As a consumer, I appreciate getting a friendly reminder about items I’ve left in an online shopping cart, but never bought. Sometimes I make a decision about not buying set items due to shipping cost or delivery time, but more often than not I am just waiting on my paycheck to come before clicking the purchase button.  

What I do not appreciate, however, is when I have looked at an item a single time, and afterwards it stalks me through all my social channels. In this blog post I will discuss the most common do’s and don’ts of retargeting.

What is retargeting?

To master the art of retargeting, we must first understand it, so let’s start with the basics. There are two types of retargeting: List-based and pixel-based.

List-based retargeting is the least common and is only possible if people have left you their contact information. You then display your ad to a list of these people. A marketing automation tool is essential for this type of marketing to be time-efficient.  

In pixel-based retargeting, a piece of JavaScript code is put on the consumer’s browser making it cookied. Then, when the consumer browses the internet, the cookie reports back to your retargeting platform making it possible for you to display ads based on what sites the consumers have visited.  

Whatever type of retargeting you choose to go for, just remember that this form of marketing isn’t about driving traffic to your site, but rather about increasing the conversion rate of those who have visited.  

Retargeting don’ts

Your marketing team should probably not retarget consumers in the following scenarios:

  • After they have viewed a product once
    Consumers who have browsed through your site quickly one time, are probably not ready start purchasing specific products. The fact that they were looking at your site could just be a happy coincidence and they might not have any interest in your product or services. Retargeting them across platforms will only make you look desperate and creepy.

  • After they have deleted something from their shopping cart or canceled an order
    This means they saw something, they liked, decided to purchase it, but came to a full stop right at the checkout point. Which means retargeting them would probably be useless. They like your products, they want your products, but something put them off. Maybe your payment method isn’t suited for mobile, or they find your shipping cost unreasonable or that the delivery time is unsuitable. In any case, retargeting won’t fix it.  

  • If they have just purchased or converted
    Seeing advertisements for things you just bought or ordered is annoying. In addition, it completely throws you conversion rate. People obviously don’t need you to push the same product on them twice. Wait until the customers have received what they ordered and send them a personalized email inviting them to look at the rest of your services instead.


Retargeting do’s

It would be a good idea to use retargeting in the following scenarios:

  • After they have looked at specific products several times
    This action implies that the consumers are interested in your product, but they haven’t made up their minds. Targeting them on a social platform with an exclusive offer or just to increase the temptation could very well result in a conversion.

  • If they left things in their shopping cart
    As I mentioned before, leaving things in a digital shopping cart could be a way of saving items for later. However, these items are often forgotten through no fault of their own, so sending a reminder by email or through an ad can definitively be a good idea. Go for it!  

  • They have made many purchases in the past, but not anymore
    There might be many reasons loyal customers stop purchasing your products, but don’t let it be because they’ve forgotten you, or because they believe you don’t care about them. Let them know you miss them and welcome them back to your site with an exclusive offer.

Want to learn more about creating amazing ads? Have a look at the guide we wrote about dynamic creatives: