July 21


Retargeting Platforms as Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

By Hanson Cheng

July 21, 2023

  • minute read
  • Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Hanson Cheng

    This article provides a comprehensive guide on retargeting platforms, their types, key features, top platforms available, how to choose the best platform for your business, best practices to follow for retargeting campaigns, and possible challenges and drawbacks of using these platforms. Retargeting platforms are essential tools in digital marketing that allow businesses to reconnect with visitors who have previously shown interest in their products or services.

    By understanding the various options and features offered by these platforms, marketers can create effective retargeting campaigns to drive conversions and ultimately increase the return on investment (ROI).

    What are Retargeting Platforms?

    Retargeting platforms are a type of online advertising tool that enables businesses to re-engage with website visitors who did not make a purchase or take a desired action during their first visit. By utilizing retargeting strategies, businesses can increase brand awareness, improve conversions, and optimize their marketing efforts.

    The Purpose of Retargeting

    Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a digital marketing strategy that targets users who have previously interacted with your website, online store, or social media channels by displaying relevant ads to them as they browse the web. Retargeting aims to re-engage potential customers, increasing the likelihood of converting them into paying customers or capturing their details for future marketing campaigns.

    How Retargeting Platforms Work

    Retargeting platforms typically work by implementing a small piece of code, known as a retargeting pixel or tracking pixel, onto the website or landing page. When a user visits the site, the pixel creates a browser-based cookie to track the user’s behavior and online activities.

    There are two primary types of retargeting: pixel-based and list-based. Pixel-based retargeting relies on the tracking pixel to collect data and serve ads based on a user’s website interactions, while list-based retargeting utilizes email lists or customer relationship management (CRM) data for targeting purposes. List-based retargeting is typically used for email campaigns and social media advertising, allowing companies to direct their ads to specific customers or prospects.

    The Importance of Retargeting in Digital Marketing

    Retargeting plays a crucial role in digital marketing, as it offers several benefits for businesses aiming to improve their online presence and increase revenue. Some of the key advantages of using retargeting platforms include the following:

    1. Improved conversion rates: Retargeting helps increase the chances of converting website visitors into paying customers. By displaying personalized ads based on their previous interactions, users are reminded of items in their abandoned cart or services they were interested in, encouraging them to revisit the site and complete their purchase.

    2. Increased brand exposure: Retargeting ads keep your brand in front of potential customers, enhancing brand recognition and reinforcing a sense of familiarity with your products or services.

    3. Cost-effective marketing: Retargeting helps optimize marketing spend by targeting users who have already shown interest in your brand rather than allocating resources on a broader audience who may not be interested.

    4. Personalized experience: Customized ads increase the relevancy and effectiveness of your marketing endeavors, ultimately leading to better user experience and increased customer satisfaction.

    To summarize, retargeting platforms are a powerful and effective tool for businesses looking to enhance their digital marketing strategies, increase brand awareness, and improve conversion rates. By implementing retargeting campaigns, companies can reap the benefits of increased customer engagement, personalized advertising experiences, and ultimately, growing their bottom line.

    Different Types of Retargeting Platforms

    Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a marketing strategy that involves targeting individuals or groups who have already visited your website, interacted with your brand, or expressed some initial interest in your products or services. Retargeting platforms are tools and services that track these visitors or previous interactions and serve ads that remind, encourage, or influence them to revisit your brand, complete a purchase, or perform any other desired action.

    There are various types of retargeting platforms that cater to different marketing goals, channels, and campaign strategies. This article will discuss the major types of platforms, their specific techniques, and examples of popular platforms in each category.

    Site Retargeting

    Site retargeting is the most commonly known form of retargeting. This strategy focuses on targeting people who have previously visited your website but left without taking any desired action, such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing a product. Site retargeting uses tracking pixels or cookies to create a list of website visitors, who are later re-engaged with personalized display and banner ads.

    Popular site retargeting platforms include the Google Ads retargeting program, AdRoll, and Criteo. These platforms provide various targeting options, ad formats, and performance reports to help you optimize your site retargeting campaigns.

    Email Retargeting

    Email retargeting focuses on reaching out to individuals who have already interacted with your brand through email, whether they opened your messages, clicked on your email links, or simply signed up for your newsletter. Email retargeting campaigns aim to re-engage these users through email or other channels with tailored content or offers that encourage them to take a desired action.

    Email retargeting platforms include Mailchimp, Klaviyo, and Iterable. These platforms offer advanced segmentation and targeting options, along with email automation and analytics features to help you develop and optimize your email retargeting campaigns.

