What is Remarketing and how it works: useful tips

Remarketing is a form of online advertising that aims to display ads to users who have shown interest in our business and/or products. It targets users who have visited our website, clicked on our ads, contacted us, or attended an event.

Remarketing, or retargeting, is the best way to optimize conversions because it focuses on users who have already shown some level of interest in the offered services and can target different stages of the sales funnel.

Furthermore, remarketing plays a crucial role in the closing phase of Inbound Marketing, which is focused on conversion. It’s not about driving traffic to the website but rather increasing the likelihood of converting user actions into sales.

It’s important to note that this web marketing technique requires financial resources and time. Online remarketing can be implemented on the search network (search engine results page) and the display network (websites, social media, and apps).

Display retargeting on Google, affiliate websites, and social media is effective in reminding users about a brand’s existence and “chasing” them until they are convinced.

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Watch the video and continue reading to discover:

  • What remarketing is and how it works;
  • The results you can achieve with remarketing;
  • How Remarketing Google Ads works;
  • Remarketing with Facebook and Instagram.

What is Remarketing?

What is remarketing used for? If you’re wondering what remarketing is, we can define it as:

the opportunity that digital technologies offer today to somehow track users who have previously visited your website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel, and subsequently follow them as they engage with other websites, YouTube channels, social media, and so on.

In practice, the meaning of remarketing is to remain relevant to people, potential customers of the services or products you offer, who initially got to know you and may forget about you as they continue their online browsing. The term retargeting is often used interchangeably with this web marketing strategy.

How to Do Remarketing or Retargeting

How does retargeting work? To understand it, we need to think about user tracking while browsing the internet and spending time online. Just imagine visiting a website, and during your online session, the website releases a cookie that gets “stuck” to your browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.). At this point, advertising providers like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, and so on can recognize this cookie during the user’s subsequent browsing. Thanks to this technology, advertising platforms can display advertising banners from the same brand previously viewed by the same people.

It’s easy to understand why retargeting is a useful marketing strategy. This tactic leverages the actual interests of users and, for example, presents potential purchases again.

This aspect is particularly valuable for small and micro businesses with limited budgets to capitalize on. On the other hand, large companies accustomed to substantial investments in traditional media can afford to allocate significant amounts to digital marketing with Google, Facebook, and YouTube remarketing campaigns.

How much to invest in a remarketing campaign?

Remarketing campaigns are much more effective than traditional advertising campaigns because they leverage users’ existing interests, increasing the likelihood of generating conversions. That’s why it’s normal to allocate less budget to these sponsorships and focus more on bidding, as the potential for ROI increases significantly.

One crucial aspect of remarketing is the persistence in relation to the customer. It’s important to calibrate the duration and persistence of these types of ads correctly. It’s even more relevant to find a way to recognize conversions that have already occurred. This prevents the customer from being exposed to the same advertising for a product they have already purchased, which would waste budget resources and cause annoyance.

Examples of remarketing strategies

There are numerous potential applications of this technique in web marketing, but let’s highlight two examples.

The first practical case of a remarketing strategy concerns online sales during the holiday season. Let’s consider a website that sells products or services online and attracts visitors to its online store throughout the year, tracking them via cookies. However, 70% of the transactions occur during the period surrounding Christmas.

This is a practical example of how web retargeting can be used for advertising campaigns. A advertising budget is allocated during December to promote gift ideas related to the specific market activity to those who visited the e-commerce site and showed interest in our products during the preceding periods.

Another illustrative use case involves the launch of a new product. In this case, the strategic lever relies on becoming relevant within your niche. People who follow and know your website because they have previously accessed it are more likely to be responsive to advertisements presented to them through remarketing. You can then present the banner ad or video of the innovative product to tracked users. With these users, you know their actions on the internet and are aware that they have recently visited your web and social channels.

What results does remarketing bring?

The benefits are not limited to inducing purchases from those who have already visited our site, but the actions in the retargeting process also include:

  • Identification through invitation to register;
  • Reminder to customers who have added items to their cart without completing the purchase;
  • Encouragement towards undecided users who compare products without making a purchase. For example, showing similar items or offering additional information;
  • Updates regarding viewed products or items added to the wishlist that are back in stock;
  • Promotions for inviting purchases or free or discounted consultations. Very useful if we want to have a first direct approach with customers;
  • Offers for already acquired customers whom we want to reward for their loyalty and turn them into loyal customers or promoters;
  • Notifications for events or company-related apps.


Closing the sale is the finalization of the sale. Once we have attracted the concrete interest of the customer and completed the profiling, it is our duty to show them as clearly as possible how we can help them and what we have to offer until we convince them. Therefore, it is necessary to facilitate the conversion process through online payment systems and direct remarketing solicitations.

It is important to remember that the consumer buys when they want, not when we want. To change this mechanism, we must give them a reason to increase their propensity for decision-making within a limited and imminent period. This process is activated by activating promotions, email alerts, and remarketing display ads.

