Your Beginners Guide To Retargeting Ads7 min read

I’m sure you’ve heard of retargeting before. Sometimes it can be referred to as remarketing. If you haven’t, then you likely wouldn’t be reading these words right now.

Your beginners guide to Retargeting Ads

Covered in this post:

What are Retargeting Ads?

Where can you use Retargeting Ads?

Creating your retargeting audience – Google

Creating your retargeting audience – Facebook

Some final thoughts

Here’s the dream: someone lands on your website & they see something they absolutely adore. They add this perfectly incredible item to their cart and, hey presto, they’ve just made their purchase. Cha-ching!

Sadly, the dream doesn’t often come close to the truth. In fact, most people abandon their cart, never to return. Salecycle estimated that 79.1% of people abandoned their cart back in 2018. That means that just over 20% of people actually completed their purchase (trust me, I did the math myself …).

So, what do you do about those people that abandon their carts?

Retargeting ads.

This is a continuation of my set of articles on Behavioural Marketing. Missed it? Check out Behavioural Marketing – What the %@$” is it? now. 

What are retargeting ads?

Retargeting ads are the serving of ads after certain conditions are met. Ever visit an online clothing store, leave, and then see ads for this store everywhere you go across the internet? In its most basic form, that’s retargeting.

Retargeting ads often seen across websites

That’s an example of a potential remarketing ad. There are numerous types of ones that you can use:

  • Showing an ad to everyone that visits your website
  • Anyone that adds an item to their cart and then abandons their purchase
  • Anyone that visits specific pages (possibly an information page)

Just a note before we kick off: you can use retargeting ads that use either email addresses you’ve collected correctly or by using cookies. We’re going to stick with cookies for this one, but I’ll cover email addresses in a much more advanced guide.

Where can you use Retargeting Ads?

There are many services that offer retargeting ads. The one most people are likely familiar with is Display Ads from Google Ads. There’s also Facebook Advertising, which allows for the displaying of ads across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, & their own Audience Network (which works similar to Display Ads from Google).

Just a note of caution with Audience Networks from Facebook: while Google does let you check where your ads have displayed and give you the full ability to customize is, Facebook does not. Your ad may display in irrelevant places.

There are also many more retargeting ad services, like AdRoll, but I’ll focus primarily on Google & Facebook.

Creating your retargeting audience – Google

Google is the king when it comes to getting your Retargeting Audience out to the right people. School4seo estimates that there are over 2M websites that exist within Google’s Display Network.

Before we move into anything, it is important to say that a retargeting ad will only work if the audience you choose has over 100 cookies in it within a 30 day period. If you have below this, your add will not run. Source: About remarketing list compatibility – Google Support.

If you’ve never set up an audience before, then here’s exactly how you do it:

First, log in to your Google Analytics account.

Next, click on Admin over on the bottom left-hand side.

Select Admin to create your first Retargeting Audience

Once in Admin, look for your Property Settings (it’s the middle section).

Look for Property Settings under Admin

Scroll down until you see Audiences Definitions -> Audiences

Audience Definitions under Admin

If you haven’t created an audience yet, then you’re going to have to enable Retargeting. Google does this by default by creating one for All Website Visitors.

Create your first Retargeting audience

Click Next Step to be able to select your Audience Destinations (basically where you’re going to be sending the Audience you just created: Google Analytics & Google Ads).

Google Retargeting Ad Destination

Don’t see your Google Ads account here? No problem. Visit this guide from Google about linking your Google Ads & Google Analytics accounts together.

Once you’ve selected your Audience Destinations, click Enable and, boom!, you’ve just created your first remarketing audience — and, not only that — you’ve just sent them to your Google Ads account too!

Image result for celebration gif

All we’ve created is an audience that will retarget people that visited any page on your website. This is a very basic one – you can do a lot cooler & much more helpful ones, such as:

  • Page Depth –  People who have visited X amount of any page on your website
  • Page – People that have visited a specific page(s)
  • Goals – if you have goals created (such as registering for the free version of your Freemium website), then you can retarget these
  • Campaigns – if people have visited from specific Campaign Mediums.

& an unlimited amount of options. Well, I’m sure there is a limit, but I haven’t checked!

We’ve just covered Google, let’s now head over to set up a retargeting audience for Facebook.

Creating your retargeting audience – Facebook 

Facebook retargeting is a lot more straight forward than Google. It is definitely a much more manageable beast than Google – there’s no linking of Ads & Analytics accounts together, so it could be seen as a much better starting point.

Related: Your Ultimate Beginners Guide to Facebook Ads

Before we kick anything off, you’ll need to install your Facebook Pixel on your website. I’m assuming that, like me, you’re using WordPress. If so, check out this guide on how to connect your Facebook Pixel & Website.

To start off, head over to your Facebook Ad Manager.

Once there, click on the Menu and look for Audiences under Assets.

Look for Audiences under Assets on Facebook

Click on Audiences to see where you can create your own one.

Over on the left, you’ll see a button that says Create Audience. Click it and select Custom Audience from the list.

Facebook Custom Audiences

When you click on Custom Audience, you’ll receive a pop-up full of great options for your audience source.

As mentioned, for this particular post we’ll be sticking to just website traffic/cookies as opposed to email lists, so for this example select Website.

Facebook Website Custom AudienceSimilar to Google, the default is going to be All Website Visitors. We’re going to stick with this one – this is a Beginner Guide after all! – and click on Create Audience.


You’ve now just created your first Google & Facebook retargeting audience.

Go you! And, of course, go me!

Some final thoughts

Seeing as how this was a beginner’s guide, I stuck with the default settings of All Website Visitors.

This is great if you want to get maximum exposure of people that visited your website, but the reality is that you don’t want to target everybody who does this. There is a multitude of reasons – here’s a brief one:

Let’s say I do a Google search for specific queries. Through a mistake due to your SEO (maybe a misleading title or meta description – maybe an incorrectly chosen keyword), I click on your site and realize it doesn’t apply to me whatsoever. I leave straight away.

As I visited your website, I’ve now been added to your All Website Visitors list – now I’ll see ads everywhere I go. You’re spending money 1) on someone it isn’t relevant to and 2) to just annoy the hell out of me.

I’ll go into further detail in later guides – offering a more advanced version about setting up your audiences for specific Buyer Intentions.

Finally – you’ll notice that both Google & Facebook have a number listed in days; Facebook’s default is 30. This is how long you want someone to remain in that list. There’s a lot of strategic things you can do with this – such as identifying how long your sales cycle is & only keeping that person in that list for that amount of time.

I promise I will go into all of this in detail in later posts. But I’m pretty sure that’s enough for now!