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Before you start setting up a retargeting campaign, it is important to lay out the main objective, the audience you will be targeting, and the pages they will visit to trigger the retargeting ads. This post will walk through examples of each of these three planning pieces.

Retargeting Objectives

Retargeting can enable a variety of outcomes:

  1. Completing Abandoned Checkouts - if a user added a product to a shopping cart, but didn't check out, you can gently remind them to come back and finish the process. Example - Joe adds a red winter coat to his cart, but doesn't end up buying it. Retargeting links back to the cart. 
  2. Revisiting a Specific Page - entice users to come back to a product or service they have looked at, but didn't sign up for.  Example - Sheila looks at the description page for a cleaning service, but then leaves the site. Retargeting links to back to that page.
  3. Capturing High Intent Users - convert users to sign up for a product or service they have looked at, but didn't sign up for.  Example - Thompson looks at the pricing page for a SAAS product, but then leaves the site. Retargeting links to a landing page that explains the key benefits and has a strong CTA to buy.
  4. Showing Related Content - show additional content related to pages that users have viewed on your site. Example - Tony looks at several blog articles related to Cloud Computing. Retargeting links to a Cloud Computing eBook.

The first step is to pick which one of these objectives you will focus on for this campaign. You can eventually create additional campaigns for other objectives, but it is best to focus on one at a time.


Retargeting Audiences

Once you have picked an overall objective, the next step is to determine which audiences you will be targeting. The makeup of this audience will inform the creative content used for the retargeting ads and landing pages, and will also determine which "triggers" are used to start the retargeting process.

Retargeting Audience Personas

The visitors to your website likely fall into distinct groups, hopefully matching the key demographics you hope to reach. Each audience should be represented by a Persona, which lays out the key characteristics of the ideal members in an easy to reference document. 

Examples of an audience might be:

  • Senior Accountants
  • Working Moms
  • Chief Technical Officers
  • Social Media Managers
  • Home Gardeners

Again, start with just one audience at a time, so that you can build the appropriate content and landing pages tailored to them. 


Retargeting Triggers

Each audience will perform a certain set of behaviors on your website - they will arrive on your site from certain common search queries, visit a common set of pages, and follow a common progression from page to page. You need to gather this information so that you can set up the "triggers" for the retargeting campaign.

A trigger page is a page on your website that your target audience generally visits. When they visit that page, the retargeting platform you have set up will drop a cookie on their computer that will uniquely identify them. Later on, the retargeting platform will show the retargeting ads to users that have the cookie as they move around the internet. 

A lot of this information can be quickly gathered from Google Analytics by looking at the Behavior Flow view and selecting to explore traffic through the common landing page. Look at the pages they visit in their 1st and 2nd interactions.


Using Google Analytics Behavior Flow to find retargeting trigger pages

In the image above, many visitors to the blog post on "designing mobile cover images" next visited a blog post "how much cover images matter" and then visited a post on "writing great blog posts". 


You might also note any other pages with significant traffic that your audience is likely to visit, as well as what keywords might appear in the URL of pages they visit. 


Make Sure There is Enough Traffic to Retarget

Retargeting platforms only show ads to users that have visited the trigger pages AND will only show ads to each user a set number of times. Therefore, the total impressions, eventual clicks, and conversions are all based on the number of visitors. The most common metric for this is Monthly Unique Visitors (MUV), and a reasonable goal would be a total of at least 500 MUV.

Here is how to quickly gather this information from Google Analytics:

  1. Set the overall date range in the top right to "Last 30 days".
  2. Go to the Behavior -> All Content -> Site Pages report and type each URL into the search box.
  3. Jot down the number of Page Views next to the URL in your list.
  4. Add them all up

Once you have your total, you can use our calculator to quickly estimate how many impressions and clicks your retargeting campaign will get.



Before starting a retargeting campaign, it is important to clearly identify the objective, audience, and trigger pages on your website. Doing this up front will reduce the amount of time that it takes to create the campaign, and ensure that your content is well-tailored for great results.


Next: Learn how to set up the Facebook Pixel for retargeting.




Post by John Maver
Sep 22, 2016