Retargeting Tactics That Actually Work

If you sell stuff online or run a small business, chances are you’re more than familiar with the power of advertising and the critical role it plays in driving traffic to your website.

However, what do you do if someone isn’t quite ready to purchase your products or services when they first visit your site or online store? You implement retargeting of course!

Before someone decides to purchase your products or services, they need to become familiar with you first and feel like they can trust you with their hard-earned money. As a general rule of thumb, people need to hear your message up to seven times before making the decision to become a customer.

Retargeting does this for you. It’s a powerful marketing strategy designed to help you convert visitors into buyers after they have left your website or online store. Plus, it’s cost-effective too!


What Is Retargeting?

Put simply, retargeting turns window shoppers into buyers. Only 2% of online shoppers convert the very first time they visit an online store. This means without retargeting, you’re missing out on 98% of potential sales.

Retargeting brings back the bounced traffic that leaves your site. It tracks everyone who leaves your site and brings them back to view new content or purchase your products or services.


Retargeting turns window shoppers into customers


How Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting utilises cookies with Javascript code to secretly follow your audience around the Web.

You simply place a tiny piece of code, often referred to as a pixel, on your site. When a new visitor lands on your site, the code or pixel will drop an unobtrusive cookie into their browser.

The pixel is completely unnoticeable to visitors and won’t affect your site’s performance in any way. However, whenever a “cookied” visitor surfs the Web, the cookie will alert your retargeting provider and tell it to serve ads to the individual.

Using this technology, you can retarget customers and potential customers almost anywhere they go online.


Why Is Retargeting So Effective?

Retargeting is so effective because it keeps your brand in front of people’s eyes and at the forefront of their minds. It targets people who have already shown an interest in your products or services and brings “window shoppers” back to your site when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Every time a previous visitor or customer views your retargeting ads as they browse the Web, your brand becomes stuck in their minds. This repeated exposure is why increased click-through rates and conversions are the norm rather than the exception with retargeting. The result is more sales and a higher ROI.


When Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting is an incredibly effective conversion optimisation tool, but it works best if used in conjunction with other digital marketing strategies.

Strategies involving Adwords and content marketing are terrific for driving traffic, but they do absolutely nothing in terms of conversion optimisation. Your best chance of success is to utilise multiple channels and strategies.

In other words, retargeting will work whenever you place a retargeting pixel on your website pages and use the retargeting features of Facebook, Adwords, AdRoll, and other retargeting providers. However, it will work best when used in coordination with your other marketing efforts.


Retargeting vs Remarketing – What’s the Difference?

Retargeting and remarketing are two terms often used interchangeably with one another, so it’s natural to assume they both mean the same thing. However, they represent two similar yet very different concepts.

Retargeting is used to describe the display of online ads to individuals who have visited your website but left without making a purchase. It’s done with the use of tracking pixels known as cookies that follow Web users around once they leave your site.

Using third-party networks, such as Facebook and the Google Display Network, retargeting ads can be served, giving you the opportunity to get your brand back in front of visitors’ eyes on an endless variety of websites. So, the next time you visit a website and see ads for that company popping up wherever you go online, you’re actually seeing retargeting ads.

Remarketing, on the other hand, generally refers to the use of email to reach lost visitors. You capture their email addresses and remarket to them via email.


If Retargeting and Remarketing are so Different, Why are the Terms Used so Interchangeably?

In large part, Google is to blame.

According to Google AdWords, “Remarketing lets you show ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app. When people leave your website without buying anything, for example, remarketing helps you reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.”

Basically, Google groups remarketing via email and retargeting display ads under the umbrella of “remarketing.” Hence the confusion. With this post, we’re focusing on the latter as this is what most marketers refer to whenever the topic of retargeting arises.


Types of Retargeting

Thought all retargeting was the same? You’d be wrong. In fact, there are several types of retargeting according to different channels or medium. The different types of retargeting include:


1.) Site Retargeting

This is the type of retargeting that started it all. It involves showing display banner or text ads to people who have already visited your site but didn’t purchase anything.

The ads appear on other websites they visit, allowing you to follow them around the Web and keep your brand in front of their eyes. This increases brand recognition, click-through rates, and conversions.

