Rob Carpenter

On-site retargeting: How to supercharge your customer acquisition funnels

Retargeting advertising is all the rage in the online marketing world these days. It’s easy to setup, the cost per conversion is often low if you set up good targeting, and you can use it to nurture visitors, leads and customers alike.

The same can be said about on-site retargeting, even if it is not as renowned.

On-site retargeting you say? Isn’t that showing popups on your site to get more blog subscribers?

Yes and no. You can use on-site retargeting popups to drive email opt-ins, but the real power of on-site retargeting comes with using multiple targeting methods, call-to-action types, and conversion goals. In fact, it can be the engine that drives your entire customer acquisition strategy on your website.

In this post, I am going to show you exactly how you can leverage on-site retargeting to supercharge customer acquisition, not just capture more email addresses.

First, we need to clear the air about something. Many marketers (and even on-site retargeting tools) are giving on-site retargeting a bad name…

The wrong way to do on-site retargeting

More often than not, on-site retargeting is done with one goal in mind: email opt-ins at all costs.

This often results in pushy popup ads, light on actual retargeting intelligence and heavy on aggressive (and sometimes downright rude) marketing copy.


Source: Jacob King, Internet Marketer

Most of the time the only targeting popups like these actually have is based on the time the visitor has spent on the page, and if the visitor is trying to leave the site (as is the case with exit-intent popups).

Why are these popups so prevalent?

  1. Marketers test these tactics, and the result is often higher email opt-in rates. Yippee, more subscribers!
  2. Many tools that label themselves as on-site retargeting, promote these tactics, and even create templates with this exact kind of pushy language.

Hey, it gets me more leads! So, what’s the problem?

There is little chance your visitors think positively about your brand when offers are pushed upon them in this way, especially if there is little targeting influencing the relevancy of the offer. Whether they take your offer or not, your brand is tarnished.


Source: Ian Blyth, Digital Marketer at Victory Media

Ian does a nice job of summing up why a lot of people hate these ads:

“It was built to make me feel inferior for not accepting the offer above, which, in turn, would bully me into taking the call-to-action…It’s hard to read the words “No, I like it when visitors bounce,” and not hear it in the voice of a smart-ass, condescending teenager.”

Berating your website visitors and interrupting their experience (rather than adding value to it), isn’t a great first step towards eventually converting that visitor into a customer either.

I’ll go as far as to say it is a critical misstep to talk to your website visitors like this if your eventual goal is to get them to become a customer.

There is a better way!

On-site retargeting is more than just exit-intent popups, time-on-page/site targeting, and driving email opt-ins. You can trigger all sorts of call-to-actions with on-site retargeting (not just popups), and target visitors on many different data points.

The ultimate goal of on-site retargeting should be to continually communicate the right message, to the right website visitors, at the right time to help guide them through a customer acquisition funnel, providing them relevant value throughout the way. The rest of this post will give you specific use cases and instruction on how to do this.

Supercharge your customer acquisition funnel with these 5 on-site retargeting strategies

Just like effective retargeting advertising campaigns, on-site retargeting benefits from improved targeting, and a variety of “ad” types. Here are 5 on-site retargeting strategies to help you experience its true value:

1. Target based on in-depth visit behavior


Targeting onsite messages to website visitors based on their visit behavior is pretty obvious. But still, people often stick to the simplest of visit behavior data for their targeting.

Don’t only target based on the time on site or page the visitor spends. Target based on what pages the visitor has been to, the number of times someone has been to a specific page, the number of times someone has visited the site, how far down the page someone scrolls, whether they click on a call to action or not, the list goes on.

Here are a few visit behavior targeting use cases:

  • Promote an ebook, webinar, or some other resource that is related to a specific product/solution page the visitor keeps visits repeatedly.
  • If a visitor has spent a lot of time on your Enterprise page, guide them to other pages that showcase the value of your product/service to large companies.
  • If visitor has been to your site multiple times, but has yet to check out your Features page, call it out so they get a better understanding of your offering. Or, better yet, present an overview video to them that covers the same information.
  • Trigger a live chat message to visitors that have visited your pricing page multiple times to find out what’s stopping them from signing up and answer any questions they may have.

2. Target based on data anonymous visitors bring with them


Considering where your visitors are coming from (referring source, marketing campaign), and all the rest of the data that can come with an anonymous visitor (geographic location, device, return visitor vs new visitor, etc.), can be just as powerful as visit behavior.

