Retargeting: What is it and why does your business need it?

(Last Updated On: January 24, 2023)

Knowing what is retargeting can have massive advantages for your eCommerce business. Don’t believe me? Here are the numbers.

  • 6.5% drop in abandoned cart rates (MotoCMS)
  • 20% increase in sales (MotoCMS)
  • 147% increase in average conversion rates (ReadyCloud)
  • 500% growth of branded search results (ReadyCloud)

With such effective results, retargeting should be a crucial strategy for your online DTC business. Let’s explore this in-depth.

What is retargeting?

Do you ever feel like you are being followed by a company online? Sometimes when you have been shopping for shoes online, you start seeing banner ads from the brand when you are on another website.

Rest assured, this is no coincidence or the FBI watching; this is retargeting.

For the marketer, retargeting is a set of banner ads that target you after you have visited the company’s website. This practice of showing advertisements to people who have already visited your website makes it look like your company is “following” people around the internet on the platforms they use most.

This method of reaching new audiences is similar to PPC advertising. Your ad is delivered to your customer base on other websites but unless someone clicks on it, no one gets paid.

On a broader scale, retargeting is a strategy that lets you reconnect with potential and existing customers as they browse through different internet platforms.  The primary goal here is to shift customers from simply curious to considering your products or services when the need arises.

Why should you be retargeting in digital marketing?

There is a misconception that customers hate having to view ads when they online browse. According to Page Fair, over 77% of people reported that they “don’t mind” ads that much but would prefer filtering their ads than completely blocking them online.

This is where you can use retargeting as an excellent way to boost the relevance and personalisation on the ads displayed.

The average person visits a site 9.5 times before they make a purchase. People can visit your site or app but leave before converting. Show them your ads on other sites and apps so that they come back to your site and ultimately convert.

You could lose 96% of the people who visit your site today. Only about 4% of site visitors convert before leaving.

Thanks to retargeting, you can bring those people back and convert them into engaged customers

Retargeting increases visibility and awareness for visitors

Retargeting is a great way to advertise your products and services to repeat customers. There are many reasons people don’t convert on their first visit:

  • Busy
  • Not curious enough
  • Do not find you convincing
  • Did not find the solution to their problems

When you remarket to them, you simply give them a solution to what they need. Top-of-mind awareness works on a simple theory; show them a product enough times and it stays on their mind when the want arises.

People take in their surroundings, objects and experiences and unconsciously keep them in mind. When they want a solution, they think of your product.

Retargeting increases conversions

retargeting helps increase conversions to your site. Wordstream research found that conversion rate increased the more a user viewed an ad.

When you are not competing for keyword placement on Google search, there is a potentially lower cost per impression. This happens because you are specifically targeting customers who have visited your site.

With retargeting strategies, get very specific with ad targets. For example, you can send a specific ad to someone who abandoned their shopping cart and a different one to someone who spent a lot of time on a specific page.

Related read: 5 strategies to recover abandoned carts

How is retargeting different from other types of advertising?

When people visit your website, use your app or interact with your brand on social media, they are tracked via:

  • Browser cookies
  • Mobile advertiser
  • User ID

With the traditional display ads, there is a static image, a block of text, or a short animated video on a particular site, directing users to your website in the hopes of generating traffic.

By using a simple tracking code, businesses can store data in the form of “cookies” on a visitor’s computer, and then use that data to display ads specifically targeted to that visitor.

How is retargeting different from remarketing? 

Well, at the core it is the same thing. Both want to connect to potential customers who were once on your website. Both aim at increasing brand awareness and increasing conversions. And both use data that is been stored and analysed to understand consumer preferences.

The key difference between the two is that retargeting is a form of advertisement that shows up on other websites that your csutomer is visiting, while remarketing uses email campaigns to persuade the customer with personalised messages.

If retargeting uses data stored from browser cookies, remarketing utilise customer data collected via lead generation forms.

With an Instamojo online store, you can easily see which consumers have abandoned carts. In-built integrations with renowned email marketing companies like MailChimp makes the task of remarketing simple and efficient.

Experiment on Instamojo for free

What are the different types of retargeting? 