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Customer Loyalty

It consists of the development of an active interest from the user in our business. Remarketing can be applied post-sale. Through customer loyalty or maintaining awareness, we can convert customers into followers (loyal customers) and sometimes into promoters. These initiatives include events, social media, smart content, offer alerts, and mailings.

Direct Marketing

There are also non-paid systems that follow the same path. “Free remarketing” can be done through direct contact or even better, by creating active interest and engagement on social media pages.

Through a strong presence on social media, it is possible to remind fans of our existence, and creatively advertise by posting offers without spending money and appearing in their feeds. It’s important to consider the effect of reduced organic visibility due to algorithms but highlight the effectiveness of sharing. If our followers interact with the page, the posts can be seen by their friends, and so on, expanding the awareness of the offer.

Direct marketing and remarketing

Email marketing (newsletters and DEM) and mobile marketing are excellent tools for remarketing because the customer feels personally prompted. By making some adjustments, it’s possible to personalize automated messages by adding the customer’s name and the article they showed interest in. By employing these techniques, the text construction only needs to be set up once and doesn’t necessarily require manual execution for each send.

Phone calls, on the other hand, are more invasive and less effective. It’s better to rely on the methods mentioned above and give the user time to convince themselves and, if necessary, contact us. On the contrary, if the customer initiates contact, it is considered a plus to respond directly from our side. This is the opposite of the call center formula, which is usually perceived with a negative bias.

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Remarketing with Google Ads: Useful Steps

Usually, remarketing actions are carried out on Google. Let’s see below the necessary tips to get started. To set up a Google Ads campaign, it’s necessary to access the website and configure an account with our web address. We will obtain a code to be inserted later on all the relevant website pages.

It’s simpler than it seems; many CMS already contain installable plugins that allow for the automatic insertion of the code into various website pages. These remarketing tags serve to inform the Google AdWords system which users have visited the site and on which pages. Without relying on a webmaster’s support, we can use the free tool Google Tag Manager, compatible with platforms like WordPress.

Remarketing with Google Ads

Once the tags are in place, various leads will be created, consisting of different lists of visitor users. In this way, we will be able to carry out generalized remarketing and also decide to act specifically based on user characteristics or behaviors.

However, before starting the remarketing campaign, Google requires a few prerequisites:

  • the campaign must start with an existing lead and will only begin when the target reaches 100 contacts for the display network and 1,000 users for the search network;
  • the maximum duration of a remarketing list is 540 days, which can be useful, for example, if there are users who are interested in our services only during a certain period of the year.

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Creating remarketing lists and inserting tags

  • access Google Ads;
  • click on Campaign;
  • in the left menu, go to Shared Library;
  • select Audience Manager;
  • choose Set up remarketing;
  • give a name to the page, decide the characteristics of the users to be included in the remarketing list. It’s also possible to decide whether to include past users and the maximum duration of their presence on the list;
  • save the list;
  • click View AdWords tag;
  • copy the code;
  • paste it into the website’s code where we want to capture customers for this marketing activity. There are many plugins that allow this to be done automatically;
  • click Publish to start recording the leads.

Once this goal is achieved, within a couple of days, Google will collect cookies from visitors, and the All Visitors list will start populating.

While in the past, unique tags had to be “installed” for each remarketing list on specific pages, now it’s sufficient to insert this single tag. In the case of an existing lead with the previous tag, it’s enough to access AdWords for this list and save it, thereby not losing anything.

The remarketing lists can be closed or open. Closed lists stop including users with those characteristics, while open ones are continuously updated. Every remarketing list, as previously mentioned, automatically closes after 540 days. However, it will remain in the Audience Manager as a closed list and can be reopened.

Once the lists are set up, Google Ads will take you to the Create Ad page. However, if you’re not ready for this step yet, it is recommended to postpone it, especially if you want to further refine the lists.

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How to check if the remarketing tag is working

  • go to Ads;
  • click on Audience Tools;
  • go to Shared Library;
  • verify if the audience parameters are functioning correctly;
  • ensure that the data feed (user list) has been uploaded (takes up to 48 hours from the start of the campaign);
  • go to the campaign’s ads and check if they have been approved by Ads.

Using remarketing lists in existing campaigns

In Google Ads, if you have already defined ad groups, you can publish them later for remarketing lists. Is it easy to implement? Here are the steps to follow:

  • access your Ads account;
  • click on the ad group where you want to activate retargeting;
  • decide whether the ads should be published on the Display Network, Search Network, or both;
  • select + Targeting;
  • go to Add targeting and select Interests and remarketing;
  • go to Select category and then Lists for remarketing, where you will find the names of custom groups;
  • select each group you want to include in the ad targeting by clicking with the double arrows >>;
  • save and close.

This way, the Google remarketing campaign will start bringing satisfying results soon.

