TikTok Retargeting Tips: How to Run Retargeting Ads + Strategy

Looking For Some Great TikTok Retargeting Tips?

One of our main goals when running ads for any new client or business is to build a qualified pool to use for retargeting ads.

These audiences are valuable and can help keep the lights on, so to speak, while you’re taking the time to find new customers. 

So, we’ll focus on TikTok retargeting tips for this post.

Running ad campaigns is fun, but have you tried a retargeting campaign?

If you’ve run retargeting ads on other platforms, you probably know the process…

…gather your Audience, retarget based on their activity, see more conversions (and lower costs per result).

The idea is the same behind retargeting ads on any platform, but TikTok has its specifics and processes that you should follow. 

That’s what we’ll cover in today’s post – some practical TikTok retargeting tips.

If you’d like to learn how to create a Facebook retargeting strategy, read this post we made recently, walking you through the entire process. 

Let’s get into it!

Why Retargeting Ads? 

Retargeting ads are some of the best ads to run because you’re showing your ad to someone who has already expressed interest in your:

  • business,
  • product, or
  • service

…in some way.

restaurant facebook ads

These people are more likely to buy from you, follow you, or take the action you’re requesting. 

These people already know your business (at least a little), so you’re not using cold targeting (interests, demographics) or lookalike audiences.

But before you can run retargeting ads, you have to set up custom audiences. Let’s look at how to do that.

By the way, if you are a newbie in using TikTok ads, here’s our post on TikTok ads for beginners that you can read next.

TikTok Retargeting Tips: Ads Require Custom Audiences

Before you can retarget ads, you need a custom audience.

These audiences can be created in a few different ways using different data. They also need to be at least 1,000 users, so some audiences will take time to build. 

You can create a Custom Audience using:

  1. Website Traffic
  2. ​Customer File
  3. ​Engagement
  4. ​App Activity
  5. ​Lead Generation

If you want to learn more about each type of custom audience in more detail, you can find the information at TikTok Business Center. 

tiktok business center
tiktok retargeting tips

We’ll show you how to create each of these custom audiences and share tips, warnings, ideas, and other pertinent information as we go.

Let’s start with Website Traffic. 

TikTok Retargeting Tips: How To Create Website Traffic Audience

  1. ​​Go to the Audience section under Assets.
  2. ​Click on Create Audience, choose Custom Audience, and select Website Traffic.
  3. ​Under Include, select the type of event and period (we provide various lookback windows) and pixel name/ID. 
  4. ​Click the Add more rules icon and choose Broaden Audience or Narrow Audience.

Broaden Audience allows you to create an audience with one event type or another event type.

Whereas, Narrow Audience allows you to create an audience with one event type and another event type

For example, if an advertiser wants to create an audience for page views and add to cart, they would choose Narrow Audience.

  1. ​Click Exclude People, then enter event type and period if you want to exclude certain users from being added to your list.

You can skip this step if you want to include everyone. 

For example, we will select users who “View Content” in the past 30 days and exclude those who “Purchase” in the past 30 days. 

  1. Toggle Auto-Refresh. The default status of the auto-refresh toggle is enabled for custom audiences with this option
  2. Name your Audience. 
  3. Click Confirm to create the Audience.

This type of Audience is ideal if you sell products and want to retarget users by what they look at on your website.

You’ll also need to set this up if you want to recover abandoned carts and upsell other products. 

Strategy for Building a Website Audience 

To build a website audience, you need to get traffic.

So starting with overall traffic or click campaign is usually the best way to build this type of Audience.

Of course, making sure you’ve set up all the events that matter to your business will be one of the most important things you do during setup. 

To set up these events for use in your ads, you’ll need to install the TikTok Pixel.

tiktok pixel

Here is a list of the events that you can optimize for. 

tiktok retargeting tips

Next, we’ll use a customer list to create an audience.

But first, be sure to check out our new social media ads training course if you want to master social media advertising like TikTok ads. 

TikTok Retargeting Tips: How to Create Custom Audience from a Customer File

  1. ​Go to Assets > Audience
  2. Click on Create Audience, choose Custom Audience, and select Customer File
  3. ​Choose your File Type
  4. ​Upload File. File Preview: provides you with a sample of the content uploaded.

This type of Audience is ideal if you’ve already got a customer list built up, either from your CRM or your email marketing platform like Mailchimp. 

TikTok Retargeting Tips: Using an Engagement Audience

You’ll set up your engagement audience using the same steps to create a website traffic audience…

…except you’ll choose Engagement, and select your windows and types of Engagement then.

Engagement audiences are built on TikTok users’ Engagement with previous ads you’ve run and your organic posts.

Your Engagement can include any of the events TikTok listed here. 

Types of Engagement Retargeting Ads You Can Run

  • Share more info with users who watch a video ad about your product or service. 
  • Invite users to sign up for your emails (by clicking through to your website).
  • Show ads to users who watch specific lengths of your video (25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%). 

Strategy for Building an Engagement Audience

It’s a good idea to run an engaging TikTok ad to a general cold audience.

This should generally showcase your business, one of your best-selling products, or your new release.

Something that will appear to a broader audience.

Here’s a full tutorial on how to design TikTok ads to make your ads more engaging.

Run your ad to the cold targeting and use Engagement for a follow-up ad that vies a closer look or provides more detail. 

Let’s look at using spp activity to build a custom audience next. 

TikTok Retargeting Tips: Using an App Activity Audience

If you have an app, you’ll need to take the time to set up your app pixel and events so that you can use app activity to run relevant ads for your audience.

Here are the available events you can set up for your app. 

Types of App Activity Retargeting Ads You Can Run

  • Users who downloaded but haven’t opened

Entice them with what’s inside or how the app will improve their lives.

  • Users who haven’t logged in for a while

Create an ad highlighting a new feature, an improvement, a special event, or some other reason to get involved again. 

  • Users who have made a purchase

Offer a coupon, discount, or other incentives to users who make another purchase.

  • Seasonal/Holiday coupons

As relevant seasonal events and holidays come up, run ads to your users to gift the app, upgrade, get a pack for a discount, etc. 

  • Offer a free trial, extra tokens or time, etc. 

TikTok Retargeting Tips: Using a Lead Generation Audience

Lead generation is a Custom Audience option that allows you to create an audience from users engaged with your lead ads.

For example, you can retarget users who viewed the form page of your lead ads without submitting it to improve campaign efficiency.

Two Options for Engagement

  1. Form View

Show ads to this group encouraging them to complete the form.

  1. Form Submission

Show ads to the group to visit your website to learn more, sign up for emails, etc., to keep them engaged until you can contact them. 


Retargeting on TikTok is no different from retargeting on other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google.

You’re just showing ads to people who already know who you are somehow. 

When you start advertising, your goal is to find a broad, cold audience and filter them from there.

Retargeting ads can help you filter down to your ideal customers.

The most important thing you can do is understand your customer needs at every step of their journey.

That’s what you need to make the best ads. And, of course, use these TikTok retargeting tips we just shared with you!

We also made a post that lists down the top TikTok ad mistakes you need to avoid, so be sure to read that.

Get our social media advertising services today if you need more help with your TikTok ad campaigns.

Contact us now to get started! 

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