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What is retargeting?

How to ensure users remember you

Have you ever visited a website, only to see ads for the product you viewed the next day? Or received an email from an online store with a link to a product you left in your shopping cart without purchasing? Then you have likely experienced retargeting or remarketing, as it is often called, although there is actually a difference between these two types of online marketing. In this article, we zoom in on retargeting and go through the benefits of targeted advertising that leads customers back to your online shop. 

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What is retargeting?

Retargeting is a popular form of online marketing aimed at displaying ads to users who have already visited a website. For example, if a user visited your online shop without making a purchase, retargeting is an effective tool that, through targeted advertising or marketing, gives you another chance to show potential customers the benefits of your products or services. 

Targeted advertising

Most users leave a website without making a purchase or another desired action, such as booking a meeting with a sales consultant or reserving a table at a restaurant. Retargeting allows you to display targeted ads or send emails to users who have left your website, thereby increasing the chances of maintaining the users’ attention and hopefully strengthening their interest in your products or services. 

The users you target with advertising already know your brand, which means they are more likely to respond positively to your ads or emails. 

Retargeting vs remarketing

The terms “retargeting” and “remarketing” are often used interchangeably, but there are several key differences that are useful to understand.  

The main and most important difference is the strategy behind the concepts. Retargeting primarily involves displaying targeted ads, such as Google Ads, to potential customers based on cookies they have approved when they visited your website. 

Remarketing usually involves sending an email to customers who have abandoned their shopping cart or just clicked on various products without buying them. Keep in mind that laws and regulations regarding this type of e-mail can vary from country to country. For this reason, it is always advisable that you stay informed with the current rules in your region. 

Remarketing emails can be more than emails sent to users who have just visited your website and left products behind in the shopping cart. This form of marketing also includes planned personalised emails to customers who have not visited your website for a long time, or emails targeted to specific customer segments that are the perfect audience for a new product series you have just launched in your online shop. 

In other words, remarketing is about nurturing existing relationships with former or inactive customers through targeted and personalised content, most often sent directly to the customers’ inboxes. 

Both remarketing and retargeting are effective marketing strategies, but if you want to improve the performance of your online marketing and boost your conversion rate, it’s a good idea to combine them. 

How does retargeting work? 

We have reviewed what retargeting and remarketing are and how both strategies can help make your marketing even more effective. Now let’s dive into the technology that enables targeted advertising to users who have already visited your website. We also look at a few concrete examples of both remarketing and retargeting. 

How is advertising targeted?

To target your ads to customers who have visited your website, you need to install a so-called pixel from an advertising platform, such as Google Ads. A pixel is a small piece of tracking code added to your website’s code. When a user visits your website, your pixel places an anonymous browser cookie on their device, and the customer is automatically added to your retargeting list. If the user then continues to another website that displays ads from your chosen advertising platform, the platform will automatically show your ad to the user if your ad campaign is active at the time. 

Pixels do not collect personal data such as names and email addresses. Instead, they record the user’s IP address, which makes it possible to display your retargeting ads to the user the next time they are online from the same IP address. Depending on the tracking tools you use, the pixel can collect a range of information about what actions users completed when they visited your website. This gives you the opportunity to tailor your retargeting campaigns based on each user’s actions. 

A tracking pixel can, among other things, register: 

  • Which pages the user visits 
  • What the user clicks on 
  • Whether the user fills out a form 
  • Whether the user has watched a video on your website 
  • Whether the user has downloaded something on your website 
  • What the user has added to the shopping cart 
  • Whether the user has completed a purchase 

Examples of retargeting and remarketing

Let’s cover some examples of these two marketing strategies.  


Retargeting can be performed via various advertising platforms and on social media, including Facebook. 

Let’s say a visitor, Karina, visited your website and looked at several products from the same product category, such as rings with coloured stones. Karina gets a phone call and subsequently forgets about the rings. In this case, retargeting is an extremely effective strategy because, through targeted advertising, you can show Karina ads tailored to her. When Karina later opens Facebook or reads the newspaper online, she sees your ad and immediately remembers the ring with the red stone, which would be the perfect gift for her friend. 


Remarketing strategy often involves sending an email to a user who has left a website without completing a purchase. 

Imagine that Nick visited your website on Monday, where he clicked on three different products: a green towel, a shower curtain, and a pink rubber duck. Nick puts the items in the cart but leaves your website without doing anything further. If Nick has previously registered as a user on your website and agreed to receive marketing via email, you will be able to ensure that Nick receives an email on Tuesday morning reminding him of the products he put in the shopping cart. 

Of course, you can’t know for sure whether Nick might have left your website because he was not interested in buying anything after all. However, because he placed the three products in the cart, there is a good chance that he will complete the purchase when he receives an email with a nice picture of the towel and a clickable link to your website. 

The benefits of retargeting campaigns

Retargeting should undoubtedly be part of your marketing strategy. Studies have shown that users who see retargeting ads are up to 70% more likely to complete a purchase. There are several reasons why retargeting is so effective. 

Users already know your brand

Retargeting ads are often far more effective than ordinary ads. But why? Because these are ads shown to customers who already know your brand, and perhaps have even considered buying products from your range. That means that with retargeting, you have a head start in getting these users’ attention, instead of regular ads where you’re targeting visitors who don’t know or recognise your company. 

Strengthens brand awareness 

Retargeting is also an opportunity to strengthen your brand awareness by creating more contact points where the customer is reminded of your company and the products you offer. Do you remember the example above where Karina first looked at the rings but was interrupted and forgot all about them? Here, the retargeting ads created a contact point where Karina was reminded of the rings she had already looked at earlier in the day. She then returned to the shop and completed a purchase. 

Effective promotion of new products

When you have added brand new products to your online shop and written fantastic product descriptions, retargeting is also very effective for promoting them. Here you can reach out to users who have visited your website several times before to give them a hint that there are new exciting products waiting for them. Because users already know you and trust your brand, there is a good chance that they will buy one of your new products. 

Retargeting is an important tool in a solid marketing strategy

In a competitive online universe where it’s all about being as visible as possible, creating brand trust, and winning loyal customers, a solid marketing strategy is crucial. With retargeting, you can reach your users where they are, and show them ads tailored to their interests. Every contact point you create with your retargeting campaigns increases the chances of an improved conversion rate, strengthens brand awareness, and ensures that your potential customers remember your company. 

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