When it comes to marketing, every cent counts.

The reason why large corporations and global enterprises can afford to spend so much on marketing their products and services is because they know the channels that work. Years of experience gives these business leaders key insights into the marketing approaches that deliver results.

However, start-up founders and entrepreneurs often find themselves in a tough spot: Not only do they have to produce high-ROI marketing results with less resources than enterprises have on-hand, but also many of them are direct competitors of those exact enterprises.

This environment offers small to mid-size business owners and their digital marketers a key incentive for developing low-cost, high-ROI marketing solutions. Under these conditions, remarketing can be one of the most powerful tools available.

What exactly is retargeting and how does it work?

Retargeting is a concept that is both simple and effective. The fundamental premise of retargeting is marketing to people who have already visited your website.

The main tool for achieving this is something that all Internet users are familiar with – cookies. By tracking the behavior of users who visit your website, you can custom-tailor ads to retarget their interest after the fact.


Where traditional advertising channels tend to be expensive, are often difficult to quantify, and may not always produce the results you expect of them, retargeting is the opposite:

• Retargeting caters to a small, extremely specific audience, so you don't end up paying for ads to non-interested leads.

• Because retargeting uses a small, unobtrusive JavaScript cookie to track customer behavior, it offers user-specific data that you simply can't get anywhere else.

• When done correctly, retargeting is a reliable way to generate value for customers, who reward you by purchasing your products and services.

Retargeting usually relies on a social media platform to serve ads. Every platform has its own version: Facebook has Pixel and Twitter has Tailored Audiences.

But remarketing isn't limited to social media – Google has remarketing lists on its Display Network and Search Network services.

Throughout all these platforms the underlying concept remains the same. Businesses that use content marketing to draw leads onto their websites and then use retargeting tools to show highly specific ads to those individuals earn much more per visitor than even successful, established enterprises in the same field.

Retargeting tips for start-up founders  – how to make retargeting work

While it's well-known that retargeting can reduce customer acquisition costs by half, there is another side to the retargeting story.

Namely, bad retargeting can turn customers away from your brand. There is a sweet spot right between showing too many ad impressions and not showing enough. Additionally, your banner ads require constant updating as you fine-tune your approach.

In short, putting together a successful retargeting campaign requires work. But it's work that pays off. To ensure that your retargeting campaign produces the best possible results, adhere to the following do's and don'ts while creating, implementing, and maintaining your campaigns.

1. Choose the right retargeting platform

Most startups, entrepreneurs, and digital marketers become attracted to retargeting because of the need to get big results with a minimal budget. Retargeting is perfect for that if you choose the best platform for your particular audience.

Knowing your audience is crucial because retargeted ads that work on one platform may not work at all on another. For instance, many businesses choose to start with Google because it combines low costs with one of the largest display networks on the Internet.

However, case studies by professional remarketing agencies have shown Google remarketing click-through results standing at half of the same amount of spend on other display-serving platforms.

Facebook is another popular choice because it has an enormous user base, gives remarketing campaigns lots of flexibility, and generally offers a lower cost-per-click than Google does. Customer expectations make the biggest difference though – certain brands and industries simply work better on certain platforms, and it's up to you to know where yours fits.

2. Invest in content marketing

Retargeting works because it draws users back to your website after they've visited it once or twice. In order for this to happen people need a reason to visit your website in the first place!

This is where content marketing comes into play. If your website features content that helps, educates, and inspires people, they will flock to it in order to consume the content you give them. Each visitor is a potential sale, and the pixel you give them ensures that they have a chance to return and become satisfied customers.

This is where the best-earning brands demonstrate their value by investing in content. While some businesses waste money on the "quantity over quality" approach, their competitors are hiring talented writers and content creators with experience in their industries and generating real value for customers.

3. Segment content to reflect the buyer's journey

If you are serious about using content marketing to attract users to your website and reaping the rewards of retargeting, you will need to set a strategy in place. Segmentation is an all-important element of the retargeting method because it allows you to recommend the products or services users need at the very moment they need it – essentially the ultimate goal of all marketing.

One of the most successful approaches for audience segmentation is using the buyer's journey – also called the sales funnel, although the terms are distinct. Essentially, the idea is that you want to show different ads, products, and services to people who are more familiar with your company than the ones you show to people who are less familiar with your company.

We can break the buyer's journey down into three basic stages:


A customer who has just been introduced to your brand (through an advertisement or a blog post, for instance), is in the awareness category. This person has an issue they'd like to resolve and they aren't yet sure how they will go about it. They have no reason to trust you above any other company offering similar products or services.

• Consideration

A customer who is familiar with your brand and the value that it represents is in the consideration stage. This person has identified a problem they wish to solve and are actively looking for solutions.

• Decision

The buyer has decided upon a solution and is now ready to purchase. At this point, the buyer is sufficiently educated to know what they need – now, they are ready to buy as soon as they find the deal that offers the best value.

Segmentation along the Buyer's Journey is one of the most valuable retargeting tips for start-up founders because it guides the advertising strategy in a meaningful way. If you try aggressively selling to customers in the awareness category, it won't work – that's where you use content to cultivate trust in your brand so that by the time they reach the decision category, the choice is clear.

It's easy to segment users around segmentation lines using retargeting tools. For example, you could put all newcomers to your website in the awareness category, advance them to the consideration category after they visit five separate web pages, and then put them in the decision category after they visit another five times.

4. Distinguish between converted and unconverted users

Nothing is more annoying than buying something online and then seeing ads for it everywhere you go. Not only is it a waste of advertising dollars, but it makes users feel uncomfortable – like you're spying on them.


In order to prevent this from happening, you need another degree of segmentation in the buyer's journey. The post-conversion category. This is where you'll put people who have already made a purchase on your website. All it takes is the addition of a pixel code on your Thank You page that identifies each individual user as someone who has completed a sale.

You can use this new category for cross-selling and up-selling. Since these people already trust your brand enough to buy one product from you, there is no reason why they won't trust you again – so long as you have more to offer. Consider higher-market options, business-class versions of your existing products and other upsells that may offer long-term value to your customers and retarget them with success.

5. Invest in business development – find affiliates and trade pixels

Starting your own content marketing machine and getting new customers to visit your website can be difficult when you're starting out. According to Neil Patel, content marketing really only starts producing results after at least 6 months – and sometimes as many as 15-17 months.

But there is a way to jumpstart your retargeting campaign while you develop your Web presence sufficiently to start drawing traffic to your site consistently. This is the power of affiliation. A retargeting pixel is just a snippet of code. You can place it on your website or on any website on the Internet. The key is finding the right partner and convincing them to trade pixels with you.

This is where business development comes into play. Think creatively about your customers' lifestyles and purchase histories to identify possible affiliates in non-competitive industries.

Think of Harley Davidson riders' love for black leather and aftermarket motorcycle parts – if you can develop brand synergy like that, you'll be riding high for years to come.