A Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting Ads

A Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting Ads

It’s tempting to think that every single person that comes across our product or service falls in love with it straight away, and they’re sold on it forever. Someone visits your website, purchase your product or fills out the form to receive your service, or wants to find out more and schedules a call with a sale rep, all in the same visit.

Piece of cake, right? Before you know it, your sales rep has had a great conversation with the potential customer – so good that they are now a paying customer. However, the reality of the buyer’s journey is a lot different from this. People take a look at your website for a little bit, and then they leave again.

A couple of months go by, and they come across an article on your website, which is when they decide to download your ebook or look a little bit more into what it is that you do. Once they’ve done this, maybe a week or two later, they’ll decide to read another blog post.

Maybe another week goes by, and they’ll decide to reach out to someone to talk about things, and it takes a few more weeks of communicating back and forth to see a real result. While the end result is the same, these are two completely different paths to get there.

So, marketers need to be prepared to realistic about the buyer’s journey, and what it’s actually going to take to get them to where you want them to be. A great way to help this process along is to do so by retargeting ads. Retargeting ads are different from your more conventional banner ads.

This is because they are a form of online targeting marketing, and they are sent to and seen by people who have already visited your website or are part of your potential customer database, say through your email system.

If you’re not familiar at all with this type of online marketing, don’t stress – we’re going to tell you all about how you can make it work for you.

Let’s take a look at what retargeting is and how you can use it to make a real difference to your customer base.

Two Different Types of Retargeting

There are two main types of retargeting – list-based and pixel-based. Each works slightly differently, and each has its pros and cons, which are all dependent on what type of campaign goals you have. Let’s check them out.



This is a way to re-display your content to someone who is visiting your website anonymously. This is definitely the more common way of retargeting. It’s called pixel-based because it’s a piece of JavaScript, and it makes the browser cookied.

When that person leaves your website and visits another one, the cookie sends that information to another platform, so that they can be served ads that are specific to your website, even if they’re on other websites at that point.

The biggest advantage of retargeting like this is that it can put the marketing in front of the target as soon as they leave your website, and it is based on behavior, so it’s really specific to what they’re already looking at and interested in.

One big downside to it, though, is that there are going to be fewer people being targeted at any given point because it all depends on how many people are visiting your website. It can also be time-consuming to copy the script to lots of other websites, in the off-chance that they visit there.



This type of retargeting works by having someone’s information in your database. You can use lists of contacts that you already have for different types of retargeting ads. All you have to do is upload email addresses to your campaign, through Twitter, for example, and the platform will identify users on that platform that match your list and target them.

While this is not as widely used as pixel-based retargeting, it does allow you to customize your marketing campaign a bit more because it is based on more than just someone’s browser behavior – you get to decide who is on that list in the first place.

One downside to this is that a lot of people have more than one email address, which means that their social media email address might not be the same as their regular email address. Ultimately, it means that they won’t be on your retargeting list. This happens more than you may think.

Remarketing vs. Retargeting

Remarketing vs. Retargeting

Remarketing is designed to re-engage with old customers that haven’t visited your website for a while. The obvious advantage of retargeting is that it allows you to focus on brand new customers that can be added to your list of existing clients.
Goals for Retargeting

Naturally, your goes for retargeting are going to be different from your goals for remarketing.



Creating a retargeting campaign for brand awareness is important and helpful when you’re trying to get website visitors engaged with your features, announcements, or products. These types of ads usually go hand in hand with pixel-based retargeting.

The biggest downside to an awareness campaign is that you’re not sending as much targeted content to people who haven’t already engaged heavily with your brand. Because they’re not already on your contact list, they’ve got a lower expected clickthrough rate.

However, because the goal here is awareness, engagement, and impressions are much better analytics to look at here.



A conversion goal is, as the name suggests, a way to get people to click on your ad and go to the next stage, which is usually filling out a form from the landing page. These are best used when they are aligned with a great sales funnel that results in a product purchased, and for analytics purposes, you get metrics like cost per lead, website clicks and form submissions.

One of the best things about using a conversion campaign is that it can be used at any stage of your sales funnel. Your pixel-based ads can be used to generate leads, along with ads that can bring people to your landing page and a form where they share information.

You can also better qualify these leads with list-based ads. This way, the ads will appear before your contacts who didn’t give out as much information as you like, encouraging them to fill out an even longer form. You can use your retargeting campaign to bring them closer and closer to the bottom of your sales funnel.

Regardless of what sales goals you have, it’s vital that you align the next step in the conversion process with the list that’s being shown the campaign.

