Aim to hit the target; if you miss the first time, retarget.

That sounds like great advice for almost everything we do. What is retargeting when we look at it from our own life’s perspective?

Targeting to lose weight by the end of the year but already missed the planned start day? Retarget with a more aggressive workout plan to achieve the desired goals by the same finish time. Targeted to ask someone out on a date but got nervous? Retarget with more confidence and charm them.

Retargeting, in business, is exactly the same.

How many times have you scrolled through Facebook or Instagram and come across advertisements that show products you had been looking for? It almost seems eerie, like ‘Whoa! How did Facebook know I was looking for a new sweater?’

Well, Facebook knows because the brands you were browsing through and other brands from the industry, are retargeting you with the most recent product (or products) you viewed. That’s called website retargeting.

For every business, the target is to convert interested people into paying customers. You build a website, social media presence or even a physical store with the exact same target: sales and profit.

But what if the people walk in, browse and leave without making any purchase?

Yes, you got it this time — you use retargeting.

Still not using email to market your business? Give Constant Contact a try for FREE!

What is retargeting?

It all starts with a potential customer landing on your company’s website. They come, they go through your products and then leave without making any purchase. For whatever reason they left, you now have the chance to pull them right back in and complete the purchase this time with retargeting, or remarketing, techniques.

Retargeting is a host of marketing strategies that all work towards pulling back potential customers who showed an interest in your products and services, and converting them into customers.

Retargeting is a very specific form of advertising. With retargeting marketing campaigns, you target a specific audience, or visitors, with very specific advertisements. These advertisements are personalized to match the exact or similar products they were looking for.

Getting started with retargeting

The first thing to understand is that you have multiple channels to run your remarketing campaigns. For example:

Social media retargeting

Social networking sites are great platforms to retarget users and your potential customers. In fact, using social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, is one of the most effective ways to run successful remarketing campaigns as they allow more visibility for you as people like, share, and comment.


If upon browsing through your website potential customers have voluntarily given you their email address, then email marketing campaigns are the best way to use retargeting marketing. When you remarket to your email list, you can get right into the user’s personal space—their inbox—and have a greater chance to pull them back in and become customers.

Third-party platforms

There are many effective third party platforms that allow you to run retargeting marketing campaigns for web and social.

Different types of retargeting marketing

While you have the opportunity to retarget website visitors, retargeting marketing also allows you to reach out to people who have shown interest in products and services from your industry. When you start retargeting marketing, over time you can expand your efforts to different kinds, including:

Website retargeting

The people who visited your website but left without converting into customers can be pushed further down the sales funnel with site retargeting marketing. Here you show text or banner ads for your products on other websites to potential customers.

Search based retargeting

Although in the literal sense this may sound like targeting without the ‘re’, here you are reaching out to people who have used a search engine to find products within your industry. This is based on the keywords/phrases that are used to search for products that you have to offer.

Social media retargeting

In this kind of retargeting marketing you display ads for your brands on social media networks after prospects have visited your website or browsed for products within your industry.

Email retargeting

This kind of retargeting marketing banks upon your email list, unlike other kinds where it depends on cookies. People who visit your website and willingly give their email addresses to you can be retargeted through this message.

What are “cookies” you ask? Well, apart from being a delicious snack, a cookie is data that a website sends and is stored by a user on their personal device by the web browser. This is data that helps a website remember important information about the customer that may have been provided or simply browsed. It is these first-party cookies that let you know what products the customer was browsing through or added to the cart. You need to enable cookies in your web browser to collect all this valuable data and information about your website traffic.

Tip: Constant Contact allows you to grow your business with powerful online marketing tools. It has many integrations and apps that makes measuring, growing and executing all a click away.

Building retargeting marketing campaign ideas

Knowing what retargeting is and how to do it is not enough. You need to now start building on ideas and understanding what will make your retargeting marketing impactful.

Digital retargeting is built upon a foundation of brand awareness and moving potential customers through the buyer’s journey to become paying customers. These are the two main goals that you want to achieve with every campaign you build. 

You can utilize a dynamic website retargeting campaign to really help guide users down the funnel into converting customers. Dynamic retargeting lets you show ads to users who have visited your site that contain products they previously viewed on your site but did not convert. For example:

With the weather changing, I was recently browsing through hoodies online. I did not buy anything as I got distracted, but this showed up on my Facebook feed within a few hours from me leaving the website:

Retargeting example

The cool thing here is, the brand did not just retarget me by showing me the exact same black hoodie that I saw on their website, but also raised their brand awareness by showing me other options that I could choose from.

That’s not all. While the above is an example from when I was on the exact same brand, another cool retargeting campaign hit me a few days back.

I was looking for gifting ideas for the upcoming holiday season. I just went on to Google and typed ‘festive gifting ideas’. I went through a few websites that showed up, but I didn’t even know about this brand until this happened:

social media retargeting example

Yup, this popped up on my Instagram. A cool brand that showcased some great festive gifting ideas. How did they know? Well, cookies!

I love being retargeted by all these amazing brands who are making sure I take notice of them and go on to shop some cool products from them. The best part is that all these ads are hyper-relevant to me, so it does not feel like i’m being spammed.

However, if I was looking for hoodies and started getting ads for flip flops, that would be a bummer (and seriously irritating!).

When you are looking for retargeting marketing campaign ideas, that is exactly what you need to keep in mind. You want to be a pleasant surprise in their inbox or social feed, you want to be relevant to them, and most importantly you need to entice them to come straight back in and make a purchase.

As you start retargeting you can slowly build upon getting more and more specific about the audience you retarget. For example, there is a difference between people who opened up your website and left in a few seconds vs. people who stayed on for a longer time and browsed through different pages/products. In this case you can retarget the latter half as they clearly have a higher intention of buying and will be a better case for converting.

But start slow and start step-by-step. Whether it’s email marketing, retargeting marketing or any marketing strategy that you start using, the key is going from the bottom up. It’s great to set high goals, but it’s always better to take all the steps rather than skipping to the top.

Start by retargeting people who visited your website, browsed for sometime and left without buying anything. You can start by retargeting them on social media platforms. Set aside a budget for social media remarketing and start building from there on.

Realize, reinvent & retarget

Once you realize how many potential customers you could convert to paying customers, it’s time to reinvent your marketing strategies and begin retargeting marketing.

So what is retargeting? It’s simple, it’s a marketing strategy that aims at potential customers who showed interest in your brand and products, browsed your website or searched online for products you offer but stopped at that. The retargeting marketing campaign will work towards bringing them back to your company’s website, nurturing them through the conversion funnel, and pushing them to become paying customers.

Retargeting campaigns are specific to products and people and have a greater potential of bringing the desired results.

Set the target. Retarget. Bullseye!