April 06, 2023
April 06, 2023

The Full Guide to Retargeting for Advertising (2023)

Picture this: You're a small business owner with a great product and a killer online ad campaign. You're generating traffic left and right — but for some reason, you're just not getting the sales you expected. Ring any bells?

The vast majority of people who visit your website won't convert on their first visit. In fact, it’s common knowledge that the number of touchpoints (points of contact between a business and a prospective customer) required for conversion is closer to ten. That's where retargeting comes in: It's the secret weapon that helps you stay top-of-mind with potential customers who've already shown interest in your product or service.

In this full guide to retargeting, we'll cover everything you need to know to set up and run a successful retargeting campaign. Get ready to turn those lost leads into loyal customers!

What Is Retargeting?

In simple terms, retargeting is a form of online advertising that targets people who have already interacted with your brand in some way. Whether they've visited your website, clicked on one of your ads, or interacted with you on social media, retargeting allows you to stay top-of-mind with these potential customers by serving them with ads across various channels. These ads are designed to remind them of their initial interest in your business and encourage them to come back and complete their purchase.

So why is retargeting important for businesses using online advertising? Retargeting allows you to stay in front of these potential customers and increase your chances of converting them into paying customers. It's a powerful way to increase brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, and ultimately boost sales and revenue. With the right retargeting strategy in place, businesses of all sizes can achieve impressive results from their online advertising efforts.

Image of a cellphone with a shopping cart on it

Retargeting and Remarketing: What’s the Difference?

Retargeting and remarketing are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to slightly different things.

Retargeting is a digital advertising strategy that targets people who have interacted with your brand in some way, with the goal of bringing those potential customers back to your website and encouraging them to complete a purchase or take some other desired action.

Remarketing, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to any marketing effort that targets people who have previously interacted with your brand. This can include email marketing, social media advertising, and other tactics beyond just digital ads.

Retargeting and remarketing can complement each other very well. For example, you might use retargeting ads to bring people back to your website, and then follow up with a remarketing email campaign to further nurture those leads. The best course of action: Use both retargeting and remarketing in tandem to create a cohesive and effective marketing strategy that reaches potential customers across multiple touchpoints.

Why Retargeting Is Effective

Retargeting is a crucial aspect of online advertising because it enables businesses to reach potential customers who are more likely to engage because they’ve already interacted with the business to some degree. By targeting these individuals with personalized ads, businesses can increase the likelihood of a conversion and generate a higher ROI for their advertising spend.

As usual in the world of marketing, the secret sauce behind the perennial success of retargeting is psychology: Retargeting is rooted in the principle of familiarity. When people see something repeatedly, they become more comfortable with it and are more likely to engage with it. In the context of online advertising, retargeting allows businesses to create a sense of familiarity with their brand by exposing potential customers to their ads multiple times across various channels.

Horn icon over a hand holding a cell phone

Goals for Retargeting Campaigns

Like any marketing campaign, retargeting efforts should be fueled by business objectives — what outcome are you shooting for in relation to the specific needs of your target audience? Here are some of the most common goals retargeting campaigns seek to achieve:

  • Increasing sales: Retargeting campaigns can help drive sales by reminding potential customers of products they were interested in but didn't purchase. A simple nudge can encourage these visitors to return to the site and make a purchase.

  • Generating leads: Retargeting campaigns can also be used to capture leads by encouraging visitors to fill out a lead form or subscribe to a newsletter.

  • Boosting brand awareness: By retargeting visitors with branded ads, businesses can increase brand awareness and stay top-of-mind with potential customers.

  • Improving website engagement: Want customers to spend more time exploring purchase options through your site?Retargeting campaigns can help by encouraging visitors to return to your site for a deeper dive.

If a business is looking to increase sales, for example, they may want to focus on retargeting visitors who have abandoned their shopping cart. On the other hand, if a business is looking to improve website engagement, they may want to target visitors who have spent a significant amount of time on the site but haven't taken any action.

Whatever your objective, you can increase conversions, improve ROI, and build long-term relationships with your target audience by tailoring retargeting ads to the specific needs and interests of your potential customers.

How Retargeting Campaigns Work

Retargeting involves installing a small piece of code called a tracking pixel on your website. When someone visits your site, the tracking pixel then captures their data and stores it in a retargeting list, which includes information such as the pages the visitor viewed, how long they spent on the site, and what actions they took.

Once a visitor has been added to the retargeting list, they can be targeted with personalized ads across various channels such as social media, display advertising, and email. Those ads are designed to remind the visitor of the product or service they were interested in, and to encourage them to come back and take action, such as making a purchase or filling out a lead form.

First, let’s look at list-based retargeting and pixel-based retargeting — two different approaches to retargeting that businesses can use to reach their target audience — a bit more closely. 

The main difference between list-based and pixel-based retargeting is the way in which the audience is defined. List-based retargeting relies on specific personal information that is known to the business, while pixel-based retargeting uses behavioral data that is collected automatically. 

Both approaches can be effective, but list-based retargeting may be more suitable for businesses with a smaller audience, while pixel-based retargeting may be better for businesses with a larger audience or more complex user behavior.

With that background understood, several types of retargeting campaigns are available for implementation:

  • Site retargeting is the most common form of retargeting and involves targeting visitors who have previously visited a business's website.

  • Search retargeting targets visitors who have searched for specific keywords or phrases related to a business's product or service.

  • Email retargeting targets visitors who have opened or clicked on a business's email campaigns.

  • Dynamic retargeting involves showing visitors personalized ads featuring products or services they have viewed or added to their cart.

  • Engagement retargeting targets visitors who have engaged with a business's social media content, such as liking a post or following the brand's account.

