How Retargeting Links Can Expand Your Marketing Reach

retarget your marketing links
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I’m sure you’ll agree: “Getting plenty of website traffic is great!” 

But the truth is unless these people convert – buy, sign up for a newsletter or contact your business, for instance, it’s all worthless. The problem, however, is that visitors often get distracted before converting. Their computer crashed; boss was strolling by their desk or they simply ran a last minute check on their bank balance and canceled the purchase.

That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try again… providing that you bring them back to the site. And that’s where retargeting comes in. The trouble is that you can’t always use it. Not being able to install the retargeting code on a site for instance, pretty much hinders your any attempts to create a remarketing list. Or does it?

Well, turns out you can retarget visitors even if you can’t include a retargeting script on the site. How? By adding it to your links instead. And in this post I’m going to show you how retargeting on links works and how you could use it to improve your marketing efforts.

Retargeting on Links

In case you don’t know what retargeting is, let me go over that very quickly. Retargeting (often referred to as remarketing, the two terms are in fact often used interchangeably) is an advertising method in which website owners can “re-attract” previous visitors who might have indicated their interest in a product or service but for some reason abandoned the conversion.

Retargeting is a fairly straightforward practice, in a nutshell the whole process looks like this: When someone visits a site that uses retargeting, a cookie file is placed in their browser that allows an advertiser to identify and target them with relevant ads when they visit other sites. And there are some amazing retargeting platforms that take care of all the technical aspects of the process: leaving the cookie file in a visitor’s browser, building a retargeting list and displaying the ads.

The most common ones are:

And, retargeting works…

According to Wishpond for instance:
  • Visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert.
  • The average click-through rate of retargeting ads is 10 times higher than of ordinary display ads (source).

According to the Conversion Academy report, your chances to re-attract people who have abandoned their shopping carts grow by 18% if you use retargeting in the first 12 hours.

link remarketing

(Image courtesy of Conversion Academy)

But there are many use cases when you simply can’t use retargeting cookies on your website.

For instance:

#1 You Want to Retarget Your Social Media Audience

There’s hardly an organisation today that wouldn’t engage in building social media audience in one way or another. At the most basic level, I bet you recommend useful and relevant content to your social media audience:

  • You submit YouTube videos guiding them step-by-step through a process of overcoming a particular problem they have,
  • Refer them to articles revealing how they could get past a certain hurdle in their professional lives, or
  • Share infographics that highlight specific issues your audience might feel strongly about.
But here’s the catch:

Since a lot of this content isn’t yours, you end up sending traffic to 3rd party sites…      … And lose the chance to market to these people.
Using retargeting links when sharing content on social media allows you to capture this traffic into your retargeting lists. You can then target them with relevant ads based on links they clicked on, promote your content or attract them to your site in any other way.

#2 You Are an Affiliate

As an affiliate you send visitors to someone else’s website.
And in doing so you’re handing them over the traffic along with al its marketing potential. In most cases, once someone clicks on your affiliate link, they’re gone. You can’t reach and re-attract them to the product anymore. The site owner on the other hand can reap all the benefits of this new traffic. They can add those visitors to their retargeting lists for instance or try to target and convert them in many other ways. All while you have to go and look for new visitors again. Using retargeting links however gives you an opportunity to retain that traffic and continue promoting the product to them.

Let me show you how this works, think of your typical affiliate process:
You target visitors who might be interested in a particular product. Run Adwords ads, send information about it to your email list or drive traffic to your affiliate site from search. And in every of those places you include an affiliate link pointing to a page where they could buy a product. But, instead of using the affiliate link you got from the site you’re promoting, you also attach a retargeting pixel to it.
Now anyone clicking on it will not only be redirected to the site but also, added to your retargeting list. You’ll be able to display ads promoting the product and reminding them of their interest in purchasing it.

#3 You’re an Agency Promoting a Client’s Site

I guess this is a common gripe in many agencies:
A client wants you to increase their web traffic and conversions but…
Gives you no access to their website whatsoever.

You can’t change the content or add additional pages to make it more interesting. Or modify the layout to make it more enticing for visitors. And there’s simply no chance you would be able to add a retargeting script to it too.

And yet as part of your strategy you want to retarget visitors who bounced off different pages on the site:
  • You want to display ads to drive higher brand awareness to visitors who viewed the homepage.
  • Target action driven ads to people who browsed your client’s products list.
  • Be even more specific to those who viewed a particular product, and
  • Display highly specialized ads to people who have abandoned the shopping cart.
But it’s impossible without being able to install a tracking pixel on the site.

This is another example situation where retargeting links become useful. With just a couple of clicks you can create a link that contains a retargeting code and use it in your marketing strategies to drive traffic to the site. You can include it in Adwords ads, in social media posts or in native advertising and content marketing campaigns. Now anyone who visits the site through that link will be immediately added to a retargeting list allowing you to target them with relevant ads on other sites.

