Last Updated: November 27, 2020

One of the most important questions in business is, “How do I attract new customers?” The restaurant owner wants to convince people to make dinner reservations. The shop owner wants to increase foot traffic. However, as the fast-paced lifestyle of the post-Internet world makes “showing up” at any business’s online presence easy, and makes leaving as simple as a single click, the more important question is, “How do I get them to come back?”

Fred Meyer Jewelers asked this very question in 2011. Jewelry sales are uneven throughout the year, dipping sometimes as much as 40 percent in March and April, then again in the autumn months. Because of this, jewelry retailers like Fred Meyer must capitalize on higher-performing months like December to make up for the slow periods throughout the year. Because Fred Meyer was already spending a significant chunk of its advertising budget on Internet marketing, they decided to use specific strategies to increase the effectiveness of those online ads.

Using the services of a company called AdRoll, Fred Meyer maintained contact with people who visited its retail website during the holiday season, updating them on special product deals at a peak gift-giving period. By the end of the campaign, Fred Meyer saw its site traffic increase by 41 percent, while sales rose enough to improve their advertising return on investment by 23 percent.

What is remarketing?

Remarketing is any sales and advertising strategy that maintains contact with potential customers after they visit a business. While remarketing existed prior to the Internet, its use online is increasingly common and highly effective. Remarketing consists of any marketing materials that remind people of businesses they have visited in the past, increasing the likelihood that those people will make repeat purchases.(See also Direct Marketing)

Remarketing Materials

There are many different ways to stay in contact with customers. All of the following kinds of content can be valuable remarketing materials.

  • Newsletters
  • Special deals or coupons
  • Social network updates
  • Browser advertisements

The central principle of remarketing is to maintain the attention of people who have already expressed an interest in a business, rather than just trying to raise awareness about the business. When Fred Meyer Jewelers used remarketing strategies for their online sales, the company improved the effectiveness of advertisements by making sure each of the people who visited the Fred Meyer website continued to see Fred Meyer ads when they left the site.

Those who had Fred Meyer’s website in their browsing history would acquire a “cookie” in their web browser. A cookie is a small bit of code that helps a web browser store data about websites. A remarketing cookie, like the one AdRoll used for Fred Meyer, made browsers that visited the Fred Meyer website display Fred Meyer advertisements more frequently. (See also Inbound Marketing)

Who uses remarketing strategies?

Any organization that has the opportunity to gather customer information can take advantage of remarketing strategies. Remarketing is an extremely common practice online, though offline businsses and political campaigns frequently use it as well.

Fred Meyer Jewelers used a more complex and advanced form of Internet remarketing, but there are more simple methods to remarket online. If an online retailer has the opportunity to collect the email address of a person who visits their website, the retailer can send that person emails containing updates about the retailer’s new products, or send special promotional offers exclusive to those who provide email addresses.

Google's Home Run

AdWords, the search engine marketing branch of Google, began offering remarketing services in 2010. Their clients received amazing results. After seeing the increase of conversion rates and site traffic of some early adopters, the number of Google’s AdWords clients grew by 113 percent each quarter between the launch in 2010 and the first year assessment in 2011. Google’s clients got such great results because a vast majority of the users on the AdWord’s contact list were successfully reached every month. Of the 500 million users on Google’s remarketing contact list, 420 million were successfully reached each month on average.

Businesses that operate outside the Internet use similar methods to stay in contact with past and potential customers. Grocery stores do this often by mailing special coupons to customers who sign up for “frequent shopper” cards. (See also Loyalty Marketing)

A company can also use remarketing to encourage past customers to return. Car insurance companies typically send periodic reminders to people who once had an insurance plan with the provider but chose to cancel it. This reminds former customers of the provider, and increases the likelihood that they will sign up for plans should they have a new need for insurance.

Political campaigns are often required by law to collect contact information about their contributors. Many campaigns use this information to update their contributors on campaign progress and even solicit additional donations. Whether by email, snail mail, or phone, a political campaign can stay in contact with stakeholders who have already expressed an interest in the campaign and may have already contributed to it, rather than having to rely entirely on first-time contributors.

How do you implement remarketing?

How a business uses a remarketing strategy depends on how that business first makes contact with its customers. An online retailer must approach the strategy in a different manner than a brick-and-mortar service industry business might.