    Search Retargeting

    Search retargeting involves targeting individuals based on their previous search queries or browsing behavior. By creating a profile of their interests, search behavior, or keyword searches, these platforms can serve relevant ads to potential customers across various advertising networks and search engine platforms.

    Unlike site retargeting, search retargeting doesn’t solely rely on previous visits to your website. Instead, it identifies users who have shown interest in specific keywords, products, or services similar to your brand’s. These targeted ads can attract new visitors and potential customers who may have never encountered your brand or website.

    Popular search retargeting platforms include Bing Ads and Google Ads, which offer flexible targeting options, various ad formats, and extensive reach across search networks.

    Social Media Retargeting

    Social media retargeting platforms, like Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads, provide advanced targeting options, such as engagement types or interaction history, to help you reach your audience with relevant and personalized content. These platforms also offer a wide range of ad formats and options to match your brand’s messaging and creative strategy.

    Key Features of Retargeting Platforms

    Retargeting platforms are essential for businesses looking to boost their online marketing effectiveness by re-engaging potential customers who have visited their websites or interacted with their content. When choosing a retargeting platform, it’s crucial to understand the key features that set the best services apart. 

    Pixel and Cookie Management

    Pixel and cookie management is a critical aspect of retargeting platforms. Retargeting relies on tracking pixels, which are small 1×1 pixel images or snippets of code embedded on a website. These pixels collect website visitor data and place cookies on users’ devices to provide the retargeting platform with user behavior and browsing history information.

    Effective retargeting platforms should have a robust pixel and cookie management system. The platform should make it easy for marketers to create and manage tracking pixels, ensuring that all traffic is accurately tracked and monitored. Cookie management is also crucial; the platform should give users control over cookie lifespans and maintain compliance with privacy regulations such as GDPR.

    Segmentation and Audience Targeting

    Segmentation and audience targeting are essential features for retargeting platforms. Effective retargeting campaigns target specific user segments based on various factors such as browsing behavior, demographic information, or interactions with the business. The platform should enable marketers to create custom audience segments using the information collected by tracking pixels and cookies.

    Campaign Management Tools

    Efficient campaign management tools are necessary for any retargeting platform. These tools should provide marketers with the ability to create and manage multiple retargeting campaigns simultaneously, as well as monitor campaign performance in real time. Features to look for include setting budgets and bidding strategies, scheduling campaigns, and managing ad creatives.

    An essential aspect of campaign management is A/B testing, which allows marketers to test different ad variations and optimize campaign performance. Retargeting platforms should make it easy to set up A/B tests, analyze the results, and implement any necessary changes to improve ad performance.

    Analytics and Reporting Features

    Analytics and reporting features are essential components of any retargeting platform. Monitoring the performance of retargeting campaigns helps businesses understand the effectiveness of their efforts, make data-driven decisions, and optimize their strategies for improved results.

    Integration with Other Marketing Tools

    Lastly, a suitable retargeting platform should offer seamless integration with other marketing tools, including CRM systems, email marketing platforms, and social media networks. Integrating retargeting campaigns with other marketing efforts ensures consistency across channels and enables businesses to create a cohesive marketing strategy.

    Specific integrations to consider include the ability to synchronize user data across platforms, such as uploading CRM data for audience targeting or updating email marketing lists with new leads generated from retargeting campaigns. Additionally, look for platforms that offer integrations with popular ad networks and programmatic platforms, allowing businesses to extend their reach and utilize multiple channels for retargeting campaigns.

    Top Retargeting Platforms

    Google Ads Retargeting

    Google Ads retargeting, formerly known as Google AdWords, is one of the most popular retargeting platforms that allows advertisers to show display ads to people who have already visited their website. When a user visits a site, Google places a cookie on their browser to track their browsing activity. Advertisers can then use this data to create a custom audience of users who are more likely to engage with their ads and ultimately convert.

    Google Ads retargeting offers several benefits:

    1. Reach: With access to over 2 million websites in the Google Display Network, Google Ads retargeting allows you to reach a large audience of potential customers who have already shown interest in your products or services.

    2. Flexibility: Google Ads retargeting allows you to create customized audiences based on user behavior, such as those who have abandoned their shopping cart, viewed a certain product, or spent a specific amount of time on your website.

    3. Cost-effectiveness: Retargeting campaigns generally have a lower cost per click (CPC) and cost per acquisition (CPA) rates than standard display ad campaigns, meaning you can get more value for your advertising budget.

    4. Measurement: Google Ads offers robust analytics and reporting tools so you can track the performance of your retargeting campaigns and optimize them for better results.

