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95% of Your Site Visitors Won't Return: Here's How To Fix It

Josh Sturgeon
Last Updated January 4, 2024

Growing up, I loved visiting my grandparents out in the country.

One humid August afternoon, I grabbed a pail and headed out to the farm. It was blueberry season. If I could bring back enough blueberries to Grandma's kitchen, it would turn into pie (aka a slice of heaven on earth).

So I picked blueberries like a madman that day, furiously grabbing at the bushes. But no matter how hard I worked, the pail would barely fill.

It was far too late before I noticed the quarter-sized hole in my pail. A cluster of blueberries trailed behind me, never to be recovered again.

There's a hole in your pail

Here's a troubling fact: 95% of the visitors who reach your website will never come back again.

That's not a quarter-sized hole in your pail, it's a crater.

Of course, the 95% rule will vary depending on your industry. If you want a quick gut check on where you stand, just open up your Google Analytics profile and look at the ratio between new/returning visitors.

Wherever the numbers fall for your site, the story is probably the same: the majority of people aren't coming back.

Returning vs New

You've worked so hard to drive traffic to your site. Furiously writing content, hustling on social media and even paying for visitors.

But that hard work is wasted when users visit your site, don't convert, then leave and never come back.

Most marketers make the mistake of treating their visitors as a "disposable audience". Our answer to losing 95% of our blueberries is to...pick more and more blueberries.

There's a better way to fix this problem and it can lead to explosive growth for your business.

Retargeting: Recycle Your Traffic

Retargeting is a tool that's been around for awhile now, but a lot of marketers still haven't put it into practice.

What is it?

Retargeting, also known as "remarketing", is a way to stay in front of your prospective customers with display ads that follow them around the web.

Ever shop online? You've probably been retargeted. Let's say you've been window shopping for a new laptop. Somehow, magically, that same laptop starts showing up in your Facebook news feed, on the sidebar of some random blog you're reading, etc.

It's not a coincidence, it's retargeting!

How it works

There are two ways to approach retargeting:

Site-Based: Site-based retargeting is the most common approach. When a user visits your site, they are "tagged" (cookied) through a pixel provided by a retargeting platform. Once a user is tagged, you'll be able to serve them ads throughout a broad network of websites and apps.

The beauty of this approach is that you can set up refined campaigns based on the pages that users did (or didn't) view. For example, a user reached a checkout page but did not complete their order.

Why didn't they buy? Maybe they didn't have their credit card on hand, maybe they ran out of time, maybe they wanted to shop around. Whatever the reason, retargeting gives you a second, third, fourth chance to close the deal.

List-Based: List-based retargeting is also known as "custom audience targeting" and "CRM Retargeting". Unlike site-based retargeting, which targets visitors of specific pages on your site, list-based retargeting uses email addresses.

With site-based retargeting, users are tagged directly when they interact with your site. With the list-based approach, a retargeting vendor will use a network of data partners to tag a user based on their email address.


CRM-Retargeting Image credit: Retargeter


The applications are endless. Do you want to re-awaken cold leads that haven't visited your site in awhile? Segment your list and get back in front of them. Want to up-sell existing customers or advertise a complementary product? List-based retargeting is a powerful tool at your disposal.

Build Your Brand With Retargeting

Retargeting isn't just a tactic to increase sales. It can be used to build  brand awareness and amplify your content marketing efforts.

A key ingredient to building trust with your audience is to get repeat visits to your site. The more value you can provide with free content upfront, the more people will trust your brand.

Larry Kim of Wordstream implemented retargeting to re-engage their blog visitors. They saw a 50% lift in repeat visits once retargeting ran its course.


Site-based retargeting is a powerful way to re-engage your audience. If your blog is organized by categories in the URL, like, "", it's easy to create retargeting rules that promote new content to past site visitors based on what they've read previously.

For example, create a retargeting rule that serves ads to visitors who read anything on your blog in the "PPC" category over the last 90 days. Did you just publish a new blog post that fits into that category? Serve ads to those audience segments and jumpstart traffic to your post.

Worried about breaking the bank for something that doesn't necessarily have a direct impact on sales?

Good news. Getting people back to your site is typically less expensive than getting them there in the first place. I say "typically", because costs will vary between ad exchanges and there's always an exception to the rule.

Ready to scale your profits sustainably?

TJ Jones -  CoFounder EmberTribe

T.J. Jones

CoFounder EmberTribe

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