For example, when a potential customer leaves your site and goes to,, or any other number of sites, you can display your ad on these site’s pages.

This is by far the most common type of retargeting, but as you’re about to see, it’s only the beginning.


2.) Search Retargeting

Search retargeting is quite different than site retargeting. Rather than displaying ads to people who have visited and left your site, it allows you to display your ads to people who have already searched for keywords related to your site or company, regardless of whether or not they have ever visited your site before.

For example, if you have an online clothing or hat store, your ad can appear to anyone who has previously searched for “polo shirts” or “fedoras.” This allows you to reach entirely new customers with a high level of interest.

Since search retargeting only targets recent interests, it’s super effective. The ads can also be displayed on Facebook and a multitude of pages around the Web.


3.) Social Media Retargeting

Your prospects not only surf other websites. In fact, if they’re anything like the billions of others on the Web at any given time, chances are they also frequent social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The good news you can display retargeting ads on these networks as well.

Yep, you read that right. You can retarget potential customers who have visited your site and show ads to them on Facebook and Twitter. With retargeting, your prospects are always in your crosshairs.

Unlike site retargeting, which shows your ads across numerous websites, social media retargeting allows you to focus your retargeting efforts on a specific social media channel, like Facebook.

When done right, Facebook retargeting can be goldmine and seriously boost both your conversions and your ROI.


Social Media Retargeting


4.) Video Retargeting

Last but not least, there’s video retargeting. This type of retargeting allows you to retarget on and other video websites.

Since content on these sites is in the form of video, you don’t show banner or text retargeting ads. Instead, you use a pre-roll video ad, which is sort of like a short TV commercial.

Unlike TV, however, you already know your audience has an interest in your products or services because they have already been to your site at least once before!


Retargeting Tactics That Work

Tactic #1 – Segment Your Retargeting Campaigns

Not every visitor to your site is the same. Therefore, you should segment each retargeting campaign in order to better address the individual wants and needs of each potential customer.

For each ad group you segment, you can make produce different calls to action, sales funnels, and more. The length of time a visitor spends on your site, the pages they visit, and how many they view can help you determine how nurturing or aggressive your retargeting efforts should be.

When segmenting your retargeting campaigns, pay close attention to your conversion rates to optimise your ads and sales funnel. This will allow you to better guide your prospects through the funnel and complete the sale.


Tactic #2 – Create Different Ad Sizes, Images, and Copy

In addition to segmenting your retargeting prospects, it’s a smart idea to make ad creatives for all of the different retargeting networks according to their size requirements. In doing so, your ads will be eligible to display on all of the different ad networks, helping you expand your reach.

By creating several ad variations with different images and copy as well, you can help keep your ads from losing their effectiveness and getting stale.


Tactic #3 – Increase Your Bid on Conversion and Shopping Cart Abandons

Whether someone comes to your site via a landing page and leaves after making the download or they fill up their shopping cart with goods only to get distracted and leave after 20 minutes, they’ve shown an interest in your business.

As soon as they leave, you need to keep reminding them to come on back and take up where they left off in the conversion process.

Since this traffic is warm, you should adjust your retargeting bidding strategy and increase your ad spend. Meanwhile, you should decrease the frequency capping to allow your ad to be shown more frequently while your site is still fresh in their mind.

The longer it’s been since someone has visited your site and/or the earlier they abandoned the conversion process, the less you should spend, and vice versa.


Tactic #4 – Decrease Bids on Homepage Visitors

Spinning off of the tactic above, you should lower your ad spend on traffic that bounces directly from the homepage or quickly leaves the conversion process.

If someone is still in the inquisitive stage of the conversion funnel and just learning about your business for the very first time, they’re generally more difficult to convert.

While you should still make an effort to bring them back, at this point, they’re not as valuable as leads who’ve made it further down the sales pipeline. As a general rule of thumb, you should spend less on visitors in the early stages of the conversion process to boost your retargeting ROI.

Aside from spending less, use ad campaigns that link to landing pages with soft calls to action, such as a blog article or webinar, to retarget your non-converting traffic.


