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What is Retargeting and How Does it Work?

There are an array of marketing tools aimed at attracting your target audience and converting them into consumers. On the surface, they seem relatively straightforward. Create an advertisement that encompasses your product or service in a way that yields the appropriate audience and turns it into profit. But what happens when your prospective consumers don't engage with or commit to your product? Let me introduce you to the world of retargeting, a campaign strategy that shows your advertisements to the unsure consumer long after they leave your website.


What is retargeting?


Retargeting campaigns allow you to target visitors who view and engage with your website but then leave without buying anything. This type of campaign targets these prospective consumers and shows them advertisements of your website and products as they continue browsing the internet.

To put it in layman's terms, a potential consumer visits your website, browses, and then exits your website without purchasing any products or services. As they continue surfing the web and going about their business on other websites, your advertisements pop up (visual or text-based) and remind them of your brand, acting like a persuasive force that urges them to reconsider becoming a customer. The upside to using retargeting campaigns is that these types of ads are aimed at people who have shown an interest in your brand. If a retargeting campaign is successful, your advertisements convert hesitancy to certainty and bring these prospects back to your website, where they then complete a purchase.


Retargeting vs. remarketing


If you are familiar with the term remarketing, you might fall prey to the tendency to use both terms interchangeably. While they are both marketing strategies, it remains important to distinguish them from one another as they refer to different tactics.

Retargeting, as aforementioned, is a type of paid campaign strategy based on browser cookies that target any potential consumer who has skimmed or engaged with your website but has not completed a purchase.

On the other hand, remarketing is carried out through email and lets you engage with past consumers who have already conducted business with you. This type of campaign usually requires the email addresses of previous visitors and consumers.


How retargeting works


Let's run through a hypothetical example. Your company, "Watches For You" sells luxury hand watches. Consumer X visits your website. They browse through all the eyes your website carries. After some time spent browsing, Consumer X closes out the tab and leaves your website without completing a purchase. Your retargeting campaign kicks in and targets Consumer X, who showed interest in your product. As Consumer X is scrolling through Facebook or playing music on YouTube, they see an advertisement pop-up for your website, advertising your brand and the watches they lingered on. Consumer X comes across this ad a few more times (tastefully spaced out so as not to overwhelm them), and they decide to commit to purchasing a watch. The advertisement piqued their already-existent interest and drove them back to your website where they complete the order and become a customer.


When should you use retargeting?


  • When it is financially logical: If your brand has a relatively large following and is relatively well-known, definitely consider a retargeting campaign. Given that it's a paid campaign strategy, you want it to be financially logical. A start-up company that's just starting to garner attention might not benefit to the extent that a larger company would from retargeting campaigns.
  • Retargeting campaigns should be considered when promoting your bestsellers when you want to showcase what you're known for. Sometimes an advertisement of a top-rated and popular product could be enough to sway the hesitant consumer in the right direction.
  • When business is slow: When sales are slow, and there's not much change in your inventory, retargeting ads can help generate some traction and bring in consumers to help reduce your inventory numbers.
  • When you're gearing up for new products: When it comes to releasing new products, retargeting campaigns can bring awareness and attention to these items, creating hype and pulling in more consumers as well as existing ones.

Getting data for retargeting


Before you can conduct a retargeting campaign, you need to collect data on your target audience so that your ads can target them. You either have the option of utilizing a retargeting pixel or retargeting lists. Before we jump any further, let's hone in on what those two methods are precise.

Using Pixels: Without getting too techy, pixel-based retargeting consists of placing a pixel on your website. These pixels then place anonymous cookies on your prospect's browser as they browse through. No, I'm not talking about chocolate-chip cookies; I'm talking about those pesky internet cookies we're constantly told to delete. Well, this retargeting uses those cookies so that your consumer is exposed to your ads instantaneously (or not, you decide) after they leave your website.

Using Lists: This retargeting relies on the email addresses you collect for any consumer you've conducted business with or that have provided you with contact info. By inputting their email addresses into your platform, your targets are shown ads as they surf the internet.

Both these methods aside, it remains essential to know your target audience and decide how to target them.


Using behavior to retarget


A consumer's actions on your website dictate whether they are interested or not. Someone who lands on your website for a split second and then exits exhibits signs of disinterest. A consumer who lingers on your site and engages with it displays interest. You know right off the bat that targeting those that don't show an interest only becomes a waste of your resources. By using behavior to separate your target audience, you can change how you target those interested and who need a little push based on what actions they take on your site.


Using time frame to retarget


You don't want to inundate your consumer with an influx of advertisements. After all, you want to pique their interest, not drive them away by showing them too many ads or showing them ads too soon. A retargeting strategy focused on time addresses how much time is spent between an initial website visit and when the first ad is displayed, how many times an ad is seen, and how much time passes from the initial website visit before the client stops seeing these ads. You want to be cautious with how soon after an initial visit a consumer sees your ads, as well as how often you want them to see your ads.


Using customer base to retarget


It's never a bad idea to retarget existing customers, especially if you have a new product or service to offer. After all, if they have engaged with you in the past, you might have a higher shot of piquing their interest and bringing them back for whatever new exciting thing it is that you might have to offer.


Fine-tuning your retargeting campaigns


Now that you have a general rundown on retargeting campaigns, you need to go ahead and create your retargeting ads. Luckily, platforms like Facebook and Google make it a relatively straightforward process. Like with any marketing strategy, you want your campaign to yield promising results.

Be sure to optimize your ads. Make your ad visually and intellectually appealing by choosing relevant text and visuals. Have your ad display a clear call to action that appeals to the consumer to engage with the move and is redirected to your website.

If a prospect clicks on your ad, consider using a post-click landing page that redirects them to a page containing the information found in the advertisement. By cutting out the fuss of redirecting a client to your homepage and putting them in a position to scavenge for the information displayed in your advertising, you increase the likelihood of positive interaction and outcome.

Be sure to split test your copy and creativity to ensure you get the maximum results from your retargeting efforts. You can also test your landing page, call-to-action, or almost any other element of your ad to create the most potent retargeting campaign possible.