The popular inbound marketing fairytale goes like this:


  1. Someone finds your sweet blog post (and loves it)
  2. They join your email list to get a free ebook or to see a webinar
    It’s only a matter of time before your drip campaign, friendly sales development rep, or a dynamite promotion seals the deal.

However, deep down, you know that’s not how it works.

The agonizing problem: Most people bail right after step 1.

The whole story goes more like this:

  1. Thousands of people read that sweet post
    {{BOUNCE! Most of them are sucked back into the swirling vortex of the Internet whence they came.}}
  2. A few dozen join your email list …
  3. Everyone else goes on with their lives

With the traditional inbound marketing model, most of your readers are gone just as soon as they arrive. The only way to get in front of them again is to hope and pray that a future blog post or ad pulls them back to you.

You need some magic string

You’ve accepted the fact that most people who read your blog posts aren’t going to do squat. They’re going to disappear back into the void and leave you without joining your list, starting a trial, or buying your stuff.

BUT WHAT IF, before they bounced, you tied a string around their waist? A string that you could give a little tug on when you had something new and interesting that they might want to see?

That would be better than leaving their return entirely in their hands, right?

There’s a pretty simple way to do this. I’d say that’s good news, but it’s not really “news” at all: the technology has been around for a long time—it just doesn’t often get used the way we’re talking about.

The magic string: retargeting ads.

How retargeting ads (usually) work

You’ve seen retargeting ads in action before. You visit a website, you leave, and then all of a sudden the entire Internet is plastered with ads trying to pull you back to that site.

The process is relatively simple:

  1. You add a snippet of code to your site
  2. People show up at your site
  3. They’re “cookied,” or tagged as someone who visited your site
  4. Your retargeting advertising platform serves them ads for whatever you want

When done poorly, retargeting ads can be super annoying.

But if you use them as part of a greater content strategy, then retargeting ads can be a terrific channel for keeping your market engaged—even before they join your email list.

Retargeting is usually used for one thing: pushing people down the sales funnel. That means that retargeting ads are pretty predictable:

If you view:

You’ll see an ad for:

The home page A webinar or free download
A pricing page A case study
An ecommerce product page Related products

If you’re savvy, you’ve already spotted the opportunity that retargeting gives you when it comes to closing the hole in your blogging traffic …

Retargeting ads keep blog readers coming back, too

Remember how most blog readers bounce before they make it past step 2? Retargeting advertising is that magic string that you can use to draw your old, anonymous readers back to you when you have fresh content.

For example, let’s say you work for a fintech company and run a blog about personal finance. Your categories include budgeting, thriftiness, and managing debt. You have a dynamite product, but you’re still in the process of growing brand awareness. Every time you publish a new blog post, about a thousand people read it, and a dozen free trials begin.

Here’s how retargeting would work to your advantage. Every time you publish a new blog post, you can serve an ad for that post to the people who read similar posts beforehand. This boosts the number of people who see the post, but it also warms up more readers to your brand. So now, you’re getting three thousand readers and 30 free trials for each blog post—just by tugging on that magic string.

Why this works for brands in growth mode

The Ben Franklin Effect. The founding father observed that if you can get someone to do a small favor for you, they will like you more—which makes it easier to ask them for a larger favor later. That’s the case here: you’re asking people who previously read your posts to read another one.

Brand awareness. By investing a little advertising money in retargeting, you’re reminding everyone who’s seen your posts before that you’re still around, and you’re still making epic content.

You’re in charge. Sure, some people still subscribe to RSS feeds—but why put the fate of your blog in someone else’s hands? You don’t want to depend on your visitors to bring their own magic string—you want to be the one tying it to them.

Low cost per click. It’s easier to get clicks from someone who has seen your brand before—which can make retargeting the people who read previous posts less expensive than targeting an all-new audience.

Ads that give value. People are used to ads being demands. Start a free trial. Download this ebook. Take advantage of this limited-time sale. Buy now. This approach gives your readers something refreshing: ads that are all about providing them with helpful content.

Things you can do about this right now:

  1. Make sure you’ve installed the Facebook Pixel on your site. This is what you’ll be using to grow that retargeting audience if you use Facebook ads as your platform.
  2. Look into another retargeting ad vendor (like Adroll)
  3. Set aside a retargeting budget for every new blog post you publish—even if it’s as simple $50 per post.

Start retargeting

You’ve already put in the effort to create epic content. Don’t let it go to waste. Retarget your readers and keep them coming back for more.

Your sales team will be glad you did.