A Guide to B2B Retargeting

B2B marketing is becoming increasingly complex as new technologies emerge, consumer behavior shifts and competition grows. The market is saturated with brands vying for the B2B consumer’s attention to buy their product or service. But how can brands cut through the noise and effectively engage the correct audience? The answer: B2B retargeting, a powerful marketing technique that delivers ads to customers who have previously interacted with your company. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the value of B2B retargeting, how it works, and best practices and strategies for executing successful campaigns.

B2B vs B2C Retargeting: Know the Difference

B2B and B2C retargeting differ based on the audience and how to communicate with them. As such, there are notable differences in how you reengage B2B audiences versus B2C. 

  • Target buyer: B2C companies target individual buyers in their marketing campaigns. B2B companies, however, may target multiple buyers as most businesses have a buying center, comprised of several decision-makers, who ultimately decide which products or services to purchase.
  • Audience size: B2B companies have a smaller pool of customers compared to B2C, which requires them to be more intentional about making quality connections with customers.
  • Success metrics: With B2B retargeting, ROI is a key indicator of campaign success. In contrast, B2C marketers are more focused on increasing brand awareness.

One of the key differences between B2B and B2C retargeting is the complexity of the conversion process. B2C sales tend to be emotionally driven and customers often make fast purchase decisions. The relationship with B2C customers is more transactional, allowing marketers to use punchy, bite-sized content to drive purchases. 

B2B sales, on the other hand, are generally more complex and take longer to close as purchase decisions depend on several factors, like business needs, industry trends, budget, and more. As such, B2B sales rely on building meaningful relationships with customers, and businesses must provide multiple resources—like educational content, in-depth guides, case studies, and product demonstrations—to support customers’ decision-making. 

Why Is Retargeting Essential for B2B Companies?

According to Marketo, approximately 96% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy. Therefore, it’s not enough to hope customers take action––or even remember you––after seeing a single ad. This is especially true considering it takes eight touchpoints on average to convert a B2B prospect into a customer.

B2B retargeting helps to re-engage people who have visited your website, engaged with you on social media, or clicked on an ad. This marketing technique helps to keep your product or service top-of-mind and drive traffic back to your website. You may consider combining retargeting with your B2B remarketing strategy, as retargeted ads can yield the following benefits for B2B businesses:

Increases Brand Exposure and Awareness

One of the primary goals of B2B retargeting campaigns is increased brand awareness and exposure. Retargeting enables you to deliver relevant ads to prospects who have previously engaged with your brand, reminding them of your products or services and improving your brand’s awareness and recall. 

Boosts Conversion Rates

Your conversion rate can make or break your B2B sales pipeline. With retargeting, you can significantly improve your conversions––by 161% in some cases––serving as an effective conversion tool for B2B companies. Furthermore, the click-through rate (CTR) for a retargeting ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad and consumers who see a retargeting ad are 70% more likely to convert. 

Fast-Tracks Sales

As mentioned earlier, B2B sales generally take longer to close than B2C sales. According to data from CSO Insights, three out of four B2B companies take a minimum of four months to close a sale with new customers. Retargeting can help shorten your sales cycle by reaching warm prospects––those who have already shown interest in your brand––increasing their recall and facilitating faster decision-making. 

Nurtures Leads and Recaptures Lost Ones

The B2B sales cycle is complex, and most often leads must interact with your brand several times before making a purchase or engaging with your sales team. You can employ retargeting to encourage leads to take meaningful action, like booking a sales call or signing up for a trial, which may ultimately lead to a sale. Other times, leads are completely lost in the nurturing process. With retargeting, you can deliver personalized ads that are designed to reengage and reignite their interest in your brand.

Maximizes Marketing ROI

B2B marketing is not only cost-effective, but it can also help B2B companies maximize their profits. Retargeting display ads generally have a lower cost-per-action (CPA) than standard display ads while delivering higher engagement, awareness, click-through rates, and conversions. 

How Do Retargeting Campaigns for B2B Work?

There are two primary methods for delivering retargeting ads, and each has unique advantages based on your marketing campaign goals.

Retargeting Based on Lists

List-based retargeting delivers ads to leads or prospects whose email you’ve already collected likely through a sign-up, gated content, or previous sale. While less common than pixel-based retargeting, this method allows marketers to send highly personalized ads based on specific criteria rather than behavior alone. These customers are generally further down the sales funnel than those who’ve simply visited your website, and they’re more likely to reengage with your company.

The process can be completed in two simple steps:

  1. Upload your email list to your platform of choice, like Facebook or LinkedIn. Some platforms may allow you to connect your customer relationship management (CRM) database.
  2. The platform identifies users with matching emails and shows them specific ads.

