This post was written by me through a partnership with RetargetLinks. Although I received compensation for testing their product, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
Have you ever noticed Amazon ads following you when you left a full cart at checkout without paying?
These are ads are incredibly accurate as they show you the exact product you have in the cart or have visited.
They are also effective, it keeps the Amazon cart top of mind as you compare options or think about it.
This is called retargeting and it is because Amazon “cookied” you when you visited their pages. The Amazon cookie is recognized by the publishers and they then show the appropriate ad.
In fact, according to MarketingLand, “it’s not uncommon to see amazing CTRs [click through rates] with retargeting, anywhere from 0.30-0.95% – which is 3-10x higher than the industry average.”
This is because major providers like Google have “Ad Networks” which consist of publishers (large, like Fortune, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Wired etc. or small like bloggers) who have agreed to place banner ads in specific locations.
The site owners earn a percentage which often comes from bidding process between the advertisers that have cookied a given person (browsers often carry dozens of advertising cookies).
The trick, though, is that retargeting only works on people who have been to your website.
Or does it?
I’m going to introduce you to a new tool that works even if people haven’t been to your site. I’ll explain what Link Retargeting is and how it works, and then provide three specific ways to use it to grow your business.
What Is Link Retargeting?
As mentioned above, retargeting audiences are based on people who have visited your website. Their visit triggers a script which inserts a retargeting cookie that is then recognized by the bidding ad networks.
With RetargetLinks, instead of tracking website visitors, you’re able to track anyone who clicks on a link. Regardless of whether the resulting URL is for your own site or someone else’s, it works.
This is thanks to their innovative (and patented) link shortener.
Normally, if I were to create a shortened link for a URL I wanted to tweet about, I’d use a service like Bit.ly.
Bit.ly takes the original URL and stores it in a database, matched up with a shortened version using my custom domain. In my case, I use thesmh.co. Whenever anyone clicks on the short link, bit.ly’s database is able to instantly look up the original URL and redirect the visitor accordingly.
RetargetLinks inserts an additional element into that task.
Following the same process, I can use RetargetLinks to generate a short link for an article I want to share and, if anyone clicks the link, they’re taken to the article.
The difference is that, during the point where the database matches the short link with the original URL, a cookie is inserted in the browser of the person that clicked on the link in the same way as if they had visited your website.
That means anyone who clicks a link you create, no matter how or where you share it, can be targeted with display ads, even if that link was not to your own site.
Monitor link clicks and audience growth from within the RetargetLinks dashboard.
Imagine the possibilities: Articles that you curate from other sources can be shared and interested readers retargeted. Specific pieces of content can be shared and paired with specific campaigns to drive highly targeted results.
In fact, let’s look now at three specific use-cases for Link Retargeting and how RetargetLinks helps you accomplish each.
Link Retargeting for Content
Successful content creators know that whenever they’re crafting a new article for their site, it’s a good idea to include links to other articles and resources throughout the piece.
This is referred to as “deep linking.”
As readers proceed through your article, they’ll see opportunities to learn more about specific topics that, within this specific article, you may have simple referenced.
Like a short while ago when I mentioned creating short links and using bit.ly, and I linked to an article I wrote years ago titled, “How To Create A Branded Short Link.”
Normally, the article author would use a straight link for that reference – the full, normal URL. But what if you had a couple of links and references to share within an article?
And suppose if a reader clicked on one of those links, that told you something about that reader – something that would be useful to target with an ad later.
I’ll give you a better example.
I recently wrote a review of the Agorapulse tool for social media management. Within that article I referenced other articles I’d written that feature Agorapulse, including articles about scheduling Instagram posts, and articles about scheduling Facebook posts.
I could have used RetargetLinks for those two articles, within the Agorapulse review, and begun to create an audience of readers who are more interested in Instagram, and those who are more interested in Facebook.
I could then use RetargetLinks to craft custom, relevant ads that are shown to the appropriate audience.
This technique works whether you’re putting links within your content, or just sharing links online via social media.
Link Retargeting for Search
Just as we know from advertising experience that people are more likely to click on an ad from a brand they’re familiar with, we also know that people are 10 – 20x more likely to click on non-sales content.
In other words, if someone sees an ad for a product or an ad that’s promoting an article, they’re more likely to click on the article.
Therefore, interesting articles can be used to gather an initial audience of targeted people, after which more direct ads can be displayed to them accordingly.
In the case of Link Retargeting for Search, instead of relying on our own social or blog audience, we will build the new audience using highly relevant keyword search terms.
Using articles of your own or someone else’s, we can set up ads within Google AdWords that promote the content to individuals searching for that information. When creating the ads, we simply substitute a RetargetLinks shortened link rather than the full URL of the article.
Once the initial ad has driven sufficient clicks to create an audience, we can then retarget that audience with our display ads!
Say, for example, I wanted to advertise my book on Hootsuite to more Hootsuite users. I could target followers of @hootsuite on Twitter, but that makes for a poor audience. Just because they’re following a brand doesn’t mean they have questions and want help.
Instead, I should find a piece of content that answers a specific question about Hootsuite and use that to create an audience of help-seeking Hootsuite users.
While I have lots of articles of my own, I thought my best resource might be Hootsuite’s own set of help articles, particularly since they already provide a list of their most popular!
If Hootsuite already knows that most users want to know “how to add a social network” then perhaps that’s worth targeting.
With a Google Ad, I can place my link above the organically occurring Hootsuite article, and intercept those users. Once they’ve clicked, I can then retarget them with display ads for my book, increasing sales.
Since the engagement rates on both ads – the initial non-sales ad and the latter book ad – will outperform straight ads for the book, the overall ad campaign will be a success!
(Watch for a follow-up article where I will provide a more detailed walkthrough of these steps, and share my actual results.)
Link Retargeting for Email
Finally, my favorite of all of these tactics, Link Retargeting for Email.
To illustrate how this works, let’s take a look at the RetargetLinks campaign that Pampers ran.
As a two-time father, I can attest to how fast my daughters grew up, and how quickly they went through diapers. Not only did they use many diapers a day, it seems like every other week we were buying the next size up.
Pampers has a variety of lines of diapers available for newborns through toddlers. But, parents of a newborn are only interested in diapers for newborns.
You might think that any ad about diapers would catch their attention, but the truth is, the more targeted we can make that ad, the more effective it will be.
Therefore, if Pampers can share content using RetargetLinks that’s more relevant to parents of newborns, or expectant parents, the resulting audience would be highly focused.
The good news for Pampers is that there’s no shortage of content that’s uniquely suited for that audience.
They used an article from Parents.com entitled, “How To Prepare For Your First Baby.” Clearly, anyone clicking through to that article has a bun in the oven!
So then they’re exposed to ads for Pampers line of diapers for infants.
Using this technique, savvy businesses can put together wonderfully interesting and helpful newsletters, using articles from any relevant source they wish, and segment their readers accordingly.
The underlying beauty to incorporating a technique and service like RetargetLinks into your overall marketing is that it empowers you to be able to utilize other people’s content in meaningful, business-building ways.
Until now, content curation was a tactic that had limited benefits.
Theoretically, sharing other people’s content would help your audience and, potentially, leave a positive impression on the original content’s author.
But there’s never been a direct benefit since the shared content was someone else’s.
Now, however, you can use other people’s content to help others, connect with influencers, and build a targeted audience for yourself.
As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Rather than leave it to chance whether the right people – interested people – end up where you want them to, guide them there. Create the business future that you’re looking for.
Ready to start building your link retargeting audience?