When I go online to check my fantasy baseball scores, plan a vacation or head to a news site to get an update, I can count on a couple of things. The first given is that I will spend more time there than I planned on spending. The second is that there will be a digital ad for either a Disney property, United Airlines, Lands’ End or something I looked at on Amazon.

Every single time.

Why? Because I’ve been re-targeted. I visit those sites on a regular basis and they’ve placed a cookie in my browser so they can chase me around the web. Here’s how it works.

Retargeting follows website visitors as they surf throughout the Internet after visiting your site. When a person visits your website, a browser cookie is placed. That’s a small piece of data that embeds itself in a user’s browser, making it possible to see what websites the user is visiting. 

The cookie allows you to “follow” the user as they visit other sites on the web. Then, the cookie will trigger ads for your business to pop up on that person’s browser window, making some great offer to try to lure that person back to your site, where hopefully they will make a purchase or at least seriously consider making a purchase. According to emarketer.com, 70 percent of website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are more likely to convert on your website. 

Like all marketing tactics, there’s a right way and a wrong way to deploy your retargeting. 

Frequency caps: Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. One of the coolest features of most retargeting tools is that they’ll allow you to decide how many times your web visitor should be shown one of your ads if they don’t ever click on one. A general rule of thumb is that 15 to 20 ads per month is plenty.

Keep things fresh: You need to have a set of ads that you can rotate on a regular basis. Not only should the creative change, but there should also be variety in your calls to action. Keep in mind that your calls to action can be for any level of your sales funnel. It can be anything from “learn more” to “buy now” and everything in between.

Don’t make me feel like a stranger: One of the most important elements of retargeting is called a burn code. A burn code is placed on your post-transaction page so that you don’t ask me to do something I’ve already done. The other beautiful thing about a burn code is once you know what I have already purchased, you can customize your retargeting to what you know most likely comes next in my buying journey. Now, instead of feeling like a stranger, you can make me feel like one of your most prized customers.

Spread your wings: Retargeting isn’t just for websites. You can also use retargeting tools to present opportunities to your prospects on social channels and in email. Facebook’s research shows that retargeting campaigns on Facebook get twice the number of clicks that regular retargeting campaigns earn. 

Don’t limit your thinking with this tactic. You don’t have to be trying to get them to actually buy. You might be driving them to a webinar or an asset they can download in exchange for their email address.  

You’re not going to get this 100 percent right the first time you do it. Experiment with your ads, your audiences and your offers. And keep experimenting, even after it starts working. This is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of tactic. Keep learning and benefit from those new insights.