“Companies are tracking our every movement,” she says while showing her friend an ad for a trip to Suriname. “I looked for a holiday trip once and now I’m constantly getting ads for flight deals.”
Okay, it’s not a real quote, but haven’t we all heard somebody tell a similar story? As a non-marketer, this may seem like a scary concept, but in the world of marketing, we do have a name for this phenomenon. It’s called retargeting, and it can be hard to get started on a strategy for it, even when the concept is well-known. However, in digital marketing, it is one of the most powerful tools to convert a lead into a sale. After all, if somebody visits your website, it means that the person is already interested in your products or services. As in most digital marketing practices, there isn’t a golden formula for your retargeting strategy, but I am going to show you a basic approach that will help you take a step in the right direction. Creating a retargeting strategy begins with Google Analytics and ends with Google Ads. Please note that I will be talking about Universal Analytics in this blog.
Creating the right goals in Google Analytics
Most companies offer different products or services, and the different products or services typically have their own page within a website. Creating goals that are linked to people who have visited these specific web pages will make it possible to sort your audiences by which product or service they are interested in. This sets the basis for your retargeting strategy.
You can find some goals we created for Profound in the picture below to give you an idea of the different retargeting goals. These are goals that we use for our very own retargeting strategy in the Caribbean.
However, you do not want to reach every single person that goes to one of these webpages. After all, if a person has already converted there is no need to reach this person again. You just want to reach the people that are interested in your product or service but have not yet converted. This is why it is recommended to create more goals.
You can create goals for the conversions on your website, which will typically be a sale, a contact form, or any other type of engagement. We can use a goal that’s linked to the ‘thank you’ page after finalizing the conversion. But when you use a pop-up ‘thank you’ note, it is possible that your conversion is not linked to a page or to another domain. Luckily, Google has thought of everything. By linking Google Tag Manager to your website, you can create tags that get triggered whenever someone clicks on the button that’s connected to your conversion and connect your goals to these triggers.
Combining these goals within an audience makes for a solid retargeting strategy. You could choose to filter out the less interested visitors by adding other goals that are related to the quality of the visitors. You could, for example, create a goal that’s triggered once a visitor spends at least 1 minute on the website, which means that they are more likely to be interested in the product than someone who spends 10 seconds on the website. The choice to add a time-related goal to your audience will depend on your budget for retargeting ads and the size of the audience. If the budget you use is insufficient to reach everyone in your target audience, you can still use it to help you reach only the most interested leads.
Turning goals into audiences
Once your goals are defined, you will be able to create audiences linked to them. In your Google Analytics settings, you can click on “Audience Definitions,” under which the “Audiences” are found. Here you can create new audiences. When choosing the audience definitions, you can include the users that are interested in the specific web pages that you defined while creating the goals, and exclude the users that converted through your website. The specified conditions will form your custom audience. You can see an example of one of the retargeting audiences we created for ourselves in the picture below.
Once the conditions are chosen, you choose the audience destinations, which should include Google Ads and Google Analytics, and publish the audience.
Pick your audience in Google ads
The goals are set, the audiences are defined, all that’s left to do is create ads and link them to the audiences. Create a campaign as you would do with regular ads and add the ad groups you want to use. When you have uploaded the content you created, it is time to add the audiences to your ad groups.
In the ad group menu, you go to ‘Audience’ and click on ‘Edit audience segments’. You can find the audience you created in the Audience Manager. First, it needs to gather enough users, starting with a minimum of 100 users within the last 30 days for display ads. You can then select it and choose ‘Add to… Ad groups’. When you choose which ad group you want, you have successfully implemented your retargeting audience.
Creating customized content for your audience
There is one last step to take into consideration for your retargeting strategy, which is the creation of customized content. Since you are targeting more selective audiences, it is also important to use more selective content. For our own retargeting strategy, we make a distinction between, amongst other things, digital marketing and web development. This also means that we can create an ad that is solely focused on digital marketing and another ad that is focused on web development, instead of having only one ad that is focused on Profound being a digital experiences agency. Highlighting the products or services that your users are interested in will give you better results since it’s aimed at the individual needs of your audience.
Customized content could also be focused on the location where your ads are shown. For example, as a Caribbean-based company that creates experiences in several different countries, we also make a distinction between our ads for Jamaica and the Bahamas. The same can be done with languages, genders, age groups, or whichever demographic defines the audience you want to target. You know your own target audience the best.
A real-life example
Let’s imagine that you’ve got a website that sells furniture. You sell tables, couches, beds, nightstands, and so on. John is a potential customer and he is looking for a new couch. While he is waiting for the bus to get to work, he browses your website, and he finds a couch that he likes. John adds a couch to his shopping cart but then his bus arrives and he continues his journey to work. This is a crucial moment for retargeting because John is already interested in your product but he did not yet buy it, and as a company you want to remind him of the couch you’re selling.
By creating a goal for the couch section, or even for the particular couch he is looking for if the audience is big enough, and linking an audience to this goal, you can now retarget John, showing him advertisements for the couch he likes. You can also create a goal that is linked to finishing the conversion on your website, in this case the sale, and link this to your audience as well. Once John has bought the couch, he won’t be in the retargeting audience anymore, which means that John will not see the ads for the couch anymore either.
You want to reach customers like John in this crucial stage of the customer journey, and you can do so by creating the right audiences. Once these audiences are created and linked to your (customized) ads, it is time to wait for the results. If done well, retargeting is one of the strongest marketing tools currently available. After all, personalized content that reaches the right audience is what you want to achieve as a marketer. Are you already using retargeting to its full potential?