Let’s focus on email retargeting for a moment — arguably one of the most effective retargeting types thanks to the personalization it employs. Along with serving as the primary follow-up method for people who previously visited your site, interacted with your ads, or the like, it can also be used to initiate an email funnel that includes a prescribed follow-up sequence mapped to the customer journey.

Beyond that, the benefits of email retargeting also include:

  • Higher conversion rates: By sending targeted email messages to users who have already shown an interest in a business, email retargeting can lead to higher conversion rates and sales. Retargeting cart abandoners can increase conversion rate up to 26%.¹

  • Increased customer engagement: Email retargeting can help businesses stay top-of-mind with potential customers, encourage repeat visits, and build long-term relationships.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Email retargeting can be a cost-effective way to drive conversions, as businesses can leverage their existing email list and send targeted messages to users who have already expressed interest.

  • Personalization: Email retargeting allows businesses to send personalized messages to users based on their previous interactions, interests, and behavior — a proven technique for significantly improving engagement.

By aligning the right retargeting option(s) with your business’s goals and your customers’ online behavior, you can create a more comprehensive, effective advertising strategy that successfully targets potential customers across multiple touchpoints.

shopping cart

When to Use Retargeting Campaigns

Retargeting is most effective when it is used strategically and at the right time. Some key factors to consider when determining when to use retargeting campaigns:

  • Audience size: Retargeting works best when there is a large enough audience to target. If a business has a small website traffic volume or a small customer base, retargeting campaigns may not be as effective.

  • Customer journey: Retargeting is most effective when it is used to target users who are in the middle or end of the customer journey. For example, if a user has added items to their shopping cart but has not completed the purchase, retargeting can be used to encourage them to return and complete the transaction.

  • Timing: Retargeting campaigns should be used within a certain time frame after the initial interaction with a business. Waiting too long to retarget can lead to lower engagement rates and decreased effectiveness.

  • Ad frequency: Retargeting ads should be used strategically and discretely, so as to not overwhelm users with too many ads. Overuse of retargeting ads can lead to ad fatigue, hampered effectiveness, and, at worst, disillusionment with your brand.

Is Retargeting Right for Your Business?

Any business that has an online presence and wants to increase conversions and ROI from their advertising spend should consider utilizing retargeting. This includes ecommerce businesses, B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) brands, SaaS (Software as a Service) companies (such as BambooHR or HubSpot), and more.

More specifically, the benefits of retargeting can vary depending on the type of business utilizing the technique. For ecommerce businesses, retargeting can be an effective way to recover abandoned shopping carts and encourage customers to complete their purchase. For B2B and B2C companies, retargeting can help generate leads and increase brand awareness. SaaS companies can use retargeting to encourage users to sign up for a free trial or upgrade to a paid subscription.

Note that it's important for businesses to understand their target audience when implementing a retargeting strategy. This means knowing who their ideal customer is, what their interests are, and what their behaviors are online. A proper understanding of the target audience positions a business to create personalized retargeting ads that are more likely to resonate with potential customers.

How to Make Retargeting Part of Your a Marketing Strategy

Retargeting should be used in conjunction with other marketing tactics, such as social media advertising and email marketing, to create a cohesive and effective marketing strategy. By keeping their brand top-of-mind for users who have already shown interest, businesses can increase their chances of converting users into customers and ultimately improve their ROI.

Follow these steps to integrate retargeting into your marketing operations:

  1. Identify your target audience: Understand your target audience and their specific customer journey to determine which customers or potential customers to retarget.

  2. Set campaign goals: Set clear goals for your retargeting campaign, such as increasing website visits or product purchases.

  3. Create retargeting ads: Craft visually appealing ads that highlight your products or services and incentivize users to return to your website.

  4. Determine ad frequency and timing: Figure out when and how often your retargeting ads should show to maximize engagement without overwhelming users.

  5. Measure success: Track the performance of your retargeting campaign and adjust your strategy as needed based on the results.

Best Practices for Retargeting

To set your business up for retargeting success (and to reiterate some of the strategically sound recommendations we’ve already mentioned), be sure to work these best practices into your campaigns:

  • Segment your audience: Segment your audience based on their behavior on your website, and tailor your retargeting ads accordingly.

  • Keep it fresh: Regularly update your retargeting ads with new offers or creative to avoid ad fatigue.

  • Use engaging content: Use high-quality visuals, compelling copy, and a strong CTA (call to action) to catch customers’ attention and drive engagement.

  • Set frequency caps: Avoid annoyance by setting frequency caps to limit the number of times people see your retargeting ads.

  • Use a variety of ad formats: Experiment with different ad formats, such as carousel ads or video ads, to keep your retargeting ads fresh and engaging.

  • Test and optimize: Continuously test and optimize your retargeting campaigns to capitalize on opportunities, improve performance, and maximize ROI with your ad spend.

Retargeting and Snapchat

With Snapchat's advanced targeting and retargeting options, your business can create highly personalized ad campaigns to reach their target audience when and where it makes the most sense. Those options include:

  • Custom Audiences, which enable you to retarget users who have engaged with your business and/or Snapchat ads in the past. For example, you can upload a list of customer information and have Snapchat match it to Snapchatters you can target with an ad.

  • Lookalike Audiences use data from Custom Audiences to target users who have similar interests and behaviors to those who have engaged with your ads.

  • The Snap Pixel, our tracking tool that enables you to track user actions on your website and retarget those users with additional relevant Snapchat ads. For example, you can retarget people who have added items to their shopping carts on an online store but haven’t completed the checkout process yet.

In addition, Snapchat offers a variety of ad formats, including Snap Ads, Collection Ads, and Story Ads, which you can use to create engaging and immersive ad experiences for your audience.

Let the retargeting begin!

1 https://skai.io/blog/retargeting-statistics/