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Start a Retargeting List

candies2Retargeting (or remarketing as Google likes to call it) is one of the best ways to get started with online advertising.

What is it? Retargeting is where you serve ads only to people who have been to your website. We’ve all noticed that we start seeing ads for a company after our visit. Though some businesses take this too far and begin to act like stalkers, using retargeting doesn’t have to mean being annoying.

How it works is you place a piece of code of your website, and as people visit your site they’re added to the retargeting list you’ve set up. You can have many different lists for people who have visited different pages on your site or combinations of pages. On the more advanced platforms, you can also set up lists based on how much time the person spent on your site, their geographic location, or how they originally found you.

Today’s Action Step: Set up your first retargeting list using the service of your choice. The earlier you start the better – setting up retargeting lists if they’re not there already is one of the first things I do for a new client, even if they don’t have any immediate plans to start advertising. There needs to be a minimum number of people on a list before you can use it to advertise (100 in the case of AdWords). So if you set it up right away, you know your lists will be ready when you are. Also, you’ll have the potential to reach the largest number of people, including those who visited your site awhile ago, if you choose.

Where can you set up your retargeting lists? That depends on whether you’d like to show your ads on third-party websites or on one of the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There are also companies like AdRoll and Perfect Audience that serve as “one stop shops” and give you a larger selection of ad inventory than any of the individual ad platforms. However, unless there’s a specific function a company like this provides for you, I recommend you go with the ad networks and social media sites themselves. In most cases retargeting is easy to do on your own without the middleman, and you’ll pay less per click.

When getting started with retargeting, I suggest using Google AdWords unless your target market tends to spend a lot of time on one of the social media sites. This will give you by far the most targeting options. Instead of setting up your lists through AdWords directly, I suggest that instead you set up lists through Google Analytics, as that gives you many more options.

The specific process varies depending on the platform – check the support documentation or ask for help in the free Bite by Bite Business Facebook group. Perhaps the most difficult part is adding language to your privacy policy that informs your visitors that you may serve them ads based on their visit. You should do this before you start building your lists. Ideally you’d have a lawyer write this language for you to make sure you’re covered for your specific situation, but many people instead look at how similar companies write their privacy policies. The site TermsFeed has an article where they include samples from different businesses. It’s up to you how much risk you want to take on by writing this language yourself.

Once your code is installed and your privacy policy updated, you can set up one or more lists. Here are a couple that I almost always create to start off with:

  • A list of all your website visitors. Often the platform will create this for you automatically when you set retargeting up. I like to alter the membership duration so that it’s the maximum (for Google Analytics this is 540 days, for Facebook Ads it’s 180). You might not always want to advertise to people who last visited months ago, but I like having the option available.
  • A list of your customers. You can do this in a couple of ways. The first is to create a list of people who have visited the “thank you” page that appears after they’ve completed a sale or taken some other desired action like submitting a lead form. Or many platforms let you upload a list of emails and can create lists based on that. You can then use this list to exclude your customers from your retargeting promotions (if you don’t want to annoy them) OR you can use it to let them know about new offers you have that might interest them.
  • A list of people who have visited a key page on your site, such as the sales page for your most important offering.

However, the options for what you can do with retargeting are endless, and once the basic set-up is in place you can easily add more lists. You might create lists for people who have visited in the past 7 days, people in a particular geographic area who can easily attend a certain live event, or people who have viewed a particular blog post. The biggest limiting factor is your creativity.

Retargeting Platforms for New Advertisers to Consider

Google AdWords  (how to set up using Google Analtyics)
Facebook Ads (for Facebook and Instagram) 
Twitter Ads
Perfect Audience

There are many others out there, but these are the platforms that are more user-friendly in my experience. I have seen some scams, so be sure to vet lesser-known companies carefully.

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