Your Guide to Retargeting Ads

by | Last updated Mar 19, 2024 | Digital Marketing

Read Time: 8 min read

Summary: TL;DR: Struggling to convert website visitors into customers? Retargeting campaigns can help by re-engaging potential customers who have interacted with your business but haven't converted yet. Learn about pixel-based and list-based retargeting, common campaign goals like increasing brand awareness and reducing cart abandonment, and various types of retargeting campaigns including email, mobile app, search, social media, and website retargeting. Setting up a retargeting campaign involves identifying goals, choosing a platform, creating optimized ads, and tracking results. Retargeting can boost conversion rates and increase brand visibility, making it a valuable tool for businesses looking to improve their digital marketing strategies. Contact Hurrdat Marketing for expert assistance in setting up and managing successful retargeting campaigns.

Struggling to get customers to convert after they visit your website through digital ads? A retargeting campaign can help your business re-engage those visitors and get them to finish the buyer’s journey. Below, we walk you through the basics of retargeting ads and how to use them.

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What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting is a type of paid online advertising aimed at potential customers who have already interacted with your business in some way. This includes people who have visited your website or signed up for your email list, but haven’t made a purchase or contacted you yet.

It’s important to note that retargeting is not the same as remarketing, though the two have similar goals of increasing brand awareness and boosting sales. Remarketing focuses on serving personalized ads to past and current customers who have made a purchase before, while retargeting targets customers who have shown interested in your business but haven’t converted.

There are two main approaches to retargeting: pixel-based and list-based. Depending on your campaign goals, one option may offer better results over the other.

Pixel-Based Retargeting

You can use pixel-based retargeting to reconnect with people who visited your website but left before completing a purchase or filling out a lead form. With this approach, a two-line JavaScript code called a pixel is attached to certain pages on your site via your retargeting platform. When a user visits those pages, the first-party cookies they accept are able to collect their IP address, what products they’re interested in based on the pages they visited, and other tracking information. The pixel on your site sends the cookie from the visitor’s browser to your ad platform’s server, which then serves targeted ads to the visitor to recapture their interest.

A benefit of pixel retargeting is its timeliness, since it starts working immediately after a visitor leaves your site. However, pixel-based retargeting campaigns tend to have a smaller volume, as the ads are only triggered under specific circumstances.

List-Based Retargeting

List-based retargeting utilizes the contacts you already have in your database. With this approach, you can upload your contacts’ email addresses to your retargeting platform, which will then identify users whose email addresses match your list and send them personalized retargeting ads. This retargeting tactic enables you to choose the contacts who are most likely to come back to your website based on their browsing history and other tracked data, making it highly customizable. It also means that you can potentially reach a wider audience.

For list-based retargeting to be beneficial, you must maintain your list of contacts and keep them updated, so it’s not as quick or automated as pixel-based retargeting. Additionally, if the email address you received for a contact isn’t the same one they use on your chosen advertising platform, then they won’t receive your retargeted ad at all.

Goals of Retargeting Campaigns

Whether it’s familiarizing people with your brand or recovering customers who abandoned products in their carts, here are some common goals of retargeting campaigns.

Increase Brand Awareness

A retargeting campaign can help you build a stronger relationship with existing and potential customers simply by increasing their awareness of your brand. The marketing rule of seven suggests that consumers need to see a product advertised several times before going through with a purchase. The more people who recognize your brand through retargeted ads, the more likely they are to consider your business when they want to make a purchase. You can also use retargeting to introduce customers to new products and services that are relevant to their interests or serve as the exact solution to their pain points.

Reduce Cart Abandonment

When potential customers add your products to their carts but leave your site before purchasing anything, retargeting can help you recapture their interest. Personalized ad campaigns serve to remind them that the products they were interested in are still available—you can even sweeten the deal by including discounts and offers in your retargeting efforts. By recovering these customers who may otherwise have slipped through the cracks, you can increase your sales and ultimately boost customer lifetime value (CLV)—that is, how much money an individual is likely to spend at your business over time.

Boost Conversion Rates

No matter how attractive, user-friendly, and optimized your website is, you can’t guarantee that each visitor will convert a customer the first time they visitor. Retargeting allows you to funnel potential customers back to your website, increasing their likelihood to convert. Website visitors are 70% more likely to convert on a retailer’s site when retargeted with ads after leaving a page. And while increasing sales are a common end goal for a retargeting campaign, it’s not the only conversion goal. Retargeting can also increase metrics like your click-through rates (CTR) and completed lead capture forms to collect visitors’ contact information.

Types of Retargeting Campaigns

Each retargeting campaign type allows you to reach different audiences and pursue different marketing goals. Implementing a combination of retargeting ads can help you optimize the outcome of your digital marketing efforts.

