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Understanding Onsite Retargeting

There is a great deal of work involved in figuring out who your target market is and how to reach them. Another consideration that you need to take into account is when it is most appropriate to reach out to your target market for the best results. This particular post is going to focus on the when component of targeting. By targeting your market at the right time and implementing the most effective strategies, you can improve your lead generation campaigns and ultimately, your sales.

If you are starting a pay per click campaign, you want to ensure that people convert while on your website. The more visitors you convert, the easier of a time you have of reaching your goals. This is the type of scenario that requires you to use a strategy known as onsite retargeting.

What is Onsite Retargeting?

The concept of retargeting should not be new to you. As a marketing professional, you use targeting to determine your target market, to send out email campaigns, to create content, and to promote your brand in various ways. The most traditional type of targeting takes place “offsite.”

Offsite retargeting is pinpointing the users that have visited your website after they have left and using advertisements, emails, and the like to further remind them about your brand and what it has to offer. Usually, this marketing strategy works, but it is not the only one that can lead to impressive results. An alternative option, which is the topic of this discussion, is onsite retargeting.

Onsite retargeting, also known as behavioral targeting, is the process of creating advertisements, popups, and other content that you show to your visitors while they are on your website. By targeting them before they exit, they can attain the full benefit of understanding what your brand is, what it has to offer, and other information that will enable them to make a decision right then and there.

The #1 Principle of Onsite Retargeting

Onsite retargeting is focused on one principle, which is “marketing must be increasingly targeted, focused, and personal.” Under this principle, the elements of onsite retargeting can be fully appreciated during your marketing campaign. Also, as Knotice Company points out, advertisements used for onsite retargeting that are specific to the individual garnered a conversation rate of 6.8 percent. The behavioral component of the advertisement is what drives the high conversion rate.

At this point, you may be wondering how onsite retargeting works. After all, to create focused, personal, and targeted advertisements – you need information about your website viewers. This is where the behavioral marketing component comes in. According to Marketing Schools, to generate information about your visitors, behavioral targeting takes advantage of compute applications, cookies, browsing, search history, and web analytics belonging to your website’s visitor. Upon visiting your site, the website ad server extracts this information from the visitor and generates the relevant content for the advertisement.

Over time, with continual visits to your site by the same user, the advertisements become more targeted and effective. Of course, as you can tell – the quality of the retargeting depends upon website visits. Essentially, the system assumes that the visitor is going to visit continually. The good news is that in most cases, visitors stop by your website more than a few times and you can attribute those visits to the impact of the advertisements.

Is Onsite Behavioral Retargeting Different from Network Behavioral Targeting?

Many marketing professionals who have heard of behavioral onsite retargeting are also familiar with network behavioral retargeting. The most common question is whether there is a difference between the two types of targeting and if so, which one is best to use.

Unlike onsite behavioral retargeting, network retargeting is focused upon user types. For example, the targeting efforts are not geared toward individual visitors, but upon who the website’s visitors likely are. If the website is geared at attracting female housewives, then the advertisements focus on that type of visitor. This type of retargeting is a much more general form of adverting and it may not have the same effect as onsite behavioral targeting. For the best results, it is suggested that you adhere to the personalized and focused advertising scheme.

What Does Onsite Retargeting Look Like?

Before you start onsite retargeting, there is a great deal of preliminary information to cover. The first component is to understand what onsite retargeting looks like.


The advertisement above is an example of onsite retargeting. In this advertisement, there are a few things that you can notice at the onset. First, the advertisement is geared toward a male visitor. The color of the advertisement, the male figure, and the masculine appearance of the ad all suggest that the visitor is male. Second, the visitor is also interested in improving their stock trading strategy. This is clear because the advertisement talks about stocks, it suggests that by joining the visitor can make money, and the header sentence to the ad shows that the company can help them gain a profit.

Of course, there are also many variations involved with onsite retargeting. For example, some brands like to feature the ads when the visitor first enters the site, is about to exit, or at random while the visitor is browsing through the pages. This type of issue will be discussed in the strategies section. For now, it is just useful to know that the timeframe for showing the ad can also have an impact on how effective the ad is. Therefore, you need to think about your visitors, what they will react to, and like information.

How Does Onsite Retargeting Work?

According to Digital Marketer, the onsite retargeting process is actually very easy to implement. The goal of implementing this strategy is to attain a higher rate of return by converting more visitors while they are on their website. By converting visitors while on your website, you can reduce the chance that they will leave and forget about your brand completely.

As mentioned earlier, onsite retargeting generates information in the following ways:

  • URL Keywords
  • Browser cookies
  • Search history
  • Browsing history
  • Visitor type
  • Type of traffic

In addition to attaining information from these channels, you also need to think about your customer segments. While personalized ads are effective, you still need general ads that are based upon the personal ads.

At this stage, you need to think of and target your multiple customer segments. When thinking about your customer segments, consider where they likely are in the buying process, what they are expecting to see n your website, and what information is likely to convert them into buyers. What really comes in handy in this stage is the marketing funnel.

After you have divided your visitors into buyer segments, the next step is to find software that can gather information as visitors stop by your site and generate ads that will convert them into customers. The software you use is up to you, you just need to do the necessary research to find what you are looking for.

