If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably had the strange experience of seeing a product follow you around the internet. Maybe you were browsing for new hiking boots for a summer camping trip, added your favourite pair to the cart, but got distracted and left the browser without purchasing.

The next time you opened your Gmail or read an article on your local paper’s website, those same boots were staring back at you. And if this reminded you to go back and complete the purchase, then the retargeting campaign did its job.

For small business owners, Google ads can be a valuable tool to keep your products on the minds of undecided customers. Here’s a closer look at retargeting and how to create an effective campaign.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is all about targeting potential customers who have visited your website but have yet to purchase. It’s a way to re-engage with qualified leads or individuals interested in your company or products.

Advantages of Google Ads retargeting for small businesses

Engage people who have shown interest in your business

Previous site visitors are more likely to be qualified leads than those who have never heard of your brand. They have already shown interest by visiting your website, making them more likely to consider purchasing. You can motivate them to take action and complete the conversion by showing them remarketing ads.

Reach a wider audience across the internet

One of the advantages of running retargeting campaigns with Google Ads is the extensive reach it offers. While a Facebook retargeting campaign may only be visible to potential customers on social media, Google Ads can appear across various Google properties such as Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube. The Google Display Network also reaches over 90% of internet users worldwide, allowing you to reach a broader audience.

Cost-effective advertising

Google Ads retargeting is a cost-effective online marketing strategy. By narrowing your target audience to potential customers who have already shown interest in your offerings, remarketing ads tend to cost less per click compared to other Google Ads. On average, retargeting Google search ads cost around £0.97p per click, whereas a typical Google search ad can cost £1.11 per click.

How to set up a Google remarketing campaign for small businesses

1. Create a Google Ads account

Before you can start creating remarketing lists or running Google ads, you need to create a Google Ads account. Visit ads.google.com/lp/getstarted/ and click “Start now” to begin the process. Provide your business name, website, and Gmail address to create your account.

2. Add the Google Ads tag to your website

Add Google’s remarketing tag to your website to collect audience data for retargeting purposes. This tag allows you to track website visitors and their actions. Access your Google Ads account and navigate to Tools > Audience Manager > Audience Sources. Look for the Google Ads Tag card and click “Detail” to set up the tag. Once created, copy the code provided and paste it between the header tags on your website pages.

3. Create a remarketing list

Next, you’ll create a remarketing list using your Google Ads account. Go to Audience Manager and navigate to the remarketing lists tab within the audience lists section. Choose the “Website users” option to create a list based on past visitors to your website. Provide a name for your list and set parameters to determine which visitors should be included. Consider specific pages visited or actions taken on your website. Also, choose a membership duration to determine how long a potential customer remains on your retargeting list.

4. Set up a retargeting campaign

Once your Google Ads tags are added to your site, and you have created a remarketing list, setting up retargeting campaigns is similar to creating standard Google ads. In your Google Ads account, navigate to the Campaigns section and click “New campaign” to select your desired ad type. Define your target audience by selecting your remarketing list. Finally, finish setting up your retargeting ads as you would for any other Google ad.

How to integrate Shopify and Google tags for Google Ads

If you use Shopify for your e-commerce business, you can integrate Shopify with Google Ads to track conversions and optimize your ads. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get the Google Ads tag: Go to the Google Tag Manager in your Google Ads account and copy the code provided.
  2. Open code in Shopify: Log in to your Shopify account and navigate to “Online store.” Click on “Edit code” under “Actions” and open the {/}theme.liquid file under “Layout.”
  3. Check for existing Google tracking: If you’re already using the Google & YouTube app for Shopify, you may have existing Google tracking code in your website’s code. Look for ga.js, gtag.js, or analytics.js files and replace them with the new code to avoid duplicated tracking events and ensure accurate reporting.
  4. Paste the code in the header: Locate the and tags in your theme.liquid file and paste the copied Google Ads tag code between them.
  5. Save your work: Once the code is in place, click Save to complete the integration.

Retargeting strategies for small businesses in e-commerce

When it comes to retargeting, there are different approaches you can take to target past website visitors and create custom audience lists. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Targeting past website visitors:

  • Target visitors who abandoned their shopping carts.
  • Target visitors who viewed specific products or pages on your website.
  • Target customers who didn’t view specific pages on your website that could convince them to purchase.

Targeting a custom audience list:

  • Use Shopify Audiences to identify your best customers based on demographics, interests, or behaviours.
  • Target potential customers who provided their email for a first-time discount code but haven’t made a purchase yet.
  • Target past customers who last purchased a while ago.

Measuring the success of your retargeting campaign

Google Analytics provides valuable insights to measure the success of your retargeting campaigns. You can use event snippets to track conversions, allowing you to measure your remarketing ads’ return on investment (ROI). Collecting this data will help you optimize your targeting and ad creatives to improve performance.

How much does retargeting cost?

On average, retargeting Google search ads cost around £0.97p per click, whereas a typical Google search ad can cost £1.11 per click.

What is a common challenge businesses face with Google Ads retargeting?

One of the most challenging aspects of running retargeting ads is finding the best way to convince previous site visitors to make a purchase. It requires crafting enticing ads that resonate with their needs and preferences.

How can I target specific audiences with Google Ads retargeting?

Google Ads retargeting allows you to reach a specific audience - your previous site visitors. You can include visitors who have taken specific actions on your site to achieve more granular targeting. Additionally, you can filter your remarketing list based on demographic information such as age, gender, and location.

Are there any limitations to Google Ads retargeting?

A notable limitation of Google Ads retargeting is that it only reaches people who have already visited your site. While this can effectively re-engage past visitors, it may overlook potential customers who have never heard of your business.