How One Small Business Made Retargeting Ads that Earned a 3,879 Percent ROI

1250ships.com uses Google remarketing ads in Mailchimp to build their brand's reputation on a limited budget.

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As a one-man operation, it’s important for Chris Daley, founder of 1250Ships.com, to spend as little time and money on marketing as possible, but still look like he’s spending a lot.

When he was first getting started, back in 2002, this wasn’t so simple. For one, he had to develop and run his own e-commerce website to sell the different models of miniature ships he keeps stocked in his home garage in Southern California.

“It definitely wasn’t easy, especially if I wanted to integrate with other services,” Chris says. “But now that I’m on Shopify and can use it with tools like Mailchimp, I’m able to look as good as bigger companies.”

And with Google remarketing ads in Mailchimp, he can reach potential customers on a variety of prominent sites across the web to help build his brand’s reputation.

“That gives people who find my site the feeling that this is a real business,” he says.

Here’s how Chris set up a Google remarketing ad that has brought in more than $8,200 in revenue, snagged 19 first-time buyers, and led to a 3,879% ROI in its first 3 months.

Spread your message across different channels

Since Chris already emails his customers at least twice a month, adding retargeting ads to the mix just made sense.

His bulk campaigns usually generate open rates of at least 40% and bring in anywhere from $200 to $5,000, and retargeting helps him reach those people he drives to his site and remind them of his products.

“Sometimes email isn’t enough for your customers to remember you exist,” Chris says. “You have to get your message to them in different ways.”

By combining retargeting ads with email, Chris makes sure that folks can find his store through multiple channels. He runs a 2-email automated welcome series that lets new list subscribers know what type of information they can expect and includes images of popular models that direct people back to his site.

He’s also started sending re-engagement campaigns to encourage his lapsed customers and subscribers to buy.

“I’ve been experimenting with different segments, like if someone has been a customer but I haven’t heard from them in 90 days. I’ll send them a coupon and boom! They come back.”

Email brings people to his site, but retargeting ads help ensure they keep coming back. “If anyone who has an e-commerce business is not doing retargeting, I think they’re making a big mistake.”

“If anyone who has an e-commerce business is not doing retargeting, I think they’re making a big mistake.”

Focus on your images

When it comes to designing his retargeting ads, Chris says that “the image is what really draws people more than the copy.” And he’s narrowed down which ones work best for his ads.

You want to use images that look good when they’re shrunk down to fit the dimensions of different ad spaces. “There isn’t a lot of room, so I want my images to show more of the product and very little background. I’ll sometimes crop my photos to bring more of the ship into it.”

Chris even found that his images with dark backgrounds tend to perform better than ones with plain white backgrounds. “You need to pick something that has color and variety to make your ads pop.”

Encourage people to keep shopping

While Chris uses photos that showcase a single ship model in his ads, he likes to direct people to a specific section of his site (“New Releases” or “Bestsellers”) instead of a product page. This keeps him from selling out of any model he might not have a lot of, but it also encourages visitors to browse the site and possibly buy more than one item before they leave.

“It’s really just a way to remind people, ‘Hey, you like this stuff! Come back and look at more of it.’”

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