    Facebook Retargeting (Custom Audiences)

    Facebook retargeting, also known as Custom Audiences, is another popular platform that allows advertisers to reach users who have previously engaged with their website, app, or Facebook page. With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook provides a massive platform for targeting potential customers who have already shown interest in your brand.

    Advertisers upload a list of email addresses, phone numbers, or user IDs of people they want to target with their ads to create a Custom Audience. Facebook then matches this data with its user profiles and serves ads to those individuals.

    Facebook retargeting is effective for:

    1. Brand awareness: By showing your ads to users who have already interacted with your brand, you can reinforce your brand message and increase brand recall.

    2. Conversions: By targeting users who have abandoned carts or viewed specific products on your website, you can drive them back to completing their purchase.

    3. Localization: Facebook allows you to narrow down your target audience by geographic location, enabling you to advertise locally and capture a more relevant audience.


    AdRoll is a dedicated retargeting platform that focuses on serving ads across multiple channels, including social media platforms, Google Display Network, and mobile apps. AdRoll offers advanced targeting capabilities, dynamic ad creation, and in-depth analytics and reporting tools for businesses of all sizes.

    Some key benefits of AdRoll include:

    1. Cross-channel reach: AdRoll allows you to retarget users across various platforms, giving you a wider audience reach and capturing users who may have slipped through the cracks on other channels.

    2. Dynamic ads: AdRoll offers an intelligent ad creation tool called “Dynamic Creative” that enables you to automatically create personalized and relevant ads for individual users based on their browsing history.

    3. Attribution and analytics: AdRoll provides comprehensive tracking and performance analytics to help you optimize your ad spend and improve your retargeting campaigns.


    Criteo is a global leader in retargeting technology, known for its sophisticated machine-learning capabilities and massive reach across the internet. By leveraging data from over 4.5 billion users, Criteo can create highly personalized ad experiences that drive higher engagement and conversion rates.

    Criteo offers several advantages to advertisers:

    1. Personalization: Using Criteo’s machine learning algorithms, you can serve users ads tailored to their specific browsing history and preferences, improving engagement and conversion rates.

    2. Scalability: With access to over 20,000 publishers and a reach of 1.5 billion users globally, Criteo allows you to expand your retargeting campaigns on a global scale.

    3. Performance-based pricing: With a cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model, advertisers pay only when users click on their ads, ensuring a higher return on investment (ROI).

    RTB (Real-Time Bidding) Platforms

    Real-Time Bidding (RTB) platforms enable advertisers to participate in auctions for ad inventory on a per-impression basis. This allows for precise targeting and efficient ad spending, as advertisers can set their own bid prices and define their audience segments.

    Some popular retargeting platforms that offer RTB capabilities include:

    1. AppNexus: AppNexus is a leading RTB platform that provides retargeting solutions across different channels, such as desktop, mobile, video, and native advertising.

    2. Rubicon Project: Rubicon Project is another well-known RTB platform that allows advertisers to buy and sell display, video, and native ad inventory on a real-time basis.

    3. MediaMath: MediaMath offers a powerful RTB platform that focuses on data-driven marketing and advanced audience targeting capabilities for retargeting campaigns.

    Choosing the right retargeting platform for your business depends on your specific goals, target audience, and budget constraints. By evaluating the platforms mentioned above, you can find the most effective solution to retarget potential customers and drive higher conversion rates.

    How to Choose the Right Retargeting Platform

    Retargeting is a powerful way to re-engage your audience, particularly those who have visited your website but did not complete a desired action. Selecting the right retargeting platform is crucial to ensure your campaign’s success. This article will walk you through the essential steps in choosing the right retargeting platform for your business.

    Understanding Your Business

    Before you start evaluating different retargeting platforms, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your business. Draw all relevant information about your target audience, products or services you offer, your competition, and your unique selling propositions. Knowing these factors will help you determine which retargeting strategies are most suitable for your business needs.

    Identifying Your Marketing Goals

    The next step is to identify the marketing goals you aim to achieve with retargeting. These goals provide a roadmap for your retargeting campaign and serve as essential benchmarks to measure your campaign’s success. Common retargeting goals include:

    1. Increasing brand awareness
    2. Generating leads or acquiring new customers
    3. Increasing sales or revenue
    4. Improving customer retention and loyalty
    5. Regaining abandoned cart shoppers

    Determining the primary goals will help you decide which features are most significant when selecting a retargeting platform.

    Evaluating Platform Features

    Once you’ve established your marketing goals, it’s time to compare various retargeting platforms and assess their features. Key features you should be looking into are:

    1. Targeting capabilities: Make sure the platform effectively targets users based on their demographics, online behavior, and geographical location, fitting your target market’s preferences.

