Ultimate Guide To Site Retargeting

Arrow And Pawn Figurines On Dartboard With Retargeting Text

As marketers and brands, we may execute across many offline marketing channels including billboard, radio, print, and television as well as online marketing channels including Facebook, Google Adwords, Programmatic Display, Email, and Video Marketing.  We spend $1,000’s to $1,000,000’s across these channels hoping that people who engage with our brand and visit our websites will convert on or after the very first visit.  But rarely does that actually happen.  Usually it takes 2 to 7 website visits before people even give you their contact information or call you, let alone purchase from you.  As people go through their own customer journey, it’s vital to find ways to get in front of those people who have already expressed an interest in your brand.

Arrow And Pawn Figurines On Dartboard With Retargeting Text

For that reason, site retargeting is not only a nice-to-have digital marketing tactic some companies should use.  But rather a vital tactic ALL companies should use….even if you’re not running digital ads to your website.  Why?….Because your website is the main resume or rather facade that people go to learn more about you.  And if the best customer you can engage with is someone who already expressed an interest in your brand, it’s your job to re-engage them.

According to Wishpond, “The click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad.”  And according to CMO, Retargeting can boost ad response up to 400 percent.  So retargeting has a vital place in the world of digital advertising.

At Propellant, we run site retargeting campaigns through multiple digital channels including:

  • Programmatic Display
  • Google Display Network
  • YouTube
  • Geofencing Marketing
  • Facebook & Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

We know there are some channels that capture more reach and better engagement than others.  But we continue retargeting with the proper optimization levers because any and all people who have visited our www.propellant.media could become a potential client or partner to us.  And if our goal as marketers with a limited budget is to reach people WE KNOW FOR A FACT are in-market for our products or services, recent website visitors are the best people to engage with offers to get them to act in some capacity.

Studies show that the cost per conversion from site retargeting traffic is 3 – 4 times less expensive that any other paid traffic visiting your website.  Thus the same Google Ads Conversion that cost you $80 should cost you $20 – $30 if you have the proper conversion rate optimization measures in place for your website.

For that reason, we developed this guide that will walk you through the in’s and out’s of site retargeting, the various services you can use for site retargeting, particular process discussions on set up, and how we’ve used site retargeting to grow our marketing technology firm.

What Is Site Retargeting

Ever shopped on Amazon looking to purchase a product, leave the website, and then maybe hours later go to Facebook, Instagram, or other websites and see that same product in an Ad glaring in your face?   That is what site retargeting entails.  The ability to retarget people who visited your website, but may not have converted (via a phone call, purchase, video view, form submission, email submission, etc…).

When you look at the visitors who frequent your website, what would happen if only 5% more of those people converted.  As it turns out, only 4% of the visitors to your website are ready to buy or become a lead or submit their contact information.  But just because they didn’t convert then, doesn’t mean they won’t convert in the future.

The customer journey for every industry and buyer is unique.  People won’t always buy at the moment in which they visit your website.  So providing more ways to get in front of those people who did visit your website and share other creative offers and unique content that’s compelling may get that person to convert further down the road.

For this reason, site retargeting remains the one core strategy that forms the foundation for all marketing and advertising efforts.

How Site Retargeting Works

Imagine for a second you visit a car dealership looking to buy a Nissan Altima.  Your child is with you and crying hysterically because they are hungry.  And you know you need to visit a few additional car dealerships, but you need to calm down your child, so you leave prematurely in order get your child some food.

Imagine while you’re sitting in the drive through at McDonald’s, you’re on your mobile phone viewing posts on Facebook and then you see an offer from the same Nissan dealership indicating that if you come back within 3 days, you can present a $2,000 off discount to any sales manager at the dealership.

This is the equivalent of site retargeting, except this stylized example is occurring in the physical world….sorta like geofencing marketing that we’ll discuss later.  The same process would work if that person visited that Nissan dealership’s website.

The overall process of site retargeting looks like this:

  1. Consumer visits said website i.e. (www.awesomesites.com)
  2. Based on the html code (what we call a site retargeting pixel) being placed on www.awesomesites.com, we are then able to capture mobile device ID’s and IP addresses of the visitors of that website.
  3. After consumer visits said website, a cookie is dropped.  Essentially, a “pixel” drops a cookie onto their browser that tracks them wherever they go online.
  4. Whichever websites and mobile apps that consumer frequents, we can then serve ads to the people who visited (www.awesomesites.com)

Here are some of the ways remarketing can improve your overall marketing and advertising performance:

  • Lower Cost-Per-Impression
  • Lower Cost-Per-Clicks
  • Improved Conversion Rates
  • Increased Overall Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)
    • Offline Channels (Radio, TV, Print, Direct Mail, Billboard)
    • Online (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Programmatic, OTT, Organic Search, Paid Social)
  • Increased Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Low Cost Branding
  • Increase Brand Recognition

As you can imagine, this type of hyper-focused and relevant advertising strategy delivers great results because we are simply getting in front of the people who we know for a fact in market for a product or service or in need of information.  Thus, we can get in front of them with specific offers and information that will entice them to act.

