The Savvy Affiliate's Guide to Retargeting

By Radhika Basuthakur
The Savvy Affiliate's Guide to Retargeting


Last week, the social media world was abuzz with the newsTwitter announced its retargeting product. In Twitter’s own words:

With tailored audiences you can reach users on Twitter who have shown interest in your brand or your category even away from Twitter.

Of course, Twitter isn’t the first to offer retargeting. Google AdWords has had very sophisticated retargeting products on offer for a long time now. Big brands have also been using Facebook retargeting for a while. Now, Facebook retargeting is also more accessible and easy to use from right within the advertising interface.

With all the hoopla surrounding retargeting, I thought this would be a good time to discuss this trend and what we can expect from it going forward.

What Is Retargeting?

Let’s start with the basics. Retargeting, or remarketing, as it is also known, is really quite simple. When a Web user visits your site and then leaves without taking the desired action (e.g., making a purchase), you can use retargeting to advertise your product to them around the Web.

For example, if I’m in the market for some new boots, I usually start by doing some window shopping on a couple of online stores. I’ll make a mental shortlist, leave the site and then decide it’s time to do some work.

While reading up on the latest Internet marketing news, I’ll see an ad from Nordstrom pop up on the right-hand side. It’s the exact pair of boots I was looking at before! Later on, I’ll log on to Facebook and see Nordstrom showing me those beautiful boots again. This time, I give in. I click on the ad and the boots are mine.

Retargeting win for Nordstrom!

It sounds a bit stalker-like, I know. But in all its creepy glory, remarketing really works! I checked out four online stores, but Nordstrom was the only one that chose to remarket the boots to me. It knew how much I wanted the shoes, took advantage of it and it worked. I made the purchase from them instead of going to a competitor.


retargeting stalker


How Does Retargeting Work?

For remarketing to work, you will need to insert certain pixels on the pages of your website that you want to use for retargeting. This pixel (a small snippet of code) will then help you create lists of users you want to target (based on their behavior). You can then create advertising campaigns designed to show only to this list of users.

There are variations to the process, depending on which platform you’re using for retargeting. So AdWords might be a little bit different from Facebook, but you get the basic idea.

Remarketing For Affiliates

Until now, remarketing has mostly been used by brands. Affiliate marketers are not taking advantage of this behavioral marketing practice as much as they should.

By embedding remarketing pixels on your website, you can start gathering valuable insights on your customers. For example, say you are an affiliate for a dating site. When users signs up for a dating site via you, you are able to capture some interesting information about them. With the help of your retargeting pixel, you are then able to create a list of English-speaking male signups to a Russian dating site.

You may make $25 from a dating site referral, but by capturing this data, you can also continue to upsell to this list. If the men on your list speak English, you could potentially upsell them to a Russian language product. You could also promote Russian travel affiliate products to them ... or could they find a flower delivery service useful?

After capturing email addresses for your list, you could use your retargeting data to successfully promote relevant products and services via email marketing. No more big blasts without any real focus on who the audience is. Your email marketing efforts can also be super targeted now.

The beauty of capturing remarketing data is not the data itself, but the ways in which you can use this data. Capture important and relevant information and then think out of the box about ways in which you can remarket to them. The possibilities are endless!

Retargeting Going Forward

Retargeting has been big in 2013. I’ve had more ads stalk me online than ever before and I predict the numbers are only going to keep growing in 2014. AdWords, Facebook and Twitter are going to continue to fight it out in their bid to attract advertisers to their own retargeting product. Fewer advertisers are likely to rely on conversions from first-time visits alone. Remarketing will help advertisers nag customers to buy the product until they give in.

While researching this article, I ended up on AdRoll, a retargeting platform. To prove they're good at what they do, they are now retargeting me on Facebook. Check out the ad below. 


Remarketing ad


As consumers, we’re going to see more targeted advertisements on the Google Display Network, on Facebook and now even in our Twitter timeline. As affiliate marketers, we need to step it up and start using retargeting to build out our lists for even more profitability.

What are your thoughts on retargeting? Annoying or clever? Would you use it?

P.S. Remarketing can be a tricky concept to get your head around without a basic knowledge of paid advertising. Don't forget to check out our free guide to pay-per-click advertising to get started. 

Mike 10 years ago
Great Post Guys! As always your information is on point and "to the point". Have you guys seen simple retargeting ?
Ravi 10 years ago
I did not understand the affiliate example. Can you please elaborate? How is the affiliate gathering more data about the members on his list?
Melissa Johnson 10 years ago
Ravi, maybe this will help?

You have an affiliate site. Someone visits it, but doesn't sign up for your mailing list and doesn't buy anything. You use re-targeting to draw them back to your site and they fill out the opt-in form, which typically asks for a bit of information about them. You get all of that data from the opt-in, which would be added to your mailing list database. Plus, you can use the data from your retargeting campaign to learn more about the users, the same way you would learn more about your site traffic from Google Analytics and other metrics. Hope that helps!
Don 10 years ago
Great explanation Melisa!

I understand that many use retargeting in connection with a CPV/PPV campaign - but using that technique one needs to "insert/paste a conversion code/pixel" on a 3rd party sales page which is impossible if one has no control over that page, (as an affiliate, promoting someone else's prduct).

How can this be done using other methods?

I see 99% always mention using Google Adwords but surely that is not the only way?

It's been a while since you posted the above comments, but I hope you see this and make a response.

Thanks in advance :)
Melissa Johnson 10 years ago
Hi, Don --

I'll admit, this isn't exactly my area of expertise.

However, one of my most formidable skills is wielding the power of Google! (You cannot begin to fathom how many Google Searches I run on a weekly basis.)

You can retarget using both Bing and Yahoo's online advertising platforms. However, Google kind of dominates the search engines, and so Adwords dominates paid search advertising. From what I've gathered, Bing advertising might be good for targeting older consumers, who might use it because it comes default on.... /shudder Internet Explorer..,

Moz, a really great SEO site, has some resources that might help:
Don 10 years ago
Thanks for your response Melissa -

Much appreciated.

I have previously seen the web pages you referred to - but only partially read one as they are "kinda" old, (but the info is okay).

The more up-to-date descriptions are shorter and to the point and lo and behold I have found a workaround to my initial query by using a 3rd party service that most internet marketers use on a regular basis, that does not involve Google, Bing, Yahoo or Facebook.

Best wishes :)