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Remarketing is not a thing of the past. In fact, it is making a huge comeback with the amount of technology we currently have. The ability to shop online from virtually anywhere, and the metrics we have to track what consumers are doing after initially placing an item in their shopping cart, is a huge reason why.

Picture this: You’re at work shopping online—it’s okay, your secret is safe with us—for your sister’s upcoming baby shower (Why did I wait until the last minute to order this gift, again?). For purposes of this example let’s say it is a stroller.

Before you get around to buying it, you get pulled into a meeting. Duty calls! You quickly place the stroller in your shopping cart and close out the page in a rush to get to your meeting. It sits patiently in your cart, waiting for your return. Maybe that return won’t happen for a few hours, or even a full day.

However, the meeting was fast and you return to your desk and check your inbox to see you received an email from the website you were just on an hour ago —“Jamie, looks like you’ve forgotten something important”—reminding you to go back and purchase the stroller.

An hour or so later, as you’re searching the web, you come across a banner ad displaying the same exact stroller still waiting for you in your cart. Oh, yeah! You remember again that you have yet to purchase it.

You return to the page where it’s listed, finally click purchase and confirm, and call it a day. Now you can check that item off the list. This is the world of remarketing (often referred to as retargeting)—the world of many marketers’ dreams.

What Is Remarketing?

A remarketing campaign is a strategy that marketers and advertisers use to reach consumers who have visited their company’s websites or apps, but did not make a purchase. It isn’t limited to just online shopping though—remarketing can be used and applied to those trying to get their message out there to the right people through online advertising. Through remarketing, consumers are served ads or promotions of the products/categories from their purchase history or online search activity. Remarketing, when used in a timely and contextual manner to deliver messages, can be an extremely powerful tool for small and medium-size businesses.

How Does It Work?

When you break it down, the science of remarketing is fairly simple.

  • Step One: Add remarketing tags (i.e. a piece of code from Google AdWords) across site’s properties.
  • Step Two: Build remarketing lists—referred to by Google as “popular category lists”—for specific products or general categories. As consumers visit sites and peruse specific products, they’re added to these lists.
  • Step Three: Devise campaigns to target consumers on custom remarketing lists. Messages are shown only to those on lists, as opposed to blasted out generically to the world. That’s the beauty of remarketing: As consumers search via Google and/or browse sites and apps on Google’s Display Network, they’re served ads tailored specifically to them.
  • Step Four: Sit back and watch the number of return traffic to your site increase.

How Can I Implement Remarketing Ads?

Though remarketing seems like an extra step in the already-complicated digital advertising process, it leads to exponentially higher performing, more relevant ads. The return is well worth the extra time and attention.

There are endless online resources to help you get started with remarketing. They range from Google’s overview of remarketing, to remarketing tips for beginners, to more in-depth advice for existing AdWords users.

So what are you waiting for? Customers are searching, and the online world is the virtual city that never sleeps.