Brook Preloader

A beginner's guide to retargeting ads

A beginner's guide to retargeting ads

We'd all like to think that every single person who comes into contact with our company follows a very straight and orderly path to purchase. Someone visits our website for the first time, fills out a form to download an eBook, and then is interested in talking to a sales representative, all in one sitting on your website.

Minutes later, the sales rep reaches out to that prospect, and before you know it, the prospect becomes a customer and hands over their credit card to buy something from your company.

But in reality, the buyer's journey is probably not so linear. They visit your website and then leave. Two months later, they discover your latest blog article and then decide to download the eBook.

A few days after that, they decide to read another blog post. Maybe a week later they decide to contact sales, and it takes several more weeks of meetings and discussions before they come to a buying decision. Same end result, but the process is a little more complicated.

Therefore, marketers need to be prepared to help their buyers through this complicated process. One great way to do this is through ad retargeting.

What is a retargeting ad? 

Unlike typical banner ads, retargeting ads are a form of online targeting advertising and are aimed at people who have already visited your website or are a contact in your database (like a lead or customer).

If you've never used retargeting before, don't worry - in the following post, we'll go over the basics of how retargeting works, explain how you can use it to support your larger marketing goals, and even outline an example Facebook ad retargeting campaign.

How retargeting campaigns work

There are two main types of retargeting: "pixel-based" and "list-based" retargeting. The way they both work is slightly different, and both have different benefits depending on your campaign goals.

pixel-based retargeting

Pixel-based retargeting is a way to display your content again to each anonymous website visitor.

This is probably the most common type of retargeting. When someone comes to your website, an unobtrusive piece of JavaScript (often called a pixel) is placed in their browser, "remembering" their browser. When he leaves your site to browse the web, this cookie notifies retargeting platforms to serve specific ads based on the specific pages he visited on your site.

The advantage of pixel-based retargeting is that it is timely (they can be retargeted pretty much immediately after leaving your site), specific to a particular page on your site, and behavior-based. The downside to this method is that at any given time, a smaller number of people are participating in the campaign, as it all depends on how often people come to your site, view specific pages, and leave. It can also be complicated or time consuming to implement the JavaScript on many web pages.

list-based retargeting

List-based retargeting works after you already have someone's contact information in your database.

You can also use lists of your existing contacts for certain types of retargeting ads. To do this, upload a list of email addresses to a retargeting campaign (usually on a social network like Facebook or Twitter), and the platform will identify the users on that network who have those addresses and serve retargeting ads only to them.

Although it's slightly less common than pixel-based retargeting, list-based retargeting allows you to use highly customizable criteria for your ads because it's based on more than just behavior - you decide who gets included in which list.

On the other hand, it's possible that a person on your list gave you one email address and the social network another - and in that case, they won't see your ads. Also, keep in mind that list-based retargeting is less automatic and timely than pixel-based retargeting because you're responsible for uploading and maintaining the list.

If you've ever heard of the term "retargeting," it's probably in comparison to remarketing. And while the two terms are often confused, there are differences. Let's talk about when you would use both.

Retargeting vs Remarketing

While retargeting focuses on attracting new audiences or customers through ads on social media, email, or other platforms, remarketing often focuses on sales or marketing emails sent to retarget customers.

Remarketing and retargeting are often confused with each other. Although they have similarities, retargeting allows you to reach new prospects with your ads, while remarketing focuses on reigniting your company's interest with current or inactive old customers.

A retargeting ad helps those who have never heard of your business understand how your product or service fits their lifestyle or solves a potential problem. Retargeting helps you make the message more personal.

By analyzing your sales, you can determine what's popular with the audiences you're trying to reach. For example, if you find that a particular product line is doing really well among Millennials, pull images of it into a carousel ad and use them to retarget customers. Personalizing a separate ad to promote a collection that targets a segment of your target market is an example of how retargeting can be successful.


If you want to give your customers an incentive to buy from your business again, you're essentially turning to remarketing.

