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How to Set Up Your First Retargeting Campaign

by Sherice Jacob

You already know the importance of retargeting and remarketing to consumers.

But you’ve been putting it off. Perhaps you’re not sure it’s the right time to launch such a campaign. Or maybe you’re ready to get started, but you don’t know where to start.

The good news is, no matter which of the many retargeting systems and platforms you decide to use, the steps I outline below will help you understand:

  • exactly what to look for
  • what to measure
  • how to move forward with getting your prospects to take a second look

Here’s how:

When is the Best Time to Set Up a Retargeting Campaign?

Retargeting is great for conversion rate optimization — not so much for driving traffic. So you wouldn’t want to use it, for example, when you’re marketing new content to your social media followers or using landing pages to appeal to visitors who find you through Adwords.

Retargeting works best when combined with outbound (actively seeking customers through media placements, word of mouth, etc.) and inbound (bringing customers to you through reviews, email marketing, customer service, and more).

Also, keep in mind that there are two different types of retargeting:

  • pixel-based (using Javascript and cookies)
  • list-based

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, pixel-based retargeting sets a cookie that unobtrusively follows the visitor and recommends your site to them (right down to the individual products they viewed) through banner ads on other sites.

This is great in terms of immediacy but can be complicated if you have lots of pages, lots of products and lots of traffic.

remarketing-google

Setting up a remarketing campaign in Google

List-based retargeting assumes that the visitor is already part of your list and will tailor ads specifically to them. Although this method is more customizable, it’s also much less common. Many people will subscribe to a mailing list with one email address, and keep up with their social networks using another — meaning they’ll never see your perfectly-tailored remarketing ads.

Setting Up Your First Campaign

No matter which of the many retargeting platforms you decide to use (and there’s no shortage to choose from: AdRoll and Retargeter are some of the most popular), the very first step is to identify the segment of your target audience that you’ll want to retarget to.

For example, if you want to retarget only people who visited your home page, ads geared toward your overall brand identity and a sampling of the products you sell might perform better.

On the other hand, if you want to target people who viewed a specific product category, items from that category may be all you need to lure them back in.

Once you have this list prepared, it’s time to start the actual retargeting process.

Setting Up Your Ad Creatives

Different platforms have different requirements for your ad creatives. For example, Google accepts a wide range of banner ads on their network, whereas Facebook only allows ads to contain 20% text. There may be other requirements or restrictions depending on the ad platform.

For instance, Facebook won’t allow you to upload an image with a play button, as it could be mistaken for a video. Check with your individual platform to ensure that your ads meet their requirements.

adroll-campaign

Determining ad placement in AdRoll

Setting Up Destination URLs

The next step is to determine where visitors will go when they click. In many cases, your chosen ad platform will let you input a specific URL, but will then append a UTM tracking code to the end of that URL to help you better understand where the visitor is going, how long they stayed on the page, and other vital analytical information.

You can even narrow down results to the precise campaign you’re running. Services like HubSpot and Google both make use of UTM tracking codes to help you better understand the performance of your ads.

Setting Up Your Budget

Different platforms have different billing scenarios depending on how you plan to use their system.

For example, AdRoll pre-bills your account until your budget is used, and the process starts over each week. Facebook allows you to set a daily limit (which resets at midnight), or a lifetime limit which will run continuously until you either reach your budget or the end of your campaign timeframe is reached.

remarketing-facebook

Setting up a remarketing budget on Facebook

Once all these points are completed, you’ll be given a snippet of code which you’ll be instructed to copy and paste on the pages of your site that you want to run the retargeting campaign(s) on.

Now, simply check your analytics periodically to see how well your remarketing ads are performing, and make adjustments accordingly. That’s all there is to it!

Important Points to Keep in Mind When Retargeting

Set a Cap for the Frequency of Ads – Nothing annoys people more than seeing the same ad again and again across all the sites they visit. When setting up your retargeting campaign, be sure to set a frequency cap on the number of times you ad is displayed per user (15-20 displays per user/month is a good starting point).

Maximize Your Campaign Performance with Specific Targeting – The best remarketing providers will allow you the option to target users based on a variety of conditions, such as demographics, location and even industry or other contextual cues. It may seem time consuming to wade through all these specifics now, but taking the time to do this will ensure you’re not losing money on clicks that aren’t strictly tied to the type of person you’re trying to reach.

Freshen Up Your Creatives – A/B split testing your creatives can work wonders on your retargeting campaign. According to a Retargeter study, click-through rates decreased by nearly 50% after five months of running the same ad creatives. A solid round of split tests will tell you which ads are pulling their weight, and which ones are worth discarding.

Don’t Forget the Burn – A burn pixel, also known as a conversion pixel, is a specific pixel placement that targets people who have clicked on your ad and ultimately converted — whether that conversion was signing up to your list or buying your product. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t re-target to them in other ways (such as showing them ads for accessories after they bought the main item).

Have you used retargeting in your marketing campaigns? How has it paid off for you?  Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.

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Sherice Jacob

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting iElectrify.com.

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  1. Ivan Burmistrov says:
    April 17, 2015 at 10:13 am

    The only problem is that people terribly hate retargeting… ;θ)

    Read this article and don’t hurt your business: Online Creep: Targeted Ads May Have Opposite Effect of Marketers’ Intent

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      April 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      Excellent point, Ivan. Retargeting is a smart tactic, but you don’t want to overwhelm people. Respect your audience–and don’t overdo it. 😉

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