What Is Website Retargeting and How Can Marketers Benefit from It?

August 18, 2018

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If you’re interested in re-engaging potential customers who have visited your website but haven’t yet taken an action, then website retargeting is a marketing tactic you should know about.

This guide covers the basics of website retargeting and provides practical information to help you set-up cost-effective retargeting campaigns that reach your target audience, meet your goals, and contribute to your company’s bottom line.

What is Website Retargeting?

Website retargeting is a form of online advertising businesses use to recapture potential customers who did not take a predefined action, which marketers commonly refer to as a “conversion,” during their visit to a website.

Retargeted ads can be placed far and wide on the internet. Past visitors may see retargeted ads while browsing the web, watching videos, or catching up on social media. Unlike traditional online ads, retargeted ads are only presented to potential customers who have either visited your website or are a contact in your database.

How Does Website Retargeting Work?

There are two main approaches to retargeting: pixel based and list based. Here is a brief overview of how each approach works:

Pixel Based Retargeting

Pixel based retargeting is powered by browser cookie technology. To get started, you will need to add a small, unobtrusive piece of code—sometimes referred to as a pixel—on your website. The code is invisible to users and should minimally affect site performance. At LinkedIn, our Insight Tag could be considered a pixel. 

Each time a new visitor comes to your website, the code embeds a cookie into the visitor’s browser. This cookie stores the site visit, but typically does not record personally identifiable information (i.e., name, address, email, etc.).

When the visitor leaves your site, the cookie will anonymously track future web activity. If the visitor is part of one of your retargeting campaigns, they will see ads for your business on other web properties they visit.

List Based Retargeting

Listed based targeting is typically used on social media platforms and allows you to retarget people in your business database. The advantage is that your ads can be highly customized, given your knowledge of the contact. However, there are some inherent challenges with this method.

A key issue is the low match rates between B2B contact lists and social platforms. While disappointing, it’s not surprising; B2B contact lists typically include business email addresses while most people use personal email addresses for their social media accounts. List based retargeting also depends on organizations to manually groom and re-upload the list regularly. LinkedIn Contact Targeting is an example of a tool you can use to implement this type of strategy.

Why Is Retargeting Effective?

Broadly speaking, only about 2% of traffic converts after an initial visit to a website. Retargeting can be a cost-effective way to re-engage the unconverted 98%. Retargeting stats reinforce that it makes good business sense to funnel marketing resources toward people who have have some level of interest in your company, or in the products and services you sell.

Compared to people who haven’t previously interacted with your company, retargeted web visitors are three times more likely to click on your ad, and are 70% more likely to convert.

In addition to boosting conversions, retargeting is an effective tool for building and sustaining brand awareness during the longer buying cycles prevalent in the B2B space.

Retargeting vs Remarketing

While retargeting and remarketing share a common objective, the strategy used to re-engage prospects is different. While retargeting typically relies on targeted web ads, remarketing usually uses email—or more traditionally, a printed direct mail piece. Like list based retargeting, remarketing requires a user list with contact data prior to implementing a campaign.

Identifying Your Target Audience

While every unconverted web visitor is a candidate for retargeting, it may not make sense to invest financial resources into every unconverted visitor. Instead, companies can focus on the key audience segments that best align with business goals and have indicated an intent to purchase.

One way to target specific segments is to tie retargeting campaigns to specific pages. An obvious choice in ecommerce would be to retarget web visitors who abandon their cart before completing the transaction. Another example might be a landing page with an ebook which prospects typically download when they enter the consideration phase. Both the checkout page and the ebook landing page could be set as triggers to launch a retargeting campaign whenever a potential customer visits that page but leaves before converting.

Another way to target key prospects is with a customer targeting profile based on specific characteristics and traits. This profile is generally based on data from third-party aggregators.

Website Retargeting Objectives

Retargeting objectives or goals typically focus on clicks, conversions, and/or return on investment. Examples include:

Re-Engaging with a Previously Visited Webpage

The retargeting campaign directs users back to a page they previously visited.

Re-Engaging Visitors with Related Content

Retargeting ads can be designed to direct visitors to a different page with better information related to the subject that originally piqued their interest. These related content pages often include a strong call to action (i.e. download a resource, schedule a demo) and allow companies to discover additional information about prospects who may be ready to buy.

Completing Abandoned Checkouts

If a website visitor added a product to a cart but left without completing the order, retargeting ads can remind them about their pending transaction.

Return on Investment

Regardless of landing page destination, the effectiveness of retargeting campaigns is typically measured by return on ad spend or by an increase in awareness of your company’s product or services among a specified audience.

Tips for Choosing The Right Tool(s)

There are many tools marketers can use to manage their web and social retargeting efforts. Companies may employ multiple tools to expand audience reach or to support specific marketing strategies. In selecting which tool is right for you, there are several considerations.

How Hands-On Will Your Team Be?

