What Is Digital Retargeting? (And How Does It Work?)

49 percent of people visit a website 2-4 times before making a purchase. How do you get those consumers to return? With a paid advertising strategy that includes digital retargeting, your business will stay fresh in consumers' minds as they research.


Did you know that 96 percent of your website visitors leave without taking an action, or that 49 percent of people will visit your site two to four times before ever making a purchase?

The path to purchase for your customers is complicated. They're going to research several businesses, and often they research across various platforms (website, social media, Google listing, etc).

So, how do you get those website visitors back to your website that final time so they take an action, such as calling or filling out a contact form?

This is where digital retargeting comes in.

Retargeting is a paid advertising strategy that involves putting your ads in front of people who have visited your website after they have clicked away and visited other websites. 

Here’s how retargeting looks from a consumer’s perspective.

A couple weeks ago, I was looking at a pair of rain boots online, and I liked them so much that I sent the link to my best friend. A few days later, she sent me a text saying that she kept seeing ads for rain boots everywhere she went online.

And they were following me around, too!

Here’s how digital retargeting works:

You paste a piece of code into the HTML (usually the header or footer) of your website, and that allows you advertise to people who have visited your website in the past. They will see your retargeting ads when they visit other websites, such as Facebook and YouTube

Was I freaked out that a pair of rain boots had the ability to follow me around the internet? Not at all. And I’m not alone. Eighty-nine percent of users have either a positive or neutral reaction to retargeting

So if potential customers visit your site without taking an action, retargeting is the key to getting them back.


Types of Retargeting Ads

Google calls digital retargeting “remarketing.” If you already have a Google Ads account, you'll need to set up retargeting, add the code to your website and create a remarketing list. 

You can set remarketing campaigns to display either in searches or on Google’s display network.

Facebook and Instagram Retargeting

Instead of just boosting a post and trying to get more Facebook reach, you can instead target users who have already visited your website, which means they're probably already interested in your products and services.

Once you have Facebook’s pixel installed, you can track who is visiting your site and create an ad campaign using a custom audience of people who have visited your website.

The great thing about social media retargeting is that pretty much everyone is using social media daily.

So, by retargeting them on Facebook or Instagram, your ads are reaching people who are already interested in your business, and you're reaching them where they're already spending a lot of their time!

Erica Flinn, our Senior Paid Advertising Manager, gave me an example of how social media retargeting has worked for one of our clients.

We ran a Google Search and Facebook retargeting campaign for a financial client. When they asked their first lead how she heard of them, she said that she searched Google for “financial advisor,” clicked on the ad and visited the website.

She did not fill out a contact form or call at that time.

Then later that evening, she was on Facebook and saw the retargeting newsfeed ad; she clicked on it and then booked a consultation! It took a cross-platform strategy with a keyword targeted Search ad on Google as well as a Facebook retargeting newfeed ad to convince her to book the appointment.

Digital Retargeting Banner Ads

When you retarget people who have previously visited your website using Google’s display network, you have a chance to reach a lot of people. Display Network ads reach 90 percent of internet users, with more than 2 million websites, from ESPN.com to Gmail, displaying banner ads. 

Retargeting ads on the Display Network also allow you to target in a different way than other display ads.


Normally, display ads have something to do with the website the user is viewing. So if they are looking at a recipe website, they will probably see ads about food. 

However, with retargeting, the ads don’t have to correspond to the website the user is browsing. They might be looking at a recipe, but if you’re running retargeting ads, they could also be seeing your ads on that recipe site.

Your Display Network retargeting ads will start to work once you’ve accumulated 100 unique visitors within a 30 day period.

Digital Retargeting Search Ads

Retargeting with search ads allows you to target people who have not only visited your site but also searched for specific keywords. 

This is great because if I had forgotten where I found those boots I really liked, I’d search for them again. And if the website is running a search retargeting campaign, I would see their ad in the search results.

Be aware, though, that you will need 1000 unique site visitors before your remarketing search ads will show up in Google search results.

 Digital Retargeting Statistic

Why Should You Have a Digital Retargeting Strategy?

We think retargeting is extremely important.

Since the path to purchase can be complicated, we use retargeting for every paid advertising client we have.

No matter the budget, we know that retargeting is the best way to get consumers back to your website and give them that gentle nudge in the direction of a purchase, phone call, etc.

But hey, don't take our word for it. Check out these statistics:

Want to learn more about how online ads can help grow your business? Check out our paid advertising page.

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