Want to know how to go back after those that have visited your site but didn’t buy? This guide is all about retargeting ads and how they can benefit you when it comes to reaching back to your target audience.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

Let’s move on to what retargeting is.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is a marketing technique aimed at recent visitors to your website or application. These visitors did not convert at the initial visit of your website. With retargeting ads, you can display ads catered to those visitors that have already shown an interest in your brand. Reminders of your products or services, discounts, or personalized messages will be useful at attracting those visitors back to your website.

To demonstrate, imagine a flyer handed to you as you walk down the street. You take one glance at it and never think of it again. But, let’s say when you get to the next block someone new hands you the same flyer. This constant exposure to what the brochure has to offer will make you reconsider its offer. Same is true when people are casually surfing the web.

Ads frequently fill the internet at every corner. Each one of these ads is fighting for your audience’s attention. Retargeting has made it possible for those that have shown a slight interest in a brand to be displayed another ad to continue that exposure further increasing the possibility of a conversion.

Remarketing is reaching back out to those that have come in contact with your brand or products in a less intrusive way.

How does retargeting work?

Now on to how retargeting ads get back in front of your audience. It depends on where your audience is and what your campaign is designed to accomplish. The first method we are going to talk about is retargeting pixels. We will talk about how these pixels track you anonymously across the internet.

Retargeting pixels

Retargeting pixels are snippets of code brands add to their website or applications. They are called pixels because they are a 1×1 transparent pixel located on a page. Using you as an example, when you visit a website that has a retargeting pixel on it, you will have a cookie added to your browser. Speaking of cookies, why don’t we use them in this example. The name of the website you will be visiting is named Chocolate Chunk’s cookies.

The cookie added to your browser begins tracking your behavior while you are on Chocolate Chunk’s websites. It will identify the pages you viewed, what products you were looking at, and how much time you spend on each page.

When you leave Chocolate Chunk’s website without purchasing anything, the cookie on your browser continues to follow you as you move on to another site. Again, the tag tracks your behavior on this new website. This data is sent anonymously to data advertising networks the brand works with.

Those familiar with programmatic advertising will know how the ad is put through an auction for further placement in front of the targeted audience in the best possible place. That’s now what is taking place. Artificial Intelligence is determining when and where is the best placement for an ad from Chocolate Chunk’s website about one of their products you viewed.

Continuing with our example, you visit the website, Charlie’s bikes. While you are browsing through the website, an ad for one of Chocolate Chunk’s products you viewed previously now shows up on Charlie’s bikes.

Retargeting ads are everywhere

This modern advertising technique is less intrusive and less aggressive to convert potential customers. More in line with a subtle nudge and reminder of products a potential customer has already shown an interest in. Rather than showing ads to someone not targeted within a campaign, this technique goes after those more likely to convert.

As a matter of fact, it doesn’t stop just at website browsing. In reality, retargeting ads may appear on an app you use on your phone. An Amazon ad may appear on a news website you visit. A Shopify ad can appear on a forum you are active on. The point is, if space is available, then an advertising network may be capable of reaching back out to you with retargeting ads. It is only possible if the website has an active retargeting pixel, however.

Social Media

Charlie’s bikes also has a retargeting pixel. When you leave his website and move onto your Facebook notifications, you will be retargeted on that platform as well. The power of retargeting ads shows here. It’s the possibility of reaching your audience on multiple platforms.

You don’t have to be following the particular brand or product on social media for retargeted ads to appear on your feed. The cookies you gather through your web browsing will, in turn, lead to those same brands or products to appear on your social media feed. If you show a slight interest, then you will be retargeted. You will see Instagram ads, Facebook ads, and Youtube ads as you begin scrolling through your feeds as you usually do.

Once again, advertising networks have the capability of gathering the right data to help ensure an ad is visible to the best possible candidate for a conversion on multiple platforms.

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    Google Ads

    An issue that was concerning to advertisers regarding Google Ads was how it may not always show ads to the right audience. However, retargeting ads help alleviate this issue by only showing ads to those that enter a search query containing your selected keywords.

