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  • Conor Mc Niffe

Everything You Need to Know About Retargeting and Remarketing

Remarketing is the digital activity of reaching out to users who have previously interacted with the business. The manner of reaching out could be a paid advertising campaign or an email. And the previous interaction could have been a website visit, an app download, a form fill on the website, or a purchase made online or offline. Essentially, online users that take a desirable action toward your business objectives are considered lower hanging fruit than all other users. Factors like the action taken (e.g. someone filling in a demo booking form is much higher perceived value than someone who just visits the website), duration since the action, and other demographic and psychographic factors, will influence your segmentation and prioritization of potential remarketing/retargeting audiences.

Quick note: remarketing typically refers to email re-engagement with people who previously interacted with your brand while retargeting focuses more on the paid channel tactic for the same outcome of reconnecting with potential customers. For the purpose of this article, and both of our sanities, we will use the terms interchangeably to convey any digital methods of re-engaging with users that have taken an action that expresses interest in your products or services.


Let's take a hypothetical food delivery service. They run general prospecting ads on Meta, offering their service focusing on unique selling points such as minimal plastic, freshness of the product with 3 x weekly deliveries, cost efficiency versus competitors, etc. Click here if you need a freshener on Meta Ad Types.


The food delivery business is communicating to prospective customers on their value proposition and seamlessly incorporating that through their marketing communications. They have a large number of users who visit their order page each week but do not order - this represents a high potential remarketing audience for this business. One tactic they use for this remarketing audience is to focus the advertising communication on more promotional content, e.g. the ad below offering 50% off the first order.


Advertisement offering 50% off your first order

The business does not offer this promotion to all potential customers, only the specified retargeting audience. With digital marketing, this hypothesis is straightforward to achieve and represents only one aspect of a robust remarketing strategy that every business should have strong ownership over. In this article, our objective is to educate you on what is important to know regarding remarketing and to provide examples to generate ideas for your own business.


More Examples of Remarketing Audiences

In the introduction, we touched on the broad concept of remarketing and provided a more granular hypothetical with the food delivery service remarketing from a specific webpage on their site. I would like to present several more hypotheticals across different business verticals so a firm understanding of the capabilities of remarketing are affirmed.


Let's take any e-commerce website, a shoe store in this instance. The most important action that can occur on this store's website is the transaction. The crux of transactions are the product pages, i.e. each shoe SKU's page on the website. The medium for the transaction is a cart on the website. What should be two priority audiences that this store is retargeting with high priority? First priority is people who added products to a cart but abandoned the cart before purchase. Second priority is people who looked at products on the website but never added to the cart. Learn More About Conversion Optimization for E-Commerce Websites.


Naturally, these retargeting audiences are the highest priority because they are giving the shoe store specific signals that they have high intent for the products on offer. They didn't complete the transaction for whatever reason and it is the role of remarketing to guide them back to do so.


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Dynamic remarketing works very well for websites with inventory/products; this involves showcasing personalized products to the user based on what they viewed on the website and would be possible on channels like Meta and Display. Keep an eye out on the types of dynamic remarketing ads you see and evaluate whether you think the business is efficiently using their marketing budget to target you here or not.


Not an e-commerce brand? Following the same methodology of reverse engineering the desired outcomes of your website and the pages or actions that signify progression toward these outcomes allows you to understand the highest priority remarketing audiences for your business. Let's say that you are a car dealership that sees chat interactions as the most important action on the website and your data shows you most chat interactions occur on the vehicle pages showcasing your products. You can remarket people who clicked on the chat icon but didn't continue a conversation and you will certainly remarket shoppers who view your vehicle pages, just like the shoe store, or the pet store, or the dentist, or the personal trainer.


It doesn't matter if you sell product(s) or service(s), there are actions taking place on your website every day to signal purchase intent - leverage remarketing to ensure you are using some portion of your marketing budget to convert these lower hanging fruit to sales.



With remarketing, it is paramount to have parameters in place to avoid wasting ad spend or annoying potential customers. More on this below!


As you get further into the weeds of digital marketing, and go beyond your own property (website/app), you will see other areas that facilitate remarketing. Let's say you are a landscape gardener. You believe your value proposition is best delivered in visual media so you generate a lot of video content of your portfolio. You advertise some of these videos to prospective customers. Let's say video advertising channels like YouTube and Meta allowed you to segment people who viewed a high % of your video and remarket them even further, would that make business sense? That is the reality and the answer is yes - staying engaged on the video is a signal, once again, of interest. Learn About Video Advertising Metrics to Measure Performance.


Take Seamount Marketing and a highly granular approach to showcase the intricacies of remarketing. Hypothetically, I run a prospecting ad on Performance Max focusing on part of our value proposition of education and transparency. The Performance Max campaign is education-based, redirecting to articles relating to understanding if your marketing is working or not, and targeted to senior management and business owners. People click on the ads and come back to the website. Great, I will be remarketing them for sure, as they are signaling interest in what we offer. But I want to segment these people further. Theoretically, should the people who click the ads but stay on my website for over 2 minutes should be considered more lucrative than those who stay for 30 seconds? Or those who look at several pages versus those who don't navigate to a second page from the landing page? This more granular approach to retargeting ensures a high degree of control over your advertising budget and personalized advertising to each remarketing segment.


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These are all components of advertising channels and websites/apps that allow marketers to accomplish refined and granular strategies for remarketing audiences. But it would be remiss not to mention one key point here. Your remarketing strategy capabilities are always a derivative of user volume. Let's say that shoe store we visited before has 300 people visiting their website in a month. Forget remarketing for now - that business needs to focus on prospecting and getting user volume to a much healthier place before considering specific remarketing efforts. This is important to keep in mind, you have to have solid strategies for filling the funnel before you can work tailored strategies to converting those in your funnel.