Pixel Based Versus List Based Retargeting

Up to this point, we have discussed pixel-based site retargeting.  Someone visits your website and then leaves are then retargeted to across the millions of websites and mobile apps those same people go to.

And on the other end of retargeting is using a user or company generated list for retargeting.  Maybe you have a list of people in your CRM database that could become repeat buyers or maybe they haven’t purchased from you yet and you have a way to segment your purchases from people who abandoned a shopping cart.  Maybe you purchased a list of emails who fit the demographic profile of individuals you want to get your message in front of.

The beauty with list-based retargeting is you then have the opportunity to pick precisely the people you want to reach.  The process of utilizing list-based retargeting varies across the various digital marketing platforms.  Google Adwords, Facebook, Programmatic Display (CRM Retargeting), and even LinkedIn allows for list-based site retargeting, but the underlying process is relatively the same for each:

  • Choose the platform you want to upload your list to
  • Upload your List of Contacts
  • Ensure your Ads and lists comply with the platform standards
  • Launch your campaign

Both list-based and pixel-based retargeting lists have their purposes (which we’ll get into later), so it’s usually a good idea to use both. But, it’s important to understand both types and how to effectively use them to really get the most out of your retargeting campaigns.

Goal Setting With Site Retargeting

Depending on your company or organization’s size, overall web traffic you get, and marketing budget will dictate the goals you should have for your organization.

There are three types of goals one can set for a site retargeting campaign:

Brand Awareness

Constantly working to keep your brand top of mind to those who visited your website or rather those who may not actively be in the market for your services is certainly one to maintain.

This can exist across many industry types. But the beauty of site retargeting is that you are at least keeping your brand top of mind to those who at minimum expressed a curiosity to your product or service offering.  So if you are putting your brand in front of them, hopefully at minimum when that person is serious, they’ll think about you.

In addition, if you’re leveraging other brand building techniques including bill board advertising, radio, tv, print, online display, and direct mail, site retargeting will assist in the brand building effort to those who visited you as the result of those other advertising and marketing channels.

Lead Generation & Purchases

Our personal favorite, and what we consider direct response marketing, we have many clients who work to leverage and measure success by way of direct leads and purchases generated from site retargeting campaigns.

If you are keen on collecting leads via phone calls, form submissions, button clicks, and even purchases via your website, site targeting brings a wealth of opportunity.

Remember that 96% of people who leave your website are still keen on potentially buying.  So keeping information in front of them will invariably ensure you’re maximizing your current marketing efforts, and even more importantly convert those who left your website but didn’t convert.


The final component is keeping people engaged in your brand.  Maybe you produce a ton of content or you’re a blog or news publication and you want to ensure your website visitors are constantly coming back to consume your content.

In most instances, even blogs and news publications have a goal in mind for any of their advertising channels, but engagement can still be one of them.

Using Geofencing Marketing For Retargeting Purposes

Of course our favorite, geofencing marketing is actually a form of retargeting.  It is the equivalent of site retargeting, except you’re doing it in the physical world.  Geofencing marketing allows organizations to target people based on their physical activities and the places they go.

So similar to someone visiting a website and leaving, geofencing allows you to target someone who visits a very specific physical location and then serving ads that person on mobile, tablet, and sometimes desktop devices.  Some of those locations can include:

  • Competitor Locations
  • Your Own Location (customer loyalty)
  • Convention Centers
  • Event Spaces
  • Retail Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Households
  • Malls
  • Office Buildings

As an example, let’s say you’re a car dealership and you want to reach people who are looking to buy a car and visiting your competitor dealerships. The way it works is when someone enters the virtual barrier we build around your competitor car dealerships using our geofencing software technology, we are then capturing their mobile device ID’s, and serving Ads to those people who are in-market car shoppers both while they’re inside the geofence and then for up to 30 days or more after they leave the geofenced locations.

These ads can be delivered across millions of websites and mobile apps including angry birds, words with friends, the weather channel, huffington post, etc….  The same mobile apps and websites that work with traditional site retargeting.

And with geofencing marketing, you can leverage static display banner ads, pre roll video ads, and even Over The Top (OTT) TV advertising, otherwise known as Connected TV Advertising.