    Tailor your campaign to your targeted audience by selecting relevant keywords. When people search for these specific keywords you chose, then retargeting ads can be sent to them containing your brand or products pertinent to their search.

    What this does is reduce wasted Adword budgets. Your keywords help put your ads in front of those that have already shown interest in your brand. No longer are you unsure on whether Adwords is showing ads to customers that are on the fence, but rather to those that have previously seen your brand.

    Retargeting lists

    Digital marketers and brands understand the importance of having an email list. These are the people that have more than likely purchased from you in the past. Or, have an interest in doing business with you. Emails have become sacred, and people no longer hand their address out as freely as they used to. Spam and unwanted advertisements fill people’s inboxes, and it prevents them from wanting more digital clutter.

    Your email list is the perfect place for finding the right candidates for your retargeting ads campaigns. It is easier to sell to someone who purchased from you before than to sell to a new customer.

    To take it a step further, you can segment your email lists and upload them to social media platforms like Facebook. You increase your exposure by double whether it is in their inbox or their social media feed. Both of these are excellent places since they are the most common for people to view when they are on their device. Facebook also allows you to create a Lookalike Audience which will enable you to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your email list.

    A drawback is the email you have may not be the same as the one they use for their social media accounts. Utilizing pixels ensures that you are still reaching them on a social media platform if they are familiar with your brand.

    Do retargeting ads work?

    “Retargeting is a tool designed to help companies reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away,” according to retargeter.com. That leaves 2% that convert on the first time viewing your brand.

    Look at how Jeff Jarrett, the VP of digital marketing for Kimberly-Clark, has been utilizing the power of retargeting. As Jeff Jarrett puts it, “Consumers who visit the brand site are 20 percent more likely to act on a message than a consumer who has not expressed this interest. Furthermore, we are seeing stronger conversion rates among these consumers: 50-60 percent conversion rates.”

    You have 98% that visit your brand and leave without purchasing but have shown some initial interest by visiting your website in the first place. By subtly reaching back out to these visitors, there is a 50% to 60% chance of conversion rate that is achievable without having to be a large corporation like Kimberly-Clark.

    How much do retargeting ads cost?

    Generally speaking, it depends. How much are you willing to allocate for your retargeting ads budget and as important, what is the goal?

    An advertising provider determines the best place to show your ad based on your budget and available ad space they have for rent.

    For the most part, there are two main ways of how you will pay for your remarketing ads, CPM or CPC.

    • CPM or Cost-Per-” Mille” is for every 1,000 impressions.
    • CPC or Cost-Per-Click is every time a visitor clicks on your ad.

    CPM is best for brand awareness. You will be charged for every 1,000 times your ad is displayed on the internet. Regardless of whether the user sees the ad or not. If the goal is to get your name out and keep it in your target audience’s mind, then this method may work for you.

    CPC is for performance goals like increasing revenue. You only pay when a visitor clicks on your ad, and by them doing so shows a genuine interest in your brand or product. You set up your campaign by first determining how much you are willing to pay per click, somewhere around $1 or $2 is average. This method works best if your click-through rate is altogether converting. However, if you have a high click-through rate without converting, then it’s back to redesigning your ad. Or, consider CPM as an option until you optimize your advertisement or offer.

    Retargeting mistakes to avoid

    Retargeting sounds like it might be the perfect technique for building rapport and increasing conversion. As with any other marketing technique, there are mistakes to avoid.

    You start with segmenting your target audiences and catering to them explicitly making each impression unique to them. The entire design of the ad experience should feel personal, timely, and relevant to the potential customer.

    Following up on that idea, your ads should not be clones of your website. You want your ads to stand out on their own, so your viewers don’t burn out on the same branding over and over. This possibility increases now that you can follow them across the internet. Viewing the same branding becomes annoying and is a turn off from your brand, which is the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.

    Another mistake similar to annoying your consumers is exhausting them by focusing solely on retargeting. Instead, focus on gaining new traffic to your website. This new influx of viewers will become the new audience for your retargeting ad campaigns. You should always be looking for new viewers while maintaining the ones you have. Balance your efforts among both.