Where Can Remarketing Be Implemented?

Where can you reach your remarketing audiences? We have touched on some examples above but effectively there are two primary ways: 1) Email Marketing; and 2) Paid Advertising. We will discuss these with more context below:


Email Marketing for Remarketing

Email remarketing allows businesses to target users who have interacted with your brand previously, through the medium of email campaigns, nurturing those connections through targeted content. Learn How to Build A High-Converting Email Subscriber List.


Depending on the size of your business, you could have one remarketing audience you leverage for email or 10s if not 100s of email list segments based on the actions they have taken. Regardless of the number of segments, we can generally refer to them in relation to their position in your funnel, i.e. high funnel (expressed mild interest, unlikely to purchase in the short term, e.g. website visitors without any prioritized signals), mid funnel (behavior suggests they are more involved, giving more consideration to the purchase but not expected to transact right now, e.g. website visitors that review product pages but don't submit leads/start a cart), and low funnel (high intent, appear ready to purchase, e.g. abandoned carts/submitted leads).



With this approach to your remarketing audience capture and email segmentation, you can then approach your email content in respect to where you deem the recipient is along their buying journey. Going back to the shoe store who have now miraculously grown their website traffic to 5,000 monthly visitors and are engaging with diverse retargeting strategies that we'll speak to shortly. They are in a position to have a tiered approach to their email remarketing. For high funnel, they choose seasonal content showcasing best sellers, links to blogs on fashion, and inclusive of their value proposition always. For the mid funnel audience, they include dynamic content in the email showcasing the products that specific user looked at previously. They also feature similar products and the email appears more conversion-focused than that which the high funnel audience receives. For the low funnel audience, we see personalized, dynamic content again; we see promotional offers, perhaps limited time offers with urgent messaging; we see a higher frequency of emails being sent. We see a business that understands that this audience needs heightened and personalized attention to win the transaction ahead of those other shoe companies selling the same brands.


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Paid Advertising for Retargeting

Have you read our comprehensive overview of all major paid advertising channels? It may be beneficial to review that first!


Several of the prominent digital advertising channels offer remarketing audience integration and subsequent campaign delivery. Meta is far and away the best platform to leverage for retargeting. This is due to being able to target this audience specifically, the available real estate Meta Ads garner, the user attention, the campaign diversity, and the built-in platform retargeting tools for each campaign. Other channels should be utilized too but Meta Ads are typically our priority for B2C remarketing efforts (LinkedIn is the most reputable for B2B).


Display Ads are also highly suitable for retargeting. Like Meta, they facilitate dynamic remarketing. They pale in direct comparison to Meta Ads due to user intent, viewable impression rates, ad fraud and banner sizes. Please keep in mind these obstacles exists across all digital advertising but they are more pronounced when comparing Display to Meta, for remarketing. Learn More About Display Advertising Targeting Options.


Video Ads should definitely be leveraged for retargeting whether on YouTube, Meta, YouTube, or OTT. Your medium is limited to video only so that is why it features after Meta and Display. However, for many businesses, YouTube may offer the best retargeting ROI. You will only find out through comprehensive experimentation. Discover our tips on creating video ads.


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Finally, there are Search and Shopping Ads which allow for retargeting however these are lowest priority as both channels are search-driven, i.e. we require the remarketing audience to search for specific keywords we are targeting and we can then bid more aggressively for this audience. Retargeting on Search and Shopping will certainly increase your conversion rates and must be set up but they won't represent your main media for retargeting given the nature of how they work. Learn More About Shopping Advertising for E-Commerce Brands.


Common Pitfalls With Remarketing

With that thorough understanding of remarketing audiences and the basics of where and how to leverage them, let's ensure to focus on the issues many advertisers make with remarketing.


Implementation Issues

The proficiency of the remarketing strategies will always be linked with the underlying tracking implementations. Conversion tracking needs to be setup by trusted professionals and audited regularly. If there are issues with conversion tracking in your Google Analytics, email provider, or advertising channels, then the data you are making decisions on will be irrelevant and your remarketing efforts will too. Audience syndication may prove an issue with email provider and/or advertising channels. Test, using tools on the platforms, to ensure that there is high crossover between your audience numbers and those available on the platform. Another example of implementation issues can occur with dynamic remarketing - we don't want to send irrelevant product ads to users so routinely test your dynamic remarketing set up.


Budget Allocation

With paid advertising retargeting, allocating budgets between remarketing and prospecting can be daunting. However, there are platform metrics that need to be leveraged to make it a calculated decision each day rather than intuitive. Frequency is the metric to attune to and make budget allocation decisions from. Frequency is the volume of ads a unique user sees in the time frame you are reviewing - it will be a factor of the ad spend and the audience size you are targeting. With frequency, we generally analyze from the retargeting audience(s) only. They are the priority and once that strategy is concrete, the remaining ad spend will go toward prospecting. Keep in mind this is a general rule for websites that are driving significant traffic each week. When we crunch the numbers, it typically falls close to 20% retargeting/80% prospecting. But it should be subjective to your business, your audience sizes, and your advertising budget!


Ad Fatigue

The delicacy of managing ad frequency involves understanding the threshold where your message remains impactful without becoming intrusive. You don't want to have a potential customer see the same ad from your business 10 times in 1 day. But what is the threshold? There's no exact science here and each business can optimize toward the best balance for their audience by analyzing the impact of frequency on conversions/sales. Striking this balance is essential for maintaining positive user experiences and avoiding ad fatigue, or worse, losing a potential customer entirely.


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