Thanks to ads on Facebook, attracting traffic to your website is easier than ever. But getting those visitors to convert?
Not so simple.
Fortunately, there's a way to earn repeat visits and even future purchases.
One of these ways is using retargeting campaigns on Facebook.
Not leveraging the art of retargeting yet? Well then…you're leaving quite a bit of money on the table (and trust us, your competition is eager to snatch it).
But we're not gonna let that happen.
In this guide, we'll cover how you can use Facebook retargeting campaigns to increase sales and revive your business’s ROI.
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Is Facebook retargeting important?
Facebook retargeting is an extremely important part of a PPC strategy. Without it, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of low-hanging revenue.
Let's start with the basics.
Facebook retargeting is a digital marketing tactic used to target the people who engaged with your brand on Facebook or visited your website.
If a website visitor didn't convert, you retarget them with relevant offers to nudge them to complete their purchase or another type of conversion.
You can also use remarketing on Facebook to upsell and cross-sell specific products to past purchasers, increasing your sales revenue even more.
If done right, remarketing has the potential to outperform all your other digital advertising channels.
Don’t believe us?
For starters, a dismal 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. Yep… just 2%. Retargeting is a critical tool that’s designed to help businesses reach the remaining 98% of visitors who weren’t captivated the first time around.
And according to SharpSpring’s 2021 Outlook on Retargeting report, a total of 94% of B2B and B2C marketers claim that ad retargeting is somewhat or very successful.
The same report also tells us that social channels are primarily used for ad retargeting campaigns, reinforcing their efficacy.
Marketers aren’t the only ones who know a good retargeting campaign when they see one. Retargeted visitors are also 70% more likely to convert on a website compared to visitors who aren’t.
A comScore study with ValueClick Media also shows that retargeting generated the highest lift in trademark search behavior at 1,046%, compared to other targeting strategies.
If you need a little more convincing behind the success of Facebook retargeting, take a look at our case study, where our Facebook retargeting strategies helped real-life client, MyClean, achieve a 31% increase in conversions and a 20% decrease in CPA.
Facebook retargeting is a tactic that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Of course, not all retargeting is good retargeting.
Knowing when to deploy, who to target, and what exactly to include in your Facebook retargeting ads is critical.
Bundling all your website visitors into one huge remarketing audience just won't cut it.
People in your Facebook marketing funnel have differing expectations and interests, and you’re going to need various Facebook ad strategies for each group in order to increase their likelihood of converting.
When developing your Facebook remarketing strategy, create a separate Facebook advertising campaign for every stage of your marketing funnel.
This way, you'll know how to best reach specific retargeting audiences and the most relevant offer to show them.
Types of retargeting audiences
Facebook ad campaigns perform best when they have specific target audiences. And it's the same with retargeting. To create a custom audience, go to your Facebook account and click "custom audiences" in the "audience" section of FB ads.
There, you'll find several options—here's what they mean.
Someone visits your website for the first time, clicks on a product page, or reads a particular blog post. All of these actions count as website activity, and you can use them to better target high-converting audiences.
These on-site actions are "events" you use to segment campaigns by each type. Let's take a closer look.
Breaking down retargeting event types
There are four different retargeting event types to choose from when setting up a website custom audience.
Some are more self-explanatory than others, but they each have a setup that's a bit different, so we'll break it down.
All website visitors is exactly what the name suggests—you're targeting anyone who's visited your website within the retention window you've designated. There's no extra setup for this one, except choosing your retention window.
People who visited specific pages means you're only adding people to your audience list when they visit certain pages of your site. You can specify URLs that contain certain words, don't contain certain words, or exact URLs.
You can also "further refine by" device (the specific device people visited the webpage from), and frequency (the number of times they visited the web page).
Visitors by time spent means you're adding people to your audience based on how much time they spent on your site. It's a percentile, so the "top 5%" would be those who spent the most time on your site (i.e., they spent more time on the site than 95% of other users). If you want to specify which pages they spent the most time on, you can do that, too.
Retargeting from your events means you'll be showing ads to people who have completed the pixel events you set up tracking for. For example, if you set up an event to track subscribers to your newsletter, you can retarget those people.
You can also refine this option by frequency (number of times the event was completed), device (which device the event was completed on), and URL (the URL the event was completed on).
Is a person who downloads your app (but never uses it) the same as a daily user that makes in-app purchases? Not at all.
And your retargeting campaigns should consider this.
