How to Effectively Use Retargeting Ads: Facebook and Google Ads

10 August 2021

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Victoria is a leading digital advertising expert @Viden with years of marketing experience, using a data-driven approach to identify growth opportunities and deliver value for brands across all paid channels.

Users visit different websites every day to look for information, browse various services, and compare prices for products. Many of them leave without acting or converting, however, with a compelling retargeting ad campaign, it’s possible to bring users back to the site and turn a retargeted visitor into a conversion.
In this article, we’re going to cover the following:

  • What retargeting is and why you should use it.
  • What you should know before you start using retargeting campaigns.
  • The strategic ways you can use retargeting.
  • How to use retargeting ads on Google and Facebook.
  • How to create effective retargeting ads.

What Is Retargeting?

Simply put, retargeting refers to the use of ads to retarget people who have visited your website and taken specific actions. If you’ve been researching retargeting, you might have noticed that it’s often used interchangeably with remarketing. While there are similarities, the two are different. Remarketing typically means re-engaging users through emails.
Why the confusion? In many ways, remarketing and retargeting goals are the same. Even Google’s suite of retargeting tools is called Google’s Remarketing Tools. Both Google and Facebook retargeting ads allow you to create and target audiences based on email addresses they’ve shared with you. Instead of getting caught up in the terminology, it’s important to remember the end goal: converting visitors who aren’t your clients yet.

How Does it Work and Why Should You Use It?

Retargeting ads show on average the 10x higher CTR than display ads and have different marketing objectives. For example, if you are raising content awareness, one of the best ways to retarget users who have already interacted with your website is to offer links with additional materials. If you’re looking for increasing sales, you can retarget two types of users: those who looked at products but did not act anyhow, and those who added a product to a shopping cart but didn’t complete their purchase. One of the strategies to drive sales is to offer users discounts or to take advantage of cross-selling. We will cover it later.

What You Should Know Before Starting

Before you start a retargeting campaign, there are a few crucial factors to consider. First and foremost, ensure that you have a comprehensive privacy policy clearly visible on your website. Google and Facebook have very stringent user privacy rules, and you’ll need to disclose your use of cookies for marketing purposes. In some countries, it’s compulsory to provide users with the option to opt-out of your marketing activities entirely. To avoid any legal or costly mistakes, ensure that you read the terms and conditions before planning and initiating any ad campaigns.

Using Retargeting Ads on Google

To start using Google retargeting ads, you first need to set up a tag. Like the Facebook pixel, the tag is a snippet of code that feeds data directly from your website to Google Ads. The data includes users’ behavior and information to allow you to target specific audience segments.
To get the tag you have to:

  • Go to your Google Ads account and select “Tools and Settings”.
  • Under “Shared Library”, select “Audience Manager”.

  • Select “Audience Sources” and “Set Up Tag”.
  • Customize which data should be collected depending on your industry.
  • Save your selection and choose how to install your tag. There are a few different methods, and you can select the one that best matches your expertise.
  • Once the tag is installed, verify that it’s working by using the Google Tag Assistant.

If the tag is installed correctly, you’ll start collecting user data automatically. You can now set up your retargeting audience.

Setting up Your Audience

The easiest way to set up a retargeting audience is to create a list defined by the users, who visited your website. For example:

  • Select “Audience Manager” under “Shared Library”.
  • Select “Audience Lists” and click the “+” button.
  • Choose “Website Visitors” from the menu.

  • Give your audience a name and select which pages they should have visited.

There are also a few other ways to segment and define your audience, like:

  • Visitors over a specific period.
  • Where users are within the stages of your sales funnel.
  • Multiple page visits.

Define your parameters to create a list that’ll best suit the campaign you want to run.

Optimize and Review

Once your retargeting campaign has been running for a time, you can review the results to see if you can improve performance. For example, you could:

  • Review ad performance by location, time, scheduling, devices, and adjust your bids accordingly.
  • Adjust targeting by further segmenting your audience by new data points.
  • Use new formats such as YouTube and Dynamic Remarketing ads to reach your audience on more platforms in new engaging ways.

Over time, Google will automatically gather more data and offer valuable insights.

Using Retargeting Ads on Facebook

Before you can use retargeting ads on Facebook, you need a business account. It’s easy to sign up, the verification process is intuitive and simple to follow. Once you’ve signed up, you can get and integrate your pixel. A pixel is a snippet of code provided by Facebook that sets cookies, tracks users, and allows retargeting campaigns to work. Without it, your campaigns will not be as effective, and some may not work at all. Once you’ve integrated your pixel, use your Facebook business dashboard to test the code and ensure that it’s tracking correctly. If so, you can set up your audience and retargeting ads.

