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E-commerce Retargeting: How to build a killer strategy in 2023

E-commerce pro tips- What is retargeting and how to build a killer strategy

Sometimes people joke about how search engines or social media ‘wiretap’ devices to target ads. Most of us have been there before - after you visit a website and look at a product or service, it keeps coming back, and there seems to be no way to get rid of it, like it is haunted or something. But it is not. Retargeting, a proven tactic that can increase conversion rate up to 150%, is doing all the tricks behind it.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is an online marketing strategy that targets potential customers who have expressed an interest in a product or service.

In general, targeting means targeting audiences according to their demographic characteristics, interests, or things like that. In other words, you may see an ad out of nowhere just because you fit the ad setting.

Retargeting is different. You must have sent a signal expressing interest before, like visiting a website. It is a more refined and personalized positioning strategy to call for action. Retargeting is powerful in conversion as it is always easier to welcome a “warm” lead. 

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How retargeting work?

Retargeting relies on something called ‘cookies’, data stored by the web browser which records the behaviors of users.

When customers visit a website and look for a product or service, a retargeting pixel containing information about what they viewed is downloaded. Ad networks such as Facebook Ads then will be able to use that information to track users and target ads related to their interests or even, the exact product page they visited.

What are the differences between retargeting and remarketing?

Similar though they are, retargeting and remarketing use different tactics. They both target audiences who have already shown interest in your brand by visiting the website but retargeting primarily uses paid ads while remarketing uses email, which means you need the email addresses of the visitors.

To know more about remarketing, read our blog: Why do you need a remarketing campaign and how to do it right.

Why should e-commerce do retargeting?

To bolster awareness

Bolstering brand awareness is one of the most important goals for businesses to advertise online. This is especially crucial in e-commerce. Some retailers have no physical store and they heavily rely on their presence on the internet to be known, make announcements or promote products and features. 

Indeed, display ads can possibly attract new customers and make the brand be seen among the online community, retargeting can be even more powerful when it comes to generating impressions and engagement. According to a survey, 75% of consumers notice retargeting ads which means ad impressions will no longer be just numbers. Instead, audiences do see your brand. This explains why retargeting ads lead to a 1046% increase in branded search

Wow, 1046%. 

To increase the conversion rate

Being seen is the first step, converting it to something more meaningful is the next level. As retargeting ads are 76% more likely to get clicks than regular display ads, you will find it a useful way to make an impact happen. The reason behind this is simple - regular display ads target cold audiences while retargeting ads target warm audiences which means they already showed some interest. Think of it as the difference between a cold call from a bank offering you discounts on their services and a warm call from your insurance agent who knows you and recommends a customized investment products to you. 

Retargeting is not an outbound action. Rather, it simply continues the conversation your potential customers are already interested in.

Retargeting ads also help businesses to reduce cart abandonment by acting as a friendly reminder to customers who have not finished checking out. It is not uncommon for online shoppers to leave websites without checking out and making a payment. Maybe they have a second thought or maybe they just forget about it. Retargeting can help businesses to recover these customers if the items still interest them and are available for purchase.

Read more: How to win back lost customers with killer abandoned cart email?

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Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

What are the forms of retargeting?

There are actually two forms of retargeting. One is pixel-based retargeting, which is explained above, the other one is listed-based retargeting.

List-based retargeting

Usually less used, list-based retargeting uses a list of email addresses collected beforehand as the ad audience, which is similar to the idea of remarketing. Because you have already known your audience, you can create highly customized and controlled ads for them.

Can you do retargeting on social media platforms?

Social media platforms are hotspots of online advertising. That is the reason why major platforms offer retargeting services for businesses to connect with their potential customers.


To create a retargeting campaign on Facebook, you will need to set up a Facebook pixel or app events. Also, you will need a catalog that holds information about the items you want to advertise or sell.

When everything is in place, you can just go to ad creation on Facebook and start creating your ad. Choose to retarget ads to people who interacted with your products on and off Facebook while selecting your audience. Several retargeting options are provided. For instance, you can retarget ads to users who viewed or added to the cart but not purchased or people who viewed products from your product set to upsell products.

Wanna know more about a popular form of Facebook Ads: Facebook lead ads


Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is called Meta now, therefore the setup process is the same. 

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Photo by Kerde Severin from Pexels


Owned by Google, YouTube offers a range of options for businesses to target audiences on Google Ads. Apart from reaching people who have done YouTube-related actions such as viewing certain videos, subscribing to a channel, liking or sharing any video from a channel, you can also show ads to people who have visited your website before.

You can simply go to the Audience manager on Google Ads to create an audience segment that includes your website visitors. Then you can create new campaigns and ad groups where you can add them.


LinkedIn is one of the most powerful platforms for B2B marketing. On LinkedIn, you can retarget your ads to users who visited a page on your website, viewed a video ad, opened or submitted a Lead Gen Form, engaged with your company page or RSVP’d for your LinkedIn Event.

If you would like to do website retargeting, you will need to add a LinkedIn Insight Tag to your site first. Then you go to Campaign Manager and select Matched Audiences to create website audiences or other audiences you find appropriate for your campaign. 

What are the best practices for retargeting?

Landing page tagging

To retarget ads to website visitors, you need to determine what landing page to tag. It is important for you to tag the right page to fit your marketing objectives. Let us say you will like to increase sales, you may opt to tag your top-selling product pages.

Personalized experience

People visit your website for different purposes therefore you should never treat them the same. It is always a good idea to split up your marketing campaign to provide a more personalized experience. For example, you can categorize the audience into different marketing funnels. Do they fall into the awareness funnel or lower funnel? By doing so, your potential customers are shown the most relevant products or information they are looking for. With a customized call to action (CTA), it is more likely that you will have a higher conversion rate.

Frequency capping

Let us be honest - although we are already used to retargeting ads, sometimes we still find it annoying to see similar ads again and again. It’s called ad fatigue. To avoid leaving a negative impression, retargeting frequency capping is what you may like to consider. Again, the golden rule is to do it in a way that fits your marketing objectives. If you are promoting a limited-time offer, frequency capping may not be the ideal option. Use analytics to predict optimal capping.

Fill the retargeting gap in your whole remarketing campaign

(Yes. Retargeting is not equal to remarketing.)

Setting retargeting ads is one task you can do for your remarketing campaign. To develop a more extensive campaign, have you ever thought of utilizing those channels that your customer checks on regularly? You should launch your remarketing through direct messages. For instance, you can design a comprehensive WhatsApp marketing campaign. 

To achieve this, a basic WhatsApp business account is not enough. What you need is a social messaging CRM that can seamlessly integrate with all your social channels. For example, SleekFlow, an omnichannel social commerce platform combining all popular social messaging into one platform. Therefore, you can set marketing automation such as broadcast messages, chatbots and more. Now, we can even integrate with Shopify natively (which means not via a third party like Zapier), thereby allowing an automatic abandoned cart WhatsApp reminder. Real-time abandoned cart updates can definitely help optimize conversions!

Interested to find out how you should unleash your social messaging potential? Talk to us!

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