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A Guide to Ecommerce Retargeting and Ecommerce Remarketing

Updated on November 22, 2021

9 Min Read
ecommerce retargeting

Purchase is rarely love at first sight; most of the time, buying from your website is a matter of multiple touchpoints. A user can take a look at a product on your ecommerce website, consider buying it, then end up closing their browser window. With ecommerce retargeting and remarketing, you could salvage those lost sales.

This article will introduce you to the concepts of ecommerce retargeting and remarketing. You’ll also learn some ways you can use both methods to increase your revenue. Let’s dive in!

What Is Ecommerce Retargeting and Remarketing?

Digital marketers use ecommerce retargeting and remarketing to generate leads or make sales. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are a few key differences:

  • Retargeting targets a broad range of potential customers, and uses paid ads to get the brand’s message across.
  • Remarketing targets individuals who have previously interacted with the brand and uses email to facilitate upselling or reduce cart abandonment.

Here’s an example of retargeting at work.

Let’s say you visit a website that sells t-shirts. You add a specific item to your cart, then leave without completing the purchase. After an hour, you go to another website to watch the news. Then you see an ad for the same T-shirt that you didn’t purchase.

That’s retargeting.

Retargeting happens because the T-shirt website installed cookies on your browser. The publisher paid for ads that are served through your browser as a reminder of the abandoned purchase.

Remarketing works pretty much the same way but using email. For example, you register for an account on the T-shirt website, choose an item, and leave the page without paying. You then automatically receive an email to remind you of your unfinished transaction.

4 Benefits of Ecommerce Retargeting and Remarketing

Digital marketers across different industries use ecommerce retargeting and remarketing to engage people who visited their site. Retargeting is generally used to convince people to make a purchase, but it can also get people onto an email list.

On the other hand, remarketing is when a subscriber takes a particular action on your site. That action could be adding a product to a shopping cart, or downloading a content upgrade or product.

Below I’ve listed some of the benefits of ecommerce remarketing and retargeting.

1. Increased CTRs for Paid Ads

If you want to grow your business, you need to generate more leads. Most people who visit your site will never return. However, because they have visited your site, they are much more likely to engage with your content than other people.

The average CTR for display ads is 0.07 percent. Remarketing ads can improve your CTR to around 0.7 percent. That is a significant jump in interest that can have a knock-on impact on the number of leads and sales you generate.

2. Increased Brand Awareness

According to studies, a brand takes seven impressions on customers to build the trust necessary to make a purchase. Retargeting or remarketing enables you to generate one of those touchpoints.

They may not convert right away, but your brand will probably be at the top of their mind when they think about getting products in your niche again. That’s important. You want to create that link between people thinking about a niche and considering your brand.

3. Higher Conversion Rates

Aside from improving your click-through rates, retargeting and remarketing also help you increase your conversion rates. Studies show that website visitors who return to your website through a retargeting ad or remarketing email tend to convert 70 percent more than first-time visitors.

That does make sense. People who abandon shopping carts often have the intention of pushing through with the purchase later on. Retargeting or remarketing just gives them a gentle nudge back to your site.

4. Generate More Leads

Retargeting campaigns are a great way to generate more leads for your business. For example, a prospect might see your advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms after they’ve visited your site.

Often, the goal of retargeting campaigns is to get people on your email list. Once people are on your email list, you have more control over how you communicate with that individual. Moreover, through repeated exposure to your brand, a person is much more likely to purchase through your ecommerce store once they’re ready.

How to Use Ecommerce Remarketing and Retargeting?

Your remarketing and retargeting objectives will vary depending on how your customer behaves before, during, and after their visit to your website. For your remarketing and retargeting goals, you can also use artificial intelligence tools for ecommerce. Here are three ways you can use remarketing to increase your revenue:

1. Recover Abandoned Carts

Abandoned carts are commonplace in the ecommerce sphere. Many customers add products to their carts but do not push through with the purchase. Email marketing is one of the most effective tactics to address the problem of abandonment.

I’ve been using Zoom to talk with clients since the start of the pandemic. As most of my meetings tended to be short, I didn’t feel the need to subscribe to the Pro version. But after an especially long meeting, I found myself adding the Pro version to my cart.

My laptop shut down unexpectedly while I was about to click on “Buy Now”. After rebooting my computer later in the day, I had the following message in my inbox.

Marketers are aware that people who abandon their shopping carts don’t always do it on purpose. Both remarketing and retargeting give these would-be customers an easy way to complete a purchase. In my case, I just clicked on the CTA button to return to my shopping cart.

2. Opportunity to Cross-Sell and Upsell

Any opportunity to reconnect with a customer is a good chance to cross-sell and upsell. In fact, the best time to make a sale is right after the customer makes a purchase. Their trust in your brand is at an all-time high, and they will be more receptive to your product recommendations.

You can take advantage of this to generate more direct sales or to generate affiliate sales. For example, if you run a golf store, you could potentially promote a discount on golf bags for people who bought clubs. You could push visitors to your store or send them to a store you are working with.

Or, you might do the reverse. If you run affiliate marketing campaigns, you might track affiliate conversions in Google Ads. For instance, when someone has purchased golf balls, you might run retargeting campaigns where you promote the golf clubs of your advertisers.

