Remarketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

Remarketing Made Simple

Retargeting and remarketing are both awesome tools for marketers. However, they are not the same thing. Retargeting is a type of remarketing effort. Remarketing includes more than simply retargeting.

The difference is this: While both terms refer to the act of advertising to the same person more than once, remarketing is an umbrella term for trying to reach the same prospect multiple times -- often with multiple different campaigns. Retargeting, on the other hand, centers around targeting online ats at the same traffic again and again.

Both strategies are effective in their proper context, particularly if you know how to use them and capitalize on their differences. 


In its most literal definition, "remarketing" involves everything from complicated tech solutions to display the same banner 20 times until you click it, to a simple sandwich board in front of a restaurant that you see every day on your drive to work.

Remarketing, then, can be done offline. It can be done over the phone, in an email or by distributing a discount coupon. Retargeting, on the other hand, is exclusively an online attempt to persuade a customer to take action on a web opportunity that he or she has previously bypassed.

Remarketing has been around for decades through mailers, newsletters, and seasonal sales attached to holidays (Christmas) and events (back-to-school). Retargeting typically involves social media efforts to market the same product or service again and again on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms.

How can each be maximized? Here's a breakdown:

Remarketing Defined

Remarketing involves repeatedly exposing a customer to the same product, whether it is with a billboard ad, a TV commercial, a podcast video, a flyer, or something else. It can be something as subtle as riding in the same type of car, on a daily basis for a decade, to build brand loyalty. That's a passive approach, but it's still remarketing.

Professional marketers, of course, are much more aggressive and spend billions of dollars per year on both offline and online campaigns. One memorable effort involved the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, which created a unique billboard project in an effort to get more pets adopted. Representatives handed flyers to dog lovers in a downtown area where several digital billboards would pop up in their path.

The flyers contained RFID chips that tracked people’s location as they walked. Eventually, a dog started following them from billboard to billboard until asking them to check out the flyer they were handed earlier. The campaign resulted in more than 2,000 people going to the company website to adopt a new pet.

Through the years, the primary tools used in remarketing efforts have evolved from print ads to phone calls, TV/radio commercials, emails and, now, online posts. Regardless of the marketing approach used, timing always is an important factor in remarketing.

Retargeting Defined

Retargeting is based on using technology to re-engage with previous website visitors. Roughly 98% of all web traffic does not convert. Customers leave your website without leaving an email address, contacting you, following you on social media or buying anything from you.

Retargeting is your solution to that. It allows you to place an invisible retargeting pixel on your website, which is a snippet of code. The retargeting pixel places a cookie inside the visitor’s browser, so their information is saved in your social media account. This allows you to serve ads specific to those who have been on your website before, which is what makes retargeting so successful.

On average, retargeting ads show a 10-fold increase in click-through rates (CTR) because people already relate to your ad.

The three major channels on which retargeting is used are Google Adwords, Facebook, and Twitter.

Remarketing for E-Commerce Sites

One thing to bear in mind in today's marketplace is the need to remarket to online shoppers. Many times, today's online shoppers abandon their shopping carts before hitting the "checkout" button to complete their purchases.

It is estimated that, while 30% of people visiting an online store place something in their cart during the visit, only 3% actually check out. That means 27% of your target customers must be remarketed in order to complete a purchase. That led to the creation of the shopping cart abandonment email.

The industry's Top-10 E-commerce sites all do this. A case study, done by Moz, showed that these sites boast overall conversion rates ranging from 16% all the way up to 42%, in large part because of their remarketing efforts. The average online store converts just 2% of its shoppers.

WH Smith, a bookstore and office supplier, tested 3 types of shopping cart abandonment emails:

  1. A generic branded prompt to finish the order
  2. A personalized email with a timed coupon (72 hrs)
  3. A personalized email with a timed coupon (48 hrs)

While the first type of email increased conversions by 10%, the second doubled them. The offer with the most scarcity did even better, boosting conversions by 200%.

Research has shown that engaging within the first hour after the abandonment shows a 10-fold increase over waiting for 2 hours or longer.

Remarketing vs. Retargeting on Social Media

What’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting, when we’re talking about social media? Your remarketing targets your audience as a whole, while your retargeting efforts focus on your engaged audience.

The key is to get people involved and then run campaigns that target those who engaged before, so that they want to connect with your brand, over and over again.

There are plenty of retargeting guides for beginners and advanced users, each ready to help you segment your audience even further and advertise specific products only to certain people. Among the most useful resources include: 

  • Ultimate Guide to AdWords Remarketing
  • The Step-by-Step Facebook Retargeting Guide: Get More Conversions From Your Existing Traffic
  • A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics Remarketing From an Ex-Googler
  • Retargeting: Ultimate 2015 Guide to Remarketing Campaigns
  • An In-Depth Comparison of Remarketing & Retargeting Services
  • The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Retargeting