Posted November 29, 2015 by Amber Benson in Amber's Products

What Is Retargeting, or Remarketing, in Online Advertising?

Retargeting Remarketing
Retargeting Remarketing

Have you ever seen an ad show up on a webpage, for something you viewed a short while ago on a different website? Yes? I think we all have. That ad is shown using something called “retargeting.” This is a good thing for online marketers to know how to do!

We wish and hope that every single person that comes to our page follows a very straight path to purchase. Someone visits our site for the first time, then fills out the form to download an ebook or other free offer, then after reading some more, decides to buy our offer, all in one session on our website.

But in reality, your prospect’s path to purchase is not so linear. People find your website, take a quick look, then leave. Two weeks later, they run into your latest blog post, and then decide to download that free offer. A few days after that, they encounter another blog post. Maybe a week later they decide to really read your sales page, and come back two or three times and read it again before making that purchase decision. Same end result, but the process is a little more convoluted.

What if only 2% of traffic to your offer, or to your webpage, converts on the first visit? That is, what if only 2% of the people coming to your offer click that buy button the first time they see your page?  Think what it would do to your bottom line if you could get some of the 98% of visitors-but-not-buyers to come back and actually buy?Confusion

The first time someone sees your offer, they might not buy because they are still undecided. Or because they don’t know you, don’t know if you can be trusted to get them what they need and want.

But look, they were interested in the first place, or they would not have landed on your page! They are good prospects, they just need a little more love and attention and information.

FriendsIf you use retargeting, you can show ads to people who have previously visited your page. By the time they have seen your ad a couple of times, they feel they “know” you, and are more likely to click to your site again. Those people are more likely than a first-time visitor to buy, because they are already qualified, they already have shown interest in your deal.

They just need more exposure, more answers, more assurance that you are going to solve their problem or fill their need.

Clicking ButtonA recent study by ComScore and ValueClick Media found that retargeted ads were twice as effective as other tactics at getting users to search for specific brand names.

Here is a short ‘n’ sweet definition of retargeting:

Retargeting, or remarketing, is a form of online marketing where you target users who have previously visited your website with banner ads on display networks across the web.

How does retargeting work?

Retargeting ads are served to people who have already visited your website at least once before. With retargeting you only target users that have visited your site and already had an experience with your brand.

You can choose to target users that went to a specific part of your site, or open it up to your whole site, but either way you are guaranteeing that you only spend ad dollars on people who have previously visited your site.

Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses simple a Javascript code to anonymously ‘follow’ your audience all over the Web.

Here’s how it works: you place a small piece of code (called a “pixel”) on your website. The code, or pixel, is unnoticeable to your site visitors and won’t affect your site’s performance. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the pixel code places a browser cookie on the user’s device. Later, when that visitor browses the Web, the cookie will let your retargeting provider know when to serve ads. This way, your ads are shown only to people who have previously been to your site.

The most common platform for retargeting (and where  you should probably start, if you haven’t done retargeting before) is Facebook. Why? Because, in order for retargeting to work:

  1. First a person visits your site or page
  2. You already have a retargeting pixel on that page, to capture that visitor
  3. When that visitor visits the page on another webiste that you have your retargeting ad on, it uses uses the data captured from the retargeting pixel to display your ad to your site visitor
  4. For this to work, you must be running retargeting ads on a site that your visitor is likely to go to. Facebook has over 1.5 billion active users – its very likely that anyone who visits your site will eventually visit Facebook afterwards! This makes Facebook an ideal place to put your retargeting ads.

Two Ways to Use Retargeting

1. You Are Selling Your Own Product

You use retargeting to show ads to visitors who did not buy your product. This increases the chance that they will eventually buy it. This works because its well known that many people need to see an ad for a product multiple times before they buy. In fact many people need to see an ad between 5 and 7 times before they decide to make a purchase.

Also, showing your ad in multiple locations gives you brand recognition and credibility.

Both of these make it more likely that your prospect will make a purchase.

2. You are Selling Someone Else’s Product

You are an affiliate. In the best case, you have built up an email list of people interested in products in your niche to whom you can send affiliate offers. However, if your list is small (or non-existent), or you just want to reach more people, you can use retargeting as a kind of “second list”. Using this method, all you need to do is get people to visit your site. Once they do. they are added to your custom audience and can be used for Facebook retargeting.

You can then run ads for niche related products to this custom audience. You know that your visitors are interested in your niche. Basically your custom audience becomes a sort of “second list” that you can advertise your affiliate products to, at will.

What’s so great about this is these visitors did not have to opt in. They got added just by visiting your site once.

Now if you run relevant niche-related ads on Facebook, you can get clicks to your ads at a very low cost. This makes it pretty easy to make a nice profit on a good converting affiliate offer.

How to Start Facebook Retargeting

  1. Determine how you will get the Facebook pixel on your website
  2. Go to the Facebook Ad Manager
  3. Choose the retargeting audience for your ad
  4. Get your Facebook retargeting pixel
  5. Put the pixel on a page or as many pages as you like on your website
  6. Create a great retargeting ad

Here’s how to do this:

Step 1: Determine how you will get the Facebook pixel on your website

You need a way to put your Facebook retargeting pixel in your site or web page. If you use WordPress, you can use the free plugin I provide below. If you don’t use WordPress, you will need to add the pixel’s HTML code to your site’s code.

Step 2: Go to the Facebook Ad Manager

In order to get your Facebook retargeting pixel log into your Facebook ads account. Click the little down arrow icon next to your name in the upper right hand corner of Facebooks website and select  “Manage Ads”.

If you haven’t yet created your first ad on Facebook you won’t be able to access the ad manager. If this is your situation, just create an ad, and then delete it. Once you have made at least one ad you will be able to access the ad manager.

Step 3: Choose the Retargeting Audience for Your Ad

Select “Audiences” from the menu on the left hand side of the ad manager:

Facebook Ad Menu

Click the green “Create Audience” button on the upper right and select “Custom Audience”. You then can choose what type of audience you want:


Select “Website Traffic”. Give your custom audience a name. Select if you want to target your entire site (normally this is what you would choose) or just a specific page on your site. You will also be able to select how long people will remain in your custom audience after visiting your web page (I prefer 90 days not the default 30) .

Create Audience Facebook

Step 4: Get your Facebook Retargeting Pixel

Get your Facebook retargeting pixel code by clicking on the gear icon in the lower left (see image above).

Step 5: Put the Pixel on a Page or as Many Pages as You Like on Your Website

Now its just a matter of adding your pixel code to your website (you can use the free plugin below for your wordpress site). Now whenever someone visits your site they will be then added to your custom audience. As long as you run ads that are related to the same niche as your website you will get an improved Relevancy Score, higher click through rate (CTR) and low per click cost. In short your ad will perform better.

Step6: Create a Great Retargeting Ad

For a best performing retargeting ad, you want a definite offer, and a clear call-to-action. Create an ad, and use the custom audience you have already created in the above steps. We’ll save a discussion on how to create a great Facebook ad for another post.

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