    Monitor the overall frequency at which your ads display to the same people. By continually bombarding your lists, you make them not want to revisit your website. Remove the subtlety out of retargeting, and it defeats the purpose.

    To sum it up:

    • Create unique retargeting ads to your segmented lists.
    • Keep ads refreshing and not clones of your website.
    • Always balance new and old visitors.
    • Avoid overexposure to your audience.

    Now on to how you can retarget on Facebook, Google Adwords, and Linkedin.

    How to retarget on Facebook?

    Facebook is a perfect place to retarget your audience, considering it presently has 2.41 billion users. This section is all about Facebook retargeting ads and will walk you through how you set up your campaign and create a Facebook targeting pixel.

    As you learned, we need a pixel for your website that will send information to Facebook on what pages a visitor viewed. When a visitor sees their Facebook feed, an ad will appear as a reminder from your brand or product.

    Let’s take it a step further and introduce Facebook’s custom audiences. Custom Audiences is where you will segment your viewers to send personalized ads based on your custom audience preferences. For example, you may only target those who visited a specific page or those that put a product in their cart but didn’t purchase.

    How to set up a Facebook retargeting campaign?

    Setting up your campaign is easy. Here are the steps:

    Step 1. Log in to Facebook ads manager

    I am assuming you have a Facebook account for business ads, which at this point, I imagine you do if you plan to use Facebook for advertising. We want to create a custom audience from the ads manager.

    We do this by selecting Audiences from the dropdown menu found on the Business Manager screen.

    Step 2. Click on Create Audience then Custom Audience

    Create audience is on the top left. Click there. When you do, a popup will appear, and this is where we want to select Custom Audience from the dropdown menu. This menu option is what allows us to segment our audiences into each appropriate group. For this example, we are focusing on retargeting people who have visited your website.

    facebook ads create audience

    Step 3. Selecting Website Traffic

    After selecting Custom Audience, you’ll see the different ways to segment your audience. Select Website Traffic. Facebook allows you to target those that have visited your website home page or narrowed down to only a specific URL, like a particular product page.

    facebook ads - custom audience

    Step 4. Selecting your target audience

    The screen after selecting Website Traffic gives you these options:

    1.  Anyone who visits your website.

    2.  People who visit specific pages.

    3.  People visiting certain pages but not others.

    4.  People who haven’t visited in a certain amount of time.

    5.  Custom combination.

    facebook ads create audience

    As you can see, Facebook gives you options that help you tailor campaigns to your goals. We want to focus on the homepage of your website for this example: select option 1, Anyone who visits your site.

    Enter your URL next to the dropdown option, URL Contains. You have the opportunity to select a date range and add a custom name, as you should always do to keep track of your campaigns. Name it something simple like Website Traffic. Hit Create Your Audience. You are almost ready to start your campaign.

    We have to create a Facebook Targeting Pixel for your website, so Facebook has somewhere to gather information from.

    How to create a Facebook targeting pixel?

    Head back to your Audiences dropdown from the Business Manager page. From here you’ll find your newly created retargeting campaign, Website Traffic. Click the checkbox next to the name. Above will be your options on what to do with it, including edit, delete, and three dots which are your Actions.

    facebook ads - audience pixel

    Creating a Facebook targeting pixel is not difficult, but installing it takes some HTML knowledge. Click the three dots for Actions — select View Pixel. A popup will appear with the pixel code. Copy and paste the code into the header code of every page of your website to gather information for them.

    facebook ads - audience - install pixel

    For this example, we are focusing on the website homepage. Locate the <head></head> tags in your webpage code, or locate the header template in your CMS or web platform. If you can, paste the code at the bottom of the header section, just above the </head> tag. You mustn’t modify the code in any way. It must be copied and pasted as it is.

    Facebook has made it simple for those that do not develop their website or have a developer that makes adjustments for them. When you arrive at the View Pixel popup, you are given the option to email the code to your developer. Enter your developer’s email address, and Facebook will send the code for them to install on your behalf.

    After the pixel installs, it usually takes an average of 20 minutes for it to become active. To check if the code has been installed correctly, go back to your Events Manager, and you’ll find your pixel with a status of Active or not. If you are having trouble, visit this link to help with troubleshooting.

