how does re-targeting work?

Have you ever been browsing online and noticed an ad from a website with items you were just looking at? If you’re a business owner, your first thought was probably – this is genius! How can I show something like this to my website visitors? These ads are called re-targeting ads and are an important part of a digital marketing strategy. For those without the knowhow though, these sorts of ads can seem challenging to set up. So how do re-targeting ads work?

The Basics of How Re-Targeting Ads Work

There are a few different ad platforms that do re-targeting ads, but by far the most popular way, with the furthest reach, is through Google Adwords. Here is the basic concept of how it works: when you visit a website that has re-targeting set up, you/ your browser is given a cookie, which is essentially a tracker marking that you have visited that website. The website owner is then able to tell Google to show ads specifically to people who have that cookie. So, when you continue on your way to other websites, Google knows to populate the ads you are shown on their partner websites with ads from the website that tracked you as visitor.

How to Set up Google Re-Targeting Ads

Re-targeting ads that show up on seemingly random website are more than not created with Google Adwords. Google has a network of partner websites that make money by showing ads on their websites.

As a business owner, to set up re-targeting ads through Google, you need two things set up first:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Adwords

Once you have both Google accounts created and linked to your website, the steps to create a re-targeting ad are as follows:

  1. Create an “audience” in Analytics to begin tracking website visitors. If you sell individual products, setting up an audience for each main category is a good idea, while if you only sell one product/service, just tracking all website users together should be good.
  2. In Adwords (make sure you analytics account is linked to Adwords) create a Display Ad campaign.
  3. When selecting who the ad will be shown to, select the audience you created in Analytics.
  4. Then, create the ads you’d like to show. Keep them consistent with your audience; if you are showing ads to all website users, keep them general. If you have a few audiences based on specific products, show them ads related to those products.
  5. You are all set to begin re-targeting! Your audience must reach 100 users before ads are shown, but if everything is set up correctly, the ads will automatically begin showing once you reach 100 users in your audience.

Why Re-Targeting Works So Well

While the first step in digital marketing is simply to get visitors to your website, getting a conversion is easier said than done. Many of your daily website visitors might just be doing preliminary research before they make a purchase, might be interested but need more time to think about a purchase, or might even have all intentions of buying from you but get sidetracked and forget where they found you. Since so few industries have an instantaneous conversion windows, that is where re-targeting comes in. By setting up re-targeting ads, you can stay only a click away for customers that want to return to your website and learn more or make a purchase. Conversion rates on re-targeting ads are higher than general search ads, and often even cost less. They are a no-brainer for businesses in the 21st century!

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