Choosing the Right Retargeting Tool and Platform

There are quite a few retargeting third-party platforms that can effectively help your business with this type of marketing strategy, and the best part is that you can do specific retargeting through platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Email Retargeting

Email Retargeting

This is one of the earlier ways to retarget, and it’s when you use your existing list of potential customers to start sending them more personalized messages. Remember, each platform that you use for retargeting is going to have a different strategy, which means that your retargeting strategy for email is going to be different than your retargeting strategy through Facebook.

Social media retargeting is effective a lot of the time because people like to reply, discuss and share content, which of course, does a lot of the work for you. Social media is also where you can see ads that have been posted from a genuine account, as opposed to a small, impersonal ad.

The only downside is that social media retargeting doesn’t have as good of a reach as web retargeting because following people around through their web searches, it more likely to get that conversion rate.

Let’s talk about what it takes to set up your retargeting campaign on different social media platforms.


Create That List of Contacts

One of the oldest and most established social media platforms where you can set up a retargeting campaign is Facebook. Facebook also lets you launch ads to a large pool of your target audience that lets you add different ad objectives.

We’ll pretend that we’re trying to get qualified leads to check out a free trial, so we’ll set up a retargeting campaign that targets leads in the database who are going to be interesting in automating their social media marketing.

1. Create That List of Contacts

Facebook Target

One of the first things you’ll need to do is compile that list of leads that you’re going to be targeting. There are two factors to consider when choosing your target audience: where they are in the buyer’s journey, and what their interests are based on what they’ve downloaded recently.

If this results in a lot of leads, then you can progress to the next step.

2. Upload Your List to the Audience Manager

Facebook Audience Manager

Once you’ve compiled your list, you can import it into Facebook’s Audience Manager that is going to match up any email addresses on there to Facebook Profiles. Of course, there are other platforms that you can use in the same way, so it’s completely up to you which platform you think works best.

Once you’ve clicked on ‘Manage Your Ads,’ you’ll click on ‘Audiences’ on the toolbar to the left. This means that you can create your customer list with emails and phone numbers. It’s important that you’re able to name your list appropriately so that it’s easier to find further down the track.

3. Figure Out Your Destination URL


Where do you want your target audience to go when they start to interact with your retargeting campaign? Once you’ve figured this out, you can click on the ‘Create Ad’ button on the home screen.

This is going to ask you to choose your campaign objective, which will include promoting your conversions and sending people to your homepage. Whichever option you choose, it is important that you have a UTM tracking code as well, which is going to help track the success of your campaign, as well as the conversions.

4. Segment Those Ads


Once you’ve done steps 1 to 3, you can select the customer audience that you figured out earlier, and even set the location that you want to target the most. Remember, if you select ‘America,’ people on your list that aren’t located in America won’t see your ads. You can also categorize other things, too, like age, interest, behaviors, and others to get really specific with your targeting.

5. Set the Budget

Set the Budget

Before you have even started your campaign, you need to make sure that you’ve sorted out your budget, broken down into different campaigns and platforms that you’re hoping to cover.

With Facebook, you need to figure out a lifetime budget for how long it could last, and then adjust it if this changes. If you’re a beginner at this, then you may want to leave it on ‘Optimize for Website Click.’ You can also give your ad a name at this point, which is going to help you find it later if you create more ads.

6. Create Your Ad


You can add a maximum of six images to each ad, which means that you get to test some out and figure out what people like the best.

It’s essential to be concise and clear with the positioning of the ad, as you can only use 25 characters in your headline. The text on top of the image allows for 90 characters. You can also include call-to-actions as well, like ‘Learn More’ or ‘Shop Now.’

Remember, images can only be 1200 x 628 pixels, and the images can only include 20% text. If you have a play button in your image, this will be rejected. Once you’ve set everything up to your liking,

7. Track Your Progress

Track Your Progress

There you have it – you’ve created your very own retargeting ad on Facebook! Now you can track all kinds of different analytics, like reach and website clicks. Facebook makes it really easy to see all the necessary metrics so that you can keep track of what’s working with your campaign and what’s not.

Final Thoughts

Retargeting is an excellent way to keep those prospective clients engaged and reach out again to people that have already shown they could be interested in your company.

While this entire thing may sound like a simple approach, there are a lot of small factors to your retargeting ad campaign that you’ll need to iron out before you get creative with it.

Make sure that you allow time to make client lists, and work out which platforms are bringing you the best return on your ad investments.

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