There are many third party tools, such as AdRoll, PerfectAudience, and Retargeter, that will manage your retargeting campaigns for you. For marketing teams who like to be more hands-on, retargeting campaigns can also be set up directly through specific platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn.

What Type of Reach Do you Need?

On its own, Google AdWords reaches 92% of all internet users with web-based display ads on the Google Display Network, YouTube, and mobile apps. Using the previously mentioned third party tools can help you further expand your reach as most are able to retarget ads across the web. Some third party tools are able to reach additional networks such as OpenX, Rubicon, Instagram, and HubSpot.

Retargeting campaigns on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are limited to network members. However, depending on your goals, a single social network may be sufficient.

Where Do Your Potential Customers Spend Their Time?

When selecting the tool for your remarketing campaigns, it’s important to consider where your targets spend time online. For instance, are they more likely to be on the web or on a social network? Social media retargeting can be especially effective because people are more likely to share or discuss content on a social network.

Do You Want to Leverage An Existing Email List?

If you would like to leverage an existing email list, you will need to choose a tool that allows you to upload your list to match the emails associated with the user account profiles. List based retargeting is generally used on social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Google also allows marketers to upload a list of customers’ emails.

What Is Your Budget?

Initial set-up for retargeting tools is typically free. Companies are usually charged for impressions delivered, most commonly by cost per thousand (CPM) or per click. However, some platforms require an initial deposit to get started.

Using Linkedin Retargeting to Re-Engage Potential Customers

LinkedIn has been consistently rated as the leading platform for B2B lead generation by marketers, making it a good fit for B2B companies looking to retarget prospects or re-engage customers. Here are ways LinkedIn can help you reach and re-engage your audience:

Access to an Affluent, Active Network of Professionals

As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn has more than 500 million members. Professionals on LinkedIn boast 2x the buying power of an average web audience with 80% driving business decisions. Forty percent of members visit LinkedIn daily.

Engage with B2B Professionals at the Right Time in the Right Place

Numerous studies have looked at B2B lead generation on social networks and LinkedIn traditionally comes out on top, delivering conversion rates up to 3 times higher than other social networks. Why is this? Advanced targeting capabilities aside, people generally invest more quality, business-minded time on LinkedIn whereas they are more likely to spend lifestyle-minded time elsewhere. When ads and content assets cater to the inherent professional context of LinkedIn, audience members are more likely to engage.

Leverage a Variety of Retargeting Options

LinkedIn supports retargeting efforts that are both pixel and list based, ensuring you can reach the B2B professionals who matter most to you. Retargeted advertising solutions include:

  • Sponsored Content - Deliver content directly to audience members within their newsfeed. Ads appear natively in a member’s feed on desktop, mobile, and tablet. 
  • LinkedIn Sponsored InMail - Send personalized messages to prospects which appear directly in a LinkedIn member’s InMail inbox.
  • LinkedIn Text Ads - Run cost-effective text-based ads to drive prospects to your website or landing page. These appear in the right rail of the desktop homepage.

Budgeting for LinkedIn Retargeting Campaigns

With LinkedIn retargeting, you can choose the pricing methodology that best aligns with your campaign goals. For marketers using Campaign Manager, cost can be controlled in one of two ways:

  1. By setting budgets, or the maximum total amount you want to spend per day 
  2. By setting your max CPC or CPM 

For marketers looking to further expand reach and impact, LinkedIn-managed retargeting campaigns are also possible with a minimum quarterly spend.

How to use Linkedin Website Retargeting

Get started with LinkedIn Website Retargeting in five steps:

Step 1: Add the LinkedIn Insight Tag to Your Website

The LinkedIn Insight Tag is a lightweight piece of JavaScript code that powers conversion tracking, retargeting, and web analytics for your LinkedIn ad campaigns. Once you add the LinkedIn Insight Tag to your site, sign in to LinkedIn Campaign Manager, click into the desired account, drop down the Account Assets menu, and choose Insight Tag. Your website will be listed as Verified if your tag is added properly.

Step 2: Create Audiences to Retarget

Visit the audience creation page in Campaign Manager, click on Create an Audience to retarget, and then use filters to create website audiences to target with your campaigns.

Step 3: Let Your Audiences Build

After you’ve installed the Insight Tag and defined audience segments, your audience will grow as more LinkedIn members visit your site. Each website segment must generate at least 300 people before ads can be delivered to that retargeted audience.

Step 4: Tailor Your Content for Each Audience Segment

Reactivate visitor interest by delivering content that's most relevant to each audience segment. For instance, you might deliver different content to the business decision makers who abandon your site vs. the field workers who abandon your site. They do different jobs, so they need different content to be properly re-engaged. 

Step 5: Measure and Improve

Use the advanced reporting and analytics in Campaign Manager to do more of what’s working and to fix or de-prioritize what isn’t. Most users find Conversion Tracking to be an extremely helpful tool in measuring what matters for their marketing campaigns on LinkedIn.

Ready to re-engage your website visitors on the world’s largest professional network? Get started with LinkedIn website retargeting.