Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Site Retargeting vs Link Retargeting (An Evaluation)

Site Retargeting vs Link Retargeting

Editor: This is a guestpost from our friends at Retarget Links, evaluating link retargeting versus traditional ad/site retargeting. 

Most people are aware of the current method of retargeting. When people visit a website, they get tagged with a cookie. Once they leave your website and browse the web, they see your ads around the internet.

However, most people are not aware that there is a new way to retarget users: Link Retargeting. With this technology, you can retarget anyone that clicks on your links with retargeting ads. Here is how it works in two simple steps:

Step 1: Find a piece of content that your readers will be interested in. This could be owned content or third-party content. Shorten the URL into a retargeting link using a Link Retargeting platform. Every user that clicks on that link will be added to your retargeting audience automatically. After clicking on the link, they will seamlessly navigate to the article you shared – no interruptions.

retargetlinks guestblog - link retargeting click

Step 2: Once the user leaves the sitey, the will be able to see your display ads around the internet. In total, they will be shown 15 ads over the span of two weeks. These ads will ideally be relevant to the content that the user had previously clicked on. For this example, if Pampers shares a Parents Magazine article about preparing from your first baby – their ads would be about diaper packs for new born babies!

retargetlinks guestblog - banner click

While on the surface, both ways of retargeting seem to be easy, highly targeted and ROI efficient, they are very different in their efficiency and implementation. Hence, we thought we would do a deep dive into both ways of retargeting and see which one really works better for small to medium businesses.

So here goes:

Evaluating Site Retargeting vs Link Retargeting! across 3 Stages

Stage 1: Set-up

In this stage, we will compare the amount of time and resources it takes to set-up a retargeting campaign and to start building your audience.

Site Retargeting

In order to setup site retargeting:

1) You need to enter your retargeting code into the <head> section of your site. For this step you might need a web developer.

2) You need to set up a retargeting campaign and upload your display ads into a retargeting platform (most likely Google Adwords). For this step you might need a marketer that knows the Adwords platform well.

3) You will need to select the websites you want to show your display ads on (your placements) within the Adwords platform. Although you can always use a digital marketer for this, the Adwords platform is pretty easy when it comes to selecting your placements as long as you are aware of the advertising jargon.

Link Retargeting

In order to set up Link Retargeting you need:

1) To find a piece of content that would be relevant for your audience (this can be owned content or third-party content).

2) To shorten the link to the content and share it on all of your media channels (social media, email etc). Everyone that clicks on the link is automatically added to your new retargeting audience.

3) You need to drag and drop your ads into your Link Retargeting platform. The bidding and display of ads is handled by the platform so you don’t need extensive knowledge of retargeting campaigns for this step.

4) You need to inform the platform (most likely RetargetLinks) of the sites that you would like to appear on (or not appear on). This process takes up to 24 hours.

Stage 1 Winner: Link Retargeting

While Site Retargeting is not an arduous project, Link Retargeting is relatively easier. There are less people involved and less knowledge of retargeting is required. Also, in order to start building your retargeting audience, you just need to share your shortlinks, simplifying the entire process.

Stage 2: Targeting

In stage 2, we will be comparing which technology helps you build a retargeting audience with the right target market and to what level are you able to segment this list.

Site Retargeting:

When you retarget people with Site Retargeting you are displaying your ads to everyone that has visited your site and is interested in your content. The pro in this situation is that you have a very specific sign from the user that displays interest in your brand and your products so when they see your ads, they are keen on converting.

The con in this situation is that, unless you dive deep into the retargeting campaign, every user that lands on your site would be seeing the same ads. These ads would usually be generic and might not be relevant to the user.

Link Retargeting:

When you retarget people with Link Retargeting, you are displaying your ads to everyone that clicks on your links. The pro in this situation is that not only can you share any link (owned content or third-party content), you can highly segment your audience by every link you share. So if you are looking for a very specific segment (for example: A woman with curly hair that wants tips and products to handle her curly hair), Link Retargeting makes this possible.

The con in this situation is that, although you have a click on a link to signify interest, the interest is not that explicit. This means that after a user clicks on a link you shared (possibly of third party content), they might not necessarily expect to see your ads. This might impact conversion rates.

Stage 2 Winner: Tie

Although we would lean towards Site Retargeting when it comes to explicit intent, the way in which Link Retargeting can segment and target customers is extremely granular. This one is a tie!

Stage 3: Return on Investment

For this stage, the only way to determine a winner is to use a real-life example. We will use the example of a leading content marketer that needed help with a conference that he was hosting. His team ran Site Retargeting ads and Link Retargeting ads. Here are the results!

For reference: Each ticket for the conference costs $1500.

Here are his results from site retargeting:

retargetlinks guestblog - site retargeting banner

Conversions: 37 tickets sold

Revenue: $55,500

ROI: 27,307.41%

Not bad!

For his Link Retargeting campaign, he shared content on content marketing including “Top Tips for Content Marketers” and “Top 4 Reasons to Attend a Content Marketing Conference”. He created retargeting audiences from everyone that clicked on the links to the articles and then retargeted them with banner ads to his conference. Here are the results from his Link Retargeting campaign:retargetlinks guestblog - banner ad performance



Conversion: 77 tickets sold

Revenue: $115,500

ROI: 40,969.59%

Stage 3 winner: Link Retargeting

Since this stage has hard statistics, there is no arguing that Link Retargeting provided the best return on investment. It is important to note that the costs are quite similar and the difference in the number of clicks or the CTR is not significant. However, the ROI and the conversion rate with Link Retargeting is much higher than that of Site Retargeting simply because everyone that read the articles on content marketing and content marketing conferences had more of an intent of attending one and hence buying a ticket – compared to someone that visited the website.

In Conclusion

Site Retargeting and Link Retargeting are both highly efficient ways of personalized advertising. The one that you end up implementing will be completely dependent on your marketing goals, your team’s bandwidth and your ROI expectations.

While Site Retargeting can be way more effective if you are a single product business, Link Retargeting can help segment your customers in a much more easier and granular way when you sell multiple products or services. As an eCommerce business, granular segmentation can give you an edge over your competitors.

We would recommend making a decision based on your defined goals for retargeting – do you just want to reach out to everyone that lands on your site or do you want to ensure you show the right ads to the right people? Defining these goals will help in narrowing down the technology that would be most efficient for your business!

supriya gupta - retargetlinks for referralcandy


Supriya Gupta is the Marketing Manager at RetargetLinks – the company that invented and patented the technology of Link Retargeting.


Raúl Galera

Raúl Galera

Raúl is ReferralCandy's partner manager.