I never tire of walking my mother through the basics of the Internet. I set up her first email account five-ish years ago, showed her how to add friends on Facebook last Christmas, and changed her life by registering her for an Amazon Prime account a few months ago. I get a kick out of talking tech with her, and know that 9 times out of 10 the reason she’s calling me is to help troubleshoot her latest issue. So when my phone rang last night, I was none-too-surprised to hear that she had a question about “that Facebook thing.” Unbeknownst to her, my mom had stumbled on one of Facebook (and Google’s) most powerful business tools – remarketing pixels.

Pixels, Remarketing


“What are you talking about?”

“Facebook! I was just browsing on Nordstrom and when I logged into Facebook, the SAME DRESS I was looking at was in my news page!”

I giggled a bit to myself, at both my mom’s penchant for paranoia and her butchering of the term “newsfeed”, and began to explain how this miracle had occurred.

What she had observed was an incredibly sophisticated marketing tool in action. Facebook and Google have ingenious bits of code called “pixels” that allow website owners to track the actions users take on their sites, and to market to them based explicitly on these actions. If you’ve shopped online at some point, I’m sure you’ve had an experience similar to my mom’s: you look at a product on one site, only to see it reappear in the “sponsored ads” section of the next fifteen unrelated websites you visit. It’s unnerving at first, but as a business owner, I’m sure you can appreciate the genius of such campaigns. These companies know which products a visitor has expressed interest in, and pay for them to appear on the websites they visit until they cave and make a purchase. It’s brilliant, even if it does seem a bit invasive.

So how does it work?

Quite simply: by adding the snippets of code to your website. You implant them on your website, and the code does the rest. It can tell you who has viewed which pages, who has made a purchase, who hasn’t, which types of products they look at, etc. The information is aggregated on Facebook and Google, and you can use it to run highly targeted advertising campaigns. Instead of trying to win over “cold” leads, these pixels give you the opportunity to market towards people who are already aware of and interested in what you have to sell. In my mom’s case, Nordstrom used its pixels to determine that she was interested in buying one of their absurdly overpriced dresses, and marketed that very same dress to her on Facebook. I’m not sure whether or not she’ll end up buying it, but you can see why these campaigns are so prevalent and successful. They’re highly customized, and as such tend to provide a much better ROI than conventional marketing campaigns.

If your business has a website, you should be using these exact same tactics to advertise your products. These remarketing campaigns are powerful and cost-effective, and consistently yield impressive results. You can read up on how to set them up yourself, but if you want to really benefit from them you should consider consulting with a marketing professional. They’ll be able to build up robust advertising campaigns that are sure to make you money – and probably freak out a mom or two in the process.

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