Remarketing – A Practical Guide From Pixel to Purchase
April 2019

A few weeks ago we gave an introduction to remarketing and provided insights on the concepts and mechanics behind it. This week we touch on some of these topics again, provide insights on how remarketing can be leveraged to full effect, and go beyond to cover some advanced deployment tactics.


1. An Introduction to Remarketing

1.1 There’s Joy in Repetition

It’s a basic tenet of marketing that when our product/service is anything but an ‘impulse buy’, prospective clients must be repeatedly exposed to our offer before they’re ready to make a purchase.

1.2 Painting Targets

Remarketing is a digital marketing tactic that leverages browser technology to mark users who visit our website so that later they can be identified, and their behaviour tracked:

  1. Identify a user as being a previous visitor to our website so that they can be targeted for personalized advertising.
  2. Track the user’s activities on our site, for example, pages and products browsed, purchases made, forms filled, etc. so their value as leads/customers can be accurately measured.

1.3 How it’s Done

When a visitor comes to our site a small snippet of code called a ‘cookie’ (AKA a ‘pixel’) is attached to the user’s browser. A cookie allows us to track the visitor’s activities on our site for a set period:

  • Google’s cookies are for 150 days
  • Facebook cookies are for 180 days

1.4 Summary

  1. Repeated exposure to advertising is key to driving consumer action
  2. Digital advertising enables us to identify, target and follow users who have visited our website
  3. Remarketing leverages browser cookies for two main purposes:
    1. Remarketing campaigns – Ads that target an audience we KNOW has previously been to our site.
    2. Calculating return on advertising investment – Understanding exactly how much budget was spent per user to achieve a certain goal such as the purchase of a product or filling of a form.


2. Advanced Remarketing Tactics

2.1 Personalized Targeting Tactics

Once a user is marked with a cookie we can bid to expose them to ads tailored to their profile time and again. Here are a few of the ways their information can be leveraged to personalize the ads they’re exposed to:

  • Offer premiums to users who visited our site, but haven’t converted.
    E.g. – “Use voucher code #imback for your 10% discount”.
  • Offer ads for products the user viewed on the site, and/or complementary purchases.
    E.g. – Advertise baby formula to a user who previously purchased a baby bottle.

2.2 Calculating Return on Investment

Some cookies can include pricing information. These allow us to detect the value of a purchased product once the visitor has converted to a client, and completed checkout. Since we already know how much we’re spending on advertising (and can now trace how many visitors converted into shoppers, and what was the cart value for each one) we can now accurately calculate advertising ROI on the fly.

2.3 Optimizing Remarketing Performance

Remarketing requires the integration of code snippets into our website. There are two issues that may need addressing:

  1. Coordination of IT resources resulting in campaign launch delays.
  2. Increased page-load time resulting from the additional code.

By integrating Google’s free Tag Manager into our website we avoid both issues:

  • Cookie management is done via a backend interface that requires no IT support.
  • Tag manager operates off-site. No additional code is added to our page.


3. The Remarketing Process

To leverage remarketing to its full effect we must follow a clear set of steps:

  1. Study in-depth the opportunities remarketing technology puts at our disposal.
  2. Understand how these opportunities can be leveraged to promote our products and services.
  3. Set up our website to deploy cookies to visitors.
  4. Craft and launch campaigns that target and engage our selected audiences.
  5. Carefully measure campaign performance
  6. Tweak and optimize campaigns based on aggregated data.
  7. Repeat.



It’s a task that requires us to harness our creative spark to a methodical and exacting process.

Deploying remarketing to full effect certainly has a learning curve that must be overcome, however, the return on the investment in time and effort is well worth it. Furthermore, we ignore this opportunity at our own peril – we can either act now and gain the early mover’s competitive advantage, or find ourselves, reluctant followers, late to the game, with all the best seats taken…

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