On Wednesday, I hosted a training session where I showed attendees step-by-step how to get started with retargeting advertising. And in this article, I’m giving a brief recap of the 5 main steps to set up a retargeting campaign.

5 Steps to Get Started with Retargeting

Retargeting 101

But first, in case you’re unfamiliar with retargeting, here’s a quick overview.

Retargeting is a type of online advertising that allows you to show banner ads to people who have already visited your website but left without purchasing your products and providing their contact information. With retargeting, you can show your banner ads to these people as they visit other websites online.

And here are the 5 steps to get started…

Step #1. Add the Retargeting Code to Your Website

The first step is to add the retargeting code to every single page of your website. If you have a CMS system like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, this is super-easy to do. You just copy and paste the code into one of your template files. Now, if this is totally foreign to you, and you’re not sure how to add code to a template file, just ask your webmaster. Any webmaster to do it for you. It’s literally a 5 to 10 minute job.

If you don’t have a CMS, just regular HTML files, then unfortunately, you will need to go into every single file and add the code. It will take a little bit longer but it’s still simple. This step is literally just copy and paste.

Step #2. Create Segments

A segment is the specific portion of your website traffic that you want to target. For a services business, this might be people who visit your site and go to your services page, but do not complete a contact form. Those are prospects who have not yet made contact, and that’s a great segment. If you have an e-commerce website, another segment would be visitors who add a product to their shopping cart, but do not complete the purchase.

The way that you set these up will be a little bit different depending on which retargeting network you use. But it’s very straightforward and not too technical. One platform that we use and recommend is AdRoll, and they make it very easy to create these segments. You just need to know the URL of the web page that you want to segment, and the URL of any page you want to exclude. For example, if you wanted to exclude anyone that actually made a purchase on your website, you would exclude the Thank You page or the receipt page of your site.

Step #3. Design Your Ads

Once the code is on your website and your segments are set up, you need to design and create the actual retargeting advertisements. What you really want to remember is that this is not cold traffic. You’ll be targeting people who have already visited your website and know something about your business. With that in mind, I highly recommend including your logo and your business name. That should trigger their memories, making them more likely to read the ad and click through. Your website URL is also important for the same reason. In addition, I recommend including a phone number because, again, these people have already been to your site. They might decide to call you straight from the ad, without going back to your website.

Every great ad also makes a promise or an offer. Prominently display your offer in your banner ad along with a strong call to action. You can put a button right in the ad that says, “Click here to start your free trial,” or “Click here to schedule an appointment today.” That call to action can help motivate someone to click through and fill out a contact form on your website.

Learn more about campaign design

Step #4. Set Up Conversion Tracking

There are two forms of conversion tracking that you want to set up for a retargeting campaign. The first is the built-in conversion tracking that every retargeting network has. This is a piece of code that you will copy and paste onto a conversion page.

What is a conversion page? As I mentioned earlier, if you have an e-commerce website, people who make a purchase typically go to a Thank You page or a receipt page. If your business is not e-commerce (i.e. your transactions happen offline), then you will have a web form. So that final page, where the customer lands after making a purchase or contacting you, is the conversion page. Put the conversion code there, and that will tell the retargeting network that person made a purchase or converted into a lead.

I highly recommend that you also set up what’s known as phone call tracking. You can do this in a few different ways. A fairly technical but also very accurate way to track phone calls is Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI). With DNI, you can dynamically change the phone number displayed on your website based on the source of traffic. In this case, if someone clicks on a retargeting ad, he will see a unique phone number. This allows you to track exactly how many calls come in from the retargeting campaign.

When you design your ad (Step 3), make sure to incorporate that tracking phone number into the ad. That way, you can count any direct phone calls from the ad into the total number of leads from your retargeting campaign.

And now, you’re ready to turn on your campaign…

Step #5. Measure the Results

Measuring your return on investment from this campaign is a really important step. Just a warning, though, once you turn on these ads you typically will not see a lot of traffic right away. That’s because it takes time to build a pool of candidates with the retargeting code. Depending on the number of visitors that your website attracts, it might take some time before you have enough people to actually retarget.

How long it takes depends on your website traffic, but as a general rule of thumb, I recommend letting your retargeting ads run for a good month. By then, you should have a decent amount of data to look at. You will be able to review the total number of impressions, the total number of clicks on your ads, the total number of overall conversions and the total number of phone calls. Based on all that, you should get an idea of the effectiveness of your retargeting campaign.

If you find that nobody is clicking on your ads, I recommend trying different ad copy. Go back to Step 3 and review both the copy and the ad design. You might want to test several different combinations of copy and design to try to get more people to actually take action and click through your ads.