    How to retarget with Google ads?

    If you followed along with the Facebook guide, then setting up a basic retargeting campaign for Google will be the same. I will walk you through how to set up your campaign focusing on those that have visited your website’s homepage.

    Facebook displays ads as your audience scrolls through their feed, but with Google, you have the power to reach them all over the internet. Let’s go over the steps of establishing your audience.

    Step 1. Tagging

    Sign in to your Google Ads account and find the tool icon in the Navigation Bar. Scroll over to Shared library and look down for Audience Manager. This will look familiar to those that did the same for Facebook.

    google - ads - audience manager

    Step 2. Click Audience Sources

    After reaching the Audience Manager page, look to the left-hand panel for the Audience Sources and click on that link.

    google audience ads - source

    When you do, a popup will appear. This is where you decide which tags to use. You can obviously see how integrated Google is over its apps by giving YouTube or Google Play an option. In this example, we are clicking on “Set up Tag” in the Google Ads Tag section.

    set up tag - google ads

    Step 3. Click on Set up Tag

    After clicking another popup will appear. You will create the Google ads data resource here. For Remarketing, and this example, select the first option to collect general website visit data.

    google ads - tag - data source

    You’ll notice the option indicates you can gather specific data on actions a potential customer might take on your website. These actions are triggers. Just like Facebook, Google will display ads if parameters match with a retargeting pixel designed for these actions. Not to mention, there are targeting pixels for almost every action a visitor to take. However, each one of those trigger pixels must be included in the header of the website.

    Step 4. Click Save

    Click save to continue and save your progress up to this point.

    Now on to creating your Google retargeting pixel.

    How to create a Google retargeting pixel?

    After you clicked save, then a window will appear offering three options on how to install your retargeting pixel, or as Google calls it, a tag. If you are HTML savvy and know your way around your website’s design, then installing the tag is the same as Facebook. Copy the code and paste in between <head></head> tags. Remember if it’s possible to paste above the <head> tag at the bottom of the header.

    google ads - install - tag - on - website

    Another option is emailing the code directly to your designer.

    Now that you have the tag installed, it’s time to test it using the Google Tag Assistant plugin for Chrome. All in all, the Google Tag Assistant is designed to troubleshoot tags installed on your website pages. It ensures you have correctly installed tags and offers improvement ideas if any are available. Go to pages that have your tags installed, and the plugin will determine if the tags are correct.

    How to create a Google retargeting ad campaign

    Given that we have created and installed the Google retargeting pixel. Now we move onto creating a basic campaign that focuses on visitors that come to your website’s homepage. Google makes this process super simple, and here are the steps.

    Step 1. Go to Audience Manager in the Navigation bar

    Sign in to your Google Ads then Share Library in the navigation bar. From here you will look down the list to Audience Manager. We are doing exactly like we did to set up the tags.

    Step 2. Click on the Big + sign

    Once you are in the Audience Manager screen, you’ll notice on the left-hand side that the first tab, Audience Lists, is highlighted. This is where we want to be because there is a big + sign below the Marketing tab. Click the + sign.

    Step 3. Click Website Visitors

    After clicking the big + sign, you’ll see a dropdown that shows all the different ways you can segment your audience lists. We will be focusing on the first, Website Visitors. In the future, if your advertising campaigns were to include YouTube or an app, this is where you would create those lists for those applications.

    Step 4. Name your audience

    It’s always the best practice to identify your lists with the least confusing name. In this example, let’s name it Homepage visitors retargeting campaign.

    Step 5. Click List Members from the dropdown

    Select the first option from the dropdown menu, Visitors of a page. We want Google to track all those that visit your homepage. Enter your homepage URL below that, and you’re good to go. Finally, click create and now focus on creating the perfect ad.

    How to retarget on Linkedin?

    Linkedin is the social media for professionals. After all, you can find only those serious about their business on Linkedin. As with other social media feeds, this one also has an advertising aspect. Fortunately for us, we can retarget with Linkedin Matched Audiences. This portion of Linkedin allows us to send marketing messages based on account targeting, email contacts, and what we will be focusing on, website retargeting.

