Beginner’s Guide To Retargeting + Examples & Case Studies

in Online Marketing

If someone leaves your website without buying anything, you lose money. Even if you drive traffic to your blog through free SEO traffic, you lose the time and resources that you spent trying to get that free traffic. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Because there is a way to squeeze out more ROI from every person that visits your website.

This almost magical method of achieving higher ROI is called Retargeting.

What is Retargeting?

When a person visits your website and leaves without subscribing to your email list or buying anything, chances are that person will never come back to your website.

If 1,000 people leave your website every month without taking any action, you are losing at least $1,000 if it cost you $1 per visitor to acquire those visitors.

Retargeting has been around for a very long time but most businesses aren’t using it. It can help you double your subscriber base, make more sales, and sell more stuff to your existing customers.

It’s the best way to squeeze out the most ROI from your visitors. It allows you to put your brand in front of your prospects and customers again and again.

This graphic from Retarger explains it the best:

what is retargeting

Although the graphic only talks about converting potential customers into customers, you can use retargeting for many things:

  • Upsell or cross-sell a customer.
  • Turn one-time customers into repeat buyers.
  • Reach customers who don’t respond to emails.
  • Make sure your brand stays on top of your customers’ minds by promoting your content.
  • Reach customers on other devices they own.

The goal of your retargeting campaign may vary. You may run many different retargeting campaigns at the same time with different objectives. But the main goal will always be to increase the ROI you get on every dollar you spend acquiring a visitor.

Remarketing vs Retargeting?

Now you might have heard the term remarketing before, so what’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

remarketing vs retargeting

Both terms are often used interchangeably, but remarketing is a strategy aimed at re-engaging customers through email marketing, social media, and offline activities.

Retargeting is a “tactic” of remarketing and is usually focused on paid text and display ads.

Short summary: What is the difference between Retargeting vs Remarketing?
Retargeting is the act of displaying ads to people who have interacted with your brand before, while Remarketing involves using different marketing channels to engage with potential customers who have already shown an interest in your brand or products.

How Retargeting Works

Retargeting campaigns are a highly effective way to reach people who have already shown an interest in your brand by visiting your website.

By using pixel-based retargeting, you can create a custom audience of site visitors and target them with ads that are highly relevant to their interests.

This retargeting approach works by placing a pixel on your website that tracks visits to specific pages.

The pixel then triggers ads to be shown to the people who visited those pages when they later visit other sites within the retargeting platform’s network.

This is a powerful way to keep your brand top-of-mind for people who have already shown an interest in what you have to offer.

Retargeting efforts can be organized into a retargeting list, which is a segmented audience based on their behavior on your website.

Email retargeting is also an effective way to reach this audience, as you can send highly targeted emails based on the user’s past behavior on your website.

Overall, a well-planned retargeting campaign using a retargeting platform can help you maximize the impact of your marketing efforts and drive conversions from your site visitors.

Retargeting might sound like a really complex process if you are new to it. But it’s nothing to be worried about. It doesn’t require a million-dollar budget or complex software and tools. And it won’t take you years to learn how to use retargeting to get more sales.

It’s a simple process of displaying paid ads to people who have already either visited your website or have previously bought something from you.

There are two ways to retarget people:

1. Gather Data With a Retargeting Pixel

Every advertising platform that comes with the ability to retarget users offers a way to collect data using a simple technology called a retargeting pixel.

A retargeting pixel is simply a one or two-line JavaScript code you place on your website pages that helps the advertising platform recognize a user. Once a user is recognized by the platform, they store their details in your account’s retargeting list.

Sounds confusing?

facebook pixel

Here’s an example of how Facebook Pixel works:

You place a small JavaScript code on your website’s pages. This script is loaded every time someone visits your website. This script, then, connects with the Facebook servers. The servers try to recognize the user via IP address and Cookies.

If the person who visited your website has a Facebook account and is logged into Facebook at the time, then Facebook will add that user to your retargeting list. You can later retarget this user through the Facebook ad platform. The more people visit, the bigger your retargeting list gets.

These visitors include the people who visit your website from other Ad Platforms as well. This allows you to retarget users who have seen or clicked your ads through other ad platforms.

If you don’t already have a retargeting pixel installed on your website, install one right now.

2. Target Your Customers on The Platform With Your Customer List

If you already have a list of customers, you can upload a list of their email addresses to Facebook. Once you do that, Facebook will try to match Facebook accounts with those email addresses to find your customers who are on Facebook.

facebook custom audiences

This is a great way to upsell or cross-sell your customers. Not only that, building a retargeting list of people who have already bought from you helps you sell more products and services to these same people.

It’s always easier to sell more stuff to the same people than it is to find more prospects and turn them into customers.

With retargeting ads, you can promote more of your products to your existing customers.

Here’s a great example of Facebook retargeting ad based on customer list:

facebook retargeting example

The above is a retargeting ad by DigitalMarketer. They are targeting people who attended the Traffic & Conversion Summit. Their messaging clearly ask their existing customers who have attended the conference in the past to attend the conference again.

DigitalMarketer retargets its old attendees every year.