Setting up Events

Before you start targeting your audience, you need to set up events that Facebook can understand and interpret. Some of the events include:

  • Add to Cart
  • Contact
  • Donate
  • Lead
  • Purchase
  • Subscribe

When users visit a particular page or perform a specified action, Facebook will use that information to record and interpret users’ behavior. You can use the data to refine your campaigns.

Setting up Your Audience

Facebook offers various ways to set up and customize an audience. To set up your retargeting audience, start by selecting website traffic under custom audiences. You can follow the steps to refine your audience based on:

  • Overall behavior.
  • Events you’ve set up.
  • Pages visited.
  • Time spent on the site.
  • A custom combination.

Now you can create your audience and move on to preparing your retargeting ads.

Create Ads and Set up Campaigns

Once your pixel is integrated, and the events are set up, you can begin creating ads and campaigns. When doing so, pay attention to the following:

  • Use persuasive and compelling copy.
  • Include a prominent call to action (CTA).
  • Create post-click landing pages that match the ads.
  • Use dynamic ads.

Try to follow best practices to ensure that you comply with the relevant terms and develop engaging creatives. We have a series of articles with practical tips on how to create engaging Facebook ads. Check them out to learn how to increase the conversion rate, when running ads on Facebook.

Read Now: Facebook Creatives: Which Ads Convert the Best?
Read Now: Mobile-First Creatives: Why Worth Caring and How to Develop One

Tips for Creating Effective Retargeting Ads on Facebook and Google

If you don’t set up your ads correctly, your campaign will fail. However, even if you set your campaign up perfectly, poorly designed creatives and bad copy can still doom your advertising efforts. Below we share a few of our tips for creating effective retargeting ads on Facebook and Google.

Retarget Existing Clients With Complimentary Products

When advertising, some types of Facebook and Google ads may not align with your brand and message. When setting up your campaigns, remember to indicate the categories of content which you don’t want your brand to be associated with. For example, if you’re a consulting agency, it’s likely that you won’t get a great ROI by placing your ads on children’s videos.
Set up your campaigns to target existing clients by showing them complimentary products. It’s a great way to turn your audience into loyal, returning shoppers. For example, someone who just purchased a new mobile phone won’t be interested in buying another, but might purchase a protective glass. After all, if a person is purchasing an expensive phone, he might want to spend a few extra dollars to keep it safe.

Target High-Value Audiences and Create a Great Ad Copy

While segmenting your audience, ensure that you exclude bounced visitors and people who spent less than 10 seconds on your site. It’s likely that these users didn’t find what they wanted or accidentally clicked on your link. Targeting them would waste an advertising budget as they might have no genuine interest in your services or products.
Remember that the users are already familiar with your brand. They’ve been on your site, viewed your products, and might start adding items to their shopping cart. Showing generic, branded ads to these users might not be an effective approach. Instead, try to use engaging copy to circumvent their sales objections.
Also, think of a frequency capping. While retargeting ads can be effective, they can also become highly annoying. If you bombard users with ads continually, they may start marking the ads as spam and block them entirely. Use frequency and duration caps to avoid this problem.

Offer Discounts or Coupons and Remind Shoppers of Their Carts

Who doesn’t like receiving something for free? Users can spend hours bouncing from site to site looking for the products they want at the most competitive price. With retargeting, you can mitigate the risk of losing the customer who is happy with the product but not with its price. Offering a discount or coupon will make an advertisement more appealing and helps reignite a viewer’s interest in you and your product.
Another issue is cart abandonment. It is one of the biggest challenges faced by ecommerce store owners. According to Statista, the average cart abandonment rate is 88,05%. There may be a myriad of reasons why shoppers abandon their carts in stores, including: unexpected shipping costs, forced account creation, complex checkout processes, payment security issues, website errors, no express shipping or slow delivery. Before you start a retargeting campaign, determine if you’re dealing with any of the issues outlined above.


Retargeting ads are a great way to raise brand awareness and revitalize your sales funnel. However, your ads are only as effective as your strategy and how well you set up your ads. Combat sales objections, remind your shoppers of the carts they left behind, and offer them a tempting discount.
If you need help crafting an effective Facebook and Google Ads retargeting campaign, our team gladly assists with achieving the best results. Feel free to get in touch with us to give your marketing a boost.

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