What Is Ad Retargeting and How Does It Work?

How do you connect with shoppers who exit your site without making a purchase? Ad retargeting could be the answer. Read the article to learn how it works.

Almost 70% of online customers will abandon their shopping cart, according to research from the Baymard Institute. When those customers leave your website empty-handed, how do you reengage with them and get them to buy? With ad retargeting, you can remind shoppers of your products or services even when they are no longer on your site.

Most customers need to feel like they know your brand before they make a purchase. If they’ve never seen your site before, they’ll likely browse and leave empty-handed. You can reconnect with those folks and build trust with them by using ad retargeting. Read on to find out how it works - plus, how you can create a successful ad retargeting campaign.


What Is Ad Retargeting?

Ad retargeting is a marketing tactic. When a potential customer views a company’s website and leaves without making a purchase, the company can display ads to that person on other websites as they continue to browse the internet. Retargeting allows brands to tailor ads to a shopper’s unique behavior, which makes them highly effective. 

This type of marketing works especially well because it creates visibility for your brand, helping potential customers build trust. Not only are they seeing more of your brand via ads, but they’re also getting messaging that’s designed just for them. Once they’ve become comfortable with your brand, they can easily return to your site to make a purchase. 

How Do Ad Retargeting Campaigns Work?

Ad retargeting uses cookies, which are small pieces of data that a web browser stores. The cookies essentially “remember” the users who visited your website or saw your ad. You or your marketing team can then use those cookies to connect with potential customers all across the web. You show your audience relevant ads, boosting your brand awareness and conversions.

To set up ad retargeting, you add a small piece of code to your website, which is sometimes known as a pixel. The code is unnoticeable to customers, who will continue to have the same user experience on your website as before. When you get new website visitors, the code leaves an anonymous cookie on their browser. 

As those users continue to browse the internet, the cookie tells your marketing team or retargeting provider where and when to deliver ads. So, your ad retargeting only appears for people who have already shown interest in your brand.

When Should You Use Ad Retargeting?

Ad retargeting allows you to offer super specific, tailored messages, but it’s only part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. It’s best accompanied by inbound marketing strategies that drive new traffic to your site, like AdWords and content marketing. 

You won’t have new visitors to retarget without these tactics. With this in mind, retargeting works best as a long-term strategy once you already have a following of at least 100 monthly website visitors. 

With that said, you should use retargeting when you:

  • Want to build brand awareness and earn your audience’s trust.
  • Have a high cart abandonment rate.
  • Need to promote new collections.
  • Must get rid of surplus inventory.

Tips for a Successful Ad Retargeting Campaign 

1. Know Your Buyer Journey

Every customer goes through a buyer journey when they shop with you. They go through stages of awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, and loyalty. Not all customers make it through all the stages, which is why you have higher numbers of site views than buyers. With ad retargeting, you’re aiming to capture more people as they move along the journey.

Dig into your data at all levels of the buyer journey. If you show customers ads at the wrong time in their customer journey, you risk putting them off of your brand. Consider what type of customers are converting on what platforms and what ad creatives are working - then use that data as you plan your campaign.

2. Target Users Based on Website Activity

While it might be tempting, you don’t want to use ad retargeting for anyone and everyone who visits your website. This method is too broad, meaning you’ll miss out on customers by serving generic ads. Effective ad retargeting requires super-specific messaging.

Aim to match your ads to each user’s activity on your website. You can even create retargeted ads based on specific website URLs. You can also customize the ad to address the reasons the user hasn’t purchased yet. They either don’t understand how your product can help them or they aren’t ready to spend money. So, explain the benefits or highlight a sale.

3. Avoid Oversaturation

Frequency in marketing refers to how many times you show the same user the same ad – or, how many times you repeat an ad on the same medium over a period of time. Either way, showing your customer an ad too many times can turn their positive view of your brand into a negative view. The more they see it, the more they view your company as intrusive and annoying.

When customers see the same ads more than 10 times, they even become angry. Obviously, this approach is not going to earn you any conversions. Monitor your ad frequency and aim to limit it to about three exposures. Any more than that, and you need to change up the creative.

4. Retarget Based on Platform

A basic rule of marketing is that you need to show up wherever your customers are. You can use this same principle with ad retargeting. So, how do you know if your customers will see and engage with your ads? Check your platform engagement and serve ads to those folks.

Another approach is to use lead ads on Facebook, which allows you to offer a lead magnet in exchange for customer information, like an email. The ads look and feel intuitive, and don’t take the customer off of Facebook, so they’re more likely to sign up. With lead ads, you get a list of confirmed Facebook users who are open to checking out new brands via retargeted social media ads. 

5. Use Retargeting on Existing Customers

You might assume that marketing to existing customers is best done via email marketing, but that isn’t always the case. These customers already have flooded inboxes from brands just like yours. At some point, they’ll likely start ignoring your email marketing entirely. You can reengage with them via ad retargeting.

Existing customers have already learned to trust your brand and converted, so you have a high chance of getting them to buy again. Use retargeting and your knowledge of previous purchases to upsell them or get an add-on product.

The Benefits of Working with Pay.com as Your Payment Service Provider 

Once you do get those customers to convert, it’s important to have a seamless checkout experience. Pay.com makes accepting online payments easy for you and your customers. You can get set up with a quick onboarding process, then create a customized checkout page that looks and feels like the rest of your site. 

You can also choose from a variety of payment methods, including debit cards, credit cards, and digital wallets. You can add payment methods to your checkout page with a simple click. 

Pay.com has Level 1 PCI DSS compliance and supports 3D Secure 2.0, so you can add security logos to your checkout page so that your customers feel confident when shopping with you.

Click here to get started with Pay.com now!

The Bottom Line

Ad retargeting can be an incredibly useful tool in your marketing tool belt. As long as you have other tactics in place to drive new traffic to your site, retargeting can help convert viewers into buyers. It’s also relatively inexpensive and allows you to provide super-targeted, highly effective ads to interested customers. 

Make sure you welcome those converted customers to your site with an excellent checkout experience. With Pay.com, you can offer a variety of payment methods and ensure secure transactions – all through a customized, seamless checkout page. Click here to create your account now!


How can I accept multiple payment methods on my website?

You can accept multiple payment methods on your website by using Pay.com as your payment service provider. With Pay.com, you can accept debit and credit cards as well as digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. You can even accept ACH bank transfers. Click here to get started now.

What is an example of retargeting?

One example of retargeting is when you see an ad for an item on Facebook that you were just looking at on the brand’s website. Another example is when you get an email linking you to the products you recently viewed on a company’s site.

What's the difference between retargeting and remarketing?

Retargeting refers to showing paid ads to prospective customers on other websites after they leave your site. It requires the use of cookies to work. Remarketing refers to collecting contact information and contacting users who have already interacted with your brand, usually via email.

How can I customize the checkout page on my site?

You can customize your site’s checkout page and create a seamless user experience by using Pay.com as your payment service provider. The process is simple. Just choose a prebuilt checkout page from the Pay Dashboard, then customize it with your brand colors, logo, and more. You can also work with Pay.com’s developer-friendly APIs to integrate our components into your own checkout page.

Meet the author
Ginny Dorn
Ginny Dorn is a finance and business copywriter specializing in credit card processing and fintech. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.
The Easy Way to Accept Online Payments

Make the checkout process simple with Pay.com. You can accept a variety of payment methods and display security logos on your checkout page so your customers always feel confident buying from your brand.

Get started now

Ready to boost revenue for your business

Contact sales