What is Remarketing?

by Fahad Muhammad

What is Remarketing?

A popular paid marketing tactic, remarketing campaigns allow you to serve ads to people who have previously visited your website but didn’t take any conversion action.

If you’ve ever visited and left a brand’s website and later in the day saw a banner ad from that brand, then you’ve seen remarketing in action.

What’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

Both marketing terms that refer to remarketing and retargeting are often used interchangeably. The next section of this marketing guide will focus on explaining whether or not they refer to the same concept of reaching out to users who’ve already interacted with your brand.

Remarketing occurs on the Google Display Network or Bing paid search network when internet users search. It involves using technology like marketing tags and tracking pixels to deliver highly personalized ads to people who have already visited your website or landing page but have not converted yet.

Retargeting is most often used to describe the online display ads shown to visitors who’ve landed on your website and exited without performing an action. This type of marketing is done using tracking pixels or cookies that follow the user around after they’ve left your website and show them targeted ads.

Retargeting ads are served to visitors through third-party networks such as Google Display Network and Facebook etc., allowing you to reach out to your potential customers on a multitude of websites.

Retargeting and remarketing campaigns are made possible through technology like pixel tracking. Marketers use pixel tracking to follow how people interact with digital ad campaigns. Via pixel tracking technology, marketers can get data such as which ads are being clicked, how many leads are generated from an ad, and even how much revenue can be attributed to any given campaign.

For years, third-party cookies have been the primary method for digital ad campaign tracking. However, Google is phasing third-party cookies out of Chrome, following in the footsteps of other major browsers like Firefox and Safari. That being said, pixel tracking will likely take over as the main mechanism for tracking cross-internet behavior.
The following Airbnb ad retargets a user who previously searched for properties in Italy, using information from that search to personalize the properties shown and satisfy that individual’s needs, increasing the likelihood of conversions:

This image shows the remarketing Airbnb example. example.

While retargeting involves reaching out to visitors via third-party networks using display ads, remarketing refers to reaching out to visitors via email. So, to run remarketing campaigns, you need your visitors’ email addresses added to your remarketing list, which isn’t required for retargeting campaigns.

This is an example of a Fossil remarketing email sent to a visitor who placed some items in a shopping cart but then abandoned the website:

This image shows the Fossil remarketing email example.

Most marketers, however, loop the two methodologies of remarketing and retargeting and simply refer to them as remarketing campaigns. The primary reason they do this is because this is how Google defines remarketing:

“Remarketing lets you show ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app. For example, when people leave your website without buying anything, remarketing helps you reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.”

The search engine giant groups retargeting display ads and email remarketing under a single terminology, i.e., “remarketing,” which is why most marketers also do the same thing.

Remarketing campaigns have the power to improve brand recognition among potential visitors, recall them back to your landing page, and convince them to perform the desired action.

Why are remarketing campaigns important?

According to Marketo, 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy. That’s a huge chunk of website visitors that you’re essentially losing out on since they aren’t converting.

Running a remarketing campaign allows you to target these visitors with specific ads with the specific goal of convincing them to convert to your offer. With remarketing technique, you’re reminding and convincing visitors who weren’t initially ready to convert yet.

These types of ads work because they allow you to serve people with ads who’ve already expressed an interest in your product. With the help of social media channels, search engines, and email, you can remind them that your product offers the best solution for the problem they want to solve.

According to Invesp, conversion rates will significantly increase when consumers see your ad within a remarketing campaign:

Example of remarking campaign ad.

Chubbies experienced that firsthand when they launched a Fourth of July-themed remarketing campaign that targeted past and present customers. The campaign included animated ads and custom landing pages that featured time-sensitive promotional codes that changed every hour:

Picture of remarketing campaign ad.

This turned out to be one of the most effective remarketing campaigns resulting in 35.5% ROI and 4.6 times the above-average conversions within 12 hours.

Clearly, remarketing campaigns have the power to convince hesitant visitors to convert to your offer and get present customers to express interest in new offers.

Types of remarketing campaigns

Remarketing campaigns offer marketers the unique opportunity to reach out with emails or ads to past visitors who have left their web pages without buying.

These remarketing messages can increase the likelihood of your visitors returning to your landing page and performing a desired action. This form of marketing efforts helps you drive sales activity on your web pages, promote awareness for your brand among engaged audiences, and ultimately increase your ROAS.

