Let’s face it, we’ve become increasingly numb to the lead capture bait for email address exchange. In fact, I think it’s become so bad that while people still sign up for the free thing, they often don’t even bother to download, rarely if ever actually read it or watch it, and unfortunately, don’t represent the opportunity for marketers that they once did.

The bar for starting a relationship with a prospect has evolved, and the stakes are higher.

Today, we have to create awareness before a prospect understands they have a problem or certainly before they are seeking a transformation.

In my opinion, this is still done by offering the right content, in the right context, but with the right delivery mechanism.

Creating awareness through targeted content

People still want to find answers to their challenges and will probably always seek information in many forms. Smart marketers are grouping and personalizing content by specific category or problem-solving advice and offering that content without strings in targeted advertising environments such as Facebook.

The content may be a short video or series of video, a group of blog posts or even a series of templates and checklists.

The key is that this is bite-sized, useful, easy to access and easy to consume. It’s the start of a relationship without commitment.

Building trust before the ask

So, how does totally free content create a lead? It does so by giving and giving and giving before asking anything. High-quality content without strings attached builds trust and authority – two of the primary objectives of all marketing today.

The key to making this work as lead generation tactic is something called remarketing or retargeting.

Now, you may be familiar with retargeting if you’ve ever reviewed a product you were researching online.

A few years ago I wanted to get standup desk and looked around at a variety of products before finally settling on one made by Varidesk.

I did my research one day and visited the manufacture’s site and sure enough everywhere else I went I started seeing ads for Varidesk.

In fact, even after I had purchased the desk from Amazon I continued to see the ads on many news type sites I visited.

This is retargeting not so much at its finest.

Or perhaps you downloaded a free report on a site and when you returned to get the next one in the series they already knew your name and email and automatically completed it in the form. This is another type of very useful retargeting in a way.

Essentially what retargeting involves is placing a cookie on a visitor’s browser that indicates they have come to your site. This cookie then allows ad networks to show certain ads when you visit one of their sites.

Many people dislike this technology, and you can manage it by changing your privacy settings to disable it. Of course, a lot of things you do like, such as a website you frequent remembering your settings is activated using this same approach.

One of the more effective ways to use retargeting in a gentle lead nurturing sense is by using Facebook’s retargeting tool.

You simply run sponsored ads at highly targeted, useful content or a series of content and let Facebook tell you who visits and consumes the content. Once this mechanism is in place, you can start building custom audiences of the people that visited your free content with the knowledge that they may indeed be interested in a more substantial version of the content in exchange for an email address or opt-in.

This approach, while requiring more patience, opens up a much larger potential audience and will likely make your list conversions triple or quadruple.

Here’s a nice little tutorial on Facebook retargeting from Social Media Examiner

And another, more technical one from WPCurve with specifics for WordPress users

And, you might want to look for retargeting services outside of the Facebook walls, so take a look at PerfectAudience for a super easy approach or one of the pioneers of retargeting, AdRoll.

Hyper segmentation for relationship building

One of the beautiful things about this approach is that it not only allows you to nurture people who visit your website, but it also allows you to create segmented campaigns for people based on what they visited.

For example, I attract many small business owners who are interested in tips and tactics for growing their business, but I also serve a growing network of independent marketing consultants who are interested in ways to grow a more profitable practice and serve more customers.

Using a retargeting approach, I can create a highly personalized experience for these radically different audiences based on an understanding of the content they visited.

Now, understand that this approach is certainly not limited to Facebook – Facebook just offers a nice way to use it to build awareness and trust.

This is essentially the same technology that powers inbound marketing tools such as Hubspot or many CRM and marketing automation tools. It’s the same technology that powers many of the more sophisticated lead tracking tools such as ClickMagick or Kissmetrics.

The real lesson in this is that marketers today must understand that as brands big and small continue to take advantage of the technology to serve more personalized, useful and relevant experiences the more our prospects will come to hunger for and expect the same from any business they engage – whether they know it or not.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Scott M

    How can we employ these techniques if we are cash strapped or don’t know the technology well? How do we get started simply and cost effectively?

    • Mike

      Doesn’t cost anything but time on your part to create content. Focus on resolving pain point areas of your audience. Create content on a regular basis and do a little research on keywords and key phrases of what your audience would be looking for. Simply just help them.

  • Hi John, great post, insight and information (as always). I got this error message trying to repost your link.

    • Thanks Chris – that’s weird might have just been temp hiccup

  • Jim Sherman

    You mention free retargeting/remarketing, maybe I’ve missed it, but I didn’t see how it can be done using free tools

    • The retargeting isn’t free it’s that you are giving free stuff by way of retargeting and not asking for an email address in return.

  • Hey John

    I couldn’t agree more – retargeting is under utilised as a blunt force instrument, when in reality it’s s sophisticated tool to deliver content and build a relationship with your reader , that is specific and delivered with the right message and information at the right time.
    If you instead use a dynamic behaviour approach to deliver what’s needed to help move that reader along based on their interactions, you have an incredibly powerful tool

    We did this recently for a case study with a wetsuit company with slow sales online

    We built a campaign that delivered content based on user interactions moving them logically towards a sale

    The results was $18,750 in sales for only $114 in Facebook ad spend
    (90 for traffic at start , $24 for the actual retargeting ) please feel free to check it out on our blog or over on (just search $18,750 it was their article of the week) or over at

    I’m a huge fan, and love the referal engine , and it’s exciting and humbling to see we share similar ideas!

    • That’s great Daniel – my guess is you’ll want to run some more of that! – thanks for the shout out on The Referral Engine

      • Not a problem at all- I’m a big fan of all your books!

        We actually ran out of stock which is why we ended at that random figure but it’s incredibly exciting
        I’m testing in other fields now and seeing great results- excited to ring out new case studies #retargetingnerd