Skip to Content

What is Retargeting and How Does It Work?

What is Retargeting and How Does It Work?

As we enter a new decade, the Internet “revolution” has greatly influenced the way customers are shopping. We live in a time where the once highly anticipated, in-store “Black Friday” shopping experience has taken a back seat to “Cyber Monday.’’ According to Oberlo, close to 1.8 billion people purchased online goods in 2018, totaling $2.8 trillion in sales. With an estimated $4.8 trillion in e-retail sales by 2021, the online shopping trend is rapidly expanding.

Because more than 63 percent of shopping occasions begin online, it’s imperative for brands to focus on capturing the attention of online users, in addition to those visiting brick-and-mortar locations. Adding to this, only 2 percent of consumers will actually make a purchase during their first visit to a brand’s site.

Retargeting, as a result, has become imperative to successful marketing campaigns and delivering those highly anticipated results by focusing on recapturing the 98 percent of consumers who left your site without a purchase.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is an attempt to re-engage consumers who have already showed interest in your brand by visiting your website or app. In most cases of retargeting, these consumers left before completing a desired action, such as filling out a form, downloading a whitepaper, or making a purchase. This idea of retargeting occurs once the consumer leaves the brand’s site and is later targeted and served an ad for that same brand.

Retargeting campaigns feature strategic online placements of display ads that are served to the retargeted audience. Because of the cookies set in the consumer’s browser, their information is collected and is eventually used to retarget on third party sites. These installed cookies help to recognize and follow your site’s visitors even when they visit a different site. Retargeting acts as a strategic second chance to make a sale, convert customers, and/or promote brand awareness.

In most instances, retargeting campaigns have higher engagement rates than the typical ad campaign does. This is because it’s easier to influence conversions with consumers who have already shown an interest in your products or services or have interacted with your site, rather than starting from ground zero with an audience who might never have heard of your company. On average, consumers are four times more likely to be encouraged rather than discouraged to buy something if they see a relevant ad during their research on the product or service.

There are many ad platforms marketers can use for retargeting, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, LinkedIn Ads, AdMob, and AdColony.

Google Retargeting

Google Display Network, or Google Ads, is the leading tool for remarketing to potential customers. Google Ads works by adding a Google remarketing code, also called a “tag,” or “SDK” for mobile apps, to the company’s website. This code works simultaneously with the browser cookies to collect the site visitors’ information. With the addition of the remarketing code, any visitors to the site will automatically be added to the company’s remarketing audience to then later be retargeted.

With the many benefits of the Google Display Network, there are two major perks that stand out. Google Ads offers large-scale reach, with the ability to retarget to customers on over 2 million partner websites and mobile apps. The second big perk when utilizing Google Ads is the amount of campaign reporting available. Google Ads provides in-depth statistics detailing how well your ad campaign is performing, making monitoring, evaluating, and improving your campaign an easy task. As a result of these benefits, Google remarketing ads are some of the most-cost effective ad campaigns to serve to potential customers.

Facebook Retargeting

Closely trailing behind Google Ads’ reach, Facebook is ranked as the fourth most-visited site globally, with 2 billion people actively using the site. With such high volumes of traffic, Facebook is another strong platform to boost retargeting efforts.

As Google Ads can track a company’s website visitors with the combination of browser cookies and a “tag,” Facebook retargeting works by utilizing the potential customer’s browser cookies and a remarketing code, called a “pixel.” This “pixel” can be set up to track specific events, such as page views, searched terms, and purchases. Facebook has the ability to deliver content through dynamic retargeting ads displayed on the user’s Facebook newsfeed. As a result, Facebook remarketing ads tend to receive three times the engagement of regular Facebook ads.

How to Create a Retargeting Audience

In addition to grasping how browser cookies and a remarketing code work together to retarget an audience, another key factor in understanding remarketing is comprehending exactly who your retargeting audience is.

On Google Ads

Google Ads incorporates Google Analytics’ data to build remarketing lists. Google Ads recommends segmenting audiences in order to best identify opportunities for audience conversions based on the activity recorded by their browser cookies. By identifying like-minded consumer behaviors, there are several ways to categorize a retargeting audience with Google Ads.

You can be broad with identifying these behaviors, such as creating an audience list of those who have simply initiated a session on your site or app or be more specific by retargeting consumers who interacted with a specific product on your site. Another option for creating a retargeting audience is to re-engage visitors who have (or have not) completed a specific action. For example, Google ads seamlessly retargets audiences who have added items to their online shopping card but have abandoned the site before completing a purchase. An additional option for a retargeting audience is to create a “similar audience,” which is a list of consumers who share characteristics, interests, or actions similar to consumers on existing remarketing lists.

On Facebook

Facebook similarly offers a Custom Audience builder that has several options for segmenting retargeting audiences. Facebook Ads allows you to create a retargeting list as specific as “people visiting ‘x’ web page, but not ‘y’ web page.” Another way to categorize possible remarketing audiences is by adding measurements, such as performing a specific action “in the last 30 days.” With Facebook ads, it’s also possible to retarget audiences based on varying interests or behaviors, as well as exclude audiences who might not be part of your ideal retargeting audience.

Facebook Ads’ audience overlap tool can help prevent your campaign from wasting money by identifying customers who may be in multiple retargeting audience lists in your campaign to avoid retargeting these consumers multiple times. The audience overlap tool is an important tool to deter advertisers from bidding against themselves for the same advertising spot.

Retargeting vs. Remarketing

The end goal for both retargeting and remarketing strategies usually aligns: to convert consumers who have shown interest in or are likely to buy from your company. While these two concepts are similar and often mistakenly swapped, there are a few key differences between these two strategies.

While retargeting focuses on delivering display ads to previous site users, remarketing focuses on delivering content via email campaigns. Remarketing works by collecting previous site users’ information to create a list of customers who will be targeted later with a sales email. One benefit of remarketing is the amount of content you can include in the sales email, as the content for retargeting ads is more limited.

Remarketing is the ideal strategy for reminding site visitors of your brand. In many cases, remarketing emails will include information on the items the consumers left in their online shopping cart or make attempts to upsell or cross-sell. Another benefit of remarketing is the option to include an incentive, such as a discount or promotion, to encourage consumers to make a sale.

If flexibility in the location of content is important to your campaign, then retargeting ads may be the ideal way to engage consumers who are likely to be interested in your products or services. While remarketing only allows you to reach previous site visitors, retargeting ads has more capabilities to get your brand in front of new audiences by targeting consumers who may have similar online actions or behaviors to your current customers.

Both remarketing and retargeting can be effective strategies to add to your digital marketing plan. Although the two strategies have many similarities, knowing the difference between remarketing and retargeting can help you better choose the right approach to reconnecting with your site visitors.

Still confused about whether your campaign needs remarketing or retargeting? Aztek specializes in both retargeting ads as well as email remarketing. Aztek’s highly skilled team of digital marketing professionals can work with you to implement the right strategy to generate qualified leads, drive sales, and increase awareness for your brand. Contact us today to start a conversation.

Return to Blog