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Retargeting: Internet Stalking or Effective Marketing Technique?

Oct 31 • Advertising, Social Media, Water Cooler • 5224 Views • No Comments on Retargeting: Internet Stalking or Effective Marketing Technique? • By Alexandra Myers


Believe It or Not, It’s Both


I was doing some research the other day on a website called Adroll. I went on the site, read a few articles, and just browsed around trying to gather as much information as I could about what’s called “retargeting.”

Little did I know that the creative minds behind Adroll were retargeting me as I was researching what that even was in the first place.

When I finished reading, I opened up a new browser and went to Facebook. I scroll down my newsfeed only to see an ad right in the middle for, you guessed it, Adroll. That, my friends and fellow consumers, is retargeting.


Retargeting Good for Consumers and Business Owners

Retargeting is a marketing technique obviously designed to get consumers to revisit websites and ultimately make a purchase. Why is it helpful for you as a buyer? Let me explain.

You go onto a clothing website of your choosing and shop around for a couple hours. You finally find something you like and put it in your shopping cart. You are just about to hit purchase when you notice the time – almost late for work. So you shut the computer off and head out the door, putting your virtual shopping trip behind you.

After work, you return to the web to visit all of your favorite social media sites. Let’s use Facebook as an example again. You scroll down the page and notice an ad along the side for the clothing website you visited earlier. And not only that, but it has the exact picture of the brown boots you were about to purchase, and didn’t.

Chances are, you’ll go grab your credit card and make that purchase right then and there because you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity again. This is why businesses use this technique.

 For business owners, it’s important to understand exactly what retargeting is, how it works, what you can do to make it successful, and – most importantly – why it’s effective.


What is Retargeting and How Does it Work?

According to Adroll, retargeting is, “An online advertising technology that serves customized ads to people who have indicated an interest in your brand by visiting your website.”

These people will see your ad almost anywhere they go on a regular basis – a favorite blog, social media page, news site, etc.

In order for this technology to work, an advertiser has to place a small piece of code on their website. This pixel will identify how potential customers interact with their website and breaks them into groups for later advertising targeting.

Adroll breaks it down even more: “All that is necessary is to place a JavaScript tag in the footer of your website. This code creates a list of people that visit your site by placing anonymous retargeting ‘cookies’ in their browser.”

That list, it goes on to say, allows retargeting vendors to display retargeting ads to your customers as they visit other sites.


What Can You Do to Make Retargeting Successful?

Retargeting seems like it would work no matter who the consumer is, where, or when they shopped – but that’s not the case. Timing matters.

For example, someone who is going to book plane tickets or a hotel needs to be reminded quickly because they’ll only have so much time to do that before taking their trip. Therefore, retargeting will not be successful if you wait too long.

On the flip side of that, someone who just made a purchase – whether it be clothes, shoes, hand tools, whatever – is more than likely not going to go right back to the same site and buy something else. In that situation, waiting to retarget would be best.

Another way to make your retargeting campaign successful is to be creative. If they’ve visited your site before, they already know who you are. You need to show them something they haven’t seen. Offer them a deal or show them a new product – something to capture their attention… again. Give them another reason to click on your ad other than the one they are already used to.

Along those same lines, customers who have already converted (AKA – those customers who have already bought something) don’t need to be retargeted again, especially not with a product they’ve already purchased. Bombarding those people with ads is not only a waste of money, but it might make them start thinking negatively about your company. You don’t want them to think you’re internet-stalking them. Wait a little while, and market them a different product – something they might like, but haven’t yet purchased.


Why Retargeting – When Done Right – is Effective

Retargeting helps with conversion rate. In lay man’s terms, conversion is the number of people that clicked on your ad versus the number of people that actually stayed on the site and bought something. Retargeting is worth paying for because you know that the consumer already likes your site and/or products so you’re buying ads not to get them just to click and leave, but knowing they will most likely buy something.

For service industry companies, retargeting is especially effective. If someone wants to buy an air conditioner, for example, they are going to do some research first. Retargeting will ensure  that your company stays at the top of their mind. On the sites they visit most often, your ad will come up reminding them that they need to purchase that heating or cooling system. helps to further explain why this technique is effective. The website says that generally only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit to a site. So, again, this means that only about 2% of people actually buy something the first time they go on the site.

“Retargeting,” it reads, “is a tool designed to help companies reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away.”

And this is effective, they say, because it focuses your advertising (what you, as a business owner, pay for) on people who already know you and those people that were inches away from purchasing your product.

Unless people visit your site on their own first, the idea of retargeting won’t work because you don’t know what the consumer wants. Therefore, retargeting can’t drive people to your site, but it can bring them back. And if bringing them back means they make a purchase, then it’s worth it.



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Alexandra Myers

SEO Content Writer at Service Inbound
Westfield State University graduate; passionate journalist, friend, daughter, and sister; SEO Content Writer; avid Red Sox fan. Continuously learning new things every day.

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