How Retargeting Works

how retargeting works

A LinkNow Media Guide to Retargeting Campaigns for Small Businesses

Get all this money

Don't turn up your nose at what could potentially be a huge source of revenue.

Many small business owners are doing everything they can to get noticed online; they invest in a professionally designed website and SEO, they blog actively, and engage with their followers on social media. These are all very important aspects of every online marketing campaign, but sometimes your business needs an extra boost. That’s where retargeting can be a big help.

Some people think it's creepy, but retargeting is an advertising method used by nearly every large company that has a presence on the Internet. However, very few small businesses are using this resource. And when it comes to online marketing, any time you don’t make use of an available tool, you’re just leaving money on the table for one of your competitors who is using it. Let’s talk about how you can use retargeting to your advantage.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is simply the marketing term for directing ads for your business to people who have already visited your website or even bought one of your products. Retargeting your advertisements tends to have a much higher return on investment because you are showing your ads to people who have already expressed some level of interest in what you’re selling.

Retargeting works through using cookies. When someone visits your website, their browser downloads a cookie. Later, when they’re browsing the web, the retargeting service you sign up with will use the cookie to determine that they’ve been to your site and therefore should see one of your ads.

How can small businesses use retargeting?

Large companies like Amazon long ago mastered the art of retargeting. If you search for an item on Amazon, you’re likely to see ads all over the Internet hinting that you should come back and follow through on that purchase. However, even if they understand how it works, many small business owners don’t understand how they can use it to their advantage – especially if they don’t actually sell things online.

However, there are many things small businesses can do to benefit from retargeting. Here are just a few ideas.

don't go

Don't let your prospects just slip away. Retargeting will help bring them back.


  1. Remind them you exist

People are busy – often when someone doesn’t follow through with a purchase after browsing your website, it will just be because it wasn’t the right time for them to complete it. Afterwards, your business might slip their mind, or they may even be looking for your website again but not be able to find it.

Displaying an ad for the product or service they were previously looking at can be all it takes to bring them back to your site and nudge them into becoming a customer.

  1. Close the deal

If you were talking to a potential customer in person and they looked like they were going to walk away, you would probably consider offering a discount or some other kind of special deal, right? Retargeting gives you the ability to do this online.

Say you run a landscaping business, and some homeowner has been browsing your site but thinks the rates you have on your website are more than they’re willing to pay. Imagine that the next day they see an ad that is advertising the same service they were looking at, but 10% off. If they were on the fence about making a purchase from you, this can be all it takes to push them over the edge.

  1. Promote a similar product

Just like the customer who will convert when they’re offered a deal, there are many customers who will purchase something if you direct their attention to a similar product. Perhaps the information on the page they were looking at didn’t meet their needs, but one of the other products you offer could do the trick. Use retargeting to put something else you sell in front of them, and they may just come around.

Alternatively, you could focus on people who have already purchased something from you. Someone who has already shown that they’re interested in your services will be more likely to respond to an ad than anyone else.

Don’t leave money on the table

Whatever you choose to do with it, retargeting is a valuable marketing tool that every business owner should be taking advantage of. By delivering ads that are specifically targeted to people who you know are interested in your company, retargeting can have a much greater return on investment than blind pay-per-click ads.

What is your experience with retargeting campaigns? If you’ve tried them, have they been successful? Do you have any questions about how to implement a retargeting campaign? Let us know in the comments, or join the conversation with us on Twitter.

Lauchlin MacDonald

Author: Lauchlin MacDonald

About Lauchlin MacDonald

Lauchlin is part of the content and marketing team at LinkNow Media. He has nearly a decade of experience in copywriting and editing, and spends way too much time on the Internet. He can be reached at and @Lauchlin on Twitter.