    How to create a Linkedin retargeting campaign

    These are the steps to retargeting with Linkedin, let’s get started.

    Step 1. Login to Linkedin and go to Campaign Manager

    Campaign Manager is self-explanatory considering the name. This is where your accounts will be listed that lead you to the campaigns they have.

    Step 2. Click the correct Account for this retargeting campaign

    If you have multiple accounts, then this is where you want to confirm you have the right one selected. Click on the correct Account. You will be taken to a screen that displays the campaigns you have created.

    Step 3. Click on Account Assets at the top

    From here, you will see a dropdown menu. Click on Matched Audiences.

    Step 4. Click Create Audience within the Matched Audiences Screen

    Clicking Create Audience will display a dropdown that shows Website Audience, List upload, and Lookalike. Click Website Audience. As you can tell, this is where you segment your campaign goals and audiences.

    Step 5. Name your Audience

    For this example, name it Homepage Visitors. We want to track everyone who visits our homepage only.

    Step 6. Enter your URL

    As with the other two previous walkthroughs, we are entering your homepage URL. Also, just like those other two, LinkedIn requires a retargeting pixel on each page to be tracked. Next, we will go over how to create that pixel. For now, click create.

    It takes 300 members to view your retargeting pixel before your campaigns can be set to live. After 300, your campaigns will become active and begin sending your marketing messages. According to Linkedin, depending on traffic it can take up to 48 hours before reaching the 300 members mark.

    Let’s move on to creating the Linkedin retargeting pixel, also known as a tag to Linkedin.

    How to create a Linkedin retargeting pixel?

    Here are the steps to creating your Linkedin retargeting pixel. This tag is similar to the previous two with a few differences.

    Step 1. Sign in to your Campaign Manager

    Again, this is where you will be creating, managing, and editing your campaigns within this screen.

    Step 2. Click the correct Account

    If you have multiple accounts, verify you select you the right Account before moving forward.

    Step 3. Click on Account Assets to find Insight Tag

    You will find the Insight Tag in the same dropdown menu below where you found Matched Audiences.

    Step 4. Click how you will install the tag

    If you installed the other two tags previously explained, then you will know how to install this one. Linkedin says to install preferably right before the end of the <body> tag in the global footer. If you have a developer, then choose the option to email them the code to install.

    Once Linkedin receives a signal from your tags, then it will display the domains under Insight Tag. Domains with correctly installed tags and that are verified will show to be Active in the Insight Tag window. It’s worth noting that activation can take up to 24 hours. In some cases, activation can take only minutes.

    Final thoughts

    Let’s talk about everything we went over so far. In this guide, we covered retargeting ads on three of the most popular platforms. We walked through how to create campaigns that specifically target visitors to your homepage. You also now know how to create and install retargeting pixels on the websites you own.

    We talked about budgets for retargeting campaigns. We looked at how your ad campaign budget can limit the power of your retargeting ads. Consider CPM for brand awareness and the subtle nudge needed for a conversion. On the other hand, CPC is for when you have revenue goals in mind. If your conversion rate is high, then it is worth having your budget towards CPC.

    As we walked through the steps, you may have noticed the different rules and exceptions you can add to your campaigns. These rules and exceptions are once you narrow down your campaigns. For example, you may retarget visitors who visited a particular page, but not another. Another rule is for when someone adds a product to their cart but exits the page before checking out.

    In that case, you can set up a rule to target them on Facebook displaying an ad with the product they left without purchasing. Or, follow them on another website once they search using your specified keywords that relate to that product they didn’t buy.

    Furthermore, it’s worth going over again the importance of creating the right ads that are specific to these audiences. As mentioned in the mistakes to avoid, you want to create personal ads that are not intrusive. Keep from exhausting your list and continue to grow the list as well.

    Equally important, your retargeting ads should be refreshing to avoid annoying your audience. If not, you run the risk of them never wanting to revisit your brand. If your retargeted audience never comes back to your brand, then you have wasted time and money.