Nice to meet you.

Enter your email to receive our weekly G2 Tea newsletter with the hottest marketing news, trends, and expert opinions.

What Is Retargeting? Types, Tools, and Best Practices

May 27, 2024

Imagine a world where everyone who landed on your website bought your product.

Even if you’ve created personas, developed funnels, researched multiple paths to purchase, and created a website optimized for conversion, the modern buyer’s journey (unfortunately) is not that straightforward.

But you can always try to bring the bounced customers back to your website and find ways to convert them. 

Rather than relying on targeting customers who have filled out a form for an ebook, call, blog, or newsletter, you can use retargeting software to find and target the ones who have interacted with your site.

You can engage with visitors even when they leave your website and work to convert them at their own pace. Keep reading to learn how!

Retargeting vs. remarketing

Remarketing and retargeting are terms often used interchangeably, but subtle differences exist.

Remarketing focuses on re-engaging people who have interacted with your brand somehow. This could include past customers, email subscribers, or website visitors who downloaded an ebook.

It uses various channels you directly control to communicate with your target audience. These channels include email marketing, push notifications from your app, or personalized messages on your website.

On the other hand, retargeting often targets a broader audience, specifically website visitors who haven't converted (made a purchase or signed up for a service) but have shown some interest. These visitors might have browsed specific products, added items to their cart, or visited certain pages on your website.

It uses advertising techniques like placements on websites and apps across the internet. It leverages ad networks to reach your target audience wherever they browse.

Tip: Use display advertising software and reach more customers with eye-catching ads.

While the aim of remarketing is to nurture existing relationships, encourage repeat business, promote relevant products or services, and potentially increase value proposition, retargeting focuses on converting website visitors who have yet to complete a desired action.

How does retargeting work?

The most common type of retargeting is pixel-based retargeting. This works by placing a piece of JavaScript on visitors' browsers to your website, which makes their browsers “cooked.”

After they leave your site and continue to surf the web, they will be served ads based on what they viewed on your website.

Cookies and retargeting

Source: ReTargeter

Implementing a retargeting strategy has many perks. Retargeting is timely. So, just as someone leaves your site, you can retarget and remind them to return. It is also extremely personalized because you can retarget based on a specific page on your website, such as an abandoned cart page, directly resonating with the person you’re targeting.

Why you should invest in retargeting

First, returning visitors have a higher chance of converting. This is because they recognize your brand, and their recall increases with each subsequent interaction.

Retargeted ads can be displayed in search results, on social media, and other websites. When consumers see the ads, they are reminded of your brand and return to your site.

One of our teammates at Rebrandly ran an experiment on his personal website. Out of all first-time website visitors, only .5 percent opted into his email list. However, 9.5 percent of returning visitors chose to opt in—a 1912 percent increase from first-time visitors.

If people visiting your site multiple times are more likely to convert, why not prompt these returns through retargeting advertisements?

Through retargeting, this number can double or even triple. Just consider human nature and your own behavior on websites. It takes a lot to be convinced to purchase or just give away your email address. Remind consumers to come back and build trust with them through retargeting.

Retargeting is a hot topic in marketing right now, and it has a proven success rate. Website visitors who see a retargeting ad also have a higher chance of conversion.

Types of retargeting campaigns

Now that we’ve covered the basics of retargeting let's discuss how it can align with your current marketing efforts. Although it is theoretically simple, it can take time to fully develop a well-thought-out retargeting strategy.

Here are some options to get you on your way:


Google’s Ad Network works with some of the most highly trafficked sites at a much more affordable price than working directly with the site (i.e., Mashable or BuzzFeed).

Through a Google AdWords campaign, you can retarget visitors with ads that show the products they viewed on your website.

For example, check out these two ads retargeted to me on BuzzFeed News.

google ads

You can also use remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) for more advanced retargeting. With this service, you use the retargeting lists you’ve been collecting in Google AdWords to adjust the bids of your keywords.

You can invest in different people (or leads) depending on how often they have visited your site or their actions. For example, you could target people who made it to the pricing page but didn’t convert. This means they made it much further through the funnel than someone reading one blog article.

This is an effective way to increase your return on investment (ROI) in retargeting because you’re increasing the chances of showing ads in the top positions in Google when your most valuable audience is searching.

Social media

Retargeting is beneficial on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Retargeting ads on social media contain an extra layer that can lead to higher conversion and social proof.

In retargeting ads on Facebook, like the one below, you not only see a special offer with a clear call-to-action (CTA) but also see how many of your friends “like” the brand. This plays on the herd or pack mentality—when people mimic the behaviors of those around them. This adds credibility to your brand, which can sway unsure customers.

Check out the example below of a company that retargeted me on Facebook after I was shopping for some new glasses.

social media retargetingHistorically, Facebook retargeting has had the highest ROI for these types of ads because of its advanced targeting features.

