Do I Need to Retarget or Remarket My Social Ads?

03 May 2022 7 min read

By Blank Theory

Our last post introduced you to the GOAT method, but if you’re really going to be the Greatest Of All Time, you need to have retargeting and remarketing nailed down.

Retargeting and remarketing strategies have the same overarching goal, but differ in their methods and immediate purposes. If you’re seeking the best possible conversion rate, both should be utilised to their full capacities.

What Is the Difference Between Retargeting & Remarketing?

You might be surprised to learn that there’s a difference between retargeting and remarketing. You’re right to be confused! These terms are closely related and often used interchangeably. Over the years, remarketing has also increasingly been used to describe both remarketing and retargeting practices. Despite this colloquial conflation of the two terms, there are key differences between remarketing and retargeting. Understanding these differences is important, as it will help you to utilise each strategy to full effect.

What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting refers to the process of using online ads to guide interested prospects back to your website to make a purchase. These ads specifically target users who have previously interacted with your website but have never actually bought anything. The idea is to turn window shoppers into customers.

How Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting works by setting a cookie in the browser of anyone who comes into contact with your website in a particular way. They could have placed items in their cart without making a purchase, clicked on one of your products, or even just visited your website for a moment. Whatever action it is they’ve taken, you can now see what they have done on your website and where they’ve gone on the internet since. This ability allows you to show them personalised ads wherever they go, although the ads themselves are placed by third parties, such as Facebook and the Google Display Network. Having seen your brand frequently since that first visit, this user is more likely to think of you when they’re ready to make that purchase. 

The ability to ‘follow’ your website’s visitors online will also allow you to customise your ads to their taste. Retargeting methods can show you what products they like and which ones they don’t like, how close they are to making a purchase, and whether or not they have visited similar sites to compare products and prices. All this knowledge lends itself to highly personalised and incredibly effective advertising. 

But What About Google Chrome’s Cookies?

Presently, a lot of this cookie action is occurring through third-party cookies (cookies that are created by a domain you’re not currently on). Even if you’ve only just dipped your toes into the world of digital marketing, you’d have heard things are going to change in 2023 when it comes to these cookies. 

Google Chrome will be phasing out third-party cookies come the end of 2023. As Chrome makes up 70% of the browser market, it’s fair to say it has digital marketers concerned. But is the anxiety justified?

For starters, Firefox and Safari — Chrome’s biggest competitors — have already phased out third-party cookies. While this is definitely a smaller percentage of the market, it shows that the proverbial sky didn’t fall down. Plus, the decision to end third-party cookies has come about because of concerns from users about the obviousness of the tracking. As our lives become increasingly digital, the greater discourse on privacy will continue to change aspects of marketing like this and we need to become resilient and resourceful. 

We will still have access to first-party cookies, although these have limitations. Additionally, targeting won’t be as sharp but Google is actively working on this. They have abandoned the FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) project for Topics API, which at present will have the user’s browser selecting topics that match the user’s top interests for the week based on their browsing history. There are limitations with this though, as there are only 350 topics to choose from and they will only be stored for 3 weeks at a local level. Additionally, users can see and remove topics assigned to them, or disable the feature entirely. Therefore, we can expect opt-in rates to be low, similar to those following Apple’s iOS privacy update last year.

This change, however, can be seen as an opportunity for us to improve as digital marketers. For instance, adapting contextual marketing strategies to support remaining retargeting ones, along with maximising personalisation opportunities, could be the way forward. We have a chance to create more meaningful and relevant advertising for consumers. 

What Is Remarketing?

Remarketing involves collecting information from your site’s visitors and sending them emails designed to draw them back to your website to make a purchase. These emails are usually reminding a user of their abandoned shopping cart. Keep in mind that this definition of remarketing pertains to remarketing in its original form — before Facebook and Google pixels were introduced. This method of utilising email is still common and effective, but the term “remarketing” is often used to describe many methods, including those involved in retargeting.

How Does Remarketing Work?

Websites often request that visitors provide them with their information, either via signing up or filling out lead forms. Websites are therefore able to create vast databases of email addresses through which they can contact previous visitors. The content of the emails can be adjusted to suit individual visitors, showing them the specific products that once sat in their shopping carts. They usually also involve a call to action and other details designed to generate a sense of urgency. 

What Is the Purpose of Retargeting & Remarketing?

The purpose of these strategies is to convince interested or previously interested prospects that your products are worth buying. This technique is extremely useful, especially when we consider that around 75% online shopping carts are abandoned. There are many reasons why a potential shopper might abandon their cart — they may have wanted to see how much the shipping would cost or were simply unsure if their chosen products were worth their price. Some people only use online shopping carts to save products for later consideration, and there are also those who get distracted before they can make their purchase. Online ads and emails serve to remind potential customers of the products they were previously interested in, as well as convince them to take another look. Retargeting methods can also do this by offering deals or discounts that weren’t available before. 

What Are the Benefits of Using Both Retargeting & Remarketing Strategies?

When you’re trying to sell a product, it can be tempting to focus all your energy on reaching those potential customers who haven’t yet heard of your brand. It’s easy to forget about those who have already visited your website and given your products some attention. While spreading brand awareness is important, it is also crucial that you nurture the existing relationships you have with current customers. Those users who have already visited your site are familiar with your brand and far more likely to trust your products. This makes them easier to communicate with and persuade through targeted ads. 

Ultimately, retargeting and remarketing strategies are important because first-time visitors to your site are far less likely to make a purchase than those who have been to your site before. In fact, more than 90% of your website’s traffic isn’t going to convert on the first visit. Retargeting and remarketing processes will give you the opportunity to bring these visitors back and convince them to make a purchase. Retargeting ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than regular display ads, and those who click on them are 70% more likely to convert once they land back on the website. Initiating contact between users and your website is essential but convincing users to return is what leads to better conversions. An effort must be made to bring prior visitors back as well as hunt for new ones.

Plan Your Remarketing & Retargeting Strategies Today

Using both retargeting and remarketing strategies means reaching new customers and retaining the attention of existing customers. To focus on only one method would be to ignore a significant group of potential buyers and miss out on a host of advantages. However, when planning your remarketing and retargeting strategies, it’s important to acknowledge that these will need to change or develop once third-party cookies become a thing of the past for Chrome.