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On-Site Retargeting Strategy: The Essential Checklist

Conversion optimization Personalization

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Published October 27, 2017 · Updated August 2, 2018

On-Site Retargeting Strategy: The Essential Checklist

If you operate an online business, your main objective is to convert website visitors into customers or subscribers. However, excellent site design, a responsive interface, and even your top products can fail to bring the expected results. The truth is, most visitors need multiple touch points and nudges to reach the end of your marketing funnel. The foundation of an effective and conversion-driving site is user engagement.

But how can you grab your visitor’s attention, keep them on the site, and lead them to take the action you expect? This is where on-site retargeting tool comes into play. This marketing strategy, also called on-site remarketing, helps you re-engage with visitors. This consequently boosts conversions. In this post, we’ll provide you with a practical checklist for designing a campaign that will ease your marketing efforts as you reach your business objectives.

Step 1. Know your funnel and identify leaks

First, get your conversion funnel in place. Fill it with traffic, then closely observe and analyze the flow inside it. You need to find what’s causing leaks. In practice, this means continuing analysis of key metrics at every step. Depending on your business, you can have a B2B model that looks like one of these:

  • Visitor to Lead
  • Lead-to-Marketing Qualified Lead
  • Marketing Qualified Lead-to-Sales Qualified Lead
  • Sales Qualified Lead-to-Customer
  • Lead-to-Customer

And if you operate in the e-commerce business, the stages will be different:

  • Product page
  • Shopping cart
  • Delivery and payment
  • Completed purchase

No matter what your funnel is, you need to classify visitors correctly, assigning them to the right stage. Then you collect the data from each level, dive into your web analytics, CRM to get the insights on customer’s behavior. Finally, you integrate all the information into a comprehensive report to see how much traffic you’re losing at each stage. Analyze conversion pages and your traffic sources, like organic, social media, and AdWords.
To get the full picture, your report should include a quantitative analysis of pages with details on:

  • Figures from analytics
  • Bounce rates
  • Entries/exits
  • Conversions

However, numbers aren’t everything. You should also include qualitative analysis of session recordings, heat maps and surveys. Session replays and heat maps reveal conversion blockers affecting both individual visitors and segmented audiences as a whole.
In this context, the key metrics you need to take into account are the number of visitors at each step of the funnel, conversion percentage, and bounce rate.

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Step 2. Divide your audience at each stage of the marketing funnel

Essentially, you divide up your audience based on information that describes its relation to your product. There are various approaches to this practice, and you need to choose the one that best suits your strategy and resources.
One efficient way is to divide up your audience depending on where they lie in your purchase funnel. This data-driven approach uses behavioral, interest-based information about your visitors. At least, that’s the theory. The practice of creating segments at each stage goes like this:

  • New and returning visitors. Differentiate between new visitors and customers. In the case of your first-time visitors, your goal is to increase awareness of your brand. On the other hand, customers and returning visitors know already your organization, so you need to deepen their engagement with your brand. That requires a different on-site retargeting strategy. If a visitor lands on your product page, consider displaying a more personalized message with a one-on-one assistance offer.
  • Visitors who abandoned carts. Users who got to the cart page but left without making a purchase can be retargeted with lower-funnel strategies. The situation can be saved! Recover the cart with an engaging incentive like a discount or free delivery offer. This will encourage your buyers to finalize the purchase.
  • Visitors who left the checkout. As they have shown a strong interest in your offer, they are most likely to buy during later sessions. This makes them crucial to retarget.
  • Visitors who arrived at the order completion or thank you page. They should be excluded from your retargeting list once they have converted in your campaign’s goal. You don’t want to annoy them with ads promoting products they’ve already bought. However, they can be remarketed later with a cross-selling offer in a different campaign.
  • If you want to dive deeper, you can consider other strategies for building segments:

  • Visitors grouped by traffic source. Not every source is of the same value for marketing purposes. For instance, when your social media platform is not the best way to direct visitors to your site and you can use your budget for other channels.
  • Visitors who bought your product some time ago. Your repeat customers can be further divided into, for example, high, average or low value depending on the price of the purchase. Each of these requires an individual approach, but in general you should recognize them and put some effort into providing them with a special offer.
  • Visitors who entered one of your website’s key pages but didn’t complete any conversion. Those are users who have shown interest in subpages like “contact us”, but didn’t do anything else to convert. You can remind them of your content with customized banners or overlays and bring them back to the site.

Take advantage of your web analytics, DMP, and data manager to see where the visitors are in your funnel so you can create a particular segment among your audience.

Step 3. Engage your visitors at each stage of your funnel

Once you set up your segments, you can craft the details of your marketing campaigns. You already know who you want to reach with your retargeting content, now it’s high time to put it to use.

Employ personalization strategies

For your on-site retargeting campaign to be efficient, you need your visitor’s attention and engagement. Get this through customized content based on data you can obtain from:

  • CRM
  • Email marketing platforms
  • CSV imports
  • Data warehouses
  • DSP and DMP platforms

Get the most of your data to personalize your content and make it relevant for your segments.

There’s also another way to know more about your visitors and then tailor your messages. If you apply UTM tracking URLs, you can figure out if a visitor is coming from a paid ad campaign, a software website, or any other source. You can then use this information to customize your content accordingly.

Rounding this section out, whether it’s your visitor’s name, their hometown, or past transactions, apply this information in content creation. “Speak” the same language as your visitor, integrate keywords from your retargeting creatives to build a smoother and more relevant page that boosts your conversion rate.