Sometimes, it can be useful to use the same customers from a remarketing group that has already passed. In this case, simply close the list and import the contacts into another list.

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Dynamic remarketing and the difference with “standard” retargeting

Remarketing can be classic or dynamic:

  • Dynamic: it focuses on reminding the user of the products they have already viewed, going vertically (directly and not expanding to other offers) based on their preferences;
  • Classic, on the other hand, shows ads of various kinds chosen by us as a general response to the website visit.

For an e-commerce or a website that offers multiple services for different audience types, dynamic remarketing is highly recommended! For example, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to advertise a women’s line to a male user.

To execute dynamic remarketing, it is necessary to connect Google Ads with Google Analytics. In fact, Google’s analytics platform can recognize the IDs of the products visited by the user and their on-site behavior.

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Dynamic Attribute Creation

    • Access Analytics;
    • Click on Admin and select the property where you want to insert the dynamic remarketing attributes;
    • In the Property column, go to Audience Definitions and select Dynamic Attributes;
    • Configure the activities you want to make vertical in Activity Type;
    • In View, select the one that allows you to view dynamic attribute data;
    • Click on Next;
    • Go to Dynamic Attributes and select the attributes you added to the page tag;
    • Refer to the examples of Dynamic Attributes and evaluate which ones to use based on your activity;
    • Save the changes.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Remarketing Campaigns with Analytics

To measure the performance of a remarketing campaign, you need to access Analytics and perform the following procedures:

  • Access an Analytics account;
  • Set up an Analytics tag and insert the code into our website. There are also several convenient plugins for CMS platforms (e.g., WordPress);
  • Click on Admin in the top corner of the interface;
  • Various automatic audience segments in Analytics will appear. Some already contain remarketing elements, but you can go into more detail by clicking on the Lists for remarketing tab;
  • Here, you can see all the characteristics of our users within the lists and further customize the lists through the interface.

These results will allow us to understand which user characteristics perform better with the ads and potentially plan a change in the type of ads if we see unsatisfactory results for certain user types.

Linking Ads and Analytics to Optimize Remarketing

Associating the two accounts can be very useful for creating even more detailed remarketing segments through Analytics.

The latter allows segmenting the list based on behavior in an even more specific way, such as the number of pages visited or the duration of the visit.

Analytics to optimize remarketing

For example, remarketing sponsorship for a user who accidentally clicked on our banner and immediately left (bounce rate) would be a waste of resources! Additionally, conversion tracking is much more precise and real-time compared to AdWords.

The link between Ads and Analytics needs to be set up in both platforms. In Analytics, you need to go to the Property administration tab and create the link for the AdWords account. In Google Ads, you need to import metrics and, if desired, conversions from Analytics.

  • Access Analytics (you can also access it from Ads under the Tools tab);
  • Go to Admin and select the Property you want to link;
  • In the Property column, select AdWords Linking;
  • Click on + Link Accounts;
  • Select the Ads accounts to link and click Continue;
  • Activate the link for the properties where you want to use AdWords;
  • Optionally, enable Enable Google Display Network Impression Reporting and/or Search Reporting;
  • Enable automatic tagging of AdWords accounts;
  • Select Link Accounts.

To modify a group of links, go to Property and select AdWords Linking. Analytics and Google AdWords will work together for an effective, successful, and user-friendly campaign.

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Facebook and Instagram Remarketing

People on social media intentionally spend their time and are not overly bothered by easily avoidable sponsored ads while scrolling through their feed.

Facebook is one of the most used social networks and can be classified as the “king of display advertising.” Here, there are different types of Facebook remarketing, not only sponsored posts that can be scrolled in the News section but also statically positioned in the sidebar or within apps. With some tools, it is now possible to manage sales directly within the application.

For Instagram, conversions can also occur in-app, or sponsored posts can redirect to another website. However, the management of advertising campaigns (including retargeting) on Instagram is done through Facebook itself.

Facebook and Instagram remarketing

The logic of applying a remarketing strategy on social media is the same as described for search engines: offering the user content of their interest based on their previous browsing actions. Check out our article on Facebook Ads to learn how, and remember to install the Facebook Pixel to track the campaign. The tracking pixel is a useful code string for recording audience movement on website pages. It needs to be specifically inserted in the HTML head section.

A very interesting feature of Facebook remarketing is the ability to create a lookalike audience, consisting of users with profiles similar to the members of remarketing lists.

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Optimizing ROI and effectively managing a company’s resources is one of the most important keys to a successful business. Through remarketing techniques, we can best achieve these goals and significantly increase revenues.

No longer are occasional advertisements sufficient in an era of “continuous bombardment”; especially for SMEs, it is essential to precisely target the market niche and make use of tools that meet this urgent need. As effective and impactful as our advertising message may be, it must be repeatedly shown and emphasized to undecided but interested and receptive customers.

A good remarketing strategy is often what makes the difference between a simple company and a successful business.

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