When done correctly, remarketing lets you tastefully follow your audience and create valuable touchpoints to turn visitors into customers.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What remarketing is
  • How to leverage this ad strategy the right way
  • Ways remarketing benefits your business
  • How it can save you money

Picture this: you’re walking around a shopping mall (OK, so maybe think a few years — or decades — back).

In the window, you see a nice sweater that catches your eye. You check out the price tag. You feel the fabric. But you’re not sure you’re ready to lay your credit card down.

You decide to keep walking around. As you’re heading towards the exit, you pass by the sweater again. You’ve had some time to think about it, and you decide to buy. 

That’s essentially how remarketing works, except online.

What is remarketing?

Remarketing (often used interchangeably with “retargeting”) is a method for connecting your product or service with people who have already visited your site or mobile app. 

While the terms can be used interchangeably, they have slightly different meanings. As Search Engine Journal explains, remarketing is more often about re-engaging customers via marketing emails, while retargeting generally refers to third-party online ads targeting users who have interacted with your site.

Put another way, remarketing is typically based on email lists and CRM data. Retargeting, on the other hand, is based on pixel data, most often from unknown potential customers.

Remarketing can be done using many platforms, from Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Google and Microsoft also offer remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSAs.

These vary from traditional remarketing, since they require users to be actively searching Google with the campaign keywords you’re bidding on.

How remarketing has changed

Recently, big-name tech brands have made some changes affecting user privacy — and remarketing and retargeting as a result. 

Between Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies soon and recent data tracking updates from Apple and Android (more on the AppleTracking transparency framework changes here),  marketers may have a harder time pinpointing who to target with retargeting efforts.

The good news: There are things advertisers can do to mitigate these changes.

These include verifying your domain and leveraging Facebook’s aggregated event measurement tool, implementing the Facebook Conversions API and server-side tracking solutions, and pivoting your strategies by reviewing placement data and comparing attributions in Google Analytics.

Still, remarketing can be a highly effective tool for multiple industries and verticals — not just e-commerce. 

It’s a way to remind people about you, which is especially crucial since studies report that as much as 98% of consumers don’t make a purchase during their initial visit to a brand website, and more than 76% of people abandon online shopping carts. 

As Mailchimp explains, your audience often needs to feel like they know you first. With that in mind, here are just a few ways remarketing can benefit your business.

aerial shot of people walking around a crowded indoor mall

With the magic of remarketing, you can stay top of mind. (Image: Unsplash)

1. It keeps you top of mind

There are plenty of reasons why people navigate to your website without converting. Maybe they got distracted, were just casually browsing their options, or wanted to take their time before making a decision.

With the magic of remarketing, you can remind people about their past interest through these targeted ads — particularly if they’re searching for similar offerings again.

2. It ups your chances of converting a lead

If someone found their way to your site or app and was exposed to your brand, you’ve already overcome the big business hurdle of connecting with your audience. 

Through remarketing, you can increase your chances of turning that warm lead into a closed deal. It offers that nudge they need to further pursue what they were looking for from you in the first place.

Not only do these ad types remind users about you, but they can be programmed to take the user directly back to the page they bounced from. If they last visited your pricing page, for example, then the remarketing ad can route them back there once they click.

The result: a seamless experience that tees them up to convert.

3. It allows you to hyper-focus your ads

One big benefit of remarketing ads is how they directly target those who have taken various actions to express interest in your product or service. 

According to Google, you can create various remarketing lists that apply to specific cases, such as those who added something to their cart but didn’t check out.

After all, who doesn’t love scoring a good old-fashioned deal? You can create remarketing ads that offer a special discount to a segment of users who have completed certain interactions with you. This way, the prospect has even more incentive to return to your site.

person walking in front of a large sale sign in a store window

You can use videos, text, and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network. (Image: Unsplash)

4. It lets you leverage mobile and video

Another thing that sets remarketing apart: reach. With these ads types, you’re not just limited to the web. You can reach people browsing more than 2 million websites and apps via multiple devices. 

Consider targeting past website visitors on YouTube (or people who have watched your videos on YouTube) with video or display ads as they watch other videos or browse other sites.

You can also use things like text and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network. You can implement these strategies across Facebook, too.

5. It can save you money

Cha-ching! That’s the sound of saving money with remarketing ads.

Retargeting audiences are cost-effective because they are often more likely to convert. As a result, they provide a lot higher return on ad spend (ROAS) when compared to prospecting audiences.

That said, because the audience pools are way smaller, it can drive up the CPM (cost per mille, where you pay a certain price for every 1,000 impressions), which can make them a more expensive audience. 

For example, cost per click (PCP) rates when retargeting on Facebook are usually higher. However, it’s usually worth the extra cost per click because conversion rates are so strong.

It makes sense: By targeting people who have already shown interest in what you have to offer (making them more qualified), you spend less than you would if you were starting from scratch and casting a wider net.

See how HawkSEM can put remarketing to work for your company by requesting a consultation.

Get started with remarketing

Now that you know all the advantages of using remarketing, you can start making this digital marketing tactic work for you. To remarket on Google, you first need to create a remarketing audience and then choose a support campaign type: display or search. 

For display remarketing, you need to choose a marketing objective or goal (if you have one). From there, you can create an ad group. Expand the “Audiences” areas of “People: who you want to reach.” Then, select the remarketing lists you want to target under the “Remarketing” audience.  

For search campaigns, the process is similar. You manage the audience of your ad by selecting your campaign, then adding your remarketing audience list to the ad groups you choose. From there, you can choose your audience targeting setting for the selected ad groups. 

Pro tip: If you don’t have a remarketing list created, you can use the retargeting audiences Google Ads automatically creates for you.

For paid search remarketing on Microsoft Advertising’s Bing search engine, you start by placing a Universal Event Tracking (UET) tag across your site. You can then create remarketing lists, based on user activity and visited pages. 

Similarly to Google, you associate your remarketing lists to ads groups, then optimize to fit your Bing audience accordingly.

The takeaway

People understand that ads are just part of the package when it comes to being online.

By meeting interested users where they are, you can turn that reminder into a click. That can lead to a conversion, which will, ideally, become a happy customer and brand evangelist down the line.

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

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