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  • Remarketing Defined: How It Works to Recapture Customers (with Examples)

Picture this: you’re attending a wedding coming up this summer and you’re looking to buy a new pair of shoes to elevate your event day outfit. After scrolling a couple of stores online, you jump over to check what the weather will be like that day. Then, there it is. A loud, glaring ad on the side of the page calling out for your attention. And, who would have guessed what that ad is for? It’s an ad for shoes from that same store you were just browsing on!

This is no coincidence; this is an example of remarketing in action. While we all love to joke that we think about something then we see an ad for it, it’s not quite that extreme yet. But, remarketing is both a very real and very powerful tool to have as part of your local marketing strategy.

what is remarketing - remarketing display ad example

A remarketing example in which ads might appear as you browse the web. 

In this post, we’ll explore all the details you need to know about remarketing for your small business, including:

  • What remarketing is
  • How remarketing works
  • Examples of remarketing use cases
  • Remarketing best practices for growing businesses


The only remarketing definition you’ll need

Our remarketing definition is short and sweet: it’s the practice of showing additional marketing messages in the form of ads to people that have already interacted with your business’s website or searched for a product or service your business provides.

For instance, you could apply remarketing to certain subsets of customers or website visitors that may have interacted with ads or other marketing materials previously.

The most common remarketing example is to show paid ads to your website visitors. You could even remarket to people who have landed on specific pages within your site or performed certain actions, like abandoning a cart or form. However, this will be dependent on how your business collects data (more on this later).

For additional context, here’s Google’s official remarketing definition:

“Remarketing is a way to connect with people who previously interacted with your website or mobile app. It allows you to strategically position your ads in front of these audiences as they browse Google or its partner websites, thus helping you increase your brand awareness or remind those audiences to make a purchase.”

What’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

You may have also heard the term retargeting tossed around. So, what’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

Remarketing and retargeting can be used interchangeably, so there’s no real difference between the two. Remarketing or retargeting is the practice of showing your paid ads to users who have visited your website or a specific page on your website.


How does remarketing work?

Basically, every internet user is assigned a unique ID that allows websites to identify them as they move across the web. This is why you receive a notification when you visit a new website that asks you to accept the terms of use — you’re opting into websites collecting your unique ID.

There are two ways these IDs could be collected: via first-party data or third-party data.

  • Third-party cookies come from various sources to collect and store data about a consumer’s journey across the web.
  • First-party data is collected by your business and tracks consumers’ behavior directly on your website.

You may have seen that third-party cookies will be deprecated by the end of 2023. This means it’s a good idea to start relying on first-party data for remarketing instead. To start, be sure you have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool in place to provide a clear way to track and store data about your website visitors.

what is remarketing - how does remarketing work

Remarketing data could be collected by either third-party or first-party cookies.

Therefore, the more website visitors you have, the larger your remarketing audience will be. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that remarketing isn’t a great fit for all businesses regardless of size!

In fact, there are plenty of places where you can apply a remarketing audience to your marketing plan to fit your business’s unique individual needs.


How to use remarketing

Because remarketing ads are so personalized to each searcher, it’s difficult to pull remarketing examples. Remarketing ads look identical to ads that are shown to new audiences. There’s nothing special about them other than their targeting parameters. However, as a consumer, you most likely can guess which ads are being remarketed to you based on your past behavior.

You can use remarketing as part of your PPC campaigns on Google and Microsoft Search, Google Shopping, display, and video as well as in all Facebook and Instagram advertising campaigns. With that said, here are some examples of how these remarketing placements could fit into your business’s strategy:

1. Remarketing with PPC for better targeting

In PPC, you can point the ads in your campaign to only show to a certain group of people. This practice is called audience targeting. In short, any remarketing example in the PPC world is really just a form of audience targeting. This means you have a specified remarketing audience that you assign to your campaigns, and going forward those ads will only show to folks within that remarketing audience that came from your website or a specific page on your site.

Now, let’s take a moment for a deeper dive into when specifically your ads could show to a remarketing audience.

To understand if search remarketing could really be effective for your small business, you would need to check off the following requirements:

  • People are visiting your site
  • Later, people are also searching for a keyword you’re bidding on
  • When they do search for that keyword, your ad ranks for it and pulls the click

If the odds of that happening seem low, that’s completely normal. It may just mean search remarketing will be a longer-term goal as you grow your business.

