Retargeting: Definition, Types, Steps

Date: 2022-10-13 | Time of reading: 8 minutes (1570 words)

What is Retargeting and Why Does Business Need It

When users first visit your site, they don't always take the desired action. Someone is looking for more information, and someone needs to be pushed to a decision. For others, it’s enough just to remind them about the product that they browsed on the site earlier.

There is retargeting for this. It is a marketing method that does not allow users to «go far» and motivates them to return to the website and take some action. Retargeting campaigns are banner ads that catch up with users on other sites, social networks and apps. According to statistics, three out of four users notice such ads, so this method works great. 70% of people who see a retargeting banner are more likely to return to your site and buy.

Let's take a closer look at what retargeting is, what benefits it gives your business and how it works.

What is retargeting

Retargeting is an ad that a user sees after their actions on a company's website, app, or social media. Retargeting campaigns can show users:

  • pages they have visited;
  • products that were browsed in the online store, but did not place an order.

The purpose of such an advertising campaign is to lead a person to conversion through a call to action. However, this call is not placed on the brand site, but on other platforms on the Internet. Retargeting is set up for a «cold» audience that is not familiar with the brand, and for «warmed up» customers who have visited the company’s website more than once, but still have not bought.

Retargeting reaches the user through banners on other sites, social networks and mobile applications where advertising is possible.

Retargeting and remarketing are not the same

These concepts are often confused, but there are differences:

  • Retargeting is a campaign for new users who have not yet made a purchase. Such advertising reminds of the brand and increases its awareness.
  • Remarketing is a way to retain existing or interested customers and encourage them to buy. In this case, marketers use not only advertising, but also email campaigns.

Why your business needs retargeting

Advertising usually works for new users. They are not yet in the sales funnel, and it is not necessary that they ever get there. Retargeting audiences are users who are already in the funnel, because they have interacted with the brand. Building communication with them is easier, and retargeting is cheaper.

What are the benefits of retargeting for businesses?

  • Increasing awareness. For this purpose, retargeting is used by 70% of marketers. Here's how it works. The user starts to come across your brand, products and offers more often. When a person finally has a need for a product or service, your brand will be the first thing that comes to their mind.
  • Increasing LTV (Сustomer Lifetime Value). As a result of this, you will get more revenue from users who buy again and again.
  • Promotion of the client through the sales funnel and prevention of abandoned carts. Retargeting reminds about left and viewed products, pushes the user to return to the order. This is how the number of purchases grows — according to statistics, the conversion rate increases to 150%.

How retargeting work

The user views the content or product on the site or in the mobile app, and later when he visits another digital platform, he sees an advertisement for that object. Retargeting can be set up using Google Ads, social networks, and other services. How it works:

  1. A pixel is installed on the site. It is a piece of code that tracks the actions of visitors on web pages.
  2. Advertising is configured for the audience that the pixel has collected. If you use Google Ads, ads are shown on Google search results and its advertising network (YouTube, Gmail, etc).
  3. When the user performs an action on the site (for example, he adds a product to the cart, but does not complete the purchase), the ad finds him and reminds him of an incomplete order.

In most cases, retargeting ads are banners with text and a caption.

Types of retargeting

There are two types of retargeting depending on the source of information for the campaign. Possible options:

  • Using an existing contact list. Email addresses or phone numbers are uploaded to social networks like Facebook or Twitter. If there are matches with the data of registered users, the platform serves retargeting ads just to them.

  • Using pixel data. Ads are displayed to anonymous users after they visit your site. It is a popular and fast way.

For example, the man went to the pet store website and was browsing the parrot food section. After a while, he sees an advertisement for bird food from this site.

Retargeting also differs depending on the type of activity:

  • User behavior on the site or in social networks: clicks, views, incomplete applications, likes, reposts.
  • Search queries. Retargeting ads will be displayed to a user who has searched for specific products. Such a campaign is set up by keywords.

For example, a person used a search on the website and entered “tourist tent”. In advertising, he sees different models of the tent offered by that site.

There are also static and dynamic retargeting:

  • Static retargeting shows general brand information. Campaign segments are known in advance. These are all visitors to the site or a particular page, and so on. The advantage of this type of ad is reaching more users, but the disadvantage is the lack of personalization.
  • Dynamic retargeting takes into account the interests of the user, and shows the specific products or services that this person viewed. Such retargeting is personalized and useful for online stores.

For example, a person viewed the page of the N brand smartphone on the website, read the description and reviews, but did not place an order. In this case, advertising of this gadget begins to haunt him.

How to set up retargeting

On each platform, retargeting is technically configured in its own way, but the general principles are similar. Let's look at the sequence of actions.

  1. Define a goal. What do you want to get from the campaign? It can be a decrease in the number of abandoned carts, content virality, an increase in conversions, and so on.
  2. Choose which users to show ads to. Any website visitors or those who have entered a certain section, or those who are interested in some product?
  3. Come up with a call to action for the ad. What to offer in advertising: return to the website or place an order.
  4. Set the timing of the marketing campaign. How long will the banner ads be shown to the customer? You can’t follow the user forever in the hope that he will someday give up and buy.
  5. Select the ad sequence if they are different. For example, you can show general information first, then promotions, a video, and so on.
  6. Make settings in the selected service (advertising account of the social network, Google Ads or another). The retargeting campaign is launched for the audience collected through the pixel or for contacts whose data is stored in your database. You can also use the look alike model — the system selects suitable users to display an ad according to existing criteria.

Retargeting examples

An online clothing store shows similar products that customers have recently searched or viewed.

Here is an example from ModCloth. The company follows users and informs them of new arrivals:

Digital Marketer shows a specific topic that was of interest to the user. This way, if someone visits an article about advertising, they will see an ad for "ad templates" that they can get for free:

When you search for a phone in online stores, the search engine may show you related products, such as a phone case:

Users searched for graphic editors. And this is the ads they can see later:

Another example of retargeting after viewing travel tours:


A retargeting campaign is a re-display of information about a company or specific products to a user after visiting a website, social media, or brand app.

Retargeting will increase brand awareness and conversions. It is often used to remind customers of abandoned carts on a website. Do not confuse this method with remarketing, which works to retain existing customers. Retargeting is set up for new users who have already interacted with the brand.

There are dynamic and static retargeting. The first is more personalized and shows the specific products that a user has viewed on the site. The second is just general information. Campaigns can also be set up according to the behavior of users on the website or for specific search queries. For retargeting, the audience collects a pixel (the code that works with cookies on the site), or the company uses its contact database.







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Author: Lyudmila Kovalenko






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