So the application of targeting people based on their physical activities and the places they go can give you great intelligence into the customer journey they may be in.  You can even geofence your own physical location as a customer loyalty play or a reminder to buy from you.

So the sky is the limit across the many applications available within the geofencing marketing world.

Various Site Retargeting Services

You can go ahead and set up retargeting directly on any of these “big three” platforms fairly easily, but if you want to get even more out of your remarketing efforts and not mange the process yourself, you may want to consider using an actual retargeting service. These services can give you access to more sites and allow you to streamline your retargeting campaigns inside of a single system.  Not that they should relinquish your responsibilities as the head of digital…..but these could make your job a bit easier.


AdRoll is one of the biggest names in the retargeting space. They might not be the cheapest option, but they’re used by some of the biggest names in the business.

Between all their partners (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc), AdRoll gives you access to 98% of the sites on the Internet.

They also give you a lot of segmentation and targeting options you can use to focus your targeting (and ads) on specific potential customers.

AdRoll can a bit pricey, but their service is pretty easy to use and (according to their site) their clients typically make $10 for every $1 they spend on AdRoll, so it’s no wonder that they are one of the biggest players in display advertising.

Perfect Audience

If you want to keep things simple, Perfect Audience is a great retargeting service to consider. All you have to do is add one piece of code to your site, create a few lists of visitor types you want to target, add some ads and Perfect Audience will take care of the rest.

With no setup or maintenance fees, Perfect Audience is great for small businesses (their main target market).

Unfortunately, if you actually want more than basic control over where and how your ads are displayed, Perfect Audience may not be the service for you. However, if you want to try retargeting without investing too much time or money, Perfect Audience is a good way to go.


ReTargeter is a fairly new remarketing service, but it offers a ton of options ranging from Facebook retargeting to search retargeting and beyond. However, if your site doesn’t get a ton of traffic, ReTargeter may not be the best solution for you. The service is primarily designed for sites with 30,000+ unique users per month.

But, if you’ve got the site volume (and can afford the minimum $1,500/month fee), ReTargeter can be a great way to go. ReTargeter gives you access to a huge number of sites and customization options, especially if you want to retarget people on search or using their email address.

As with the remarketing platforms we discussed, there are several other retargeting services available as well, but one of these three companies should be a good fit for your business. With remarketing services, you typically get what you pay for, so choosing a service is mostly a question of balancing what you can afford with getting the options you need.

Recipes To Successful Site Retargeting…And How Propellant Media Does It

We’ll admit…we’ve tested a lot of things and strategies and often we’ve come up short on our so called recipes for success.

But most of the testing had lead to tons of success stories.  Here are some of the major best practices you can utilize when setting up site retargeting campaigns.

Landing Page(s) You Choose

Choose a landing page with effective conversion rate optimization and great copy in place.  Just simply using your homepage isn’t enough in most cases.  Also, consider pop software, exist intent, a form submission, a product giveaway, the placement of your phone number and web forms on the landing page, and ultimately & look and feel of it.  All of these considerations will impact your ability to improve the effectiveness of your site retargeting campaigns.

Segment Your Audiences And Landing Page Visitors

At Propellant Media, we often segment our audiences who visit our website and the various landing pages they frequent.  For example, people looking for Google Ads are a different audience to those looking for Geofencing Marketing, which again is different from OTT Advertising.

So we have several different audiences that we can tailor our messaging to and ultimately increase the conversion rates of our site retargeting campaigns.   Similarly, people who made it to your ads-to-cart page are different from those who never made it to those pages.  So segmenting those two audiences will allow you to serve specific messages to each moving them along in the customer journey.

What About Those Who Converted

Given you don’t want to continue to serve the same ads to those who converted, it’s a best practice to create an audience segment of those who have converted.  After which, you can add them to your campaign exclusions helping ensure you’re saving ad budget on only those who have not converted.  And even if you want to serve separate messaging to those people who did convert, you can continue serving separate advertising to them if they have the propensity to purchase again.

Decide On Frequency

When our team first started doing site retargeting for ourselves, we placed an unlimited cap on the ads delivered.  Even worse, we kept an audience pool for those who visited our website 1 to 2 years ago, versus capping our audience pool to those who visited us in the last 90 days.

A best practice for frequency capping is 4 per day per person.  But if you want to increase to 8, you’ll get good brand building to those who visited your website.