    2. Customization and segmentation: A good retargeting platform will allow you to create personalized ads and segment your audience based on various criteria. This helps provide tailored content to your audience to increase overall engagement.

    3. Integration: Ensure the platform seamlessly integrates with your existing marketing systems, such as content management systems, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, and analytics tools.

    4. Cross-channel capabilities: A retargeting platform should enable you to reach your audience across multiple channels, such as display ads, social media, email, and mobile.

    5. Reporting and analytics: The platform should provide you with detailed campaign performance reports and real-time analytics to measure the success and optimize your campaigns.

    Assessing Platform Costs and Return on Investment (ROI)

    It’s essential to consider the costs associated with using a retargeting platform and estimate the potential return on investment. Common pricing models include cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM), or a fixed monthly fee. Choose the pricing model that best aligns with your marketing goals and budget.

    To calculate the potential ROI, consider factors such as the platform’s average click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, average order value, and the number of potential customers you can reach. Establish clear expectations for your desired ROI, so you can decide which retargeting platform provides the best value.

    Comparing Platform Reviews and Case Studies

    The final step in choosing the right retargeting platform is to compare reviews from existing users and examine relevant case studies. User reviews can shed light on the platform’s strengths, weaknesses, and the overall user experience. Case studies demonstrate how other businesses have implemented the retargeting platform, their challenges, and their results.

    When evaluating user reviews and case studies, keep your marketing goals, target audience, and business model in mind. This helps you identify which platform resonates with your business requirements, ensuring a better chance of success with your retargeting campaigns.

    Best Practices for Retargeting Campaigns

    Retargeting campaigns are essential to keep your business top-of-mind and convert leads who may have shown interest without completing a purchase. However, not all retargeting campaigns are created equal. It’s essential to follow best practices to ensure your campaigns are effective and provide a positive return on investment. 

    Creating Compelling Ads

    The key to successful retargeting campaigns is putting an ad in front of potential customers that they cannot resist. Here are a few tips to creating engaging ads:

    1. Strong call-to-action (CTA): Make sure your ads have a clear and compelling CTA that encourages users to click through and complete their desired action.

    2. Consistency in branding: Ensure your ads are visually consistent with your website and brand aesthetic. Use the same logo, color schemes, and fonts to maintain a unified user experience.

    3. Provide an offer: Reward your retargeted audience with a special offer or discount to incentivize them to complete a purchase that they previously left unfinished.

    4. Test multiple ad formats: Experiment with different ad sizes, imagery, and copy to find what resonates most with your target audience. Regularly evaluate and update your ad creatives to keep the ad content fresh.

    Segmenting and Personalizing Your Audience

    Not all users who visit your website are the same, and your retargeting strategy should reflect this. Here are some ways to segment and personalize your retargeting audience:

    1. Behavioral segmentation: Divide your audience based on their actions, such as people who added products to a cart but didn’t complete the checkout process or those who simply browsed various product pages.

    2. Demographic-based segmentation: Customize your ads to cater to different demographics within your audience, such as age, gender, and location.

    3. Time-based segmentation: Some users may need more time to consider a purchase, while others may be quick to buy. Create different retargeting windows depending on the user’s buying cycle.

    By effectively segmenting and customizing ads for specific user groups, you promote a more personalized experience that can significantly improve conversion rates.

    Frequency Capping and Ad Scheduling

    Maintaining a balance between appearing too often and not often enough is crucial in retargeting campaigns. To find the ideal frequency for your audience, consider the following practices:

    1. Frequency capping: Limit the number of times a user sees your ad per day or per week. This prevents ad fatigue and ensures you don’t irritate potential customers.

    2. Ad scheduling: Target users when they’re most likely to engage with your ads. This may involve displaying ads during particular times of the day or week based on user behavior.

    3. Burn code implementation: Exclude users who already made a purchase, preventing them from being retargeted post-conversion.

    Optimizing Landing Pages

    A cohesive user experience between your ads and your website is vital in converting users. Consider these tips to optimize your landing pages for retargeting campaigns:

    1. Consistency with ad creatives: Ensure the visuals and messaging on your landing pages match the ad the user clicked on. This creates a seamless experience for users.

    2. Relevant landing pages: Direct users to product or category pages related to the ad they clicked on instead of a generic homepage. This improves the likelihood of them completing a purchase.

    3. Promote the offer: Feature the discount or special offer prominently on the landing page, which entices users to complete their purchase.

