Retargeting Ads Guide For Beginners

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of retargeting ads and how they’ll help your business.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting ads give you the opportunity to re-engage with leads who have shown interest in your products/services and encourages them to complete the conversion process. 

Retargeting is one of the most effective marketing tactics your business can implement and has been proven to deliver a ridiculous return-on-investment (ROI). Retargeting ads help businesses maximize their investments not only to meet lower-funnel conversion objectives, but also to strengthen their upper-funnel awareness and lead nurturing campaigns by providing a clear path to conversion.

Why Use Retargeting Ads?

Do you ever feel like you’re being followed by websites you’ve visited? Your gut instincts are right. This isn’t some weird coincidence, it’s retargeting! Brands are following you around the internet after you visited their site and didn’t complete the desired action (typically purchase for ecomm and form submit for B2B).

How does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting ads vary depending on the platform you are using (we will dive into the different platforms further into this guide). But, there are a few overarching steps that go into delivering a retargeting ad to visitors who leave your website:

  • You have your first visitor to your site. Congrats! They’ve scrolled through your website and have opened one or multiple pages. When the visitor first navigates to your site they will be asked to accept “cookies.” Cookies are used to identify users and track website activity. They will store information about their visit
  • Visitor leaves site without completing desired actions.
  • Visitor is served a retargeting ad on a particular platform that drives them back to your site
  • Visitor (hopefully) converts

So how can your business start retargeting website visitors?

Gathering Data for Retargeting Ads: Pixel-Based and List-Based

Pixel-Based Retargeting

Remember the “cookie?” Well, this is also what is called pixel-based retargeting. You create a pixel by placing a snippet of javascript code on every page of your website (just drop it in the header of your website so it shows up on every page). The pixel will fire when a visitor lands on each page and will provide you insight into your visitor’s interests and what their potential relationship can be with you.

When they leave your site to browse other sites the cookie allows the platforms you have retargeting setup on to serve specific ads to entice them to return to your site. 

Advantages: This method serves you ads on what you had just searched almost immediately and is behavior based. 

Disadvantages: There is a lower volume of people as it focuses on a person visiting your site and then leaving without completing the desired action.

List-Based Retargeting

This method can be used after you already have someone's contact information, specifically their email addresses, in your database. You most likely have leads, customer names, and contact information based on past purchasing or website behavior. We use HubSpot to segment and generate custom segments that we can push to Google, Facebook, and Linkedin. High-level, this is how you retarget them:

  1. Upload a your custom audience to the marketing platform
  2. Create an ad campaign targeting that custom audience
  3. Decide on a budget (start small and scale) and launch it
  4. Then that platform will serve specific retargeting ads just to them!

This method allows you to have a list of highly customizable criteria, which is based on more than just website behavior. You’re not only choosing which user goes in which list, but you can segment based on email marketing history, sales history, form completions… essentially any data you have in your CRM on your contacts.

For example: Any business who we have initial discussions with but who drop off for one reason or another, we drop into a custom retargeting campaign so they are reminded of electrIQ.

These retargeting processes are distinctly different, but they both offer a significant amount of value to the goals you are trying to achieve. Depending on where you are in the funnel, using different forms of retargeting can be key to a successful campaign.

What Goals Should be Considered for Retargeting?

Now that we have some insight on what retargeting is and the different methods of retargeting we can focus on two key goals: Awareness and Conversions


Awareness campaigns are more top of the funnel than your conversion campaigns. They’re used to increase brand awareness, inform visitors about product features and other announcements. It’s a less targeted goal because you are communicating with visitors who haven’t had a lot of interaction with your business. You’ll want to run awareness campaigns as precursors to your conversion campaigns.


Conversion ads are reserved for visitors further down your funnel. Their main goal is to get past visitors to click on your ad, direct them to a landing page, and convince them to convert. What a conversion looks like is entirely dependent on your business and it’s goals. As an e-commerce business, your conversion goal is most likely a purchase, but as a marketing agency our bottom of the funnel conversion is a visitor filling out our free consultation form

Irregardless of what the campaign goal is, the most successful campaigns we run for our clients start with audience segmentation.

Retargeting by Behavior

Another example of this type of campaign is targeting someone who went through the process of selecting and dropping off items in their shopping cart, but for whatever reason they never completed the transaction. Your ads for a situation like this would be more direct and personalized. Since you already know exactly what the person is interested in, there is no need to provide them with an awareness ad.


No matter what the goal is, it is important to align the positioning, creatives and next step in the conversion process.

Retargeting by Time

Another area to cover is the frequency of which the visitor sees your ads. Showing the same ad over a certain period of time on the same website may be problematic.

