Online Marketing & Digital Marketing

What is remarketing and how does it work?

By Berta Ventura, on 24 May 2017

Have you incorporated remarketing into your digital marketing strategy? What are you waiting for?

If you want to increase your conversions and increase the return on your lead generation efforts, this is your chance. Today I will tell you all you need to know about this technique: what it is, how it works, what its advantages are for your company and a few tips to improve your campaigns. Let’s get started!

What is remarketing

What is remarketing?

In a nutshell, remarketing (also known as retargeting) is essentially creating personalized ad campaigns (generally display ads) for users who have previously visited your website or other content.

The basic idea behind remarketing is to reach out to users who already know your brand or products and, for that reason, have much higher chances of converting. It’s all about targeting the user on several occasions, personalizing them as we go along, and encouraging the user to move along the conversion funnel.

The most popular remarketing tool at the moment is Google AdWords, which is what I will focus on in this article. In any case, the basic concepts can, of course, also be applied to other tools.

The process can be narrowed down to three steps:

  • The user visits our website or consumes our brand’s content.
  • This user is then tagged with a cookie and is added to a remarketing list.
  • We then launch a campaign with ads shown only to users on this list.

Depending on how the users are included into this list, and in the types of ads they are shown, there are different types of remarketing:

  • Standard. Shows display ads to people who have previously visited a page. The ads are shown in websites and app in the display network (With Google AdWords, this network includes over 2 million websites). 
  • Dynamic: similar to standard remarketing, but with the difference that the ads are personalized depending on the products and services the users were looking at on the website.
  • For mobile apps: in this case, the ads are shown specifically in app and on mobile websites.
  • For search engine ads: this kind of campaign does not include display ads, but are shown when users who have already visited our website are searching on Google. This let’s us narrow down our target significantly: not only are they people who have already visited our website, but they are even still searching for things related to our products and services.
  • Video: in video remarketing, we do not create our remarketing list based on people who have visited a website, but rather people who have interacted with videos or a YouTube channel. The ads are then shown within YouTube itself, on websites and in apps.
  • By distribution list: Here, we can choose to have our ads shown to a specific list of previously collected emails addresses, such as, for example, the people who have subscribed to our newsletter.

How does remarketing work?

If you are interested in creating your own remarketing campaigns, you should know that they are quite simple! All you have to do is follow these steps:

  • Access your Google AdWords account (or equivalent advertising tool) and get your remarketing tag. This tag is a piece of HTML code that you have to insert into the body of all the pages of your website (before </body>).
  • Create a remarketing list (or several!).  These are lists made up of all the people who have carried out a specific action on your website, so you can configure it according to your goals. You can build a list with all your website visitors from the last month, for example, or with all the users who have visited a specific page. You can even segment them depending on which phase in the conversion funnel they are in - such as people who add a certain item to their shopping basket but never purchase it. Once you have configured your list, you might have to wait a few days or even weeks to have the minimum number of users needed.
  • Activate your campaign. Create a new remarketing campaign and target it at one of the lists you have created. You can also play around with the normal settings: language, geographic location, bid, etc.
  • Create one or more variations of your ad. If you're just getting started, you can try out different creativities using A/B Testing. It will help you optimize your campaign by sticking with the ones that work best.
  • Your campaign is ready!

The advantages of retargeting for your brand

  • Maximum personalization. Personalizing your remarketing lists offers an endless amount of possibilities for you to make the most of. There are essentially two key factors you can use: an action carried out by a user (visiting page X, for example) and the amount of time passed since that action. Like this, you can target users with different interests at different moments in the purchasing process and offer them maximum personalization.
  • Increasing your reach. As we’ve seen, Google’s display network have over 2 million websites and apps. Other retargeting tools, like Facebook Ads, also offer truly impressive outreach abilities. In other words: you will definitely be able to reach out to users who are potentially interested in your brand, no matter where they are.
  • Brand reminder. How many times have we visited a website that we liked but then simply forgot about it? With remarketing, we can make sure we remain in our users’ thoughts, and can maintain a relationship with them.
  • Meeting your marketing goals. Thanks to the several options you have in creating lists, in places to capture your users and places where your ads are shown, remarketing adapts itself to a great variety of situations and goals.
  • Increase in conversions. This model makes it possible to reach out to users right when they are most likely to convert, as they will already have shown interest in your brand. By carefully choosing the places where our ads are shown, we can personalize our points of contact to have a greater impact.

How to improve your remarketing campaigns

If you really want to make the most of this technique, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Limit the frequency with which your ads are shown. You want to be sure your messages are received, but you don’t want to overwhelm your users. Use tools to limit how often your ads are shown, and be sure to limit the number of impacts per user.
  • Don’t be afraid to create different lists. Remember: personalization is key! Users visit your website for different reasons and are interested in different things, so the more segments you create, the more you can get it just right.
  • Create specific lists for users who have already purchased. If you create a special list for the users who have viewed the thank you for your purchase page, you can communicate directly with your actual clients. Treat them with discounts and promotions so they feel special.
  • Experiment, measure, repeat. You have a world of analytics tools for your remarketing campaigns, so use them! Establish regular checks, find out which options work best and start making changes using them. With a bit of practice and patience, you will definitely find the perfect remarketing campaign for your goals.


Berta Ventura



The 35 trends that will change Digital Marketing in 2017

Berta Ventura

Social Account Manager at Cyberclick. Le apasiona el marketing, las redes sociales, leer y escribir.