Skip to content

How does retargeting work?

Written by

Last editedMar 20213 min read

In a perfect world, every customer that landed on your site would convert into a sale, but unfortunately many visitors will bounce without buying anything at all. They might get distracted before they purchase, or they could be weighing up their options. Whatever the reason, that potential customer is lost unless you work to bring them back. This is where retargeting is essential. But what is it and how does retargeting work?

What is retargeting and why is it important?

Did you know that only 3% of customers convert the first time? That’s an awful lot of window shoppers to try and win over. But there is a way to rekindle their interest: effective retargeting.

Retargeting ads remind customers about your brand if they’ve already visited your site and can show them your most relevant products or services as they’re browsing the web. Any business serious about marketing will incorporate retargeting as part of their overall strategy. It doesn’t just help to bring people back to your site. It’s also an effective tool for building your brand and online presence.

Types of retargeting

Retargeting works by using a small piece of JavaScript code, known as a pixel, to drop an anonymous cookie into the browser of any visitors looking at your site. If they navigate away without buying, the cookie can be used to bring up targeted ads on other webpages to remind these potential customers of what you’ve got to offer. Then, when they are ready to buy, your ads help them take action.

As with any ad campaign, a well-thought out strategy will create the largest ROI. For retargeting, it’s best practice to segment your audience and understand what brought them to your site in the first place. If someone came to your site looking for a luxury wristwatch, for example, chances are you won’t win them over with adverts for a budget smartphone. Good retargeting is all about matching customers to what they need – which is the reason they came to your site in the first place.

Remarketing vs retargeting: what’s the difference?

Though these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two.

Retargeting specifically refers to using paid ads aimed at potential new customers who did not convert first time. Remarketing, on the other hand, is when you create a targeted email campaign to connect with customers who have already used your services.

Both of these marketing strategies aim to increase brand awareness and conversion, but the main difference is that remarketing targets existing customers, whereas retargeting does not.

Best retargeting platforms

So, how do these ads appear on other sites in the first place? This depends on what platforms you decide to use:

Google retargeting tools

Naturally, the platform of choice for most businesses is going to be the world’s number one search engine. Google ads retargeting keeps your brand visible when visitors leave your site because your product banners will appear even when they’re on other parts of the web. Google ads help to raise awareness of your business by keeping it a prominent feature on webpages and allows your brand to become a recognisable and familiar sight.

Facebook retargeting tools

With an estimated 2.8 billion users as of 2020, Facebook continues to be the market leader for social media, offering huge potential to reach customers worldwide. It’s an effective tool for retargeting because it draws from Facebook’s immense pool of data, including web behaviour, lifestyle information, and interests, helping you to target who sees your brand all the more effectively. Facebook retargeting ads have a high potential ROI when done properly, and according to eMarketer, over 95% of social media marketers rate it as the best platform for re-engagement.

LinkedIn retargeting tools

Like Facebook, LinkedIn also provides a substantial platform for retargeting, except with a high emphasis on B2B marketing. As a social media site designed to connect professionals, an effective retargeting campaign on this site can help you reach customers with the right influence and purchasing power to increase your sales.

Benefits of a good retargeting campaign

Retargeting ads are a proven tool for establishing links with customers, and it’s well worth making them a regular part of your strategy if you haven’t already. Then, when visitors return to your site ready to make their purchase, all that’s left to do is help make that transaction as smooth and as easy as possible, which is why you should consider investing in a seamless payments process.

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

Sign upLearn More

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up