When developing your retargeting strategy, create custom ad audiences based on visitors to your website or specific pages. To target specific pages, don’t just add a retargeting pixel to your home page. Add one to your pricing or checkout page (or button), product, and sales pages.


of marketers use retargeting in Facebook and Instagram advertising

Source: Exploding Topics

Additionally, Facebook offers a type of advertising known as sequential retargeting. This type of retargeting shows website visitors a different ad from your brand every few days.

One ad could be about an award you recently won, the next an ad to a 30-second video about what your company does, and one about a new promotion you’re offering. This helps to slowly build up brand recognition and trust that can ultimately lead to conversion.


Another less utilized form of retargeting can be done through email. There are two options to get started with email remarketing.

  • Upload email mailing lists to Facebook, Google AdWords, or whatever platform you use for retargeting.
  • Use a tool, such as ReTargeter, to generate a line of code to be placed in your sends.

With either of these options, anyone who opens your email can be served a follow-up advertisement related to the email.

This is a great branch to add to your overall retargeting strategy because you can combine your efforts on Google or Facebook with your email marketing strategy, creating greater alignment.

Tip: To nurture relationships with your audience and drive repeat business, consider using powerful email marketing software.

Link retargeting

If you’re a new company working to build up your retargeting list or finding that retargeting already provides a great ROI, consider adding link retargeting to your strategy.

With link retargeting, you can add prospective customers to your retargeting funnel – even if they have never visited your website. It works the same way as traditional retargeting, but, in this case, the pixel is added to a branded link, allowing you to retarget people who clicked on that link.

If you share a link to a review of one of your products or some media coverage from a third-party website. With link retargeting, you can bring anyone that clicked the link back to your website.

Say you’re a startup that sells sustainable clothing. If you share curated content on the same topic, you can retarget the people who click on that link. Because they interacted with the article, they will likely be interested in your product—even if they have never been to your website or heard of you.

This is beneficial if you’re trying to grow your business and create brand awareness because it creates an entirely new audience for your website. It’s also beneficial if you run out of bandwidth for content creation and rely on sharing others’ posts on social media. You can retarget the links to this third-party content to gain a larger audience.

Retargeting best practices

Here are some retargeting best practices to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns:

  • Don't treat all website visitors the same. Use audience segmentation strategies to divide your potential customers into groups and tailor your messaging accordingly. This increases relevance and resonates better with each user segment.
  • Use fresh creatives. Avoid ad fatigue by using a variety of creatives in your retargeting campaigns. Personalize your ad copy and mention abandoned cart items, highlight previously viewed products, or offer recommendations based on browsing history. 
  • Find the sweet spot. There's a balance between reminding users and bombarding them. Set frequency caps to limit how often a user sees your retargeting ad. Aim for consistent visibility without causing annoyance.
  • Don't leave users guessing what to do next. Craft clear and concise CTAs that tell them exactly what action you want them to take (e.g., 'Buy Now,' 'Learn More,' 'Add to Cart').
  • Regularly monitor your retargeting campaign. Track metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions. Analyze the data to identify what's working and what's not. A/B tests different ad creatives and messaging to optimize your campaigns for better results.
  • Use retargeting software. It can simplify tasks like ad creation, audience segmentation, and performance tracking, allowing you to focus on strategic decision-making and campaign optimization.

Best retargeting software in 2024

Opting for advanced retargeting software benefits businesses aiming to convert potential customers and maximize their marketing ROI. The top picks are:

* These are the five leading retargeting software solutions from G2's Spring 2024 Grid® Report.

Click to chat with G2s Monty-AI

Don't let them get away! 

Retargeting can initially seem overwhelming or confusing, but it is quite simple when you look at it from a human perspective. It’s like trying to lure window shoppers into a physical store.

So, go out there and use various forms of retargeting to guide your audience and nudge them back to your website. Plenty of tools and resources will help you along the way.

Learn about how you can integrate G2 into your go-to-market strategy in 2024.

This article was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with new information.

retargeting software Guess Who's Back? You Are!

Boost marketing ROI by re-engaging potential customers with retargeting tools.

retargeting software Guess Who's Back? You Are!

Boost marketing ROI by re-engaging potential customers with retargeting tools.

What Is Retargeting? Types, Tools, and Best Practices Learn what retargeting is, how it differs from remarketing, and how to bring potential leads back to your website and convert them into customers.
Hannah Harrington Hannah is the content manager at Rebrandly, a link management solution that empowers users to put their brand name on all the links they share. With a background in marketing and creative writing, Hannah’s passion lies in telling compelling customer stories. You can find this American expat exploring the streets of Dublin or nestled up with a cozy cup of tea.

Never miss a post.

Subscribe to keep your fingers on the tech pulse.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to receive marketing communications from G2.