Should I Use Retargeting to Market My Business?


man-surfing-webIf you use search engines to navigate the web, you’ve likely experienced retargeting.

There you are, shopping for a new Modcloth dress, something I never, ever do (lie).  You click away to another site, and suddenly ads on each new page show items you moments earlier saved for possible purchase in your “Loved Items List.” Now, each site you visit reminds you of clothes you’d love to buy, with tempting visual persistence.

If you’re like me, retargeting can go one of two ways. You will either get sick of the item after looking at it too many times in ads and move on, or adore it more deeply, enough to eventually break down and buy the darn thing. Personally, I don’t usually buy the items I “favorite,” but rather, return to the site because I like what I’ve impulse-bought in the past (they make some high-quality rompers, just sayin’).

But I digress. Does retargeting really work, and if so, how well? With consumers growing increasingly wise to online marketing tactics, it can be difficult to know the best, subtlest way to advertise your product while endearing potential customers to your brand.

What Is Retargeting, Again?

Retargeting is a method of sharing your products or services by tracking online user behavior and placing ads based on this information. Consumers may enjoy this type of marketing because the web seems to “understand” them, showing them ads that relate to their interests.

Retargeting is as simple as placing code on your website that deposits an anonymous browser cookie into your users’ devices. When they surf the internet, your retargeting provider will offer up your ads, specific to their search histories.

Sound useful? Consider these pros and cons of this popular cross-channel tactic to decide for yourself how effective a campaign of this kind might be for your company:

Definitely Use It!

The best reasons to use retargeting include:

  • Users who have already visited your site clearly like and possibly benefitted from it, so reminding them of a positive experience can only help to increase your ROI.
  • You can personalize retargeting ads. To attract users who visited but did not convert, try pairing a humorous tone (“Mama said”) with an irresistible call to action (“Win it Here”).
  • Google Analytics allow you to track your returning visitors and their loyalty to your brand, all valuable information for this and future campaigns. The information you gather about users can help you improve upon your website content and future campaigns of any type.
  • According to, “thirty percent of consumers have a positive or very positive reaction to retargeted ads.” The remaining 59 percent have a neutral reaction, which is certainly better than a negative one. Plus, you can’t ignore this stat: retargeting can boost ad response up to 400 percent (!!).

Err, Not So Much

Along with the many reasons to try a retargeting campaign are variables that can make this marketing method less-than-desirable, depending on your purpose and product. These include:

  • Following people on the web and demonstrating that you know what they’re looking at can seem . . . shady and intrusive. Hmm.
  • Users may end up seeing a product they have purchased elsewhere, which may feel redundant and defeats the purpose of the ad.
  • Creating fresh content to ensure your ads are not boring and repetitive takes time and effort.
  • People may tire of ads from your company, rather than developing an affinity for your brand.

So what’s the verdict? If you spend time crafting likeable, targeted ads, you’ve eliminated the redundancy factor. Whether or not the rest of the cons apply to your campaign depends on factors specific to your target audience, many of which you won’t know until you try.

If You Do Decide to Retarget

For those of you who want to try out or stick with a retargeting campaign, here are a few pointers to steer you in the direction of more ROI and less meh response from users:

  • Create Search Personas: Consider 2-4 ideal users you wish to target and create keyword phrases to specifically appeal to them. This should create enough variation to shape ads that focus on the potential customers you want. One person may want a more durable running shoe, while another is looking for the lowest price. Cater to each specifically and they’re more likely to respond the way you want.
  • Search Insights Can Help: Retargeting people who have already searched for a brand term and made a purchase is extremely effective because those users are familiar with and interested in your offerings. You can use retargeting to encourage continued business with these users by featuring a product related to items they’ve already bought.
  • Optimize Cross-Channel Messaging: By leading users through the buying stages across multiple channels, you can lead them to convert. Begin by targeting users in search with educational posts that help them research the item or service you would like them to purchase. Next, create keywords related to buying stage actions that encourage users to move forward. At this point, promotional language can be useful and encourages users to convert. By guiding potential customers from inquiry stage to purchase, you provide valuable assistance that keeps your brand top of mind.
  • Burn, Baby, Burn: If someone you are targeting converts, or fails to convert within a set time frame, remove them from the campaign. This action preserves the freshness of your brand by making sure you don’t waste time and funds “preaching to the choir” or address a disinterested audience.

For many brands, retargeting is an excellent marketing investment and provides a substantial ROI boost. If you choose to run a campaign, the above best practices will help target and guide your audience to conversion.

What’s your experience with remarketing? Positive, negative, useful, waste of time? Let us know in the comments below!