    Measuring and Adjusting Campaign Performance

    Continuous evaluation and optimization are needed to ensure your retargeting campaigns are effective. Analyze your campaign performance by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition. Additionally, A/B tests different ad creatives, targeting options, and landing pages to optimize campaign performance. Regularly assess and adjust your campaigns to maximize their efficacy and improve overall results.

    Challenges and Possible Drawbacks of Retargeting Platforms

    Retargeting is a powerful online marketing method used by businesses to reach people who have already shown interest in their products or services. It enables companies to serve targeted ads to users who visited their website but did not convert. Although retargeting can be highly effective, it has several drawbacks and challenges.

    Privacy Concerns and Ad Blocker Use

    Foremost among these challenges are privacy concerns. Retargeting platforms track user behavior so that they can serve targeted ads designed to urge a return visit and possible purchase. However, many users find this level of tracking invasive and disturbing.

    Privacy concerns and users’ dissatisfaction with being tracked have led to a significant rise in the use of ad blockers. As ad blockers gain popularity, a large percentage of users may avoid retargeting ads altogether, limiting the reach and effectiveness of retargeting campaigns.

    Cookie Expiry and Limited User Tracking

    Retargeting mostly relies on cookies, which are small files stored on users’ devices to track their online behavior. However, these cookies are not permanent and have an expiration date, usually 30 days. This means businesses have a limited time frame after the initial website visit to retarget potential customers effectively.

    Additionally, browsers like Safari and Firefox have implemented policies to block third-party cookies by default, limiting the reach of retargeting platforms. Users can also clear cookies from their devices, further disrupting retargeting effectiveness. To overcome this obstacle, retargeting platforms may need to find alternative methods for tracking user behavior.

    Ad Fatigue and Irrelevant Ad Targeting

    Another drawback of retargeting is ad fatigue. Users who are exposed to the same ad multiple times may become disinterested, and the effectiveness of those ads will diminish. As a result, businesses must invest time and money into creating multiple variations of their ads and maintaining a fresh advertisement pipeline to maintain engagement.

    Technical Challenges and Platform Compatibility

    Retargeting campaigns can also face technical challenges and compatibility issues between different platforms.

    For example, various devices and browsers load websites and ads differently, which may impact the accuracy of tracking and the overall user experience. Technical issues, such as the incorrect implementation of tracking codes, might also occur and require troubleshooting to resolve.

    Retargeting platforms must also adapt to advancements in technology, such as cross-device retargeting, where users are tracked across different devices like smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. The successful execution of cross-device retargeting can be challenging due to each device’s varying cookie policies and privacy settings.

    Lastly, integrating retargeting platforms with other marketing tools and platforms can be complicated, requiring additional time and resources to achieve seamless marketing campaigns across multiple channels.

    Retargeting Platforms – FAQs

    1. What are retargeting platforms, and how do they work?

    Retargeting platforms are digital marketing services that help businesses reengage with potential customers who previously interacted with their website or content. By utilizing tracking pixels and cookies, these platforms collect data about users’ online behaviors, allowing businesses to serve targeted ads to increase conversion rates.

    2. Why are retargeting platforms important for online marketing?

    Retargeting platforms are crucial for online marketing because they enable businesses to focus their advertising efforts on users who have shown interest in their products or services. By serving targeted ads to these potential customers, businesses can increase their conversion rates, brand awareness, and return on investment.

    3. Which industries can benefit from using retargeting platforms?

    Almost all industries can benefit from using retargeting platforms, particularly those with online marketing and sales operations. Retail, e-commerce, travel and hospitality, real estate, and education are just a few examples of industries that can reap the advantages of targeted ads and increased conversion rates.

    4. How do retargeting platforms maintain user privacy and ensure compliance with privacy regulations?

    Retargeting platforms adhere to standard privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) by obtaining user consent, anonymizing collected data, and providing users with options to opt out of ad tracking. They also employ data encryption methods to protect sensitive information.

    5. Can small businesses benefit from using retargeting platforms?

    Yes, small businesses can greatly benefit from using retargeting platforms. While large corporations may have more resources for expansive marketing campaigns, small businesses can use retargeting to focus their limited marketing budgets on users who are already interested in their products or services, thus improving their conversion rates and overall ROI.

    6. How do retargeting platforms integrate with other digital marketing tools and platforms?

    Most retargeting platforms offer integrations with popular digital marketing tools like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or email marketing platforms. This integration allows for the seamless management of advertising campaigns across multiple channels and ensures consistent messaging for targeted audiences, optimizing the overall marketing strategy.

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    Hanson Cheng

    About the author

    Living in Portugal with my wife and puppies.
    Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

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