What is retargeting and how does it work

Updated: July 12, 2021
What is retargeting and how does it work

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Digital Marketing has changed the way companies reach their consumers and carry out their sales efforts. 

Through segmentation measures, it’s possible to reach a specific audience, maximizing the chances of acquiring customers.

That is why creating a buyer persona is so relevant to the success of any company. By targeting your ideal consumer, you optimize ROI and considerably increase the conversion rate.

As you know, the lead does not always end up buying something during the first contact with the company. That can be a consequence of the lack of knowledge about the brand or solution, which highlights the importance of a strong nurturing strategy.

Visitors who leave your website (or any other channel) without making purchases can, however, be tracked and impacted with new approaches. 

For this, you need to understand what retargeting is. In this text, we’ll go over:

Keep reading!


What retargeting is?

Source: Wordstream

Retargeting is a digital advertising technique that seeks to track potential consumers who have already shown an interest in doing business with your brand.

The idea is that people who have already interacted with the company — either by visiting the website or by engaging in social networks — are more likely to make purchases. 

Thus, by directing marketing efforts to these leads, the chances of conversion are higher.

To illustrate, imagine that a visitor accessed your website after performing an internet search. If the site is properly configured, it’ll collect relevant data about the user’s navigation allowing the brand to know, for example, which products were visited.

Based on the information collected, it’s possible to create campaigns with higher success rates.

Retargeting is often mistaken for remarketing. Although similar, the two methods show fundamental differences, such as the channels used to capture the consumer.

While remarketing is based primarily on the delivery of email messages, retargeting has its actions focused on digital ads, which can be created in platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads.


How does retargeting work?

Now that you understand the essence of retargeting let’s detail how it operates. 

For the method to work, you must insert a small piece of code on your website.

Also called a pixel, this element does not affect the page’s performance. It’s invisible to the consumer and does not directly impact their experience.

Every time a new visitor accesses the website, the code anonymously installs a cookie in the browser and starts to follow their journey on the internet. 

The data is passed on to your retargeting tool, which can position ads strategically and impact the user in other channels.

Let’s say, then, that a lead got to your website, visited several products, but left without buying a thing. 

A little later, the same user opens Facebook and encounters ads from your brand. That’s a practical example of how retargeting works.


How can your company benefit from retargeting?

Did you know that only 3% of consumers make purchases on the first time they access a website? 

With that in mind, it’s pretty clear the necessity of finding ways to bring these visitors back to your e-commerce, isn’t it?

Retargeting, as you’ve already seen, is a very efficient method to achieve such a goal. 

With its application, you can segment the target audience of digital campaigns and focus only on people who are, in any way, familiar to your brand.

The result is several advantages to your business. We’ll talk about them next!

Generates more sales

Generate more sales is the most prominent and important benefit you will get when inserting retargeting into your Digital Marketing strategy

Increasing sales is the goal of any company and leads to achieving much more profit.

It’s important to understand that when visiting your e-commerce for the first time, the lead may not be prepared to buy the solution. However, keeping them as a target for your campaigns is essential to make them advance in the sales funnel towards conversion.

In this way, retargeting works as a strategy capable of influencing the consumer to return to your website and buy your product.

Increases conversion rate

As it only deals with users who have already shown an interest in buying your solutions, retargeting has a direct and positive impact on the conversion rate.

In fact, research conducted by DataXu shows that this rate can rise by up to 128% when the technique is applied to e-commerces.

Increases brand awareness

Building brand awareness is one of the main objectives of any marketing department. 

After all, the 4.0 consumer is known for giving enormous preference to brands in which they trust. And, to trust, it’s necessary to know.

When you apply retargeting in your strategy, you increase the exposure of your brand and products in the consumers’ online experience. 

Thus, even if the lead is not automatically converted, they start to recognize your brand as a reference in the subject.

This factor is crucial to maximizing Customer Lifecycle Journey, enabling the creation of profitable, lasting relationships.

Improves ROI

You already know how the main advertising tools work, right? Platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Ads work by setting budgets and goals.

If your advertising goal is, for example, to get clicks to the website, the budget will only be deducted when users take that action. 

The problem is that there is no point in achieving this if your solutions don’t interest the person.

It’s essential to work with retargeting to avoid a waste of effort and money. As we have already shown, the practice increases sales and the conversion rate, generating a much more favorable ROI.


When does retargeting work?

You must understand retargeting as just part of a broader Digital Marketing strategy. After all, for your page to have traffic, it’s vital to execute good Content Marketing practices, both on the website and out of it.

Therefore, it’s possible to divide retargeting efforts into two categories: onsite and offsite. 

The first is the most common. It’s the practice of reaching and encouraging the engagement of users who have already accessed your page, optimizing the performance of your digital ads.

On the other hand, offsite retargeting can be applied to prospect new clients, as long as they have already interacted with the brand in some way. 

Thus, you can attract people who follow your profiles in social networks, engage with your content, or leave their contact information on landing pages.

Therefore, retargeting works in different phases of the buyer’s journey. When applied to attraction, it can facilitate the acquisition of leads and start a nurturing process.

In the consideration and decision stages, the strategy can push the customer into making the buying decision.


What are the best retargeting tools you can use?

As in any Digital Marketing activity, working with the most efficient tools can be the difference between the success and failure of your retargeting strategy. 

That is why we have prepared this list for you. Check it out!



AdRoll is one of the oldest retargeting tools, which contributes to its high popularity. 

According to data from the platform itself, over 37,000 companies use the service to increase sales, strengthen the brand, and generate customer loyalty.

One highlight of the AdRoll is its extremely intuitive interface, which makes it easy to use even for those with less experience. 

Although simple, the tool is powerful and can reach consumers in major channels such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo.



Criteo is another tool already established in the retargeting market. Created in 2005, it’s a complete solution that allows the development of campaigns focusing on specific goals.

The platform operates with a database of more than 1.9 billion monthly active shoppers

We can verify its efficiency when looking at the list of companies that use Criteo, which includes Netflix, Costco, Fiat, Adidas, Xbox, etc.

Perfect Audience

Perfect Audience

Among the tools on this list, Perfect Audience is the youngest. Created in 2012, the platform has been growing exponentially, claiming a place among the most important in the market.

One of its differentials is the financial aspect: compared to competitors, Perfect Audience has considerably low CPC and CPM rates.

Besides an intuitive interface, the platform offers content facilitating the user experience, such as videos, tutorials, and detailed reports.

Now that you know what retargeting is, you can insert this method into your Digital Marketing strategy. It’s an efficient way to reach people who show an interest in your brand, which boosts the conversion rate. 

By mixing proper techniques and excellent tools, you have everything you need to maximize your company’s revenue.

Would you like to keep learning about the different concepts and strategies of internet marketing? Don’t miss this list of 18 Digital Marketing terms you need to know as a marketer!


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