What is Retargeting, and How Can It Boost My Media Buy?

RetargetingLike most marketing, online success comes from repeated brand exposure. Retargeting is an increasingly common marketing tactic to accomplish this by driving visitors back to your website.

Statistically speaking, only about 2% of people who come to a website for the first time convert on that visit. And that is just the average. This statistic is pretty grim, but adding retargeting to your media strategy can improve these conversions by reaching the right customer at the right time.

So What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting uses outside channels to reconnect with past visitors to your business. This might include people who have explored your website, opened your email marketing messages, or clicked on a landing page to learn more about your services. Retargeting can work with both digital ads and traditional advertising, but we will focus on online retargeting in this piece.


  • You create a retargeting campaign through an online ad serving network.
  • Previous visitors to your website explore other sites, use social media, do online searches, and take other actions.
  • If these other websites participate in the same ad serving network, they will show your ads to these visitors in an effort to reengage them and encourage them to return to your site.

For example, a visitor to a retail e-commerce site may click on a pair of shoes but never add the item to the virtual shopping cart. A retargeting campaign could display an ad for that pair of shoes when the visitor is on another website with the goal of driving that visitor to complete the purchase. Retargeting can go even further, offering specific discounts or promoting special sales on items.

How Does Retargeting Work?

In online retargeting, a site will add a tracking file, or cookie, to a computer when a user visits. This keeps a record of the user’s online behavior, which helps marketers tailor customized content and relevant ads to engage them once again. For example, a marketer could email the visitor a whitepaper on the topic they were researching with contact information on how to reach a sales rep. Retargeting data gives marketers the advantage of reaching out to customers with content they know they are seeking.

Does it work?

Why Retargeting Works

There are few reasons retargeting can be so effective. What is retargeting, basically, but a combination of display ads, inbound marketing, and effective follow-up? All of these are marketing tactics that companies use individually for success, so putting them together can make a significant impact.

Here are a few more reasons:

  • Visitors to a website at this stage are hot leads—those that have prequalified and/or expressed an interest—and they convert at a higher rate than cold ones.
  • Retargeting eliminates some of the guesswork for marketers and offers insight into what specifically the user needs.
  • Visitors land on the original site because of an interest in the product or service. Strategic use of retargeting data positions marketers as helpful reminders and problem solvers instead of unwanted solicitors.

Examples of What Retargeting Is

We’ve given you a few reasons why you might consider including a retargeting strategy in your marketing campaign and described how retargeting works with display ads. However, there are many other options…

  • Email: Many email clients offer a program that allows advertisers to trigger follow-up emails based on user behavior. For example, an advertiser could craft different messages for current customers and prospects to receive after a purchase or website visit.
  • Search Engines: Through paid search, advertisers can show ads based on certain terms the user enters, including similar products and competitor names.
  • Social Media: Facebook and Twitter both have retargeting ad products that will even allow you to retarget someone who has visited a site on a mobile device or through an app.

Hopefully we’ve answered the question “What is retargeting?” for you. It’s just one of many strategies the Capitol Media Solutions team utilizes to build and grow your brand. Contact us about crafting your customized media strategy.

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