Remarketing campaigns can be categorized into five main types:

  1. Search retargeting
  2. Social retargeting
  3. Email remarketing
  4. Site retargeting
  5. Behavioral retargeting

Search retargeting

This marketing tactic involves targeting users who have typed specific keywords into search engines. For example, maybe a user searches for “workout clothes” but doesn’t specify a brand. Brands like Lululemon, Athleta, and Fabletics might want to target those searchers by serving them display ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) – essentially, on other websites or social media channels like Facebook.

This image shows lululemon social media retargeting example.

Search targeting is different from site targeting in that it targets users based on keywords they have searched versus using cookies to display ads to people who have previously visited your site.

Social retargeting

Because so many people spend hours a day on social media, it has become crucial to make it a part of any marketing strategy. Marketers want to target audiences wherever they are, and most are on social media.

According to Smart Insights, 60% of the world’s population uses social media for more than 2 hours every day.

So, how can shoppers on social media be encouraged to convert? Social retargeting can remind users of products they had been viewing on your website before they left to continue surfing the web. Often, a promotional incentive (in the form of a discount) is offered to motivate viewers to return to your product.

Continuing our example of “workout clothes,” let’s say that search led a viewer to a pair of leggings on Lululemon’s website. They add the leggings to their cart but get distracted and end up scrolling on Facebook. That user is cookied and later may be served an ad on Facebook featuring those same leggings with a 10% discount as an additional incentive.

Email remarketing

Email remarketing encapsulates two remarketing tactics:

  • Serving remarketing display ads across different websites to users who open an email from you

Gap Factory uses a mobile Facebook newsfeed remarketing display ad to reach out to consumers who opened an email from the brand and clicked on the link, browsed clothing options on the website, and did not complete the purchase. The ad reminds the visitor about the clothing item they viewed and gives them further incentive to purchase:

  • Reaching out to visitors who have left your website without completing a purchase with targeted follow-up emails that convince them to come back to your website

Rael’s shopping cart reminder email is a perfect example of a targeted, personalized email remarketing; the email gives the visitor a written and visual reminder of the item they abandoned but also provides a CTA for visitors who don’t want to go on the website and sift through other items to find what they wanted to buy:

This image shows rael remarketing campaign ad example

Personalized remarketing emails can help businesses receive 10x more revenue than emails with generic content:

The picture of recovered revenue lift dynamic ad remarketing.

Site retargeting

Site retargeting, also known as remarketing, displays targeted ads to users who have previously visited your site but left without completing a desired action, such as making a purchase. This approach leverages cookies and tracking pixels to identify and follow users across the web, delivering personalized content based on their past interactions. The goal is to re-engage visitors, reminding them of the brand and enticing them to return and convert.

Similar to social retargeting, our user who had Lululemon leggings in her cart might see a display ad featuring their in-cart item while browsing another website.

Site retargeting is a powerful tool to maximize conversion opportunities and build brand awareness by maintaining a presence in the online spaces where users navigate after leaving a site.

Behavioral retargeting

In behavioral retargeting, the strategy involves tailoring marketing messages and content to people based on their online behaviors, activities, and interests. This approach relies on the collection and analysis of user data, such as website visits, search queries, clicks, and social media interactions, to create a detailed profile of an individual’s preferences and habits. Advertisers then use this information to deliver targeted and personalized content, aiming to tap into an individual’s unique tastes to improve the chances of a conversion.

For example, if a user frequently searches for travel-related information and visits travel websites, brands like Expedia.com may use behavioral targeting to display ads for vacation packages, hotels, or travel accessories when that user visits other websites or social media platforms.

This image shows expedia remarketing campaign example.

While this strategy offers advertisers a powerful tool for precision targeting, remarketing can also raise privacy concerns, prompting ongoing discussions about the ethical use of user data in digital advertising and the importance of providing users with transparency and control over their online privacy.

Best remarketing tools

According to user reviews on G2, here are 5 popular tools used in retargeting and remarketing campaigns:


Image of the mailchimp marketing automation landing page.

Mailchimp is a popular email marketing and automation platform that helps businesses build customer journeys, segment audiences, and increase conversions via personalized, data-driven marketing campaigns.

Best for: Small-and-medium businesses


Image shows the landing page of rollworks account based marketing platform.

RollWorks specializes in account-based marketing (ABM) and is used by marketing and sales teams to increase revenue by serving ads intentionally at the moment that purchasers are most likely to buy.

Best for: Businesses of any size looking to scale


Image shows the landing page of adroll retargeting platform.