#4 You Sell Products on Marketplaces Like eBay or Amazon

If you’re working in ecommerce, I’m sure you know this already:
“Ebay, Amazon and other marketplaces offer enormous opportunities to gain exposure and increase your products’ sales.”
Even though you might perceive them as competitors, being able to sell directly to their customers is an invaluable opportunity for your business. After all, more and more customers prefer to have the option to buy through multiple channels. Econsultancy, for instance, discovered that customer demand for multichannel retail is growing.
When asked, “How important is it to be able to purchase from a retailer from different channels?” 40% of UK and 39% of US participants responded “very important”.

retargeting link(Image source: econsultancy)

And last year’s multichannel retail report from Vend concluded:
“[…] retailers embracing multiple channels to serve customers will be some of the most successful ones in 2015” (source).

Selling on marketplaces gives you an opportunity to reach customers who wouldn’t otherwise have found your site.

Fact: today’s shoppers prefer to use Amazon over Google when searching for products. And even if they did use the search engine, given the fierce competition in SERPs, they might still not reach your store through the channel.

They also give you a chance to take a less recognised brand and put it in front of thousands of potential customers.

This is especially important if you’re only launching a new brand or products to the market. The cost of reaching initial customers through marketplaces will be lower than launching a powerful marketing campaign.

But they give you no option to remarket to those visitors.

Since you include your products on 3rd party sites, you have no chance to add a retargeting pixel. That’s where retargeting on links come useful. Any time you drive traffic to your marketplace listing, be it through Adwords ads, Facebook ads or email newsletters, you can include a retargeting link adding people who’ve clicked it to your list.

#5 You Need to Act Faster than Your IT Department Can

Technology itself isn’t always the problem preventing you from being able to use retargeting. But access to it might be.
Just imagine that you work for a large hotel chain. You’ve just been given a go ahead to launch a last minute campaign targeting visitors looking for accommodation for an upcoming event. This is a time sensitive campaign and as part of it you want to use retargeting to increase your chances for getting those bookings.
But the problem is that it would take the IT department a couple of days to install a tracking pixel on the site. And that’s the time you simply don’t have.

You therefore have two options:
  1. You can wait for the IT department to install the pixel but by then many sales might already be gone.
  2. Or you could launch the campaign without the retargeting component.

And in both cases you might lose many potential bookings. With retargeting on links you can launch your campaign on time and still be able to retarget any site visitors it brings.

#6 You Want to Retarget Your Email Subscribers

Email is one of the best converting marketing channels.
And there’s plenty of statistics to prove it:
The average ROI from email marketing for instance is $44.25 for every dollar spent. And according to ConvinceandConvert, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase based on recommendation from a promotional email they’ve received. But the problem is that not every link you include in an email points back to your site. You could be using email to promote affiliate products. Or to share useful content from around the Web. In spite of that though you might still want to target them with relevant offers based on their behaviour. Yet since this traffic doesn’t go to your site, there’s hardly anything you could do. Unless you include retargeting script in those links. This way you could target a person based on links they clicked and display highly targeted ads relevant to their interests.

How Does Retargeting on Links Work

The process is actually quite simple.I’ve already described how it works on the user’s end. Let’s now look at its technical aspect.

To create a retargeting list, you need to first add a retargeting script, a small snippet of code you get from the network you use, to your site or app.
You then have to create a retargeting list that will include users identified by specific behaviour on your site (i.e. people who have visited a specific product page or have abandoned their shopping cart).
And lastly, you need to build a campaign that will show to people from a specific list. Only people who have been added to the list will see your ads.

Remarketing on links works in a similar way.

The only difference between the two is that with links you don’t need to add the retargeting code to your site. It’s included in the link instead.
Once you create a retargeting code in your network of choice, you simply attach it to the link to create a tracking link. You still have to create a retargeting list and follow all the other steps of the process. But now the cookie file will be added to a user’s browser when they click on a link, not visit a specific page.
To find out more about the process, check out this guide to creating retargeting links by ClickMeter (disclaimer: a tool offering this functionality).

But What’s Really All the Fuss About?

You see: Retargeting links offers you a completely new opportunity to act on user behaviour outside of the site. By using retargeting links, you can target visitors based on:

  • Contents they consume
  • Links they click
  • Affiliate products they view
  • Simply overcome technical problems with installing retargeting code on the site

Over to You….

What do you think, would retargeting on the links be useful to your work? Have you ever used it before? Share your opinion with us in the comments.

Or perhaps you have questions regarding using retargeting links. And wondering how you could use them in your marketing.

If that’s so, connect with us through the comments too. Our technical and marketing teams will be happy to answer whatever queries you have.


Further Reading:

Originally Posted:
 16th July 2015
First review: 10th November 2015
Last Updated: 21th June 2017

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Pawel Grabowski
Hi there, I’m Pawel Grabowski, a lead generation copywriter and content writer based in rainy but beautiful Ireland.