the person. Unfortunately the magic cookie that can be a unified ID to retarget prospects isn’t quite universal…yet.

For b2b SaaS customers, the decision to purchase is often a group decision. As a result, knowing the name of the account that is visiting your site can be very powerful. This gets into ABM territory, but if you aren’t ready to sign up for an ABM tool, you can still use visitor identification technologies to find the account name. after that, it is simply a matter of building an account retargeting audience and campaign.

In summary, your SaaS retargeting strategy can be a tremendous boost to your SaaS marketing efforts. You can increase your lead conversion rate significantly. However, retargeting comes at a price – the size of the initial effort, the cost to run, the cost to measure, and the cost to maintain can all add up quickly. We hope you will be able to use the lessons we have shared with you as you shape your retargeting strategy. Of course, if you want to fast-track it, we’re ready to help!