The Best Retargeting Platforms

One of the best ways to leverage retargeting is through the use of custom audiences on social media platforms like Facebook.

By installing a Facebook pixel on your website, you can track visitors and create a custom audience to retarget with Facebook ads.

This allows you to create highly targeted ad campaigns that are more likely to convert. In addition to Facebook, other social media platforms offer similar options for retargeting, including Twitter and LinkedIn.

Another effective strategy is to use banner ads on the Google Display Network, which allows you to reach potential customers through a wide range of websites and apps that are part of Google’s advertising network.

By combining custom audiences on social media platforms with banner ads on the Google Display Network, you can expand your reach and increase the effectiveness of your retargeting campaigns.

Here’s an overview of the three most popular retargeting platforms on the market: Google AdWords, AdRoll and Facebook.

Google AdWords Retargeting

Google serves billions of search result pages every day. You can display your ads on top of these search results. But do you know that AdWords also allows you to display ads on millions of third-party websites that are a part of their network?

google adwords remarketing

With Google AdWords, you can retarget your visitors, prospects, and existing customers around the web. Most websites that get millions of visitors are a part of Google’s advertising network. You can target people who visit all of these millions of websites.

Even if your target market is too hip or too old to be using Facebook, you can target them around the web on websites they read or visit regularly.

Not only that, but you can also retarget customers who search for your competitors after visiting your website as Brevo does:

google adwords retargeting example

Google Ad network reportedly has the ability to reach over 90% of Internet users worldwide. That’s almost everyone who uses the Internet.

Try Google Ad Network if you want to be able to retarget your website visitors and customers across the web and not just on one single platform like Facebook.

AdRoll Retargeting

AdRoll allows you to target prospective customers better with the use of AI. They allow you to display the right message to the right person at the right time with the use of Artificial Intelligence. Their AI helps optimize marketing across multiple channels including Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, and many other platforms.

If you are looking for a one-stop solution to creating Ads that work without too much trial and error, AdRoll is the way to go.

This graphic from their website explains best how their platform really works:


Rather than limiting you to Search or Display, they allow you to display your Google ads to your potential customers wherever they go on the Internet.

They allow you to target customers using both Static and Dynamic Ads. If you run an eCommerce site or sell more than a few products, you will love Dynamic Ads. They allow you to display ads that are related to the product that your customer just viewed or might be interested in.

For example, if a user on your website was looking at the watches you sell, it makes sense to show them ads that promote those watches and not shoes or jewelry. With dynamic ads, you can show the exact product your customer is interested in.

AdRoll report that their customers make over $240 billion dollars every year. They attribute their clients’ results to the platform’s ability to automatically optimize and adapt the ads served based on what the user might be interested in based on previous behavior.

With AdRoll, you can automatically target anyone who visits your website across the Internet with the right messaging on any device they use, be it their laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Facebook Retargeting

Facebook is the biggest social media platform with users including teenagers to 80-year-olds. If you want to retarget your customers on Facebook, you will have to first install their Retargeting Pixel on your website. Alternatively, you can also upload a list of your customers you want to target.

Facebook will match the emails of your customers to Facebook accounts. Any of your customers who have a Facebook will be added to your retargeting list. Once they are added to your retargeting list, you aren’t limited to retargeting them on Facebook. You can retarget them across all the websites and platforms that are a part of Facebook’s advertising network including Instagram, Instant Articles, and a large number of websites.

facebook ads example

Facebook allows you to retarget your visitors across all their platforms. So, you could first retarget a customer via the Facebook newsfeed Ad and then display a follow-up Ad on their Instagram feed. The platforms available include Messenger, Instagram, and even WhatsApp.

The best part about advertising on Facebook is that you have a seemingly unlimited number of prospects you can reach. With over 1.3 Billion active users, Facebook can help you reach all your customers worldwide.

Some Great Retargeting Case Studies That Show Us How To Do It Right

When it comes to retargeting campaigns, it’s essential to target the right audience, including existing customers and potential customers who have shown an interest in your products or services.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have become increasingly popular for retargeting campaigns, thanks to their advanced audience targeting options.

Using tools like Facebook’s Audience Manager, businesses can create custom audiences based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more, allowing them to deliver personalized and relevant ads to their target audience.

This level of audience targeting can significantly improve the effectiveness of retargeting efforts and help businesses reach the right people at the right time.

Remarketing campaigns are an essential part of any digital marketing strategy, as they allow you to reconnect with people who have already engaged with your brand.

By using targeted ads and personalized messaging, remarketing campaigns can help you re-engage potential customers who may have dropped off in the conversion process.

Remarketing efforts can take many forms, such as sending personalized emails to people who abandoned their shopping cart, or retargeting ads to people who visited your site but didn’t make a purchase.

Remarketing campaigns are especially effective for increasing brand awareness and driving conversions, as they allow you to keep your brand top-of-mind for people who have already shown an interest in what you have to offer.

With the right remarketing strategy, you can effectively reach your target audience and turn them into loyal customers.

If you are excited about launching your first retargeting campaign, as you should be, you should first get some inspiration from people who are already doing a great job at retargeting.