Meet visitors where they are

Starting from the top of your funnel and take a look at new visitors. When someone lands on your site for the first time (imagine it’s an industry-specific site) the code drops a cookie in the user’s browser. When they leave, that cookie tells your retargeting platform to show a particular ad to that visitor. This way, you can remind the user to visit your site again later. You can also design retargeting ads for social media platforms and drive visitors back to your blog post about the same subject matter.

Descending to the middle of your funnel, you already know a little about users’ preferences, and you can serve them the content they’re looking for. One thing you can do is take advantage of dynamic personalization. Offer a wide range of product recommendations, or simply update callouts to promote webinars and other events that match user’s needs and interests. Also, use on-site remarketing to promote giveaways like:

  • Ebooks
  • Discounts
  • Product samples
  • Special offers available only to subscribers.

Finally, at the bottom of your funnel you can focus on lead nurturing and sales promotion, then actively encourage your visitors to make the final leap. You have the right resources and information about visitors at your disposal. Use it to provide them with the proper incentives. Try these methods:

  • Display countdown pop-ups for limited-time offers when someone is about to leave the page or the cart without buying the product.
  • Apply nanobars offering to save your visitor’s cart so they can finalize the purchase later, when it’s more convenient for them.

Redesign your on-site retargeting strategy for completed checkouts

In the case of people who have already finalized checkout, you need to adjust your on-site optimization so you don’t pester them with ads for products they’ve already bought. You can simply insert a burn pixel into the post-transaction page. This piece of code erases the user from your retargeting list, which ensures they won’t see the creative linked to the purchased item.

However, a completed checkout doesn’t mean that your retargeting is over. By creating a new segment retargeting people who bought an item, you can successfully upsell by offering upgrades or service add-ons that complement earlier purchases.

Make visitors stay with your brand

When it’s applied correctly, on-site retargeting can help boost customer loyalty. You can devise your campaign to serve banner ads, videos, overlays promoting free delivery and return shipping, and live consultations. These are all great selling points. Research shows that about 56% of customers would change brands if they could get better customer support. Even if your visitor gets distracted or abandons the cart by leaving your site, you can bring them back by reminding them why your offer is an ace.

Step 4. Apply the right technology

Whatever business you operate in, even if you have the most solid strategy, you still need tools that will do all this work for you. With the right ones, you can skillfully put your plans into action. We want to show which ones you should consider using to get the results you need.

Starting from the basics, web analytics is simply a must as it gathers all sorts of data and information on your visitors. You don’t have to guess, because you know where your users come from, what pages and subpages they visit, when they flip through your sites, and what devices and browsers they use.

Your marketing arsenal should also include a tag manager. This tool enables you to deploy and manage your tracking pixels on dedicated subpages to reach the right segments of retargeting audiences. What’s more, it allows you to limit ad fatigue with proper frequency capping.

Furthermore, creating tailored segments to divide up your audiences requires a data manager or DMP. Data collected by a DMP can be transformed into profiles, which are essential for audience segmentation. These tools enable you to build precise segments based on criteria you define, like high value repeat customers who abandoned checkout vs. high value repeat customers who watched a product video but didn’t add anything to a cart. Then, you can design smart retargeting campaigns supported by a deeper understanding of your present and potential customers.

Finally, design and tailor messages using content personalization, which provides hand-picked offers to selected and predefined segments of your audiences. Make use of customized banners, overlays, and nanobars to remind your visitor about their full cart, or to prevent them from leaving your site without completing a form.

Your faith in technology shouldn’t rely just on functionality and efficiency. When choosing tools for on-site remarketing, remember to think about legal compliance. This is especially important considering the upcoming GDPR that will pose many challenges to web analysts and digital marketers.

Choose technology that allows you to responsibly collect and manage data while observing strict privacy and data security laws. It’s not just about safety of gathering information on visitors, but also having ownership of the data and deciding where you store it. Give thought to a marketing platform that you can install on your own infrastructure. This lets you take charge of your data and control who can access it.

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Step 5. Track campaign performance

The crucial KPIs for your campaign are those which are closest to meeting your business goal. Because your retargeting efforts are supposed to lift conversion rates, you need to analyze results in this context. When checking the performance of your on-site retargeting campaigns, here’s what you need to consider as you analyze your reports:

  • Click-through per creative
  • Click-through conversion
  • Conversion lift
  • A/B testing reports for different content creatives and variations
  • Campaign performance for individual segments
  • Return on investment

If the campaign is doing well, you can increase your budget and keep engaging your visitors. For campaigns that need a boost, you can modify creatives, or maybe even redesign your segments. Maybe you can choose different lead magnets or special offers that match the needs and expectations of particular visitors.

Creating rich and extensive reports on your campaigns requires using a range of tools. Your web analytics and CRM provide you with conversion insights, while data on impressions and clicks can be taken from personalization tools. However, you can get an even better understanding of all this data using rich dashboards provided by tools like Looker and Tableau. They let you visualize and merge data into one comprehensive report.

Final thoughts

So now you know why you need to implement on-site retargeting. We hope that our checklist will help you save time and spare you hassle. Now it’s your turn to give it a go, and if you need some more advice we’re here for you.


Karolina Matuszewska

Senior Content Marketer

Writer and content marketer. Transforms technical jargon into engaging and informative articles.

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