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A Practical Guide to Remarketing

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

While remarketing could be seen as a magic marketing wand that helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time, the mechanics and effort that go into making sure that you are effectively applying your remarketing efforts and getting the most out of what it has to offer needs to be emphasised. Now, please don’t let that statement put you off of the concept of remarketing. It might sound difficult to implement, but when you understand the fundamental approach to and steps behind its implementation, you will see that it really isn’t that complicated - and you don’t even need to know that much about the techy stuff to do it.

Let’s have a look at the concept of remarketing, what it is, and how to practically get the most out of your remarketing efforts.

What is remarketing?

While it sounds like a fancy marketing term, it’s literally what it says on the tin - marketing to people who have already been marketed to. More specifically, making sure that people who have shown an interest in your brand or product/service see a marketing message that is more specific to their needs. That email you get when you placed items in your cart and left the website before paying for your purchase (an abandoned cart email), the suggested range of summer dresses that magically appears in your Facebook timeline after you visited the Zara clothing website last week, the invitation you received from that company whose webinar you attended to download the ebook summary of the event - all examples of remarketing.

Remarketing makes use of data such as how your customer interacted with your website, what their interests are, what they are actively searching for on search engines, which pages they like and profiles they follow on the different platforms they use, how they interact with your digital communication such as emails, forms, etc., basic demographics, and more. The depth and breadth of your data depend mostly on the way in which you collect it. As you will see below, collecting data through technology is easier and more insightful than traditional methods, but you can still be effective with all kinds of data.

At the risk of getting a bit too technical for the purposes of this post, there is a distinction that can be made between marketing to people who already know your brand and marketing to people who are looking for what you’re selling but haven’t been exposed to your brand yet. That’s why we say that remarketing is about people who have already shown an interest in you OR what you do or sell. This is where the tactic of remarketing lists for search terms and audience segmentation comes in and is also more suited to paid advertising because you are making use of data that the platform you use has gathered for you. For example, Google Ads allows you to display your ads to an audience of people who have shown to search for terms (or keywords) related to your product or service, but not necessarily your brand. If your CrossFit gym is situated in Rivonia and James in Rivonia is looking for a CrossFit gym and he searched “CrossFit Rivonia” last week, your ad will be shown to him because of the fact that he has shown an interest in CrossFit gyms in Rivonia. Similarly, if you set up an advert on Facebook and you target parents with newborns because your business makes newborn carriers, Facebook will show your ad to users who have shown an interest in things related to newborns (like mommy groups, baby-specific events, etc.). These ads are also not necessarily shown at the time of the search, they simply appear as the user goes about their scrolling. It’s also important to remember that, while this is great for exposure and brand awareness, these users are higher up the sales funnel and might not be ready to buy just yet.

Remarketing can be a lot more specific and effective than the paid advertising examples above, as will be seen later. First, there is an important distinction that needs to be made between remarketing and retargeting, because I know my website is not the last page you’ll visit in your search for clarity on the concept.

What’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

Many Google search results will show you a meta description saying “Remarketing (also known as retargeting)…”. While at its core, this might be correct, I feel it’s important to make a distinction between the two as the steps involved and the outcomes differ too much for the terms to be used interchangeably. As we have said, remarketing is the act of making sure that people who have shown an interest in your brand or product/service see a marketing message that is more specific to their needs. Retargeting is reserved for remarketing using paid advertising. As you will see below, remarketing is possible without the use of paid advertising.

Why does remarketing matter?

Understanding the importance of remarketing requires us to look at the four stages of the sales funnel in terms of customer intentions. The link in the text above is worth a visit if you need a quick refresher on how a sales funnel works, but for the purposes of remarketing, we are concerned with the Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action stages of the sales funnel. As your customer moves down the sales funnel, they move through these stages, their intentions change, and the marketing message that helps your customer move from one stage to the next changes. For example, someone who has just heard of your brand (awareness) isn’t as interested in understanding what your refund policy is as someone who is about to make a purchase. Sometimes people move through this funnel quickly and sometimes the process takes longer. The speed of the process depends on a myriad of factors. What’s important for you to understand is that different messages are required for different stages of the funnel. Now, remarketing allows you to get the right message to the right people at the right stage of the funnel. It might sound like a magic marketing wand (and to some extent it is) but to effectively use remarketing, you need to be on top of your customer data.

How to practically implement remarketing.

There are several different remarketing strategies and tactics available ranging from segmenting your audience, focusing on search terms, utilising your CRM, dynamic remarketing, standard remarketing, remarketing lists for search terms, and lots more in between. While the theory behind these different strategies and tactics is important, for me, it’s more important that you understand how to practically implement remarketing in your business, especially for small business owners who don’t have a team of marketing people to whom they can say “Let’s do some remarketing”.

An effective way of planning your remarketing is by understanding who it is that you would like to speak to, what it is that you need to say to them, and what you want them to do with that information. What’s more, making a sale (as great as it is) does not always have to be your end goal. You can use remarketing to learn more about your customer. The abandoned cart email in our example at the beginning of this post can be used to find out why your customer decided to not complete their purchase or the webinar email can ask for feedback on how the attendee experienced the webinar instead of asking them to download the ebook.