Develop Compelling Creative Copy

It’s vital to leverage compelling ad copy that matches the intent of the users while showcases the benefits of your products or services.  Companies with inventory feeds and car dealerships with inventory have a unique opportunity with Dynamic Site Retargeting in that you can dynamically show individuals who visited that particular landing page a picture or image with relevant copy of the product that person viewed.  So when you have 1,000’s of landing pages, this makes the process of developing relevant creative copy easier.  This type of strategy will vastly improve brand recognition, click-through-rates, and conversions.

Strong Lead Capture System

For those looking to drive leads, having a lead capture system such as Hubspot or Salesforce is only half the battle.  You need to have a sales team who can immediately follow up and nurture those leads into paying customers.  This improves the effectiveness of your post-lead/purchases that occur from your site retargeting campaigns.

Use Multiple Ad Copy

It’s also useful to test different messages that could be useful to A/B split test and determine what is and is not working properly.  This is a standard practice for marketers across many digital channels, so it is just as relevant for site retargeting.

Measure View Through & Click Through Conversions

Of course measuring click through conversions are important, but view through conversions tell the other half of the story.  View through conversions distill those who have seen your ads, but instead converted via another digital channel outside of your site retargeting efforts.  By setting up conversion tracking, you’ll also be able to track just those who saw your ads and converted versus those who clicked on your ads and converted.   This metric is important because there’s power in measuring just those who saw your ads and many times people will concert via other channels outside of your site retargeting channel.

Platforms You Can Leverage For Site Retargeting

Google Adwords (Display & Search)

Google has a display network called Double Click that allows for marketers to serve display ads to people across their millions of network websites and mobile apps.

We invariably recommend Google Display given its vast reach and targeting capabilities.  Also, if you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you can develop a site retargeting audience in Google Analytics platform, and pull it directly into your Google Adwords campaigns for both the display network and even the search network.

Yes….you can even create a retargeting campaign and pull your audience into your search campaigns (RSLA) and reach those users who conduct another search on Google again who visited your website.

Programmatic Display (Site Retargeting)

Programmatic Display and the demand side platforms (DSP’s) that fall within it encompass the vast majority of the web.  With over 35 ad exchanges (Propellant Media has access to 30 of them), you’re reaching close to 98% of the websites and mobile apps, thus providing you with vast reach of audience targeting to those who have visited your website and reaching them anywhere and everywhere they go in the digital world.


Have a 15 second or 30 second video you want to leverage for site retargeting?  We have a 2 minute and 30 second spot we use for YoutTube ad network, but only for site retargeting.

YouTube falls within the Google family, so if you want to leverage a different medium to capture the audience that goes to your website but reach them with video instead of static ads, YoutTube can help you accomplish that.


Facebook and Instagram is effectively one platform, but you can advertise across each one separately.  Having a site retargeting campaign on Facebook and Instagram is prudent given the various types of site retargeting options available on their network and of course the 1.8 Billion users on Facebook & Instagram.  We leverage Facebook and Instagram for 3 types of site retargeting campaigns including Lead Forms, Link Clicks (Generating Direct Traffic To Our Website), and Video Views.  Depending on your goals, you may decide to use one or even all of them.

You can also leverage the Facebook Platform for dynamic retargeting, allowing you to serve very specific creative and Ads to people based on the individual landing page that person visited on your website. This is great for product and e-commerce companies with 100’s of products or physical store locations with product inventory feeds. This also personalizes the experience and improves the chances of a purchase and lead capture via your website again.


Twitter just created a site retargeting program recently thus allowing you to serve display ads and tweet content or short messages to the very same people who visited your website.

As we’ve leveraged twitter for site retargeting, we have noticed the time spent on site via Twitter visitors have been above average.  Twitter is simply another platform worth using for site retargeting.


Another tried and true favorite, we love LinkedIn as it’s turned into the highest engagement of  audiences after we retarget our website visitors on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn has over 570 million users and is the best platform for B2B advertising.

You typically have to build up an audience over 1,000 people before the LinkedIn pixel officially kicks in, but consumers similar to Twitter are impressed after receiving a LinkedIn message or display ad via the LinkedIn platform.

Maybe Direct Mail

There are some platforms that are able to integrate and track back IP address to the head of household with publicly available information.  So if you had someone who visited your website, we’d be able to locate their home address and then send a direct mail piece to their home.

Outbrain & Taboola

Have content you want to promote across websites, blogs and publications?  Outbrain and Taboola allow you to create an audience of those who visited your website but then may consume content in other places.

Turbo Charge Your Site Retargeting

Getting your retargeting set up correctly is great, but if you really want your campaigns to deliver awesome results, you have to get inside the head of your target audiences and feed the beast like the racing turtle below.

Every potential customer is on a buyer journey, and every buyer journey is different. If you want to use retargeting to lead potential customers to the point where they are ready to buy, you need to craft marketing messages that match where your customers currently are—not just where you think they are.