No matter what the goal is, it is important to align the positioning, creatives and next step in the conversion process. 

How and Where Can Retargeting be Used?

Now we know the basics of retargeting, but let’s talk about the different ways you can use these retargeting ad strategies. 


When it comes to retargeting on the web, you have to be very careful with how you do this. Not everyone who visits your site is a potential lead, that’s why it is important that you initiate tracking on specific pages to get more qualified leads. Most people who are visiting your landing page are probably only looking for general information.


Retargeting ads are available on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We’ll break down Facebook retargeting ads here, as they’ve proven to give our clients the highest ROI and it’s where you should start.

Facebook Retargeting Ads

Facebook’s ad platform is robust and allows you to place ads not only on Facebook but on Instagram as well. You can target new audiences, your own custom audiences, and even create lookalike audiences while driving to a variety of ad objectives. 

Social media users are already more engaged, making Facebook ripe for retargeting campaigns.

Here are the steps to creating a retargeting ad like this on Facebook: 

  1. Gather data from the platform specific pixel on your website or create a list using your existing contacts
  2. Add list into Facebook's Audience Manager.
  3. Determine where you want to send traffic (your Destination URL)
  4. Segment your Ads for specific audiences.
  5. Set your budget.
  6. Create your ad.
  7. Track your campaign's progress.
1. Gather Data from the platform specific pixel on your website or create a list using your existing contacts

Decide whether you want to retarget based on website behavior or if you have a segment of contacts you’d like to target. If you’re going to segment, we recommend compiling a list based on these two criteria: 1) their lifecycle stage, 2) what you deem their interests to be based on their site behavior, email marketing interaction, and any other data you have. For example, with ATAQ Fuel we target leads based on how they fill out their athlete intake form.

electrIQ Tip: Your list should be AT LEAST 1000 contacts. If it’s not 1000 contacts, you need to change your segmentation properties and/or type of retargeting.

2. Add list into Facebook's Audience Manager.

If you’re uploading a list from your CRM, then import it directly into Facebook’s Customer audience manager. Facebook then takes these emails and allows you to target that list directly or matches them up with other similar Facebook profiles to create a lookalike audience.

You’re also able to set demographic, geographic, and other behavioral interests for an ad in Audience manager even without a retargeting list. Now you’ll have your retargeting audience clearly defined.

3. Determine where you want to send traffic (your Destination URL)

After you select what goal you want your ad to accomplish (learn more about this with our in-depth Facebook Ads Guide), you need to select where you want to send your ads traffic. We recommend creating a landing page that drives to a specific call-to-action you want the visitor to complete. Experiment with whether or not having the header and footer of your site on the landing page increases or decreases conversion rates.

electrIQ Tip: Add UTM tracking to your landing page so you can track and attribute clicks and conversions from your campaigns. For example, let’s say we want to drive traffic to our Free Consultation page. We would call the campaign “Retargeting Consultations” and our URL would look like this:

4. Segment your Ads for specific audiences.

This is where you’ll actually input your custom audience. Then, you’ll add any location, age, gender, or language specifications you want to add in addition to the uploaded list.

5. Set your budget.

You should actually set your budget at the campaign level, so it can optimize across multiple ad sets. Facebook is going to make this required pretty soon, so it’s best practice just to set budget at the campaign level from here on out.

6. Create your ad.

You’re able to have up to six creative variations for each ad, so Facebook is able to test which ones are performing the best for your goal. The headline underneath the image can only be 25 characters long and the text above the image is capped at 90 characters. Once you create the copy, you can select what your call-to-action (CTA) is going to be.

7. Track your campaign's progress.

There you go! Your first Facebook remarketing campaign is up and running. Now you need to track it. Simplest way is to use Facebook’s native reporting, but to get website metrics once someone actually clicks through on your ad you should use Google Analytics or a different software tool like HubSpot.

Facebook will give you important metrics like impressions, reach, engagement, CTR, CPC, and total spend, but Google Analytics or HubSpot will give you your bounce rate, time spent on site, pages visited, etc. after someone clicks through the ad.

You are able to run remarketing campaigns platforms like Google Ads to serve display ads across the internet and even in mobile apps, but because of its advanced targeting tools and ad products, for promotions on social media, Facebook tends to offer e-commerce advertisers the best ROI.


Running ads can be a difficult and time consuming process, but depending on your business and where you are in the funnel, retargeting ads can be a successful process if done right. There are a lot of important factors to consider with retargeting ads such as awareness and conversion. 

There should always be an end goal to what you are trying to achieve. At electrIQ we work with small businesses to achieve these goals and convert prospective customers into actual customers.

Get in contact with us if you have any questions on how we can help you convert your site visitors into leads and ultimately new customers.

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