Some remarketing activities require some technical skills and know-how while others don’t, but that doesn’t mean that being tech savvy is a prerequisite for effective remarketing, you just need to understand what you want to achieve and stay on top of your data.

Examples of remarketing with fancy tech.

Using technology as the basis for your remarketing efforts does make remarketing easier. For example, abandoned cart emails can be set up using MailChimp or plug-ins for your WordPress or Shopify stores. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google Ads make use of a bit of code that gets embedded into your website to track who uses your website and how they use it. You can imagine that the collection and tracking of data become easier and more precise when making use of technology. You can (and actually should, if you have the time) develop your own skills and understanding of these tech solutions through their user-friendly step-by-step guides, but if you don't and you do know someone who has a basic understanding of technology, time to buy them some coffee!

A great example of how to make use of all these solutions is creating specific landing pages based on user behaviour. This can be user behaviour online or in the real world. Let’s start in the real world with our example.

Let’s say you hosted a cookie decorating event for your bakery (or exhibited at a wedding expo) and you placed a flyer in your promotional package that encourages customers to visit your website to view your go-to shortbread biscuit recipe (that one you swear by and that is easy enough for even the most novice of bakers to get right). You set up your website page with your recipe, and you add your tracking code to your page. As the tracking code collects data on who has visited your web page, you start building an audience on the platform to which the tracking code belongs. Let’s say, for example, it’s Facebook. While you aren’t able to get any personal information about who is on this list, Facebook allows you to use this list as your target audience for paid advertising. So, you create an advert that can be as straightforward as “Tried the shortbread recipe? Stock your pantry with your go-to decorating essentials” and advertise your range of sprinkles and icing. Or take them along a new journey by advertising another recipe. You can do this because you know your ad is being shown to viewers who have interacted with your brand in the past and who have shown an interest in something specific that is related to your brand; you know more or less where they are along the sales funnel.

Another great example in the Business-to-Business (B2B) space is to use LinkedIn and the LinkedIn Insights Tag. This tag allows you to see which companies that have a presence on LinkedIn have visited either your website as a whole or specific pages on your site (depending on how you set up your tag). You can then have a look on the company’s LinkedIn page to find the LinkedIn user who matches your ideal customer persona (the HR Manager, Product Owner, Head of Supply Chain and Logistics, etc.) and then start your account-based marketing and sales process following LinkedIn best practices.

Note: The reason why I’m not elaborating on the B2B side of this too much is because of the difference in the nature of remarketing in B2B as opposed to B2C (Business-to-Consumer). It really does deserve its own post (which I plan to get to) but if you would like to discuss B2B remarketing, please get in touch.

How to do remarketing with less techy stuff.

Remarketing without the help of all the tech stuff like codes and apps is a bit more difficult, but not impossible. It just means that you will need to be more focused on getting as much information from your customers (both existing and potential) as you possibly can during your first interaction. Remarketing of this nature will also generally skew more towards upselling existing customers as it is a bit more difficult to reach potential customers than it would have been had you used the techniques explained above.

Let’s use the bakery example above for this one again. You can use the information gathered at the decorating event or expo to send attendees a discount voucher for your next event or their next purchase. You then see who responded (or opened and clicked on the email if using mailing software) or made a purchase using the voucher code and then send them a follow-up email. Similarly, a loyalty or points program at your store can be used for remarketing purposes.

Another avenue to explore is influencer marketing. I know that the concept of influencer marketing might seem a bit intense, but it really is a great way of reaching customers who you know are in the market for what you offer. You also don’t have to focus only on those who have millions of followers, brand fit is more important than reach.

When it comes to remarketing without the tech stuff, the focus has to remain on getting as much information from your customers as possible. So, if you are going to attend an event, host an event, partner with an influencer, etc. do so in a manner that will allow you to collect data; whether on a piece of paper that you enter into a spreadsheet afterwards, an electronic form that you have on a tablet at the event, or requiring them to enter basic details when making a purchase or interacting with you in another way to gain value, your remarketing efforts are only as effective as the data that you collect.


Remarketing is a way for you to make sure that the message you are exposing your audience to is on par with where they are in terms of their intentions. In this way, your marketing efforts are more effective and give you a higher return on your investment. While remarketing is generally associated with digital marketing, when we consider the definition of the term (any marketing effort that ensures that people who have shown an interest in your brand or product/service see a marketing message that is more specific to their needs), you can see that it is applicable to offline marketing as well. We have seen, though, that your remarketing efforts are only as effective as the data you collect and collecting data is easier using technology than it is using traditional methods, but it doesn’t mean that being tech savvy is a requirement for effective remarketing. You can be more tech-savvy than an engineer at Meta, if you don’t understand who you are speaking to, what their intentions are, what you want to say, and what you want them to do with that information, your remarketing won’t be effective.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss the concept of remarketing as it applies to your business, please do get in touch.


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