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Retargeting: What it is and how it works

Retargeting: Ads that follow you around the Internet

How do businesses make ads that follow me around? This is a question we get asked quite a bit as a digital marketing agency. Websites like Amazon, EBay and Zappos are notorious for using retargeting in their online strategy.

We have all been on Amazon looking at that new product we want but for some reason or another did not make the purchase. You may have been distracted or had to park your shopping cart with plans to come back to it later.

Next thing you know, you are back on your computer or your phone and you’ve forgotten all about your plans to make that purchase. You’re scrolling through Facebook and all of the sudden you see the exact product you had in your shopping cart in a Facebook ad right in front of you. Boom! You click the ad, jump back over to Amazon and finish the purchase.

How Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting uses cookies to stay in front of previous site visitors. When someone visits your website, a few lines of code will drop an anonymous cookie on to their browser. This cookie is a small file that stores information. The cookie will store the site visit but does not store any sensitive information, such as the site visitor’s name, address or any other piece of information that might personally identify the visitor.

When someone comes to your site, a cookie is dropped, and eventually, they leave and visit another site. The cookie lets you know when one of your bounced visitors appears on another site such as Facebook or any other site with ad space. This entire process is automated and occurs within a fraction of a second. By the time the page loads, the ad space will have been purchased and your ad will appear alongside the page content.

Who does it work for?

Any business can benefit greatly from using retargeting. Retargeting is very commonly used by e-commerce companies, and rightfully so, as it is one of the most effective ways to bring back bounced traffic and combat shopping cart abandonment. However, e-commerce companies are certainly not the only businesses that can benefit from this technology.

B2B companies, local businesses, schools, and event venues – these are all businesses that can benefit from staying in front of their target audience as much as possible. And these are just a few examples. Ultimately, any website that does not see 100% conversion rates is a great candidate. For most websites, only 2% of web traffic conversion the first visit. Retargeting is a tool designed to help companies reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away.

Imagine being able to reach those 98% percent of people on a regular basis who visited your website but didn’t make a purchase, set up an appointment or take any sort of action.