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TikTok Ads Remarketing: how to retarget lost visitors for profit

TikTok Ads Remarketing
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Let’s face it: your prospect is busy, and it the slightest distraction is all it takes for him to lose track of what he was doing in your site just a moment ago.

Retargeting campaigns allow business owners to get a second shot at converting these leads once & for all. 

In platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even YouTube, retargeting ads have long become a standard practice most marketers swear by.

But with the emergence of TikTok, the game took a nice turnaround. There is now a race to discover which business can figure out TikTok retargeting quicker. Since the road on this platform isn’t paved yet, there is a lot of confusion on how to execute these remarketing ads effectively—which is why we've decided to put an end to this mystery.

On this quick guide, we’ll put an end to the puzzle by showing you exactly how to leverage TikTok Ads for remarketing purposes.

But first things first:

What are retargeting ads & how can they impact my bottomline?

Retargeting Ads have always been an effective way to get back at lost prospects. To quote from an article at Hubspot:

“they are a form of online targeting advertising that is served to people who have already visited your website or are a contact in your database (like a lead or customer).”

They can appear in your feed while you’re scrolling through social media, or in first 5 seconds of a targeted YouTube video. 

What makes these types of ads so effective is the fact that you’re showing your ad to a prospect who has already shown interest in your business/service/product. Therefore, they are more likely to buy from you than a completely “cold” prospect who doesn’t know you at all. 

All you’ve got to do is...get back to them with the right message.

And there is a reason why you would want to do so.

Have you ever heard about the “Rule of 7” in marketing?

The premise that a prospect needs to be exposed to your message at least seven times before they choose to take action on your offer. 

Obviously, this is not always the case. But more times than not… it stands true, which is why retargeting campaigns is such a smart strategy to apply.

Now, when it comes to retargeting options, TikTok allows you to deliver ads to people who have already visited your site or engaged with your TikTok content in any way — similar to Facebook or YouTube. So it can definitely prove to be just as effective at delivering lost customers through your door.

This is our aim here, after all.

But see… there are a couple of things you will want to take care of first before starting to remarket on TikTok. And that it’s what we’ll be covering in the rest of this article.

How do TikTok Retargeting ads work?

Essentially, in order to keep track of every action your prospect makes inside of your website and/or engaging with your content, you’re going to have to set up a TikTok pixel for your account.

Now, what exactly is a TikTok pixel — you might ask.

You see, all ads (but retargeting ones specifically) work with a unique piece of code that you include on your website. This piece of code is called a pixel, and it allows TikTok to track prospects on your site and gather data about them. Just like the Facebook pixel, this data will then allow you to target people by specific criteria. 

This is going to play a huge role in your retargeting objectives.

Because once installed, this Pixel will allow TikTok to track, run conversions, optimise and project your campaigns to a selected audience.

And this selected audience (you guessed) is going to be those visitors who showed interest in your product but didn’t go all the way. Retargeting 101.

Now, setting this pixel up is quite simple.

We made a short video detailing exactly how you should go about it. So I would definitely give it a watch by clicking on the image below.

Once your pixel is locked & loaded, you can move on to the next step: creating your custom audiences on your Ad Manager.

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What in the world are custom audiences?

To put it simply, a custom audience is a targeting option that lets you pick and find the specific audience you want to target in TikTok. You selectively choose who will belong to this audience you create.

TikTok allows you to segment these audiences based on their behavior or unique characteristics. This will come in handy when creating your ad groups, since TikTok also allows you to select the custom audiences to target based on numerous factors.

Before you ever start retargeting with Ads, you need to create a custom audience first.


Because you’re going to create a custom audience with the people who already engaged with your site, but didn’t convert. Remember the TikTok pixel you set up just a moment ago? Here is where it gets his chance to shine.

You will grab all these data the pixel collected for you, and create a custom audience of visitors who engaged with your content/site. Once you do… you’ll now be able to run campaigns to these prospects.

Now, I must say, there are five different ways you can create Custom Audiences on TikTok. We will cover each one in detail — and how to set each on up for success.

Custom Audience Option #1: Website Traffic

As its name suggests…

With this option, you can create a custom audience of users who have visited or taken specific actions on your website. Including: 

  • Visiting a specific page
  • Clicking a button
  • Adding an item to cart
  • Submitting a form
  • Etc…

This is therefore… one of the most valuable and used targeting options in the network, since it is ideal for targeting people who showed direct interest in your brand but didn’t go all the way.

Obviously, this custom audience is better utilized when you’re driving enough traffic to your side. So starting out targeting a broad audience or a click campaign is probably the best way to make the most out of this option.

For more instructions on how to set it up, click here.

Custom Audience Option #2: Customer File

If you already have a customer list built up… this targeting option is ideal. You can export the CSV file of your CRM and/or email marketing platform, add it to TikTok, and retarget prospects based on that.

TikTok will automatically analyze this file and match your contacts with existing TikTok users. But I have to say: this option is better utilized by businesses with big lists.

If you’re a small business with a small list, you’re better off sticking with other targeting options that get you a bigger bang for your buck.

Anyhow—if you’re at all interested, here’s how you set it up.

Custom Audience Option #3: Engagement Audience

This option is pretty straightforward.

It allows you to target users who previously engaged with your ad content in a specific way. This includes: 

  • Clicking your ad
  • Viewing your ad
  • Watching your ad for a specific time frame
  • Watching your ad in full

Needless to say, this option only captures users who have engaged with your brand inside of TikTok (no website users are tracked here). This one is arguably the second best custom audience to leverage for retargeting, and in tandem with the website custom audience option, makes for a killer combo.

This custom audience is best used when shown to a general cold audience. What you’re aiming here is to showcase your business for the first time, which can be your best-selling product or a new offer you’re running.

Once your prospect has expressed interest through your website… you run your website traffic audience. And bingo.

Here’s how you set engagement targeting up.

Custom Audience Option #4: App Activity

This option is only employed by businesses who have a phone app. So unless you got one… it will probably not serve you at all.

With this option, you can target users who have completed specific events in your app. This includes: 

  • Installing the app
  • Adding a product to cart
  • Viewing content
  • Searching
  • Logging in
  • Clicking
  • Subscribing
  • Rating the app
  • Etc…

One thing to note however, is that you’re going to need to have third-party tracking set up on your app in order to fully utilize this option. Get more info about it and how to set it up here.

Now, once you setup your TikTok pixel, and have chosen & created the right custom audiences you would like to use for your Ads…

Now it’s time to come up with your retargeting campaigns!

If you want some tips on what is the single best strategy to execute your remarkerting campaigns…watch this video where we break down the ultimate remarkerting strategy to sell more at 6x ROAS. Now, this video was intended for YouTube — but it can very well be applied to TikTok since the principles hold the same.

Want us to help you with your retargeting campaigns?

While we laid out a blueprint you can use right now to start leveraging retargeting campaigns on TikTok, you might be looking for a more streamlined approach to take your Ad account the next level.

So if you’d like to find out more about what we could do to help grow your business with TikTok Ads, jump on a free strategy call with us to discover how we can help you scale!

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