The Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting

The term ‘retargeting’ and ‘remarketing’ has been the primadonna of the digital marketing world in recent years.

You might have heard all the praise for retargeting: incredible ROI, the amazing number of conversions, and nowadays, we can see even expert marketers swear by retargeting as the most viable way to do advertising.

Yet, even with retargeting being one of, if not the best b2b digital marketing tactics nowadays, many of us still fail to understand the concept of retargeting and its application.

So, this guide will discuss all the ins and outs of retargeting, from its definition to its benefits, and how to actually use retargeting.

Without further ado, let us begin.

What Is Retargeting?

Let us begin by addressing the common misconception: retargeting is not remarketing although they are indeed related to each other.

Remarketing is, as the name suggests, marketing efforts to the same prospects repeatedly. When you see a billboard for a Katy Perry concert every morning, and finally you decide to buy the ticket, you have been remarketed.

Retargeting, on the other hand, is a subset of remarketing in the digital realm. With retargeting, you are targeting online ads on the same traffic repeatedly. So, as you can see, the concept is similar between the two.

Retargeting is a fairly new area of remarketing but has grown to be the biggest. There are several ways to do retargeting, but they can be boiled down to just two main groups:

  1. Retargeting people who have visited your site
  2. Retargeting those who have visited your competitors’ sites

Why Retargeting Is Effective

To understand why retargeting is effective, we will need to understand why remarketing is effective. As we have established, the concept between the two is similar.

Let’s use the classic PC vs Mac debate as an example. Which one is better? No, we are not here to discuss that question. However, there is a great chance that your answer will depend on which one you are more exposed to.

If you are a graphic designer with a lot of your friends using Macs, there is a greater chance you are also an advocate of Mac. The same thing happens when you are a computer programmer more exposed to PCs.

What is your favorite music genre? Chances are, it is the same genre as most of your closest peers. This is the same phenomenon, and in short, we humans are vulnerable to repetition. Remarketing, and retargeting works by exploiting this psychological phenomenon.

So, when we see the same billboard ad every few miles about the same restaurant, We are more likely to visit that restaurant at some point.

What about retargeting? You might have experienced this: let’s say you just Googled a TV set, or browsed on Amazon. As you then browse other sites, there will be banner ads of TV sets all over your browser. This is the retargeting ad.

If you have read guides for the marketing funnel, you will be familiar with the fact that with every step of the buyer’s journey, the chance of conversion will diminish. Retargeting helps to minimize that reduction, maintaining the chance of a conversion.

Also, there are several indirect benefits to retargeting. It is an extremely effective branding tool, and a study by ComScore found that retargeting leads to a 726% increase in site visitation.

How Do Retargeting Works?

By using retargeting software or services, you can place a snippet of code on your site which is often dubbed as the retargeting pixel.

The retargeting pixel places a cookie on your visitors’ browsers. So, with their permission during their visit, you can collect their information. So, based on that information, we can now target that visitor with our advertising.

The same comScore study we have mentioned above also found that retargeting your previous visitors Can increase Click-Through Rate(CTR) by up to 1000%. Why? Because they already recognized your ad.

Yet, as we have mentioned, there is another type of retargeting that targets people who have visited your competitors. Obviously, the information-gathering process is a little different here, as you will need some manual approaches.

First, it is possible to cooperate with or pay your competitors to put your retargeting pixel on their sites. There are rumors that some big brands are doing this practice. However, make sure to get legal advice before attempting this method.

Another method is to use social media. For example, we can set up Facebook advertising targeting users who followed or liked your competitors. Arguably, this is the easiest and safest method.

The third common method is using keyword-targeted advertising, such as Google AdWords. Here, you target a certain keyword while excluding your own visitors, using the data you got from your retargeting pixel. While this method might not sound accurate, it is actually pretty decent in targeting your competitors’ audiences.

Setting Up Your Retargeting Campaign

There are several services offering all-in-one solutions to retargeting. You can do a quick Google search with ‘retargeting’ as your keyword, and some of them will show up in both organic and paid results. Some of them are good, however, we will not discuss them here.

Instead, we will discuss how to set up your retargeting campaign manually. This way, you can have a better understanding of the basics, which will also help you later on, even if you decide to use a retargeting service.

There are two major platforms for retargeting ads: Google AdWords and Facebook ads.

Using Google AdWords For Retargeting

Google AdWords actually has a built-in tool to set-up a retargeting (or remarketing) campaign. You can easily set it up by following these simple steps:

  1. In your Google AdWords dashboard, click on ‘shared library’. You should see it on the left of your screen
  2. Click ‘view’ under Audiences, you will see the ‘Set up Remarketing’ option here. Choose it, but leave the box unchecked for now
  3. Now, Google will offer to send you instructions, which you may opt to get if you are interested. However, you can simply check the ‘Use the Google Analytics tag’ box.
  4. Click on ‘Remarketing List’, and set up a new list
  5. Choose ‘Visitors to a page with a specific tag’ then choose a new tag
  6. Set the duration to the maximum available, which is 180 days
  7. Hit save, and you will be taken to the next page, where you will get your code snippet, your retargeting pixel
  8. Now, simply copy-paste this code into the body tag of your site’s HTML code, and you are good to go.

Your retargeting list will start to grow, and you can later use this data to set up your advertising campaign.

Using Facebook for Retargeting

Setting up retargeting pixel using your Facebook ad manager is even easier since Facebook will walk you through everything.

Simply click on ‘Tools’ in your ad manager, and select ‘Pixels’ in the drop-down menu.

You only need to enter your domain name, and as mentioned, Facebook will walk you through the necessary steps. You will then get your code snippet.

Using Your Retargeting Pixel

If you know your HTML5 or CSS, using the code snippet will be a breeze. However, not every one of us has that expertise.

If your site is WordPress-based, you can start by putting your code as a text widget in your header or footer. It is a little old-fashioned and noobish method, but hey, it works!

If you are looking for more advanced tactics and methods, there are endless guides out there you can try. Here are a few we recommend:


Retargeting is indeed one of the best marketing tactics used by many B2B marketing agencies like Northpeak with a lot of benefits. While the concept of retargeting may sound complicated at first, it can be learned quite easily.

The tips we have shared above can help you with learning how to do retargeting and its applications.

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