Here are four ways to do that:

Resolve Their Concerns With Your Product Or Service

Often, people aren’t ready to convert because they still have unanswered questions or concerns about converting.

They might not be ready to spend what you’re asking. They might not be ready because they feel nervous about giving you their personal information. They might not be ready to make the time commitment that comes with signing up.

Whatever the reason, if you know that most of your audience isn’t ready to convert because of a specific concern, retargeting can be a great way to address that concern.

Wix does an excellent job of this with one of their retargeting videos. Wix provides website design services, but most people believe that creating a website will take a ton of time and energy. Since they aren’t ready to commit that time and energy, they don’t convert.

To address this point of concern, Wix runs a remarketing video that walks viewers through the process of designing a site on their platform in just one minute and seven seconds.

It’s a slick video, but even more important than the video itself is its message: designing a website with Wix is a quick process.

Cut Your Prices A Bit To Elicit More Purchases

Often, one of the biggest reasons why people aren’t ready to buy is because they aren’t comfortable with the price.

94% of people invest time into comparison shopping, so the odds are that most of your potential customers are hoping they can get what you’re selling for a cheaper price.

Is it any wonder that discounts are one of the most widely used sales tactics?

Discounts get directly at the heart of your potential customers’ pricing concerns. Throw in a little sense of urgency (“Offer Valid Until August 31st”) or exclusivity (“Like Our Page and Get 15% Off”) and you stand a good chance of nudging a potential customer into the “ready to buy” arena.

Cabela’s does an excellent job of this with their remarketing ads. For example, check out this ad:

If pricing on their products is a concern, Cabela’s just made it clear that they are willing to sell a lot of stuff for up to 40% off—as long as you buy soon. So, if price really is important to you, you need to buy now.

Make Your Marketing Simple

Another big reason why people aren’t ready to buy is because what you’re selling is just part of a bigger problem they need resolved.

If you buy a new phone…you also buy a cover. You can’t just get your oil changed…you also need your brakes checked (and the tires….and the lights…and the…ad infinitum). If you sign up for cable, you need someone to set it up.

So, if they buy what you’re selling, they have to figure all of the rest of it out, too. That’s a headache—one that can keep them from converting.

Fortunately, retargeting is a great way to address these concerns, especially if you happen to sell the solution(s)!

For example, Maurice’s retargeting ads take a product you showed interest in and show it in combination with a variety of accessories:

Now, instead of having to figure out all the coordinating pieces you need to buy, you can buy a great looking outfit all at once. It makes things easier for you (and it makes more money for Maurices).

This tactic works great for eCommerce businesses, but can work just as well for almost any business. All you have to do is identify the “extras” your customers will probably have to buy and make it clear to your customers that if they buy from you, it’s a one-stop experience.

Throw in a combo discount and you’re well on your way to getting people from “thinking about buying” to “ready to buy!”

Bring Those Customers Back For More

Remember how I said that your burn pixel was good for more than just getting people out of your retargeting campaigns?

Well, good retargeting convinces people who are ready to convert—but didn’t actually act during their first visit to your site—to convert. Better retargeting convinces people who aren’t ready to convert to convert.

The best retargeting convinces people who have converted to convert again.

Marketing doesn’t end with a sale. Sales may be the ultimate goal of marketing, but the best marketing gets people to buy again and again.

To pull this off, you really need to understand your buying cycle. If someone just made a purchase, they probably aren’t ready to buy again the next day. Give it a few weeks or months, though, and new needs or challenges can easily get someone ready to buy once again.

And, if your ads happen to be there when they are ready to buy, you’ve got a much better chance of up-selling or cross-selling your customers.

For example, if you are marketing a SaaS product and most of your customers upgrade after 3 months, it might be a good idea to run retargeting ads at about 2 months after someone signs up. That way, you can highlight the benefits of upgrading just as they start to realize that they need to upgrade.

Now that’s awesome retargeting in action.

Conclusion – Parting Thoughts & Conclusion To Site Retargeting

Man…that’s a lot.  But here are quick 6 things we suggest to get started with site retargeting:

  1. Start with Google Display, Programmatic Display and Facebook/IG only
  2. Add Google Tag Manager & Google Analytics code to your website
  3. Start with a small $5 – $10/day budget for each platform
  4. Take into account our best practices discussed in this guide
  5. Expand to LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Geofencing Marketing when you’re comfortable.
  6. Track and measure overall leads and purchases through your website

We understand the world of site retargeting is massive, but still doable and most importantly impactful.  You will see the lift in results if you leverage site retargeting for your brand.

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