AdRoll is a comprehensive retargeting platform that goes beyond display ads, incorporating email and social media retargeting. It uses AI to optimize ad placements and targeting, helping businesses re-engage users across various online channels.

Best for: Marketing teams of any size


Image shows the landing page of feathr email automation platform.

Feathr is a nonprofit marketing platform that aims to give deep audience insights so that nonprofits can create integrated marketing campaigns and better target donors and members.

Best for: Nonprofit organizations


Image shows the landing page of criteo remarketing platform.

Criteo specializes in targeting individuals during shoppable moments and helping advertisers monetize their audience. They use machine learning algorithms to analyze user behavior and deliver personalized ads.

Best for Retailers and marketers looking to increase customer acquisition and retention

Mistakes to avoid in remarketing campaigns

Effective retargeting campaigns can significantly enhance conversion rates, but there are common mistakes that advertisers should be wary of when building remarketing campaigns to ensure optimal results.

  1. Overwhelming frequency.
    Bombarding users with excessive ads can lead to ad fatigue and annoyance. It’s crucial to manage ad frequency carefully to avoid alienating potential customers. Setting frequency caps and monitoring user engagement can help strike the right balance.
  2. Lack of segmenting.
    Failing to segment audiences appropriately can result in showing irrelevant ads to visitors of your website. Segmenting based on specific user behaviors, such as pages visited or products viewed, allows for more targeted and personalized retargeting efforts.
  3. Ignoring cross-device considerations.
    Users often switch between devices, and failing to account for this in retargeting efforts can lead to disjointed and inconsistent user experiences. Utilizing cross-device retargeting strategies helps maintain a cohesive brand message whether someone is on their mobile or desktop.
  4. Neglecting dynamic creatives.
    Dynamic remarketing campaigns prove to perform better in the long run, as static and unchanging ads may lose effectiveness over time. Dynamic creatives, which adapt based on user behavior, are essential for keeping content fresh and relevant. Choosing to forgo the use of interactive, dynamic ads can have a negative impact on the campaign’s performance.
  5. Forgetting about timing.
    Timing is critical in retargeting. Delaying retargeting efforts or being too aggressive too soon after an interaction can impact user perception. A well-timed reminder, such as a special offer
  6. Ignoring privacy concerns.
    A secure experience is a growing priority, and violating user privacy can lead to negative perceptions of the brand. Advertisers should be transparent about data usage, adhere to privacy regulations, and provide users with options to control their preferences.

Avoiding these common mistakes in retargeting campaigns is vital for maintaining a positive user experience, maximizing the impact of ad spend, and ultimately driving conversions. Advertisers should also regularly monitor, test, and adjust their strategies based on performance metrics to ensure a successful retargeting campaign.

How to optimize remarketing ads and landing pages

An important consideration in any remarketing campaign is where your viewer will be directed when clicking on your ad. In this section, we will go over the importance of connecting your display ad to a relevant landing page.

Why you should connect all remarketing ads to landing pages

Connecting remarketing ads to dedicated landing pages is crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of the campaign and improving the overall user experience. Here are several reasons why this connection is essential:

  • >Relevance and consistency:
    Landing pages tailored to the content of the remarketing ads ensure a consistent and relevant user experience. Users are more likely to engage and convert when the messaging, visuals, and offers displayed in the ad align seamlessly with the content on the landing page.
  • Improved user engagement:
    Dedicated landing pages allow for a focused and streamlined presentation of information. Users are directed to a page specifically designed to meet their needs or address their concerns, increasing the likelihood of prolonged engagement and exploration of the products or services.
  • Increased conversion rates:
    A landing page optimized for conversions, with clear CTAs and relevant content, enhances the chances of converting a visitor into a customer. Aligning the content of the ad with the landing page ensures a smooth transition in the user journey, reducing friction in the conversion process.
  • Enhanced tracking and analytics:
    Linking remarketing ads to dedicated landing pages facilitates accurate tracking and analytics. Marketers can gain insights into user behavior, monitor conversion rates, and assess the overall effectiveness of the campaign, providing valuable data for future optimization efforts.
  • Personalization opportunities:
    Landing pages offer opportunities for further personalization based on user segments or behaviors. Tailoring the content of the landing page to specific audience interests or preferences can significantly improve the impact of the remarketing campaign.
  • Adherence to quality score standards:
    Platforms like Google Ads consider the relevance and quality of landing pages when determining ad placement and cost-per-click. A well-optimized landing page positively contributes to the quality score, potentially reducing advertising costs and improving ad positioning.

