What Is Retargeting in Marketing?

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Retargeting in marketing, also known as remarketing, is a powerful way to re-engage customers who have previously interacted online with your brand.

You’ve probably experienced retargeting in marketing while browsing the web. If you visit a website and look at a product and then notice that the advertisements for that product start to follow you around the web, that’s retargeting.

An Overview of How Retargeting in Marketing Works

When someone visits your website, you can use an advertising pixel to cookie them (track them), and then when they begin to visit other websites on the internet you can show them follow-up advertisements on the sites they visit. Common ways you can retarget them with ads would be on sites that display Google Ads, on Facebook, and on other large sites that utilize advertising networks, such as AdRoll.

Google explains how remarketing works on their platform:

“Remarketing is a way to connect with people who previously interacted with your website or mobile app. It allows you to strategically position your ads in front of these audiences as they browse Google or its partner websites, thus helping you increase your brand awareness or remind those audiences to make a purchase.”

How Do Retargeting Pixels and Cookies Work?

Most retargeting pixels work the same way. You put a piece of tracking code – a pixel – on your site, which then puts a cookie or tracking code into the computer of the person visiting your site.

This cookie allows you to tell an ad network – like Facebook ads – that someone visited a specific page or product. With that information, you can then show that person a relevant ad campaign as they visit other websites.

You will never know the exact identity of the person you’re retargeting, but the pixel will know their behavior, which allows you to create a unique user experience based on customer behavior.

What Kind of Campaigns Can You Use in Retargeting?

Retargeting campaigns can be as simple or complex as you’d like. The goal of most retargeting marketing campaigns is to move a prospective user into a desired action which they did not carry out on their initial visit. That could entail visiting a specific webpage, getting an email address through an opt-in form, filling out an appointment form, booking a webinar, or making a sale.

When you design your retargeting campaign, it’s important to think about what the end goal is and then develop a step-by-step campaign to lead prospects to your goal.

In some cases, it may help to work backward.

For example: If you have users that visit a blog post on your site pre-selling them an upcoming webinar, but they don’t register for the webinar after that initial visit, you can then start showing them ads that promote the webinar as they visit other sites and social media networks across the web.

In this case, you would design a retargeting sequence to build trust and get them to register for the webinar. Here’s an example of how that would work.

  1. Users visit your blog post through an online ad or a search engine query and get a pixel or cookie placed on their computer.
  2. The cookie for this specific article triggers the ad sequence.
  3. Ad 1. Day 1 to 4: A video that explains a little bit of who you are and what you do.
  4. Ad 2. Day 5 to 8: A link to an article that talks about the benefits of the product or service you’re trying to sell.
  5. Ad 3. Day 9 to 12: An invitation to join the webinar.
  6. As soon as the users join the webinar, you can fire another pixel that takes them off the first retargeting list and puts them onto a second. In the second list, you can run a similar sequence that reminds them to attend the webinar.

This is an example of a more advanced retargeting sequence. You can also create sequences that are as simple as a user visiting a product page and then getting ads for that product, or as complicated as taking them through an entire sales funnel process.

It depends on how sophisticated you want to get. There are also companies that will set up entire retargeting campaigns for you from start to finish that are based on your customer’s journey.

Who Should Use Retargeting in Their Marketing?

If you have an online presence and get organic or paid traffic to your web properties, you should consider retargeting your visitors who leave your website but don’t take the actions you’d like them to take on the first visit.

Retargeting reminds your users that you exist after they leave your website, and can lead them to the action you want them to take, giving you another chance with someone who is already familiar with your product.