Tactic #5 – Incentivise Repeat Visitors

Incentivise repeat visitors and those who view multiple pages of your site by offering coupons or discounts. This is also a great idea for lost shopping cart visitors.

By using this tactic, you’re able to capitalise on their interest in your site and entice them to finally make a purchase. Whether they got distracted, were comparison shopping, or got freaked out by the shopping cart total, it’s an ideal time to retarget them and make up for lost sales with a coupon offer.

Wherever they are online, your potential customer will see their “special” offer. You’re more likely to make a conversion with this type of visitor and get a sale. Retargeting with a coupon offer will also help you develop loyalty and repeat sales.

Discounts should especially be offered to visitors who’ve taken the time to browse your product pages. You can segment this group and retarget them with a 20% off coupon for increased conversions and ROI.


Tactic #6 – Educate, Not Sell

You can also use retargeting to nurture bounced traffic and provide them with more information about your company and how you can solve their problems.

Of course, your ultimate goal is to gain sales. After all, that’s how the advertising bills get paid.

However, by driving interested visitors to an educational, “non-salesy” page, you’ll be able to nurture lost leads, which is exactly what most “lost” leads need.

When they’re ready to make a purchase, priming them beforehand will often lead to a higher sale amount and greater customer loyalty.

Educate your website visitors


Tactic #7 – Adjust Your Ad Message

When retargeting non-converting visitors, mix up your ad message after a week or so in order to renew interest and avoid ad fatigue.

For example, let’s say you have a 30-day retargeting campaign offering a 25% discount for all first-time buyers. However, after 10 days, you notice your click-through rates going down. Your targets me be suffering from ad fatigue and tired of seeing the same ad time and time again.

To solve this all too common dilemma, change up your ad design and message. This may spark a renewed interest in your site, boost your CTRs, and generate sales.

Your deal may also not be going over well with your target market. So, rather than offering free shipping to your bounced traffic, change up your image, call to action, and offer. This will require testing, which is the key to running any type of advertising campaign.


Tactic #8 – Test, Test, Test

You should always A/B test your retargeting campaigns and keep a close eye on your page views, click-through rates, and conversions.

To test properly, adjust the following:

  • Images
  • Ad message
  • Call to action
  • Landing pages
  • Budget

By making these changes and testing your ads, you’ll be able to improve your ROI and keep your budget in check. Sometimes the smallest changes can multiply your conversions and bring the greatest rewards.


Real Life Retargeting Case Studies

Retargeting Case Study #1 – Myfix Cycles

END RESULT: Earned $15 for every $1 spent

Advertising platform – Facebook

What they did:

Retargeted three groups of people:

  • Individuals who visited the site in the last two weeks.
  • Individuals who abandoned a shopping cart in the last two weeks.
  • Individuals who made a purchase in the last six months.


  • Achieved a 6.4% CTR on retargeting ads.
  • Earned $15 for every $1 of ad spend.


Retargeting Case Study #2 – Bebê Store

END RESULT: Increased conversions by 89%

Advertising platform – Google Display Ads

What they did:

  • Utilised Google’s target CPA bidding and dynamic remarketing.
  • Segmented the audience according to average order price.


  • Realised an 89% increase on ad conversions.
  • Generated over half a billion impressions.


Retargeting Case Study #3 – Watchfinder

END RESULT: 1,300% ROI on ad spend

Advertising platform – Google Display Ads

What they did:

  • Segmented their retargeting audience into 20 groups, all of which demonstrated an intent to buy.


  • Increased ROI by 1,300%.
  • Saw a 13% increase in average order value.
  • Reduced cost per acquisition by 34%.


Retargeting Case Study #4 – WordStream

END RESULT: Increased average visit duration by 300%

Advertising platform – Google Display Ads


  • Increased the average time spent on their site by 30%.
  • Increased conversions by over 50%.
  • Saw a 65% increase in returning visitors.

What they did:

Segmented their retargeting audience into three groups:

  • Individuals who visited the homepage.
  • Individuals who visited the blog.
  • Individuals who visited a free educational resource.


Starting to Make Sense? Yes, No, Not Really?

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It may sound too good to be true, but thanks to our expert retargeting prowess, we assure you it isn’t.

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