Excellent.org explains how you can still achieve lost converions by retargeting, the picture shows a target

Retargeting – How to win back your customers

Surely you are familiar with this scenario: You inquire about a company or product on the Internet, but without a transaction you leave the respective website again. A short time later, you will see advertising banners of the same company at other places on the web. This is a practice of online marketing called retargeting. How this works and what advantages it has for you as a company, we want to take a closer look at EXCELLENT.ORG this week.

Retargeting – a new target alignment

Retargeting (also called remarketing) is a sub-discipline of online marketing. Here, users who have already shown interest in a product or the company itself are to be redirected to the website through targeted advertisements. The aim of retargeting is to enable conversions that did not take place on the first visit to the website, but can still be carried out. Retargeting is mainly used in the field of e-commerce. For example, a user looks at a T-shirt in an online store, perhaps even puts it in the shopping cart, but the final purchase is not made. Now this user is presented with targeted advertisements on other websites, which are ultimately intended to encourage him to buy. This can be the previously viewed T-shirt, or similar products from the same store.

Retargeting can be very valuable for companies, especially because advertisements can be adapted to the interests of potential customers. An important factor here, however, is time, because a user can quickly lose interest. If there is too much time between the original contact and the retargeting measure, the latter can no longer be effective.

Retargeting can also be worthwhile when it comes to branding, i.e. increasing recognition.

How does retargeting work?

To make retargeting work, websites work with so-called cookies. Each user is marked with a cookie when visiting a website by storing it in the user’s browser. Relevant data on user behavior is stored and forwarded to ad servers. Here, data records can be created that allow for an individual display of advertisements.

In order for this process to work, a tag (code snippet) of the ad server must be stored on each page of the website. Here, special attention should be paid to the anonymization of the users.

Excellent.org talks about the technical aspects of retargeting and what you have to consider in terms of privacy, the BIld shows a part of HTML and CSS code

Criticism of retargeting

Despite the immense potential for companies, the practice of retargeting is certainly criticized. Above all, it is often very opaque to users which companies collect data in order to subsequently create data sets and also how these are used.

According to cookie guidelines, website operators must now draw attention to the use of cookies and have users agree to this. However, it is often very difficult to refuse cookies or the possibility of opting out is missing altogether.

If retargeting is used incorrectly, it can quickly lead to users being annoyed by the company. Inaccurate advertisements that are not relevant can make users feel persecuted on the Internet. This is precisely why AdBlockers are increasingly being used, which make it impossible to address the target group. In the 4th quarter of 2019, the share of blocked online display advertising amounted to around 23%. [1]

Best Practices for Retargeting

In order to prevent precisely these negative effects of retargeting, there are a few things to consider, especially during preparation

1. determine target group

As in other disciplines of marketing, the definition of the target group is a crucial point. The right ad must be played out to the right user so that valuable conversions can be achieved in the end.

The potential customers can be divided into about 3 groups:

  • On the one hand there are the users who have already shown interest in a product. Here the interest can be reawakened with targeted product banners. Additional added value like discounts or special offers can increase the desire to buy.
  • On the other hand, there are potential customers who have already filled the shopping cart but have not made the purchase. These often do not need much persuasion, but only need to be reminded again. Here, too, the probability of the purchase can be increased by discounts, special offers or similar.
  • It is also worthwhile to address users who are already customers of the company. These can be given additional information about the company via banners or be addressed with other advertising messages.

Excellent.org explains the relevance of target group determination for the practice of retargeting, the picture shows a meeting where something is discussed

2. control frequency

As discussed above, too many ads can annoy users and cause rather the opposite of the desired effect. So it is important to limit the frequency of ads by frequency capping.

3. avoid scattering losses

Especially for cost reasons, unnecessary impressions should be avoided. User groups for whom the ads and topics are not relevant should be excluded. This includes, for example, customers who have already bought a certain product.

Regional restrictions can also be taken into account in this respect.

4. use retargeting for content seeding

Already during your content strategy you determine which target group is to be addressed by which content. Retargeting can now be used optimally for this purpose.

5. obtain cookies from third-party websites

If you find out which other websites your target group uses to obtain information on the Internet, you can obtain cookies there. This enables you to obtain valuable data about potential customers and to compile data sets for the design of your retargeting campaign.

6. design appealing ads

However, all the points just mentioned are in vain if your ads are not attractively designed. In this case the customer’s interest is not aroused even after careful target group definition and the desired conversion is not achieved. Your ad should therefore be meaningful and appealing and include a clear, motivating call-to-action.


Retargeting can be very valuable for companies to minimize wastage. Already interested users offer an optimal target group to achieve conversions that were thought to be lost. However, if retargeting is used incorrectly, the wastage can increase immensely if the target group is determined in a flat way. If the frequency of ads is too high, users feel persecuted and increasingly resort to ad blockers. For you as a company, it is therefore relevant to plan retargeting campaigns carefully in order to exploit their full potential.


[1] Statista: Adblocker-Rate in Deutschland bis zum 4. Quartal 2019