For customers who already know your brand and have shown a need for your product, create a personalized message to reignite their interest. For example, if your company offers a membership, market it to those whose memberships are expiring and need to renew. This email is an example:

This marketing email not only served as a reminder to renew, but is also a way for Thrive Market to communicate the benefits of membership. In the email, you can see how much I saved by using the grocery service, where the membership money was spent, and a special renewal promotion is offered.

Since the recipient was already familiar with the brand, Thrive was able to use the email to add personal touches and give a snapshot of what the member could enjoy (again).

Like retargeting, this tactic is successful when messages encourage action. The CTAs in the email, such as "Browse our options here," told me I could browse my options with one click. Use remarketing tactics to remind customers of the perks that come with shopping with your brand, such as easy access to shopping.

Fill your funnel with retargeting

What goals you should set for retargeting

Now that we have the background on how retargeting works and the different types of audiences you can segment by, we can focus on the goals. The main types of retargeting campaigns you should consider are awareness campaigns and conversion campaigns.


Awareness campaigns are useful when you want to retarget website visitors and inform them about relevant products, features, or announcements. These ads are usually delivered to pixel-based lists.

The obvious downside to awareness campaigns is that you're pushing less targeted content to people who haven't engaged with your brand in depth. They are not in your contact database, and often the expected click-through rates are lower than other types of campaigns.

However, since the goal is to make potential customers aware of your business, impressions and engagement are acceptable metrics to track. Often, awareness campaigns are precursors to a much more effective campaign goal: conversions.


Conversion goals are just that - you want to get people to click on your ad and take a next step, such as filling out a landing page form. Conversion goals are best used to align a specific list with a clear next step in the customer journey, and can be measured with typical conversion metrics like website clicks, form submission, and cost-per-lead (CPL).

The best thing about conversion targeting is that you can use it for multiple parts of the customer journey. Pixel-based ads, for example, generate leads and direct people to landing pages where they can share their information.

List-based ads better qualify these leads. The ads appear to contacts who have given you limited information and lead them to longer forms with additional fields.

In addition, retargeting can be used to drive these qualified leads further into their sales cycle. For example, you can use retargeting to send a list of contacts who have downloaded an eBook to sign up for a free trial of your product.

Regardless of your goal, it's important to align positioning, design, and the next step in the conversion process (whether it's an offer landing page or a request for more information) with your audience list. List-based retargeting can have low match rates (users sync with accounts on each platform, usually by email address), so make sure you're populating your retargeting efforts with inbound content.

I never want to miss important information again!

* indicates required

[poptin-form fad474fee51af]

Selection of a retargeting platform and tool

In fact, you have quite a few options to actually implement your retargeting. There are tons of third-party platforms for web and social retargeting, such as. perfect audience, AdRoll or Retargeter. You can also retarget through specific platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

email retargeting

As one of the earlier forms of retargeting, email retargeting is when you use information you have previously obtained about a customer or prospect, such as location and name, to send them personalized emails.

Although each platform you use to implement ads will be different, there are some pros and cons to choosing platforms that serve ads on social media or elsewhere on the web.

Social media retargeting often works well because people are more likely to share, reply and discuss your content on one of these popular platforms. You can also see that the ads are being served from a real account, as opposed to a small web banner ad with little text that could be posted by anyone. Apart from that, web retargeting works well for impressions as the ads follow your target audience all over the internet, not just on a few specific social media sites.

Want to see what setting up a remarketing campaign looks like? We will explain step by step how to set up a retargeting campaign and measure its success.

Facebook retargeting

One of the oldest and most prominent platforms where you can remarket and retarget your ads is Facebook. In addition to remarketing options, Facebook also gives you the ability to serve ads to a large pool of mirror audiences (Lookalike Audience) with a range of ad targets.

How to retarget on Facebook.

  1. Create a list or existing contacts, or collect groups from pixels on your website.
  2. Add the list in Facebook's Audience Manager.
  3. Determine your target URL.
  4. Segment your ads for specific audiences.
  5. Set your budget.
  6. Create your ad.
  7. Track the progress of your campaign.

If you want to know more about how to use paid advertising to fill your sales funnel with quality leads, download our free cheatsheet here. 

Fill your funnel with retargeting

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *