What is Retargeting and How Does it Work?

With all of the platforms, strategies, and channels available to marketers, the options for advertising online are virtually limitless. There are more ways than you can count to get the word out about your business using the Internet, and the possibilities grow every day.

With all of these new methods, one of the most effective is retargeting (also known as remarketing to those who use Google Ads). If you’ve ever shopped online and later seen ads for products similar to the ones you viewed, you’ve experienced this strategy firsthand—you may even be one of the many people who’ve converted as a result.

Retargeting is important to your business because it helps attract your most qualified customers. WebFX can help you start your retargeting campaign and use advanced remarketing tactics so you can drive more revenue from paid channels.


But despite its effectiveness, many marketers are wary of retargeting, mostly because it seems like a complicated process. So what is retargeting? How does it work? And how can you start using it for your business? On this page, you’ll find the answers to all of those questions, as well as a few best practices to keep in mind.

If you’d like to speak directly with a specialist, you can contact us at 888-601-5359.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is a form of online advertising in which your ads are only shown to people who have already visited your website. So instead of advertising to people who have never heard of your business, you can focus on those who are already familiar with your brand.

There’s a good chance you’ve already experienced this kind of advertising, whether you were aware of it or not. If you’ve ever viewed a specific product on an ecommerce store, then noticed ads for that item popping up on other sites, you may have chalked it up to coincidence. But considering the advanced retargeting options available to marketers, those ads likely weren’t left up to chance.

How does retargeting work?

The idea of reaching former site visitors after they’ve already left your site might sound complicated. However, cookies make it simple.

Cookies are small files that are stored in site visitors’ browsers and help the site “remember” the details of their visitors. For example, if you log into a site on one visit, and you’re automatically logged in the next time you visit (even if it’s days or weeks later), the site “remembered” your information using cookies.

To use retargeting, all you need to do is add a small line of code to your site that will allow you to drop cookies into visitors’ browsers. These cookies will signal when someone who visited your site visits another site with available ad space. Your ad will automatically display, and serve as a great reminder for customers to come back to your site.


Why is retargeting effective?

Most of your site visitors won’t convert during their first interaction with your business. In fact, only 2% of visitors make a purchase on their first visit to an online store.

This means that if you want to drive conversions, you should not only focus on attracting new traffic, but also bringing previous visitors back to your site. With retargeting, you can remind those visitors of your products and services to convince them to return.

Retargeting also helps drive brand awareness, because it keeps your company’s name in the forefront of potential customers’ minds. So even if they don’t convert within a few days of their first visit, they won’t forget you completely. Then, when it comes time to make a purchase, they’ll already be familiar with your brand and more likely to choose you over your competitors.

How can you use retargeting?

There are many platforms that allow you to set up retargeting. It will take some research to determine the best for your business, but one of the most popular is remarketing with Google Ads. (Note: “Remarketing” is just Google’s term for retargeting. It means exactly the same thing.)

When you’re ready to start retargeting, remember to segment your audience based on where they are in the sales funnel. For example, visitors who only visited your homepage might respond well to general ads that promote brand awareness, while visitors who visited specific product pages will be more likely to come back if you show the products they viewed or deals on similar items.

If you run a large ecommerce store with thousands of products, creating unique ads for each one may sound impossible. Thankfully, there are ways to automate this process, and an experienced Internet marketing agency will be able to help you set them up.

What should you avoid when retargeting?

Many business owners are wary of using retargeting as part of their marketing strategy because they’re afraid it will come across as intrusive or aggressive. However, as long as you keep these best practices in mind, you can use retargeting to help grow your brand and your bottom line.

The most important thing to remember is not to use too many ads. Sure, one of your site visitors may have looked at a certain pair of sneakers. But does that mean they want to see ads for those sneakers on every single site they visit for the next few months? Definitely not. A good rule of thumb is to limit each potential customer to 15-20 ads per month.

Another common mistake is continuing to show ads after customers have already made a purchase. Just as you added a line of code to your product page to drop cookies and start showing ads, you can add a line of code to a post-conversion page (like a checkout or thank you page) that will stop them from seeing your ads. This will not only prevent you from annoying your customers, but will also save you money on advertising to people who have already converted.

Want to start using retargeting on your site?

If you’re ready to start using retargeting for your business, WebFX can help. Our team of Internet marketing experts has experience running and managing successful campaigns, and we’re more than happy to assist you with yours. Feel free to contact us to learn more about how you can start reaching previous site visitors and boosting conversions today!