An Affiliate Marketer’s Guide to Retargeting

Want to increase conversion rates, improve ROI, and target an audience at a reduced cost per acquisition? If so, you need to start retargeting your ads.

While you’ve probably come across retargeting before, you might not understand how it works or how it can benefit you as an affiliate. To those who aren’t familiar with the concept, retargeting, or ‘remarketing’, as Facebook and Google call it, is an advertising technique that allows you to target ads specifically to people who have shown interest in or interacted with your brand.

According to third-party retargeting provider, ReTargeter, only 2% of web traffic makes a purchase on the first visit. Therefore retargeting is a chance to access the 98% of users who didn’t convert the first time round.

The way retargeting works is fairly straightforward: people who visit your site are ‘cookied’, thanks to a piece of code known as a tracking pixel. These visitors are then ‘followed’ around the web and the information extracted from the cookies will enable retargeting providers such as Facebook or Google AdWords, to determine when to run retargeted ads.

Retargeting isn’t limited to Facebook of course. Affiliate marketers could follow leads all around the web and retarget them using pretty much any online ad space (think side bars and banners). You will feel the benefits of retargeting whether you’re running a Facebook campaign to your ‘custom audiences’ (we’ll get to that in a bit), or using Google AdWords to run a targeted ad to your past visitors on a Display Network Website.




Now, retargeting isn’t always as straightforward as my infographic suggests, but hopefully it makes the cycle a little easier to get your head around!



Cost Per Click

A difference you’ll notice between Facebook and Search Engine ads is the Cost Per Click (CPC). The CPC is generally lower on Facebook as this traffic tends to be less targeted, making it less competitive amongst marketers. Essentially, Facebook users aren’t actively searching for you, while search engine users are.


Facebook remarketing will only allow you to run ads on the platform itself, whereas Google’s display network houses over one million different sites. Google retargeting also allows you to review which websites are resulting in the best conversions and click-through rates. This helps to make sure you only serve your ads on sites that will boost your return on investment.


With Google retargeting, you can’t use keywords that stray too far from your product. If your industry is fairly small, you’ll realise that after a while, there are only so many customers you can reach because there are fewer people searching for your product. Facebook, however, allows you to reach not only people who have visited your site, but also those who haven’t, allowing you to expand your reach.



Facebook allows you to retarget your ads in a number of different (and highly effective) ways. To use the platform’s powerful retargeting options, first of all you will need to set up the Facebook Pixel. If you haven’t already created the pixel, don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward, just follow Facebook’s detailed implementation guide.

With the pixel correctly installed, you’ll be able to create audiences you wish to

retarget. To do this, head to the ‘Audiences’ section in Business Manager, then select ‘Create a Custom Audience’.


Custom Audience


Next, choose ‘Website traffic’, and you’ll be given this list of options:


Create an Audience


As you can see, Facebook provides SIX different audience types to retarget. As you go down the list, you’ll notice that each one narrows your audience down that little bit more.

The first option is self-explanatory; this allows you to run an ad to anyone who has visited your site in the last 1–180 days.

The second targets people who have only visited a certain page. This could be a specific blog post, in which case you could try running a product offer to visitors who have been on that product’s review page.

The third option allows you to create an audience of people who have visited specific pages on your site but not others. This option is great for reaching people who didn’t convert first time round.




If you want to re-engage with your site visitors and encourage them to come back to your site to complete their purchase, you would simply add the URL of the product page in question into the ‘Include’ box, followed by the order confirmation page in the ‘Exclude’ box. This retargeting option is a great way to boost your conversions by turning leads into sales.

Use the fourth option on the ‘Create Audience’ tab to re-engage with people who haven’t been on your site for a long period of time (maximum 180 days).

The fifth, and newest option, allows you to retarget people based on the amount of time they spent on your site.


Target Audience


The most active users on your site are arguably the most likely to make a purchase, and so the top 25%, for example, could be the most receptive to a higher priced offer. Don’t forget: it’s important to remember the value of testing when setting up any ad. You might not get the formula right the first time, so keep trying.

The last option allows you to create a custom combination, enabling you to tailor your audience by including or taking away components from the other five audience categories.



Any of the above six custom audience options can be used to build a ‘lookalike audience’, that is, people who behave like your targeted audience, but might not have even heard of your brand before.

To create your ‘lookalike’, just tick the custom audience you wish to base your new audience on, head to ‘Actions’ and then ‘Create Lookalike’.

As with the other audiences you’ve just set up, once this segment has populated you can create a targeted ad to high-converting leads. If you need help running your first Facebook ad, have a read of our very own Social Media Expert, James Plumb’s Guide to Facebook paid advertising.



Don’t think Facebook remarketing is right for you? Let me explain how to set up your first retargeting campaign in Google AdWords. Hint: I’m going to start by assuming you have already set up an AdWords account.

To set up the campaign, you’ll first have to create a ‘Remarketing List’. To do this, click ‘Shared Library’, then ‘Audiences’.


Lookalike Audience


As with Facebook, if this is your first remarketing campaign, you will have to add the remarketing tag (a snippet of code similar to the Facebook Pixel) to your website. You will be guided through the process of doing this on your screen.

