Ad Retargeting: Making It Work For Your Company

This is a 3-part series on using ad retargeting to turn your visitors into leads. This first post is an introduction to the way you can acquire users for your retargeting efforts. Stay tuned for follow up posts on strategies for effective retargeting and the different platforms to use. 


Dealing with web visitors who abandon their shopping carts, browse but don’t buy your product, or simply leave your website without some form of desired action can be exasperating. In fact, on average, only 2% of the visitors convert on their first visit.

So how do companies encourage these visitors to come back and become a lead? This is where ad retargeting comes into play. Retargeting is a form of digital marketing that helps re-attract those lost visitors back to your property. If you ever search for a product online and start noticing banner advertising on other websites and social media properties you visited over the next few weeks, this is no coincidence.

By including a JavaScript snippet on either the header or the footer of your website, an anonymous retargeting cookie is placed on the browsers of your website visitors. The ad retargeting platform creates a list of those site visits and displays your ads as they browse the web.

Ways To Acquire Users for Ad Retargeting

Ad retargeting is a great marketing tool to acquire lost customers and stay top of mind in your potential customer’s buying cycle. But first you’ll need to pull together your list of users to retarget. There are a number of different ways to go about finding these potential users:

Web Retargeting

This is the most common and widely used form of retargeting. The potential customer has already visited your website. Your ads are shown to customers while surfing the web. Segmenting visitors based on pages they have visited, products they’ve seen and/or how far they are on the buying cycle can be the key elements to displaying relevant messaging and ads.

Search Retargeting

Search retargeting gathers users based on the keywords they’ve previously searched for in a search engine. It doesn’t require the potential customer to have previously visited your website, and it will indicate to you whether they are a relevant user.

Email Retargeting

This form of retargeting allows marketers to advertise to potential customers based on actions they have taken on marketing emails. Have they opened the email? Did they click on a link in the email? Did they forward the email to someone? Segmenting visitors based on their engagement level with your marketing material can give you valuable insights on those customers and keep you ahead of the game compared to your competitors.

Contextual Retargeting

Also called partner retargeting, this form of retargeting allows marketers to acquire new customers by partnering with non-competitive websites that target similar visitors. It works simply by exchanging pixels between sites. For example, let’s say that you sell vacation activities and tours. To reach an extended audience, you might partner with local hotels. When people visit your partner sites, they will be cookied and will be shown your ads on other sites they visit.

What Happens Next?

Gathering the lists of users to advertise to is obviously an essential first step for retargeting, but it’s only part of the equation. From there, you’ll need to decide the platforms you want to share your ad units on, from a social site like Facebook or a third-party retargeting platform like AdRoll.

Stay tuned for my next retargeting blog post where I will share what our team at glassCanopy has learned from using retargeting. I’ll also share some strategies for effective retargeting, including frequency capping, visitor segmentation combined with tailored creative and messaging in your ads, retargeting member duration and bid optimization.

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