The first time a shopper visits an online store, the chances of them buying something are approximately 2%. What happens to the other 98%? Advertising that’s oriented towards retargeting can bring those people back to the site, for another opportunity to turn a shopper into a customer.

How it Works

Retargeting is a simple concept which can work in one of two different ways: pixel-based, or list-based.

Pixel-based retargeting works by tracking individual website visitors, targeting them through the use of cookies, and then displaying specific ads to them after they leave your site. As they move through other websites and search engines online, your PPC advertising is displayed to them, keeping your brand and your products or services in their thoughts. With repeated exposures, the chances that they’ll return to your site to make a purchase are increased.

List-based retargeting uses similar concepts, but with a different execution. Rather than placing tracking cookies to target website visitors, this kind of retargeting relies on users’ email addresses to serve specific advertising on social media websites. On Facebook, for example, a user can upload an email list to their advertising campaign account, and the owners of those email addresses are shown specific ads in their news feeds. This method is less dynamic than pixel-based retargeting, but has the advantage of being able to target people very specifically, since you can choose which email addresses to add to specific lists.

Get Specific for More Effective Retargeting

Retargeting as a concept is effective no matter how it’s executed, but pixel-based retargeting in particular can be made even more so by injecting some specificity into the products that are shown to website visitors. For example, showing people products similar to those they looked at on the site they visited increases the chance that they’ll return to the site and make a purchase.

Ads that are shown to website visitors can be even more specific to individual users for particularly high conversion rates. For example, many people start making an online purchase, and even place items into their cart and start to move through the checkout process, but then leave the site before completing the purchase. Retargeting advertisements can show those people the items they had originally planned to buy before abandoning the purchase.

On the other hand, list-based retargeting on Facebook and other social sites has a particular advantage in that potential customers are able to associate the ads with an account, which they can easily visit and engage with—and the visibility of the brand can make those advertisements seem more trustworthy.