The following case studies will give you an idea of what you can do in your industry, in your situation.

Bebê Store Got a 98% Lift In Conversions

  • Industry: Baby products
  • Platform: Google AdWords
  • Result: 98% increase in conversion rate

Bebê Store was able to achieve a 98% increase in conversion rate using an AdWords tool called Conversion Optimizer. This tool is a part of the AdWords platform that you can use for free once you start running ads.

Bebê Store, as the name suggests, sells baby products including Strollers, Toys, and, of course, Diapers.

They use Dynamic Retargeting to display a carousel of products that are related to products that their visitors might have already checked out:

bebe case study

Conversion Optimizer studies the behavior of your customers and displays them Ads when they are ready to buy.

American Patriot Reduced Their Acquisition Cost By 33%

  • Industry: Cabin rentals
  • Platform: AdRoll
  • Result: Reducing cost per acquisition by 33%

American Patriot was able to reduce their cost per acquisition by a whopping 33% by switching from Google Ads to AdRoll.

Although they were getting impressions with Google Ads, they weren’t getting any conversions as a spokesperson from American Patriot mentioned in the AdRoll case study:

“Before AdRoll we were using Google retargeting, and while we definitely got impressions, we didn’t get many conversions.”

Switching to AdRoll reduced their acquisition cost to only $10 per customer, which was $15 per customer previously. AdRoll uses AI to target and display the right message to the right customer across all their devices.

Watchfinder Increased Average Order Value By 13%

  • Industry: Pre-owned luxury watches
  • Platform: Google AdWords
  • Result: Decrease cost per acquisition by 34%

Watchfinder was able to achieve 1,300% ROI on their Ad spend and decrease their cost per acquisition by 34% by Retargeting people in 20 different groups who displayed an “intent to purchase.”

watchfinder case study

Instead of targeting everyone, Watchfinder doubled down on targeting only the people who have already visited their website and demonstrated an interest in buying one of their products.

Their success was due to the fact that it is very easy to sell more stuff to an existing customer than it is to sell to someone who isn’t familiar with your brand.

Myfix Cycles Achieved Over 1,500% ROI On Their Ad Spend

  • Industry: Bikes
  • Platform: Facebook
  • Result: 6.38% CTR and 1,500% ROAS

Myfix Cycles is a bicycle retailer based in Toronto. They used Facebook Ads retargeting to sell bicycles that cost over $300 on average. It’s not easy to sell a product that’s above $100. The sales cycle gets bigger and needs more interactions as the price of the product increases.

They started retargeting people who added a bicycle to cart but never completed the checkout process. They were able to achieve an impressive  6.38% average click-through rate for their ads and made $15 for every dollar they spent. They made $3,043 in sales by spending only $199 on Facebook Ads. That’s a 1,500% Return on Ad Spend:

myfix cycles case study

This case study proves that you can benefit from retargeting even if you have a budget as small as $200.

WordStream Achieved a 300% Increase In Average Visit Duration

  • Industry: Online marketing services
  • Platform: Google AdWords
  • Result: Increase return visitors by 65%

WordStream was able to increase return visitors by 65% and average visit duration by 300%.

According to the case study, WordStream was receiving thousands of visitors every month but none of those visitors knew what they did or sell. Although they were receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors for free from Search Engines, they weren’t getting any sales from their content.

That was until they started retargeting their website visitors with Facebook ads. They targeted 3 different segments of website visitors including people who visited their homepage, people who used their free tool, and people who read their blog. They were able to increase their conversion rate by 51% using retargeting Ads.


Summary – What is Retargeting?

If you aren’t retargeting your customers, you are losing money hand over fist.

By retargeting people who have already bought something from you, you can increase your customer lifetime value by selling more products to your existing buyers.

You can also benefit from retargeting people who visit your website. If someone visits your website and shows interest in a product by visiting the product page, you can retarget that person based on that behavior and show them an ad for the product they were interested in.

Retargeting can help you boost your sales and make more money from every visitor who visits your website and every person who buys from you.

If you have never tried retargeting Ads before, you should start with Facebook Advertising. Their platform is the easiest to learn and works even if you have a small budget to work with.

On the other hand, if you are fed up with targeting customers manually on advertising platforms, you should sign up with AdRoll. They optimize and adapt your Ads for you to reach your target customers with the right messaging that helps close the sale.

If you don’t have any ideas on where to start, have a look at the case studies above to find inspiration on where to begin and how to retarget people for the maximum ROI.

About Author

Matt Ahlgren

Mathias Ahlgren is the CEO and founder of Website Rating, steering a global team of editors and writers. He holds a master's in information science and management. His career pivoted to SEO after early web development experiences during university. With over 15 years in SEO, digital marketing, and web developmens. His focus also includes website security, evidenced by a certificate in Cyber Security. This diverse expertise underpins his leadership at Website Rating.

WSR Team

The "WSR Team" is the collective group of expert editors and writers specializing in technology, internet security, digital marketing, and web development. Passionate about the digital realm, they produce well-researched, insightful, and accessible content. Their commitment to accuracy and clarity makes Website Rating a trusted resource for staying informed in the dynamic digital world.

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