A landing page that has been optimized for remarketing should have the following elements:

  • The headline must be clear, convincing, empathetic, and directly connected with your ad.
  • All page media should be relevant and eye-catching.
  • The CTA button must be designed in a contrasting color and be specific to the offer.
  • The form should have labeled fields and shouldn’t ask for unnecessary information.
  • Trust indicators (testimonials, customer badges, and statistical evidence) should be present on the page.
  • The page should not include off-page navigation links.
  • The copy must mention your UVP and reinforce any claim that your ad makes.

Adjust is a measurement and analytics tool that specializes in app performance. They launched a remarketing campaign to promote a new thought-leadership ebook with insights about mobile app growth in North America.

The ad encourages engagement with a clear CTA button for downloading the ebook. When a viewer clicks on that ‘Download’ button, they are redirected to a dedicated landing page that gives more details about the ebook and provides a form that must be completed before accessing the report.

Image shows adjust social media retargeting ad example.

This image displays adjust anding page.

Another important aspect of landing page optimization is A/B testing.

A/B testing is a method of gathering insight to aid in optimization. It involves testing an original design (A) against an alternate version of that design (B) to see which performs better. That original design is also known as “the control,” and the alternate version is known as a “variation.”

By performing A/B tests and collecting data on your landing page, you can gauge which combination of page elements results in the most conversions.

Connecting remarketing ads to dedicated landing pages is a strategic approach that ensures a cohesive and optimized user experience. It not only increases the chances of conversion but also provides valuable insights for refining future remarketing strategies. The synergy between ads and landing pages is foundational to the success of any remarketing campaign.

How to measure success in remarketing

Remarketing helps marketers reach out to visitors who have navigated away from their website without converting. The ads and landing pages created for these campaigns help you call back lost visitors and move them further down your conversion funnel:

Image shows visualisation of conversion funnel.

Whether or not you have been able to convert lost visitors into leads or customers depends on the following metrics that help measure the success of your remarketing campaigns.

Lead conversion (CPL)

Lead conversions are the number of leads that are directly attributed to remarketing ads. The leads are in the form of conversions on your remarketing landing pages.

A high CPL indicates that your ads were successful at attracting visitors and your landing page messaging convinced visitors to convert on your offer.

Nurture touches

Nurture touches refer to the engagement from your existing contacts with your remarketing display ad campaigns with reference to late-stage or mid-stage ads and offers.

This metric helps you identify which lead is actually ready to click the CTA button and buy your product. Nurture touches help identify the untapped leads that are ready to make a sale from your existing audience pool.

View-through conversions

A view-through conversion is a conversion that occurs when a prospect views your remarketing display ad but doesn’t click and returns to your website or clicks to your landing page on their own.

View-through conversions can be measured with the tracking pixel placed on your landing page. This metric is important because it helps you complete the conversion funnel puzzle and allows you to figure out all the possible routes your marketing funnel can take to get a conversion.

Page visits

Page visits measure the number of visitors that arrive at your remarketing landing page from your ad. You can track website visits for remarketing campaigns, as visitors might return due to brand awareness rather than by directly clicking on your display ad.

Email opens

Reaching out to prospective customers through email is a powerful form of remarketing. Measuring email open rates allows you to collect data that helps you write better email subject lines in the future.

Personalized nurture emails can increase user engagement. This metric allows you to measure if the remarketing emails you’re currently sending out are working or failing to impress your audience.

Marketing qualified leads (MQL)

Marketing qualified leads are leads whom the marketing team has qualified as more likely to become customers in comparison to other leads. The MQL values are derived from lead scoring, audience behavior, specific prospect activities, and firmographics.

Now it’s your turn to create remarketing campaigns

Remarketing campaigns help you reach out to the 98% of visitors who leave your website without converting. When you create remarketing lists, based on segmented audiences and combine those with remarketing ads and landing pages specifically for these lists, you not only increase the probability of customer conversion but also generate brand awareness.

Testing your remarketing display ads and landing pages allows you to create campaigns that engage audiences and persuade them to convert.

Start creating professional and 100% customizable remarketing landing pages today with Instapage. Sign up for your 14-day trial here.

Fahad Muhammad

by Fahad Muhammad

Fahad is a Content Writer at Instapage specializing in advertising platforms, industry trends, optimization best practices, marketing psychology, and SEO. He has been writing about landing pages, advertising trends, and personalization for 11+ years.

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