Email Retargeting

An email retargeting campaign allows you to send personalized ads via email to people who have provided their contact information to your business but haven’t yet made a purchase. Email retargeting can be effective because it helps you personalize messages for audience segments, and it’s simple to utilize with tools like Mailchimp, HubSpot, and Klaviyo. Email marketing campaigns can benefit your business in a variety of ways, including driving leads and strengthening people’s trust in your brand.

Mobile App Retargeting

Sometimes, potential customers make it as far as a landing page for a retailer’s app but stop short of downloading it. Other customers may actually download the app but cease interacting with it after a while. A mobile app retargeting campaign can help your business re-engage these individuals, reminding them why they were interested in your app in the first place.

Search Retargeting

With a search retargeting campaign, you can target specific keywords so that users who enter those terms into a search engine like Google will see your ads. This type of campaign allows you to capture leads who are searching for terms related to your business or products. Platforms like Google Ads allow you to capitalize on Google’s enormous daily traffic by posting your ads on millions of third-party sites in the Google network. And since search retargeting is based on the user’s intent, it’s a simple and effective way to reach a wide audience.

Social Media Retargeting

Suppose a person visits your website but doesn’t make a purchase or complete a specific action like filling out a form. If they then leave to browse a social media platform, a social media retargeting campaign lets you send targeted ads to them on those platforms. This can help you increase the traffic to your website and convert digital window shoppers into customers. Plus, when you use video-based ads like those on YouTube, you can overcome the character limits that text-based ads run into and capture users’ attention with dynamic, engaging content.

Website Retargeting

Like social media retargeting, website retargeting allows you to reach people who visited certain pages on your site but left before making a purchase or submitting their information on a lead generation form. Retargeted ads can then be displayed on other websites they visit to keep your brand top of mind. The key to website retargeting is to customize your ads based on what visitors were looking for on your site, since a personalized approach is often much more effective than a generic message.

How to Set Up a Retargeting Campaign

While the exact process of setting up a retargeting ad campaign depends on your goals and the advertising platforms you’ve selected to use, a few general steps apply across the board.

1) Identify Your Goals to Create a Retargeting Strategy

To create a retargeting campaign, you first need to figure out your goals. Do you want to promote content on your website, generate leads and increase sales, reduce cart abandonment, or get previous customers to come back to your website? Having a goal in mind will help you determine which audiences to target and which ads to create for your campaign.

2) Determine Your Budget & Choose a Retargeting Platform

Set a budget for your retargeting campaign, which includes the fees for a retargeting platform and paid advertising tactics. The amount a retailer spends on retargeting efforts can change over time, though statistics show that 71% of marketers spend between 10% and 50% of their online advertising budgets on retargeting.

Once you’ve determined your budget, choose the platform most relevant to your campaign’s goals and segment your audience based on factors like demographics, what products they gravitate toward, their browsing history, and so on. Thankfully, many retargeting platforms—including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram, Mailchimp, and more—have simple ways to segment your audience, allowing you to send customized, relevant ads to the people who are most likely to engage with them.

3) Create and Optimize Your Ad

The best retargeting campaigns create dynamic ad displays that capture potential customers. As you use your retargeting tool to create your ad, focus on making your ad copy actionable. Any visual elements like video, images, and animations you use should be visually attractive and relevant to their interests based on the data you’ve collected. Include a clear call to action (CTA) that prompts the viewer to click and complete said action, like buying a product or filling out a form. When setting up a social media campaign—like a Facebook Ad campaign, for instance—you can also optimize your ad delivery by selecting options that determine who your ads will be sent to, so you can target those users who are most likely to click on them.

4) Track the Results of Your Campaign

Once you’ve identified your campaign’s goals, chosen a retargeting tool, segmented your audience, and created your ad, then your ad campaign will be underway. Then, you can use your tool to track important retargeting metrics like cost per lead (CPL), click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and more. Using these metrics, you can adjust your budget over time to allocate funds to the strategies that are producing the desired results.

Want to develop a retargeting campaign for your business? Hurrdat Marketing offers paid advertising services that can help you create and manage retargeting ads to convert more customers. Contact us today to learn more!

Tony Moran


Tony is a Content Strategist at Hurrdat, where he writes web-optimized content for companies in industries like self storage, banking, food services, insurance, healthcare, and the trades. Tony has years of experience with content marketing, having written blog copy, website content, workbooks, landing pages, and more for clients. He most enjoys strategizing content and conducting keyword research for these projects.

Tony lives in Omaha, NE, attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a Philosophy major, and loves word play, fantasy fiction, and trivia contests.

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