The third step, according to Strategy Labs, is to monitor your PPC score and to determine at what stage of the process to feature an ad. For example, to get a second chance from your visitor, you can feature the advertisement before they leave your site. The more page views you get from the same customer too, the higher the chance your PPC campaign and onsite retargeting is going to be effective.

Now that we’ve covered what onsite retargeting is, how it works, and a bit on how to implement it, let’s focus in on the heart of this piece – which are the strategies involved.

  1. Improve Engagement

When opting to use onsite retargeting, Google Analytics can come in handy. In particular, you should look to the custom segment of the analytics software. Once you reach the custom segment, you can link your Google Analytics and AdsWords to retarget a specific segment of your audience. As Kissmetrics points out, some of the best factors to retarget include:

  • Page visits
  • Landing pages
  • Goal completion
  • Session duration
  • And page depth

Once you have gathered all of the necessary information, you can put the numbers together to determine who is most likely to buy on your website. Once you figure that out, the next step is to create onsite retargeting advertisements that better target your visitors and that also improve engagement levels.

  1. A Better User Experience

Another strategy that you can easily implement is to improve your user experience. As Semrush smartly mentions, a positive user experience hardly takes place when there are popups involved. However, what you should keep in mind that a positive user experience is not the result of the popup itself, but of bad quality popups.


Instead, the suggestion is to ensure that your onsite advertisements are high quality. The message needs to be triggered at just the right moment and feature information that the user welcomes. The key to ensuring that the information is welcome is to present relevant information. If the information is not relevant, it may be off putting to the visitor, thereby preventing them from visiting again.

  1. A Free Trial

Every visitor loves a free trial, whether it is of a product you are selling or a service that you are offering. One of the negative effects of a free trial though is when a visitor accepts the free trial and never makes use of your product again. Chances are though, the visitor simply forgot about the product. To remedy this scenario, Kissmetrics suggests transitioning from simply onsite retargeting to also offsite retargeting.

Your offsite retargeting efforts can include a follow up email or an offsite advertisement. In addition, you can ask the visitor to comment about their experience with your product to receive a discount on their next order. This strategy will improve your brand’s visibility and it will allow you to make use of onsite retargeting with new visitors.

  1. Remind the Visitor about the Shopping Cart

Similar to the free trial issue, visitors on your website may fill their shopping cart with stuff, but forget to check because they left their computer for more than a few moments. According to Raven Tools, in this scenario a popular solution is to retarget your customer by reminding them of the shopping cart.

Most retargeting software can sense when the visitor has return to their computer and once they access the webpage again, you can retarget them by presenting an advertisement that reminds them of their shopping cart. To further press the user to make the purchase sooner, the advertisement can also suggest that one of the items in the shopping cart is almost out of stock or that a special deal is expiring soon. By presenting the visitor with a sense of urgency, they are most likely to press the buy button faster.

  1. Present the Advertisement at the Right Time

One of the most important considerations that you are going to need to make is when to feature the advertisement. There are three options: when the visitor visits the website, during the visit, or when the visitor is about to leave. Most software can sense each of these stages and when they do, they issue the advertisement so that the user has the opportunity to take a different action – like buying a product or service that you are offering.

For most marketing professionals, the issue is when to feature an advertisement is significant. In most cases, a choice can directly impact how effective the advertisements are. According to Clickz, whether you use an opt-in, opt-out, or advertisement that is featured while the user is browsing is really a business decision. The best person equipped to make the decision is the head of the marketing team because they understand the user, what the user is looking for, and what will be the most effective in gaining their attention.

Ultimately though, if you do need some guidance – you may want to opt out of choosing an advertisement that appears when the user first visits the site. This can seem a bit intrusive and abrupt and it may dissuade the visitor from staying on the website and making a purchase.

  1. Invite Registration to Newsletter Emails

Another strategy that you may want to try goes beyond simple advertising that introduces the visitor to your brand. The alternative is to actually market a monthly newsletter, visiting the brand blog, or other types of activities that improve user engagement, get information out, and help users convert more readily.

When formulating an advertisement for these activities, you can add a box and button that invites the user to “opt-in.” Once they opt-in, the visitor will not only benefit from the onsite targeting, but you will also generate a new lead that you can easily convert with email campaigns. Another suggestion is to offer the visitor to invite a friend to the site or to the brand’s social media page. Doing so will warrant a discount on their next purchase.

  1. Keep it Normal

Finally, Kissmetrics also suggests that when you create advertisements, it is best to keep things normal. Many brands seem to remind visitors how many times they have visited the website and how long they have remained on the site. While this is useful information to you, your website visitor will find it creepy and it will likely dissuade them from buying.


Overall, onsite retargeting is a highly effective strategy – you just need to implement it correctly. Also, when onsite retargeting, it is best to not solely rely on the strategy alone. Onsite retargeting is meant to be used with other marketing efforts to convert visitors into paying customers. Now that you’ve made the decision to use onsite retargeting, it’s time to find the right software to help you out.

Lastly, let me know your thoughts and what other tips have for onsite retargeting. Leave a comment below and I look forward to hearing from you.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

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