retargeting for ecommerce brands

Introduction To Retargeting For Ecommerce Brands

AJ Saunders profile picture

By on 15 Mar 23 | Filed: Paid Search

I'm a former ecommerce founder turned growth agency owner. When not helping our clients grow, I enjoy automating my home, dogs, and architecture.

Imagine owning a retail shop. Most visitors won’t buy. But what if you could follow them around with a billboard that advertises your products? You might convert a few more. That might not be possible (or legal). However, online you can do this using retargeting for ecommerce brands.


If you’re lucky, 2% of visitors will buy something today while browsing your ecommerce shop. If you hope to engage and convert with the 98%, you’ll need a solid retention plan that includes SMS, Email, and paid ads.


If you haven’t explored using retargeting with your ecommerce brand, this post will help you get started. We’ll explain what remarketing is and why it’s different from retargeting. Also, we’ll cover a few tactics you can use now to boost your ecommerce sales without spending big.


So let’s dive into retargeting for ecommerce brands!



What’s Ecommerce Retargeting?

Not everyone will buy the first time they visit your ecommerce store, so you need to recapture their interest and ask them to take another look. You can use email or SMS; if you have those details or paid adverts on social networks or search engines by using a browser cookie.


As these people aren’t new to your brand, we can retarget them. Notice the use of “re” in retargeting!


Running paid social and search engine ads to drive new traffic might be too expensive for you right now. However, you can use them to remind previous visitors you exist. It can be highly affordable too.


You can show ads to people who have viewed a product page, a brand category page, or have added a product to their cart but didn’t check out. This second-chance viewing can help nudge customers over the edge and inspire them to take action.



How Retargeting Works

When someone visits your store, several cookies drop onto their browser. Typically, these include one that keeps you logged on (if you have an account) and another one that allows Google Analytics to track what pages you visit and how long you spend on the website.


You can also drop cookies for advertising on GoogleBing, Meta, and more. These cookies allow you to run retargeting adverts.


Here’s a step-by-step look at the process. Imagine you sell guitars. 



The process is similar for using retargeting with Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Pinterest, and other platforms.


As they have already visited your website, seeing these ads are a helpful reminder and don’t cause the level of disruption that seeing a new company might. For most ecommerce brands, retargeting is a cost-effective way to drive more sales.


As these types of ads are shown automatically, they don’t involve us creating assets or building keyword lists like with other PPC campaigns. So, we call them programmatic ads or programmatic retargeting.



retargeting facebook ads example



Remarketing vs. Retargeting: What’s The Difference?

Often used interchangeably, there are several differences between retargeting and remarketing.


Retargeting involves serving ads to potential customers using browser cookies while remarketing uses email or SMS. With remarketing, you collect visitors’ information and send promotional emails or SMS.


Both retargeting and remarketing are effective marketing tactics. When combined, they can help you boost your digital marketing activity and make more profit.



Benefits of Retargeting For Ecommerce Brands

There are plenty of reasons to use retargeting with your ecommerce brand. Retargeting ads are less disruptive than other types of advertising. Instead of trying to get the user to notice us and take action, we’re showing ads to remind them we exist!


Your potential customers are busy, so they might not buy right now. They could get distracted by their phone, kids, work, or even life!


So we can use retargeting to remind a previous visitor that they showed interest in a product or our brand. You can also target a visitor for up to 30 days. So, if they don’t yet have the cash, they likely will have it within the next month.



What Website Can Display Retargeting Ads?

Any website that uses display or text ads that isn’t a search engine can potentially display retargeting ads.


It’s easy for many founders to understand that Meta can be a great place to show these ads, as talk about the Meta Pixel is common. But you might not know that Pinterest also offers great retargeting options.


The biggest source of websites you can use to display your ads is advertising networks, such as Google AdSense or Ezoic. Millions of blogs, news websites, and forums monetize their website using an advertising network.


These all allow us to keep the conversation going as our potential customer moves around the internet.



retargeting display ads example



4 Types Of Retargeting Campaigns

#1 Standard

As the most common form of retargeting, using a cookie or pixel tag, you can track and target customers who have visited your home page with an image ad, for example.


These ads are great for building greater awareness as you can follow visitors around the internet on Google/Bing and social media.


#2 Dynamic

Sell more products by using dynamic retargeting. With this type of ad, the visitor sees the exact product they looked at or added to their cart on your ecommerce store. To run this type of ad on Google or social media, you have to submit a product feed to the platform you want to serve ads on.


#3 Search

So far, we’ve talked about serving ads on 3rd part website. But you can use search retargeting to reengage with previous visitors. With this ad type, the user’s search ads are customized to display your brand.


Ideal if your customers like to use Google or Bing for more research, as you can always be present and have your product on display.



Ecommerce Retargeting Tactics

You can use retargeting in several ways to drive revenue. Without using this type of ad, it would be near impossible to reach these customers, unless you already have them on your CRM system.


#1 Reduce cart abandonment

Would you drive more revenue if you could remind people who placed an item in the cart but walked away? I think so. There are plenty of ways to reduce cart abandonment, but programmatic ads are our favorite.


You can try a little humor but don’t go too far or offer a discount straight away. With a small investment, you should be able to reduce cart abandonment and drive more revenue.


#2 Target the buyers

Try to distill why someone should give you their cash in an ad. You can make it aspirational and sell the transformation. When someone visits your home page, about us, or your blog, they will see this ad later.


#3 Those who have visited the Shipping and Returns Policy page

Someone who has read the shipping and return policy page is red hot and nearly ready to buy. Hold their attention after they navigate away and entice them to return and become a customer.


#4 Dynamic product retargeting

Use programmatic retargeting to show the visitor the exact product they viewed as they move around the internet.


#5 Encourage coupon customers to return

While we’re not big fans of discounts, you can target customers who have used them in the last 30 days with an attractive offer that drives them back to your store to make another purchase.


#6 Removed products from their cart

A customer who has removed a product from their cart might be nearly ready to buy. So you can target them with ads reminding them that they have a cart with items. You can also remind them the item they have removed is still available.



pinterest retargeting ad example



How To Monitor The Success Of Your Campaign

Before spending a cent on retargeting, you need to set KPIs. You could measure 101 different things, including revenue, email sign-ups, return visitors, etc.


You might end up running several campaigns. And so each retargeting campaign needs KPIs. Use figures you can measure in a few seconds and answer if you hit them with yes or no.


For example, if you’re displaying product ads to a visitor on a 3rd party website, your KPIs could be the number of completed checkouts, revenue, or return visitors.


It might be a little trickier to measure the impact of brand awareness ads as you’re not displaying product images, but a unique offer in the hope you can drive someone back to your ecommerce store. So you might want to measure returning visitors.


Again if you don’t know how you’ll measure success before you spend money, you’re likely to waste it. So take a methodical approach.



Use Retargeting To Boost Your Conversion Rates

When considering how you can use remarketing and retargeting for ecommerce, remember it’s a highly useful tactic for boosting conversions. You can keep the conversation going as the visitor moves around the web, in a way you can’t with other marketing tactics in our toolbox.


Both retargeting and remarketing should be part of your ecommerce marketing plan. As with other paid tactics, start small and test. Don’t go all in from the start! Instead, begin with KPIs and a game plan.


Over time you can scale your retargeting campaigns and experiment with different creatives and segmentation. And that’s how you can use remarketing and retargeting for ecommerce brands.

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