3. Reach out to Existing Customers

Retargeting and remarketing also allow you to reach out to your existing customers. You can promote a new product, announce an annual sale, reward your customers, or just keep them updated on company news without breaking a sweat. Here’s a good example of a brand that uses ecommerce remarketing to stay in touch with its customers:

I used Instacart the other day to buy a few snack items and completed the transaction. I received the email above just as I was writing this article – it was one of those instances where I felt like Instacart was reading my mind because I had just been thinking of using the app to make a 7-11 purchase again.

The $10 bonus is a nice touch since I’ve been buying a lot of stuff from 7-11 lately.

5 Tips to Make the Most out of Retargeting and Remarketing

Certain best practices will allow you to maximize your ecommerce retargeting and remarketing efforts. Here are some tips that you could follow for this:

1. Create Compelling and Relevant Messages

All brands claim to offer the best products available and aren’t shy about brandishing their achievements. However, customers will always ask the question, “What’s in it for me?”

A compelling, relevant message will bring you more leads than one that highlights your product’s advanced features. Your prospects have pain points that need to be solved. Addressing these pain points in your retargeting ads will increase your chances of getting them to finish the transaction.

Aside from helping you convert abandoned carts into revenue, adding relevant messages to your remarketing campaigns will help increase email open rates. This means your emails are less likely to be seen by the customer’s email provider as spam and will have a better chance of being read by the intended recipient.

Your retargeting ad message should respond to customer needs and preferences. Adding user-generated content such as product reviews will reinforce the wisdom of the purchase.

2. Segment Your Audience

Personalize your message to make it relevant. Customer segmentation helps you divide your audience and then personalize your message for different kinds of recipients.

First, identify your different types of customers and pay attention to their position in the customer journey. Next, you can segment them further in three different ways.

  • Demographics: Gender, location, age, and marital status. Demographics consist of any type of profile data you may have related to your customers.
  • Buying behavior: Segmenting customers by their buying behavior means you can target them regardless of the stage in their present journey.
  • Campaign engagement: This segmentation is mainly about how your customers engage with your marketing campaigns if they are highly active or inactive.

You can layer every type of segment to get better results. For instance, you can specifically target female customers in their 20s who love bright-colored outfits and have recently bought products from your fall collection.

It is one of the most effective ways to send hyper-personalized t relevant messages to customers. If you do so, your retargeting will not just yield revenue, but also establish better relationships with your audience.

3. Use a Strong CTA

Strong email or ad copy will not be very useful if people don’t know what to do with the information. Adding a strong call-to-action (CTA) button will give your customers the push they need to pick up where they left off.

A strong CTA has the following elements:

  • Clear, convincing copy
  • Striking design
  • Prominent positioning

The retargeting ad from BestBuy below is a good example of an ad with a strong CTA. The copy is straightforward, the button stands out from the background, and you can easily find it because it’s in the middle of the ad.

Source: WordStream

You may also experiment with limited-time offers, such as discounts or freebies. These offers allow you to tap into your customers’ sense of urgency, and give them even more reason to click on “Buy Now”.

4. Use Compelling Visuals

Ensure your images, videos, logo, and other visual elements convey the desired message to target customers. For example, adding a brand logo, enticing product visuals, or exciting offer illustrations give your would-be customers a reason to take another look at your ad and potentially click on it.

For example, FoodPanda users experienced a surge in order cancellations amid increased demand for food delivery early in 2020. FoodPanda sent the email above, featuring sumptuous dishes from their partner food establishments, to get their customers back to using the app. At this moment, FoodPanda is still one of the top delivery apps in their markets – proof that quick action, combined with fascinating visuals, can help save businesses.

5. Test Your Ads

Even if you feel you’ve put together a combination of text, visuals, and CTA, it isn’t really a guarantee that your retargeting ad will be successful. You need to try different combinations until you find one that boosts your click-throughs.

This process is called A/B testing. It involves altering one element at a time and comparing the altered ad with the one you’re currently using. For example, you can use Copy A and Visual A for one test, then Copy B and Visual A for the next test. This will allow you to isolate elements that you’ll need to change to get the most impact.

Source: Optimizely

Running A/B tests allows you to make decisions based on hard data and removes the guesswork from the equation. When you are able to gather ad performance data and measure the impact of different changes in your ads, you can ensure that the final version of your ads will yield maximum results.


Retargeting and remarketing ads help you build and retain strong customer relationships by keeping prospects close to your brand even if they seem to forget about you. They allow you to engage potential customers even if they’re not on your website and social media accounts.

USe well-timed reminders through Google, social media, and email ads, retargeting, and remarketing so prospects know you have what they need. They offer a way for the customer to easily return to the pending transaction and see it through to completion. They also open the door to further engagement and repeat purchases from loyal customers.

By creating compelling, targeted ads with a strong CTA, your business can convert cart abandonment into order fulfillment.

Note: This article was published in collaboration with Domingo Karsten, Investor at WeCanTrack.

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Mansoor Ahmed Khan

Been in content marketing since 2014, and I still get a kick out of creating stories that resonate with the target audience and drive results. At Cloudways by DigitalOcean (a leading cloud hosting company, btw!), I lead a dream team of content creators. Together, we brainstorm, write, and churn out awesome content across all the channels: blogs, social media, emails, you name it! You can reach out to me at [email protected].


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