Most platforms provide specific instructions for delivering list-based retargeting ads to their users. It’s important to note, however, that customers may have given you an email address that is different from the one used for the social media platform. In this case, the customer won’t see your ad.

Also, list-based retargeting is mostly a manual process, as it requires you to upload and maintain contact lists to be successful. In contrast, pixel-based retargeting is more automatic and requires less manual effort from marketers.

Retargeting Based on Pixels

The other form of retargeting uses pixel-based technologies to track people who’ve visited your website and serve them ads based on their online behavior. 

Here’s how pixel-based retargeting works:

  • A potential customer visits your website.
  • retargeting pixel, which is a snippet of code, is embedded in their browser.
  • As this user continues browsing other sites and platforms, the tracking pixel triggers retargeting platforms like Google and Facebook to serve targeted ads based on the user’s online activity.

There are several key advantages to using pixels for retargeting:

  1. Personalization: Although website visitors are generally anonymous, you can still reach potential customers with highly relevant and personalized campaigns by tailoring ads to the pages and products they browsed and their online behavior. 
  2. Timeliness: Pixel-based retargeting is more automated compared to list-based retargeting, allowing marketers to reengage visitors within seconds of leaving your website.
  3. Exposure: While retargeting audiences may be small depending on the volume of people who visit your site, this method gives you more opportunities to get your product or service in front of the user—increasing brand recall and recognition.

Implementing pixel-based retargeting may require more technical skills compared to list-based retargeting. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to help you get started, like this guide on Google Ads remarketing.

Top 6 B2B Retargeting Strategies and Best Practices

Your retargeting strategy should be customized to meet your specific business goals. However, there are a few standard steps that can lead to maximum success. This section of the guide covers B2B retargeting best practices for running high-performing campaigns.

1. Define Your B2B Target Audience

The first step is to identify the audience you’re aiming to retarget based on your campaign goals. Understanding exactly who you’re retargeting allows you to create ads that are relevant to them, increasing the chances of re-engagement. It also helps you determine other aspects of the campaign, like the appropriate messaging, creative, channel, and call-to-action (CTA). 

One way to ensure you’re targeting the right audience and optimizing your ad spend is with predictive retargeting. This technology uses AI and advanced data analysis to better predict which customers are most likely to reengage based on their activity, like page views, searches, subscriptions, and purchases. With predictive retargeting, you can identify and exclude users with a low likelihood of re-engagement and optimize your campaign to target only those who are most likely to revisit your website and convert. 

Defining your target audience ensures that retargeting ads are personalized and served to the right people at the right time, maximizing your campaign’s impact.

2. Segment Your Audience by Sales Funnel Stage

Prospects typically move through several buying stages before making a purchase. B2B sales funnels vary from company to company, but they generally include five key stages:

  1. Awareness: At this stage, people are looking for answers, resources, education, and insight to solve a problem or meet a specific need.
  2. Interest: Once a prospect has learned about your brand, most likely through an ad or branded content, they begin to assess your offerings based on their interest level.
  3. Evaluation: In this phase, prospects are weighing their options and making final decisions about buying a brand’s product or service.
  4. Engagement: The qualified lead is actively engaging with the sales team through presentations, product demonstration calls, and other activities.
  5. Purchase: Finally, the deal is closed, and the lead is successfully converted into a paying customer.

You can often determine where a visitor is in their buying journey by the actions they take on your website. For example, someone who reads a blog post before leaving your site is likely still in the awareness stage, whereas someone who visits a conversion page may be further down the B2B sales funnel. With retargeting, you can use tags and behavioral data to better segment your audience based on their buying stage and develop a specific strategy to recapture them and move them to the next stage in the funnel.

3. Create Specific Landing Pages and Ads for Each Segment 

The next step is to ensure the retargeting ads and landing pages are relevant to each audience segment. You’ll want to consider broader audience insights (target age, industry, company, etc.), their most recent interaction with your brand, and the sales funnel stage. Relevance is the key to driving action, and your content and offers should be aligned with each factor to reengage customers effectively.

B2B customers are searching for specific content based on where they are in the sales funnel. If customers are in the awareness stage, retargeting them with a helpful blog post, educational video, or another top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) resource should recapture their attention. At the evaluation stage, however, ads that prompt customers to read positive customer testimonials or sign up for a free trial are more effective. 

The goal is to deliver highly relevant messages that stand out in the sea of content, encourage customers to return to your website and convert them into customers.

Align Landing Page and Ad’s Relevant Content and Offers 

To provide a consistent customer experience, your landing page must match your ad campaign. The ad copy, design, and CTA should align with the content and offers featured on the landing page to which you are driving customers. A mismatch will likely cause visitors to leave your site without taking action, and there’s a chance they’ll never return as it could damage their trust in your brand. 