However, this can be possible for many brands out there. For example, if I visit an e-commerce site looking for shoes to wear to a wedding, I’m likely to return to Google and search with a related keyword if I didn’t make a purchase.

Related: Speaking of weddings…get wedding marketing ideas that will have couples saying “I do” to your services.

what is remarketing - search remarketing example

While there’s no clear way to tell for sure when you’re seeing a remarketing ad as a viewer, you can assume some of the ads you see are remarketing ads based on your historical web interest patterns.

2. Remarketing for display or video campaigns

Display ad or video campaigns are often the most common remarketing examples. Because display or video ads are shown passively on any web page on the platforms’ respective display networks, most business owners really want to reel in and refine their campaigns to avoid any wasted marketing budget or irrelevant traffic. Remarketing is a great way to achieve this because display or video ads are shown only to those who have previously interacted with your business, increasing the chances they would click your ad.

what is remarketing - remarketing display or video camapigns

Not only that, but the intent behind the clicks from someone in the remarketing audience is usually of much higher quality and value since they’re already familiar with your business.

We call this pattern of remarketing audience habits to be more “bottom of the marketing funnel” meaning they’re all that much closer to actually completing a conversion, or meaningful action, on your website. Display advertising campaigns are typically “top of the funnel” strategies meant to drive brand awareness since they can show on any display network web page regardless of who it’s showing to–unless you assign a remarketing audience, that is!

In short, remarketing is a great strategy to turn a top-of-funnel display campaign into a bottom-of-funnel converting campaign.

remarketing definition - infographic of how remarketing works through the display funnel

3. Paid social ads and remarketing

Remarketing audiences can be created within the Facebook platform as well and, therefore, is an available ad set targeting option for both Facebook placements as well as Instagram placements. Similar to display ad campaigns, since Facebook has such a high rate of users that passively see your ad, moving those viewers down our marketing funnel can be a challenge. Targeting users with remarketing is a great way to combat this by showing your Facebook or Instagram ads to potential customers already familiar with your business.

Remarketing on Facebook or Instagram can help you increase your ad reach and convert more customers from your paid social ads, especially when used as part of a wider Facebook advertising strategy. You can target general users with the targeting options on Facebook and then remarket that audience to get them to convert.

remarketing definition - remarketing example on facebook


I’ve visited this web page from Google before, so it’s possible this ad could be a remarketing example.


3 remarketing best practices to keep in mind

So, we now know when and where we’d want to leverage remarketing. But, is it the right fit for your small business? Here are three remarketing best practices to be aware of before you dive in:

1. Be sure your remarketing audience is large enough

Each ad platform has minimum requirements in order to use remarketing effectively, so you’ll want to make sure you get enough website visitors for this to be successful for your strategy. Feel free to consult your marketing partner to determine whether or not this is an ideal strategy for your business!

Remarketing audience size requirements by platform:

  • Google Display: Minimum 100 active users within the last 30 days.
  • Search: Minimum 1000 active users within the last 30 days.
  • Video (YouTube): Minimum 1000 active users within the last 30 days.
  • Google Shopping: Minimum 1000 active users within the last 30 days.
  • Microsoft: Minimum 300 audience members across the board.
  • Facebook & Instagram: Minimum 1000 audience members across the board.

Remarketing audience size requirements by platform

2. Make your remarketing strategy complements other efforts

Another remarketing best practice is to think about what other strategies you’re currently implementing on paid search and paid social platforms and how they can work together. For example, you can use PPC and Facebook advertising to grow your remarketing audience to make your campaigns even more successful.

3. Refresh your ad copy often

Take a moment to think about the people visiting your site who would be a part of your remarketing audience. They’re already familiar with your business, so you may want to rethink your ad copy with that in mind as that could necessitate different messaging. Along with that, in certain cases, you’ll be able to manage how frequently your ads show per day, per week, or per month. Therefore, it’s a best practice to be refreshing your remarketing ad copy every so often as well as taking a look at how often it’s being shown.


Can remarketing work for your small business?

The good news is: yes! After careful evaluation of our remarketing definition and how remarketing works with other local marketing strategies like PPC advertising and Facebook ads, one can see that it can be used to help you reach your marketing goals.

Remarketing is a powerful tactic to take your advertising to the next level and move your potential customers closer to a meaningful, money-making action all that much faster. With the right platform and the right marketing strategy, your remarketing efforts can be the perfect solution to elevate your brand.

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