Imagine this: you’re an enthusiast cyclist. While browsing your choice of social media platform, you see an ad for a product that intrigues you—say, new pedal clips. You click the ad, get taken to the site, and after browsing for a bit, decide against the purchase. Perhaps you don’t have the funds, perhaps the weather outside isn’t quite the cyclist’s dream, or perhaps you’re just not interested.
Some time later, you see another ad for the same pedal clips. This time, you’re already familiar with the brand, and you go back to the site with a new sense of purpose. This time, you pull the trigger and buy.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been here. This is a classic example of the marketing tactics of “retargeting” and “remarketing.”
I’m a marketing specialist for SevenAtoms, a digital marketing agency based out of the Bay Area. We use remarketing and retargeting constantly for our clients, and today, I’m going to give you a quick overview of how you can put these powerful tools to use for your business, and convert visitors into buyers.
While the terms “remarketing” and “retargeting” are often used interchangeably, there are differences between remarketing and retargeting.
Remarketing refers to engaging with people who have shown interest in your product or service before, like through an ad or a post on social media.
Some common examples of a remarketing campaign include shopping cart abandonment emails, upsell and cross-sell emails. Another good example is lifecycle marketing emails—email campaigns that deliver messages tailored to shoppers at different stages of their interactions with you (for instance, regular customers vs. new contacts).
Retargeting, on the other hand, refers to paid online advertising that is aimed at people who have previously visited your site.
As you can see, the difference lies in the channel:
In any case, they’re different methods of the same tactic: reaching out to people who have previously engaged with your brand.
Retargeting primarily uses online ads on social media and search engines—typically called PPC (“pay per click,” since you don’t pay any money unless someone clicks on your ad).
Setting up a retargeting campaign is easier than it might seem. You should start by creating an ad account or visiting your preferred ad platform to find a retargeting pixel code, then copy-paste the snippet of code to your website, and you’re good to go.
This can be done manually, but most major ecommerce platforms have this functionality built in. For instance, when using Google Ads, the pixel is found under “Audience Sources” and then the “Google Ads Tag” tab.
As new users visit your site, the tracking pixel will drop an anonymous “cookie” on their browser, which will follow them around as they browse online. When that user lands on a website that hosts ads from your ad network provider, the user will start seeing your retargeting PPC ads.
During the page session, the cookie will gather data (e.g., age, gender, interests, etc.) and build a profile based on the collected information. These profiles are extremely valuable, since you can use them to build narrowly targeted ads for your retargeting campaigns.
For those new to the world of retargeting, a single ad campaign is a perfectly fine place to start. Later, when you’ll have more experience you can move on to more advanced techniques: you can set different cookies on different pages of your website, or track based on specific behaviors, such as time spent on site, number of pages visited, people who abandoned their shopping carts, and so on to move them further along the sales funnel.
Since retargeting pixels fundamentally work based on site cookies, according to the GDPR and CCPA, you can only set cookies on a user’s browser after they have accepted cookies on the site, in order to improve a user’s privacy.
You can have different retargeting pixels on different pages, you can tailor ads to the pages that your users visit. For instance, depending on if the user had visited a page about Magecart attacks or a page about detecting malicious bots, we showed them a different variant of the ad. The solution being offered was the same in both cases, but by tailoring the ad to the need they’d shown interest in, we made it more likely for them to convert.
Aside from keeping your brand in front of your potential customers’ minds, a well-designed retargeting or remarketing campaign also increases the chances that they will convert.
Considering the fact that only 2% of website visitors convert during the initial visit, retargeting can help you bring back a portion of the 98% who left without doing the thing that you wanted them to do—typically, buying something.
If you’re saying “Sure, John, but this is all just about retargeting, and I’m not ready to really dive into PPC campaigns, what about remarketing? Would it work if I sent some emails to previous customers instead?” That’s a totally valid question, and the answer is—it’s just as important! Here are some interesting facts and figures that indicate why remarketing is important for business.
Now that we’ve looked at the basics of remarketing and retargeting, here are some best practices for both.
The criteria for when to start a retargeting advertising campaign varies from marketer to marketer; some marketers prefer to run a constant campaign for all users who didn’t convert. No matter which tactic you choose, make sure you don’t show too many ads to avoid annoying potential customers.
For a typical ecommerce shop, you can start retargeting customers who have expressed interest in your store but have not converted right away. However, ReTargeter recommends capping your ads at no more than 20 per user per month, lest you start to get on customers’ nerves.
Once you’re more familiar with the basics of PPC retargeting, an easy way to take things to the next level is to create simple segments based on the pages people are visiting. This lets you set up different retargeting campaigns with different offers.
This is one example for an ad SevenAtoms did for one of our customers, SealSkin Covers. Given that someone who had already been to the cart page was a more likely sale than someone who had just browsed the site, we showed those people ads offering a larger discount. With proper retargeting practices, you can determine which pages someone visited on your site and remarket accordingly.
Are you ready to implement a retargeting campaign? Here are some useful tips to consider to increase your success rate.
Alternatively, since post-transaction pages often include certain URLs, another way to avoid showing ads to people who have converted is to exclude any users who have visited pages with URLs including text like “thank-you,” “order-completed,” and the like.
While retargeting primarily uses ads to reconnect and re-engage previous visitors who demonstrated high purchase intent, remarketing uses email to reach bounced visitors and encourage them to complete their purchase.
Both, however, are invaluable at reaching out to prospective customers who have already taken the first steps towards engaging with your brand.
Numerous studies indicate that remarketing is extremely effective since the visitors you’re targeting are already in the late stages of your sales funnel. These people have already visited your site and are interested in what you have to offer. Some may have even gone as far as to add items to their shopping carts, but you haven’t yet sealed the deal.
With a little nudge from a remarketing or retargeting campaign, you can encourage these people to take out their credit cards and complete their purchase.
By using these helpful marketing tools and strategies, you can recapture potentially lost revenue and see effective ROI for your online business today.
Madara is a content marketer for the Printful Blog. Her background in linguistics and belief in the power of SEO come in handy when she’s creating content that inspires ecommerce store owners and helps them grow their business.