There are mainly 7 types of retargeting. They are –

  1. Site retargeting
  2. Search retargeting
  3. Social media retargeting
  4. Email retargeting
  5. Video retargeting
  6. Dynamic retargeting
  7. Customer list retargeting

Site retargeting:

A simple and very popular form, site retargeting displays an ad after an individual leaves your site.

Site retargeting

Image Source: WordStream

An example:, a popular hotel booking website, tracks a user who was searching for cheap hotels to stay in London and showcases this display ad on another website they are browsing. The user may have already made the purchase, but sometimes, the ads continue to come.

Search retargeting:

Targets users who type specific keyword/phrase inquiries. Such customers showcase a potential interest in your product/service and are most likely on the lookout for a quick solution. These ads are shown at the top of the search engine results when someone who has already visited your site searches for specific terms or services.

Search retargetingAn example: While searching for hotels in Kochi, India, Google shows the sites that user might have visited in the past, based on their searches. The user is looking for a solution and these sites want to show the answers.

Social Media retargeting:

Focuses on displaying remarketed ads on your social networks. For example:


Social media retargeting

In the above case, the user was browsing through ideal winter holidays online on different travel browsers but did not book any tickets on any of the websites. The cookies enabled on the website caught on to this and then remarketed it to the user when they were on Facebook.

You can use Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest to advertise to customers who already visited your website while they browse on other platforms.

Email retargeting:

With Google’s Gmail being the primary email channel, you’ll notice contextual ads that pop up on the side, typically based on your email content. But you can also remarket to the ads within an individual’s email client. You can display ads to users on other websites once they open your email.


Email retargeting

An extremely personalised email retargeting campaign by Fossil for a customer who left the website without making a purchase. Not only do they know that the customer is shopping for a specified product, but they also provide a direct link to the checkout counter of the cart in their online store.

Video retargeting with Google AdWords:

Your ads are shown as pre-roll video ads on YouTube and other Google display partners to previous website visitors.

Dynamic retargeting with Google AdWords:

These ads include products or services that people viewed on your website or app.

Customer List retargeting:

Social media marketing and Google Adwords retargeting help several companies with this method. Here, you can upload lists of contact information that your customers have given you upon a previous visit to your website. When those people are signed into Google or a specific social media site, you can show them ads across different websites or on that social platform.

Getting started with retargeting

Whether a person is reaching, actively shopping, or an existing customer, retargeting can help your company get the customer to complete the purchase cycle and get your company to make the sale. You will need to set up a Google Analytics account and a custom tracking code to add to your website, which you can generate in Google Analytics or AdWords.

As a beginner, it is best to keep in mind these 6 quick steps to building an effective retargeting campaign:

  1. Determine which pages you want to tag and how to segment your campaign.
  2. Create customized offers and deals for your retargeted customers.
  3. Maintain a timeline for each segment (how long you wish to remarket to them)
  4. Do not hesitate to remarket even to customers who have already been converted on your site.
  5. Research for bigger and more relevant keywords for SEO
  6. Make sure you have a system to track and monitor all your campaigns.
  7. To set up retargeting for your website, you must first implement a small piece of code into your site. It’s a simple piece of JavaScript code and doesn’t affect the performance of your site. Your visitors will have no idea that it’s even there.

Every time you get a new web visitor, your site will drop an anonymous browser cookie. Now, when your visitors go to another site, your retargeting ad service provider will know when to deliver an ad from your website.

Remember: This campaign method is only effective for those customers who have already visited your company site, so it’s important to increase your initial site traffic through SEO and social media marketing.

Retargeting with Google Adwords: A short intro

The largest advertising platform and the best way to remarket to your audience is Google Adwords. Google has a huge display ad network as well as products like Gmail for your email retargeting. You can easily create your first campaign by just logging into your Google Adwords account.

To retarget customers, you first need a professional online store that customers can fall in love with. Create an online store on Instamojo for free and experiment with a wide range of marketing features available directly on our dashboard.

Get started here

  1. Such an excellent post. Loved the way it is presented.

    Remarketing, if the done the right way can convert those 5-10% skeptic users into valuable customers. But most of the brands make remarketing feel like spamming. The ads need to be designed to make aware of what the user is missing rather than constantly nagging them to buy.

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