What is Retargeting?

Most people become aware of retargeting when they are see oddly familiar advertisements. Like when you look up that new gizmo on Amazon but leave without purchasing it, then the next time you visit Facebook, bam! There’s an ad for that gizmo right there in your newsfeed saying “Click Here to Purchase on Amazon”.
It is a very simple concept. As implied by its name, retargeting is when you continue to market to people after they leave your site without achieving your desired outcome.

How does it work?
When a visitor come to your website, a specific cookie is placed on their computer. This cookie allows you to target that visitor through a variety of advertising channels including Facebook, Google AdWords, and Twitter. The cookie is placed on the visitor’s computer through a simple script that you add to your website.



Is it difficult?
Not really, there are tools available that make the process fairly simple. BUT – it can backfire if overused. Have you ever gone to a merchant’s website, maybe a restaurant website or even some other online shopping site and now their ads are following you all over the internet? Even on Facebook? And Twitter? Relentlessly? It can be quite frustrating. Retargeting is great for business, but it can be very annoying in some cases.

Can you stop it?
There are ways to stop being the target. One way is to clear your web browser’s cache and cookies. Depending on which web browser you’re using, there are different ways of doing that. The problem here is that you have to do it quite frequently. Another is to stop accepting cookies all together, but this too can become burdensome for those sites that you visit often as you then have to re-enter the same information each time you visit because the cookies store site specific data so that you don’t have to re-enter it each time you visit.

The business perspective
Retargeting is a great way to stay “front of mind” with your customer base. However, there are many things to consider when thinking about starting a retargeting campaign. Things like; budget, technical aspects, strategy, ad design, frequency, landing pages, conversion goals, ad filtering, domain filtering… and the list goes on and on.

Before you begin, check your house and make sure it’s clean
Retargeting is only one piece in your marketing arsenal. Its effectiveness is relative to the rest of your marketing channels. Make sure there is not some underlying problem with your business before attempting to send visitors back to your site once they’ve left. If they are leaving your site without converting, you need to understand why.

How do you know if there is a problem?
Analyze the data you have available. Here are a few things to consider before launching a retargeting campaign:

  • Check Google Analytics
    1. What is your bounce rate?
    2. How much time does the average user spend on the site?
    3. How many pages do they visit?
  • Is your site responsive?
  • Check your competition
    1. Do your competitors have a better product?
    2. Do your competitors offer better pricing?
    3. Is their website better than yours?
  • Focus on Customer Feedback
    1. What do customers tell you about your business?
    2. What do reviews from third party sites tell you?

If your website is sub-par, all the money you spend on retargeting strategies will most likely be a waste. It’s important to consult a professional web designer to evaluate your site based on today’s trends in web technology, design, and online visitor tendencies before moving forward. The bottom line is, you have to have a great website. If yours is not so awesome, then that’s the place to start.

Your website is your number one sales tool. It works for you 24x7x365, it must be well designed, send the proper message to your visitors, have a compelling call-to-action, and convert visitors into customers. All are critical components in today’s online world. These will become even more critical as your competitors step up their online marketing game.
This is only a brief overview of retargeting. The question is not whether you should be using it, but how you’ll make retargeting a part of a successful marketing strategy for 2016. Retargeting provides an amazing tool to reach potential customers with strong messaging. Even if you’re skeptical that it won’t deliver the ROI, it is probably too valuable not to at least look at as an option. Contact a professional for advice before you decide.


  1. I agree, retargeting is good for business, but when you’re on the other side as a visitor, it can be annoying. One time, this certain ad keeps on following me around the internet even if I actually bought the same product on the ad, from the same website. I guess businesses must use it on a minimum or at least set it up properly to avoid these kinds of problems. But overall, this is a great overview for those who are planning to use retargeting as a part of their marketing strategy.

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