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What is retargeting?

Article originally published in June 2023 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in April 2024.

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Definition of retargeting

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a digital marketing strategy that enables marketers to re-engage with potential customers who have previously interacted with their brand, website, or online content. This is achieved by displaying targeted ads to these users as they browse other websites or social media platforms.

Retargeting helps marketers to increase brand awareness, reinforce their message, and ultimately drive conversions by staying top-of-mind with users who have already shown interest in their products or services. By leveraging cookies and tracking pixels, retargeting campaigns can be tailored to specific user behaviours, ensuring that the ads displayed are relevant and personalised, thus increasing the likelihood of converting these users into customers.

An example of retargeting

Here is an example of how it works:

A visitor named John browses the Growth Method website, exploring its features and pricing plans for optimizing business growth. He spends some time on the site but leaves without signing up for a free trial or subscribing to a plan. Later, while scrolling through his social media feed, John sees an ad from Growth Method offering a limited-time 20% discount on their premium plan. Intrigued by the offer, he clicks on the ad, which takes him back to the Growth Method website, where he ultimately signs up for the premium plan with the discount.

How does retargeting work?

Retargeting works by tracking and targeting users who have previously visited your website or engaged with your brand online. This is done through the use of cookies, which are small pieces of data stored on a user’s browser. When a user visits your website, a cookie is placed on their browser, allowing you to identify and track their online activity. You can then use this information to serve personalized ads to these users as they browse other websites or use social media platforms. This targeted approach increases the likelihood of users returning to your website and converting, as they are reminded of your brand and offerings while they continue their online journey.

Expert opinions and perspectives

Here are how some of the world’s best marketing and growth professionals think about retargeting.

  • “Retargeting is the best way to remind your audience that you’re still there, waiting for them to come back and complete the purchase.” – Neil Patel, Co-founder of NP Digital
  • “Retargeting is a powerful conversion optimization tool, but it works best if it’s part of a larger, digital strategy.” – Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream
  • “Retargeting is a great way to re-engage potential customers who have shown interest in your product or service, but haven’t yet made a purchase. It’s like a second chance to make a first impression.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia

Questions to ask yourself

As a modern growth marketing or agile marketing professional, ask yourself the following questions with regard to retargeting:

  1. What are the specific goals and objectives I want to achieve with my retargeting campaign?
  2. Which audience segments should I prioritize for retargeting, and how can I effectively segment them based on their behavior and interactions with my brand?
  3. What types of creative and messaging will resonate best with my retargeting audience, and how can I test and optimize these creatives for maximum impact?
  4. How can I ensure that my retargeting efforts are not intrusive or annoying to my audience, and that they provide a positive user experience?
  5. How will I measure the success of my retargeting campaign, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) should I track to evaluate its effectiveness?

Additional reading

Here are some related articles and further reading around retargeting that you may find helpful.

  1. The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Remarketing
  2. What is Retargeting?

See how this topic is trending on Google Trends here: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=retargeting

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