Once you’ve implemented the remarketing tag, you’ll notice that AdWords has created six remarketing lists for you automatically, helping you to get started pretty much straight away (that is, as soon as the audience is populated).

To start creating the campaign, head back to the Campaigns section in your AdWords account and click the bright red ‘Campaign’ button.




I’m going to show you how to set up a ‘Display Network only’ campaign, but it’s up to you to choose the campaign you think is right for your particular affiliate business. If you’re unsure, choosing the Search Network option will enable you to create sponsored text ads to run across Google Search (although you can add search partners if you want to expand your reach).

The Display Network allows for ads with images and text. According to Google, the DN includes over 2 million sites and reaches over 90% of global internet users, making it appealing to advertisers who want to expand their online presence.

After choosing the type of campaign you want to run (in this case ‘Display Network’), you will be asked if you want to customise the marketing objectives of your campaign or not. If you choose not to refine your marketing objectives, all features and options will be available to you.

After this you will be asked to name your campaign, choose the location you want to target and select your bid strategy. Next, you’ll be able to attach the remarketing list you set up earlier to the campaign. Do this by following the steps shown in the screenshot below.




Click the blue arrow to the right of your desired remarketing list to select it and then run through the rest of the steps to create your ad.

Again, as with Facebook, you’ll be able to create an audience of potential new customers based on a display network ad you’ve previously created. If you want to create a ‘Similar Audience’, as Google refers to them, you can follow AdWords’ seven step guide.



I’ve already mentioned Facebook Business Manager, which is essential in creating the foundations of a remarketing ad, and Google AdWords, Google’s powerful retargeting provider, but what about the third-party providers? The biggest benefit of using a third-party provider is the number of potential leads you can reach. Using AdWords or Business Manager confines you to just one platform, and as I mentioned earlier, while Google’s Display Network may encompass millions of websites, you will reach a point when you’ve hit your limit of potential leads.


Search Retargeting

Third-party providers are particularly useful for another area of retargeting: search retargeting. Unlike site retargeting, or remarketing, search retargeting shows ads to people who haven’t actually visited your site. These ads are displayed to users based on their keyword searches. It’s a great way of reaching new leads for your site. It’s best to use a provider who specialises in search retargeting, and the following three are all good choices.



AdRoll is one of Facebook’s official marketing partners, (and it’s also a popular choice for running Google ads), making it a good place to start in your quest to find the right remarketing provider. The self-proclaimed, ‘most widely used prospecting and retargeting platform’ allows you to serve retargeting ads on over 500 networks, on any device.

If you’ve found your previous retargeting ads to be unsuccessful, a third-party platform such as AdRoll might suit you because of the support they provide. AdRoll also provides powerful technology that can do a lot of the hard work for you, again, great if you’re just starting out.

AdRoll offers three different service tiers depending on how much you wish to spend. The minimum monthly spend for each tier is around £200 for the starter level, £1,000 for the advanced and £5,000 a month for access to the premium service tier.



If you’re dealing with large amounts of traffic on your site, you might want to consider this relatively new provider. One of the best things about ReTargeter is the wide range of remarketing solutions it offers, for example site retargeting, search retargeting, CRM retargeting, and audience targeting, to name a few.

Websites receiving more than 40,000 unique visits each month will have access to ReTargeter’s managed services, which includes the remarketing services mentioned above, and more. The pricing for this service starts at around £2,500 a month. If you’re dealing with fewer than 40,000 unique visits to your site, you’ll qualify for the provider’s cheaper ‘Do It Yourself’ service, which only allows for site and Facebook retargeting (but it’s around £2,000 cheaper!).



If you’re just focusing on mobile, dynamic, web, and Facebook retargeting, then this might be the platform for you. Like Adroll, Perfect Audience offers both standard Facebook ads and the ability to run retargeting ads in the news feed (native ads).

If you’re on a tight budget, the fact that you can access all of Perfect Audience’s features at no extra charge, might appeal to you greatly. This includes: conversion and revenue tracking, detailed analytics, powerful segmenting, and the ability to manage as many sites as you want.

You can spend as much or as little as you want on your campaigns since Perfect Audience charges on a CPM basis, so it’s a good choice if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget.



As you can see, whatever your budget, traffic or needs, you’ll be able to find a retargeting provider for your business! And if you don’t think any of the five platforms I’ve suggested would fit your particular requirements, there are hundreds more!

Hopefully, having read my article, you now have a better idea of how retargeting works, and how a series of retargeted ads could benefit your affiliate business. By leveraging all the available tools, you’ll be able to reach existing and potential new high-converting customers, boost sales and improve your brand awareness, all at a cost that’s tailored to your budget.

1 reply on “An Affiliate Marketer’s Guide to Retargeting”

Thanks for this helpful guide! It’s important to know, that the third party provider “Perfect Audience” doesn’t support affiliate offers or affiliate based sites. I tried to get in there with my review site but they declined… Hopefully I’ve got more luck with Google and Facebook ??

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