Businesses that make first contact with customers in-person will need to use what is known as an “opt-in” method for gathering customer information. Opt-in systems are simply ways to ask a customer’s permission for contact information.

For example, if a brick-and-mortar shoe store wanted to keep in contact with those who visit the store, customers could be given the option to sign up for an email newsletter that includes coupons for future purchases. This can happen with or without a sale, and encourages customers to return to the store and make a purchase.

The store would then have to produce special remarketing materials in the form of email newsletters and coupons. It is important to plan a schedule for any remarketing contact. It is easier to gauge the success of a campaign if customers receive reminders at planned intervals. Releasing remarketing materials inconsistently can result in overly subjective data.

If the shore store was an online retailer instead, customers would first make contact through the store’s website or social networking pages. It would be easy to have a similar opt-in system for the newsletter, but that is not the only way the store could gather customer data. Many search engine companies and marketing companies offer remarketing services, such as the one Fred Meyer Jewelers used to gather browser information. This is not an opt-in method, and it won’t allow the shoe store to contact its customers directly, but using browser remarketing to increase the store’s advertising presence can drive more traffic to its website.

The Abandoned Cart Problem

Online transactions aren’t complete until the customer confirms the purchase. People often place items in their online shopping carts, only to have second thoughts and abandon the purchase before it is complete. Remarketing is the most successful tool to bring these abandoners back.

Shopping Cart Abandoner Return Rate:

Careers in remarketing

Because remarketing uses existing marketing materials and can benefit from data collected about customers for other purposes, there are many positions on a marketing team that are likely to participate in a remarketing campaign. This includes people in creative, analytical, and leadership positions.


What do they do?

Remarketing Salaries

  • Copywriter
    Junior: $28,000
    Senior: $55,200
    Top Earners: $109,000
  • Web Designer
    Entry Level: $47,000
    Median: $62,000
    Highest Earners: $80,000
  • Marketing Manager
    Starting: $41,480
    Median: $83,890
    Top Earners: $166,400

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

When customers receive remarketing contact materials like newsletters, coupons, and political donation requests, the content of those materials is composed by a copywriter. Copywriters create a wide variety of marketing materials for many different kinds of campaigns. This position requires excellent written and verbal communication skills, and an ability to think creatively.

Education and Skills

Copywriters should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, communications, English, or psychology. Previous experience in a writing-focused position is a plus and almost all copywriting jobs will require a portfolio of work samples in addition to a resume.

Web Designer

What do they do?

A web designer is a combination of a graphic artist and a computer programmer. In remarketing, web designers create visual materials like advertisements, but they also program company websites and write the code for browser cookies used to increase ad presence. This is a very technical role that requires high computer literacy and a familiarity with specialized software.

Education and Skills

Web designers should have a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, business, computer science, or design. Many web designers have a background in other computer-focused work, such as systems administration. As with copywriting, a web design resume benefits greatly from a portfolio of past work.

Marketing Manager

What do they do?

Any marketing campaign needs to have someone in a leadership position to oversee the work of the entire team and set goals for the campaign. In remarketing, a marketing manager will identify the need for the campaign, coordinate with all relevant staff to create the new remarketing materials, plan the advertising budget for the campaign, and finally assess the campaign’s success.

Education and Skills

Marketing managers often have several years of experience in a non-leadership role elsewhere on a marketing team. This means a manager should have at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or any other degree related to one of those non-leadership positions. Many managers also have advanced degrees, such as a Master of Business Administration degree.

How a marketing school can help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

Anyone interested in learning how to use modern marketing strategies, including remarketing, should consider pursuing a formal marketing education. Marketing programs teach tomorrow’s experts how to succeed in many different roles in a fast-paced, ever-changing field.

Beginning coursework in a marketing program covers the fundamental principles of topics like supply and demand, marketing finance, and communications. All of these things are essential for the timing, budgeting, and customer targeting of effective remarketing.

A marketing education will also include many hands-on tutorials for business software. Customer contact information is generally stored in database programs like Microsoft Excel, and many web designers use programs like Dreamweaver to create websites.

While students explore marketing strategies and business tools in early and intermediate coursework, advanced marketing classes focus on case studies. These help students learn about how different marketing strategies function in the real world, as well as simulations that give students a chance to test out their own marketing plans.

Modern marketing is a complex field with many excellent career opportunities. Marketing programs prepare ambitious professionals to dive into the business with valuable skills and the confidence of concrete experience.