Using UTM tracking URLs in all your marketing efforts lets you keep track of how visitors have found you and adjust your messaging accordingly.

For example, when a visitor lands on your site through a paid ad campaign, you should continue that campaign on your website with messaging that matches your ad. This will result in higher conversion rates for your ad campaigns and a better R.O.I on that money spent.

Most, if not all, of your marketing campaigns are designed to drive people to your website.

Whether the visitor is coming from a software directory website, an advertisement, a guest blog post, or a real-world event, you can use on-site retargeting to message these visitors based on this information and improve the performance of those off-site marketing efforts.

3. Target based on lifecycle stage and other CRM data


On-site retargeting doesn’t have to stop when you have converted someone to your email list.

In fact, what makes on-site retargeting so powerful is it can help you convert visitors to leads, leads into real prospects (trial users), and prospects into paying customers.

This is where on-site retargeting comes in. Just like how you can trigger new emails in a marketing automation tool based on certain conversion goals being met, you can replace old, no longer relevant call-to-actions on your site with new ones automatically with on-site retargeting.

So when someone has already subscribed to your email list, don’t keep promoting email opt-in on your blog sidebar or website footer. Dynamically update those call-to-actions to promote an upcoming webinar that is relevant to them instead. When someone has registered for the webinar, now change the call-to-actions to promote trial sign up or a discount code for the product you discussed in the webinar. And when someone joins your trial, start promoting resources that will help them find value with your product.


On-site retargeting flows using ConvertFlow

On-site retargeting is also a great method for doing account-based marketing. Tell your sales team that you can nurture prospects from specific companies, based on any information gathered in your CRM, and they will likely get excited, especially if you volunteer to set it all up. Just be sure to have alignment with Sales so your messaging doesn’t interfere with their sales efforts rather than aid them.

4. Capture data to fuel offsite marketing automation

Marketing automation and lead nurturing is all about creating journeys through email (or other channels) to guide an email subscriber to customer conversion. On-site retargeting is no different. It’s the same thing, just on your website instead of off your website.


ConvertFlow helps you make your website the center of your marketing automation efforts.

Just like with the offsite marketing automation, the more data you have on a lead, the better.

Each call-to-action that you trigger with on-site retargeting should ask for new information from the website visitor. If you already have an email address, why ask for it again? Ask for the size of their company, what challenges they face, what their budget is, and any other information that you can leverage in future marketing and sales efforts.

Integrate your on-site retargeting solution to your marketing automation tool and you can continuously create more and more complete profiles of your leads. This process is called progressive profiling, and it can be easily accomplished using on-site retargeting.

Use on-site retargeting to gather the additional data on leads, and trigger new campaigns in your marketing automation tool automatically when this new data comes in.

5. Use multiple call-to-action types (not just popups)

While the most common form of on-site retargeting is in the form on exit-intent popups, it is far from the most effective on-site retargeting strategy for customer acquisition.

Lightboxed overlay popups can be very effective. ConvertFlow supports these types of messages, and advocates their use when appropriate. But, there are multiple other kinds of call-to-actions you can trigger with on-site retargeting.

Here are a few examples:

  • Embedded call-to-actions and forms – You already have these on your site. On-site retargeting makes them dynamic.
  • Slide-out messages – These are a great way to personally engage your visitors, and call attention to relevant next steps.
  • Scrolling messages – Have a message in the corner of your site present as soon as they enter your site that is based on past visit behavior and accumulated lead data. They are less jarring than entrance overlay popups.
  • Plain ol’ hyperlink call-to-actions – You can even dynamically change hyperlinks on your site based on new targeting information. No call-to-action of any type has to be irrelevant when you use on-site retargeting.


Reducing on-site retargeting to exit-intent targeting and overlay popups is completely missing the point. That being said: on-site retargeting should power ALL your website call-to-actions and create more relevant website experiences for your visitors as they consider your product or service.

Implement on-site retargeting with the goal of nurturing website visitors through each step of their evaluation, and you will convert more customers.

It could be your biggest missing marketing opportunity. Not yet convinced? Let’s chat about it in the comments. Ask me anything.

About the author
Rob Carpenter
Co-Founder & CEO, Hitshop
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Rob is the CEO & co-founder of Hitshop, a marketing talent agency. Find traction and scale growth in less time with fully enabled, on-demand growth talent.