The Importance of Retargeting in a Digital Marketing Campaign

From Here and Back Again

How much exposure to a potential customer or client do you need to close a sale? While countless articles have been written on the subject, the number of “touches” or interactions needed to close the deal will vary depending on your company and clientele. Hubspot claims 5-7 touches is average, while Salesforce puts the number at 6-8.

While there is no magic figure for the number of touches required to close a lead, research suggests that the more touches you have with a prospect, the higher the probability you will have of closing that deal. So how do you maintain brand awareness with a prospective client after that initial interaction? The answer lies in retargeting.

Retargeting: What Is It?

If you have ever visited an online retailer, briefly shopped around, and then found yourself being served ads for that particular brand afterward, you have experienced a retargeting campaign.

Retargeting is a form of online advertising that continues to feed content and promotions to a prospect once they have completed an action or visited a certain landing page on a brand’s website or social media platform.

Embedded in each page is a piece of code called a pixel. The pixel collects information about the visitor and embeds a tracking cookie on their computer. This allows the brand to strategically target potential customers (who have already show interest in its products) through third party websites. Google and Facebook are the most common retargeting ad platforms, but other app developers are embracing this technology as well.

Retargeting Marketing Channels

Retargeting Display Ads

The most well-known retargeting advertising tactic involves the delivery of the display ads described above. You visit a website, shop for an item, and are fed a steady stream of ads over an extended period of time.

These ads come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whether they’re popping up in your search results, displaying product information next to your Facebook feed, or being delivered through your Gmail inbox, there are a ton of creative ways to drive ads to previous site visitors.

A good marketer will deliver retargeting ads, but an excellent marketer will tailor those ads to meet the unique needs of a repeat visitor. Rather than delivering the same general branding message, the advertiser can now provide a more targeted “second date” message with a deliberate call to action based on the visitor’s past interaction.

A good example of retargeting ads optimized to suit the needs and wants of a specific customer would involve a theoretical campaign run by Toyota. Imagine you go to the Toyota website and select a model (let’s say a Toyota Tacoma). You are then walked through a series of questions and add-on package options via the vehicle builder tool (for example, the Off-Road package). After you leave their website, Toyota would likely serve you retargeting ads with an off-road theme tied to relevant search terms and third party websites.

Email Automation

Commonly known as “Drip Marketing,” retargeted email marketing campaigns can engage visitors who may have left an abandoned shopping cart, purchased a certain product type, or visited a particular landing page. Any one of these actions can trigger an automated chain of messages designed to guide them toward the completion of a transaction, upsell to a higher-margin product or service, or encourage future purchases of accessories and add-ons.

Large eCommerce retailers like eBay or Amazon will often have very complex drip marketing programs. If you add a product to your cart and leave the site without purchasing it, this action will kick off an automated drip campaign designed to encourage you to make your purchase.

Hey! You forgot this in your cart! The first email you may get is a reminder that your product was left in your cart. Perhaps the retailer will offer you an additional promotion to sweeten the deal (free shipping on your purchase if you buy now). Maybe they’ll recommend a selection of similar products based on your subsequent search queries. If you decide to purchase the product, they may follow up two weeks later to ask for a review on that product.

Another email newsletter may be generated a month later, including a series of products that are often purchased after buying the first product (if you purchased a gaming console, the next e-mail you receive will likely detail games and accessories designed for that particular console). These emails haven’t been sent out on a large-scale basis, but are automatically tailored to account for the activities and habits of each individual user.

Loyalty Programs

If you’ve ever signed up for a rewards card and shop exclusively through a certain chain of stores for the perks and discounts offered through their loyalty program, you’ll have an intimate familiarity with this type of retargeting. (Oh hi, Jimmy Johns, Old Navy, Cousins Subs, Kohl’s and [insert your favorite brands to shop here]).

While you are likely familiar with retail loyalty programs, the most effective examples of leveraging this type of retargeting can be tied to the famous casinos of the Las Vegas Strip. Everyone has a friend or two who get discounted flights, free rooms, and complimentary dinners at their favorite casino destination. How do casinos make money off of these offers? That same rewards card you use to earn freebies at the hotel also tracks your spending at the slot machines, bars, and table games. If the juice is worth the squeeze for the casino promotions team, they’ll be sure to offer discounts for your next trip too!


It’s easy to forget we’re all carrying around a small tracking device in our pocket. Your cell phone not only transmits location data to your cell phone provider, but it also sends your location information to the various third-party applications you have running in the background.

While the concept of someone tracking your location through third-party applications might be a bit off-putting, a savvy marketing agency will leverage geofencing capabilities to allow them to retarget visitors of different retail stores (including those of your competitors), events, and locations frequented by shoppers with similar demographics.

Do you own a fishing lure company and want to make a splash with the local bass fishing community? Set up a geofence around the Milwaukee Journal Sports Show! Do you run an auto parts business that caters to mechanics and hobbyists? The Milwaukee Mile Speedway might be your targeted location of choice!

Just because someone visited your website and didn’t make a purchase doesn’t mean you need to give up on them. Leverage those retargeting channels to bring them back time after time. If you are looking for a partner to create a retargeting strategy or implement one you already have, contact us and let’s work through it together!



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