The secret to getting high performing retargeting ads

Shoelace retargeting ads
Reza Khadjavi Reza Khadjavi | CEO at Shoelace

Okay, okay, pardon the click-bait headline. There is no real secret. Sorry! But there is definitely a very under-appreciated fact that plays a big role in how well your retargeting ads perform.

If you are an e-commerce entrepreneur in 2017, I imagine you are doing some kind of retargeting. Whether it’s through an app like Shoelace or doing it yourself in Facebook’s Power Editor, you’ve likely got some ads running to bring past website visitors back to your store. If this sounds like you, then you are likely also plagued with the following question:

What can I do to get my retargeting ads to perform better?

This is a great question. It has many different answers, but I’ve noticed that people often overlook the most fundamental aspect to getting high performing retargeting ads: The quality of your website traffic will determine how well your retargeting ads do.

This is an important point to recognize before even thinking about how you can optimize your ads. The basic principle is:

If the quality of your traffic is good, your retargeting ads will perform well. If the quality of your traffic is poor, your retargeting ads will perform poorly. End of story.

How can I tell if the quality of my traffic is poor?

The best way to assess the quality of your traffic is by looking at your conversion rate, using the following formula:

total orders ÷ unique traffic * 100 = your conversion rate

Shopify makes it very easy to dig this number up! Just head over to your Dashboard and you can see your conversion rate right there.

What is a good conversion rate?

This depends heavily on the type of store you have, but here is a rough benchmark you can compare against:

  • Less than 0.5% (poor)
  • 0.5% to 1.5% (getting there)
  • 1.5 to 3% (average)
  • 3% to 5% (phenomenal)
  • Over 5% (rock star status!!)

If you are in the Less than 0.5% camp, don’t despair! You are not completely doomed. However, it is important to be realistic with your expectations on how your retargeting ads will perform.


No matter where you fall on this list, the idea is to always try and improve this metric. Keep track of it over time and see how you are doing against yourself from previous months. Hopefully you are gradually seeing your conversion rate rising up!


Why does poor quality traffic negatively affect my retargeting ads?

Ah. I thought, you’d never ask. The best way to explain this is by using a veryextreme example to make the point:

  • Say you have an online store that sells women’s sandals. Like these ones:
  • And say the majority of the traffic coming to your store is (somehow) men over the age of 65. Kinda like these fellas over here:


You can micro-optimize the heck out of your retargeting ads, change the creatives, play around with ad copy and all kinds of other crazy things but that’s not going to help, is it?

The fundamental problem in this example is that the visitors who came to your website were not the right people to begin with!

Remember that website visitors are REAL people, not just numbers and percentages on a dashboard! Getting in front of the right people matters.


Imagine the thought of wasting precious ad dollars retargeting the crew of older fellas from the photo above with ads about your women’s sandals. Realistically they are not going to convert and you are lighting your money in flames. Bad idea.


Should I still do retargeting if my conversion rate is below 0.5%?

Yes, you should. But here are a couple of things I would recommend if you find yourself in this situation:

    1. Make it your number one priority to drive that conversion rate number higher and drive better quality traffic to your store!


    1. Focus your retargeting efforts on highly interested visitors. For example, instead of retargeting *everyone* that visited your website, only retarget the people who abandoned cart and ignore everyone else (for now).


What else can cause my conversion rate to be low?

Besides the quality of your traffic, there are indeed several other factors that can be the cause of your conversion rates being low. Some of those other factors are:

  • Your shipping prices
  • Your website load speed
  • The colour of your checkout button (that one’s a joke :D)

While there are certainly other things at play that affect your conversion rates, I would advise against getting too caught up on micro-optimization tactics like: A/B testing the colour of your checkout button. That is until you are fairly confident that you’ve solved the quality traffic piece. Then, micro-optimize to your heart’s desire!

Happy retargeting!

-Reza Khadjavi
CEO at Shoelace

If you want an intelligent retargeting assistant to take care of all your retargeting for $199/month, consider trying Shoelace today!

You may also like

Supercharge Your Email Campaigns With Our All-new Klaviyo Integration

Leverage the full power of Klaviyo in your retargeting strategy Reaching your entire audience with consistent and personalized brand messaging...

Read More
Announcing Dynamic Review Ads with Shoelace and Okendo

Create social proof and increase conversions by leveraging your best customer generated reviews within your retargeting ads. It’s a fact...

Read More
Announcing Loyalty Retargeting with Shoelace and Smile

Increase customer retention, build loyalty and grow sales by promoting your rewards program through retargeting. The cost of acquiring new...

Read More