Adjust Ad Targeting and Exclusion Parameters

Retargeting isn’t an exact science, but adjusting ad targeting and exclusion parameters can help ensure your ads reach the right people. Targeting parameters help you find the right audience for your ads by serving them only when users meet certain criteria, like a particular age, gender, income, location, browser type, or a variety of other factors. 

Exclusion parameters are equally important when narrowing down your retargeting audience. Exclusions enable you to specify what criteria you don’t want to target, helping you to avoid re-engaging unqualified leads. Most retargeting platforms will also allow you to exclude domains to prevent certain websites from showing your ads.

4. Implement Campaigns for Retargeting Across Channels

Within minutes, your target customers can switch from searching topics on Google to opening their Instagram account, watching a video on YouTube, or reading an article. An omnichannel retargeting campaign can help ensure you reach your target audience—no matter where they are online—and recapture their attention. 

B2B retargeting works across multiple digital marketing channels, including:

  • Programmatic display: Display retargeting serves ads to your audience while they’re browsing other websites, and ads appear based on topics and users’ interests.
  • Paid search: Retargeted search ads are shown to customers while they’re actively looking for products, services, or information related to what you offer. These ads are delivered based on users’ queries and can help increase brand search by 1046%.
  • Social media: Retargeting ads on social media platforms allows you to reengage users with relevant offers while they scroll through their social feeds. LinkedIn, for example, is rated as the most effective channel for driving high-quality leads by 40% of B2B marketers.

Delivering ads across multiple channels improves your chances of reaching your target audience online and driving them toward meaningful customer action.

5. Personalize and Test Your Ads

Personalization leverages multiple sources of data to tailor retargeted ads to customers’ interests, desires, and behavior. This enables marketers to message, design, and deliver ads in a way that aligns and resonates with their target customers—increasing re-engagement. 

For optimal results, it’s best to test ads to determine which version of your content performs the best with specific audiences. Most advertisers will use A/B testing, or split testing, to compare two versions of an ad. With this approach, you can test a specific element, like the CTA or headline, or test two completely different versions to determine which version performs the best. Ongoing testing ensures that you’re serving the most effective ad to your audience while maximizing your ad spend.

6. Establish an Iterative Process of Analysis and Optimization 

The B2B industry is constantly evolving, causing consumer behavior to shift unexpectedly. For this reason, it’s important to get into the habit of analyzing and optimizing your retargeting campaigns for optimal success. With most platforms, you can monitor key metrics in real time and make the necessary adjustments to improve performance. At the end of each campaign, it’s best practice to review your campaign, identify areas of improvement, and modify your retargeting strategy to drive better results in the future.

What Are Some Common Mistakes To Avoid?

B2B retargeting is an effective digital advertising technique. But these common mistakes can cause you to miss out on opportunities to engage your ideal customers:

  • Not defining your campaign goals: Determine what action you’d like customers to take—like downloading an ebook, signing up for a free trial, or scheduling a sales call—and build your campaign to achieve that outcome. Without clear goals, you risk wasting valuable time and money.
  • Retargeting everyone (or over-targeting): Retargeting broad audiences means you’ll likely reach unqualified prospects who are less likely to re-engage and convert. Conversely, you should avoid segmenting audiences too narrowly as you may exclude qualified leads and miss out on potential sales.
  • Not setting a frequency cap: When the same customer sees an ad too often, they often become annoyed and experience ad fatigue, leading to a negative customer experience. As a result, ads become less effective and you could waste valuable ad spend.
  • Using ineffective creative and messaging: Retargeting ads should use high-quality messaging and creative that is personalized to your target audience. As we discussed above, A/B testing can help determine the most effective ad to drive re-engagement.
  • Neglecting to track campaign performance: The set-and-forget approach doesn’t work well with B2B retargeting. If you’re not monitoring your campaign’s performance, you’ll likely miss out on key opportunities to engage the right audience and convert highly qualified leads.

Elevate B2B Retargeting With AI-Driven Performance

B2B retargeting is an effective way to nurture and recapture lost leads to drive increased conversions and, ultimately, sales. As a full-service AI-enabled advertising partner, AUDIENCEX can and help you develop a custom, omnichannel retargeting strategy that re-engages the right people, increases conversions, and maximizes performance on your ad spend.

Our expert teams drive results for every client, effectively leveraging holistic strategies backed by tech-enabled creative services, seamless media buying, privacy-safe data access, and futureproof AI-enabled tools. We can empower your campaigns to reach the right audience, autonomously optimize in real time based on performance, and provide full visibility into results and attribution across channels. Reach out today to learn how we can help you achieve true, scalable performance and grow your B2B revenue.