For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting is a tool designed to help companies reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away. (Source: Retargeter.com)

In our recent blog, “Retargeting Ads Got You Creeped Out?”, we discussed the feeling that something is following you around the Internet while you shop and surf. So, what is this creepy Internet ghost and how does it seem to know your every move? Relax. It doesn’t know your every move. It does, however, track your computer’s IP address when you click on certain websites or opt into certain email subscriptions.

Google uses retargeting ads to generate traffic for users

Simply put, retargeting is the process of attempting to reengage users who have shopped for products and/or services online but have not converted. There are several different ways of using retargeting as a marketing method, all of which have their pros and cons. What works for one business may not work for another, so it’s important to research the methods available and to analyze your audience before implementing one over the other.

1. Website Retargeting

When customers visit a website and do not convert, they are later shown retargeting ads for the company’s products and services with the ultimate goal of getting these customers to come back and convert. If a website is set up for retargeting, it contains a code in the backend of the site which allows it to track visitors. Each time a visitor comes to this website, the code creates an anonymous cookie (a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user's web browser while the user is browsing that website), which informs the website’s retargeting provider which users to later serve ads to.

2. Email / CRM Retargeting

Email retargeting used to work similarly to website retargeting, except that the cookie was created when a person opened an email from a specific company, rather than when they visited the company’s website. Unfortunately for many email marketers, Google changed the way it displays images, prohibiting the ability to build lists to send ads to show ads to using this method. And so CRM retargeting was born out of necessity. CRM retargeting allows marketers to show ads to users solely by providing their email addresses to a retargeting provider. The emails are then matched to existing information from other online/offline CRM databases to determine which users to show the ads to. Not all retargeting providers offer this type of retargeting, and the success rates vary based on a variety of factors.

3. Social Media Retargeting

Social media retargeting involves showing ads to social media users who visited a website and did not convert. The distinction between social media retargeting and site retargeting is that with social media retargeting, the marketer is specifically showing ads on social media sites vs. banner ads on other types of websites the user may visit.

4. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

A lesser known method of retargeting involves using existing remarketing lists to serve search ads in Google Adwords to previous site visitors searching on Google. In this case, users will see text search ads vs. image-based banner ads, and they must have visited your site in order to be served these ads.

5. Search Retargeting


Search retargeting is a newer form of retargeting, allowing for the potential to reach tons of new customers that have not previously viewed your website. Instead, these users have merely searched for keywords that are relevant to the products and services your company offers, and therefore they are served your retargeting ads. These ads can be displayed in the form of web banner ads and also on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Are Retargeting Ads Worth it?

According to a study by Digital Information World, the following is true:

72% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their shopping carts prior to making a purchase. Without retargeting, only 8% of those customers return to complete their transactions. With retargeting, the percentage of users who return and complete the checkout process increases to 26%.

That’s a pretty significant increase in conversions, don’t you think? 

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