The specific actions a user takes in your app determine their level of interest, and you should create ads that retarget people based on those actions they take. For example, you can target those who have never completed checkout in your app, downloaded your app itself but haven’t returned to it within a certain amount of time, completed a large purchase, and so on.
Doing so ensures your ads are relevant and that these audiences are way more likely to convert.
Offline activities can include phone calls, in-store purchases, in-person events, and other non-digital engagements.
Follow the steps in this guide to set up an offline activity custom audience for retargeting.
What if you could find potential customers resembling your top customers? Now you can by using Facebook's customer match custom audience.
This is a type of audience you can create in order to remarket to people who have already shown an interest in your business. The list itself is developed through what Facebook calls “identifiers” (e.g., email, phone number, and address).
To create these audiences, upload customer data from a spreadsheet or through Mailchimp, and Facebook will find as many of those customers as it can on Facebook. Now, you'll just have to format it properly for Facebook to analyze it.
Facebook and Instagram engagement
Your social posts are gaining reach. Impressions are soaring.
But this isn't what totally matters—it's about engagement.
When someone takes time to like, share, or comment on your posts, it's a sign of interest in your brand. Why wouldn’t you remarket to them?
Now's an opportune time to reach back out with ad retargeting with those people who’ve engaged with your brand before. This is possible for both Facebook and Instagram posts.
How to set up Facebook retargeting
The reason remarketing is so efficient?
It targets the audiences who already know your brand.
They’ve been to your website, engaged with your brand, and are more likely to buy from you. It’s even better if you’re able to remarket to shopping cart abandoners or free trial users that may be further along in the pipeline or funnel.
As we mentioned earlier, you can create several types of remarketing audiences within Facebook Ads Manager, each being a different variation of a Facebook Custom Audience:
- Custom Audiences based on a customer file
- Custom Audiences based on website activity
- Custom Audiences based on in-app activity
- Custom Audiences based on engagement on Facebook
That's an attractive set of options you've got there.
However, the wide array of options can also get confusing pretty fast.
Here's a quick overview of how to set up Facebook remarketing audiences:
- Set up your Facebook pixel, app events, offline events, or customer lists.
- Go to the "Audience" tab on Facebook Ads and click "Custom Audiences."
- Choose the retargeting audience you want based on events for visited web pages, offline triggers, app activities, etc.
- Create your campaign and ad sets.
- Add your retargeting list(s) to your ad set(s).
- Create your retargeting ads within each ad set.
For a more in-depth overview, read our step-by-step guide on how to set up Facebook Custom Audiences.
Overall Facebook retargeting best practices
What sets apart a high-performing retargeting campaign from a low-performing one? It's all in the techniques and strategies used.
So we put together a list of the top Facebook retargeting best practices to improve campaign results.
1. Exclude converters from your retargeting lists
There's a thin line brands must stay behind to prevent becoming an annoyance.
What does this line look like?
It looks like showing ad retargeting messages to visitors that have already converted. This shows your campaigns aren't personalized for their experience and could hurt your reputation.
Not to mention, it wastes your ad spend.
So unless you're targeting converters on purpose in a separate retargeting strategy, exclude your converters from your retargeting lists.
2. Match your offer to your audience
The purpose of ad retargeting is to serve your audience with offers on products they showed interest in. It's an easier sell and you already have a leg-up. But only if you create campaigns that are highly relevant.
This requires selecting the right type of ads based on the "temperature" of your traffic.
For instance, you don't want to ask for a sale from a visitor who's strictly in the "I'm looking for more information" stage.
In this case, you want to serve "cold" audiences with a non-pushy ad to try, learn, or read something for free.
Your offer must align with your audience’s intent, and you have to create ads around different pay-per-click traffic temperatures.
3. Use a shorter lookback window
If your product doesn't have a long sales cycle, having a 90-day lookback window makes little sense. So we recommend going no further than 30 (at the most 60) days.
Going too far into the past will present ads to audiences who've gone cold and are no longer interested in your offer. It wastes their time and your ad dollars.
4. Switch your ads out often to avoid fatigue
Consumers are bombarded with thousands of ads per day both on social media and offline (in fact, it’s estimated that consumers are exposed to anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day).
This would fatigue anyone. And over time, they'll notice repeat ads and will likely ignore them.
So to prevent ad fatigue, be sure to switch up the look, messaging, copy, and offer to recapture their attention and revitalize your campaigns. You can also follow these Facebook ad tips to keep your ads relevant and top-of-the-line.
5. Increase prospecting budgets to build bigger retargeting lists
Retargeting visitors is just straight-up good for business.
But like we mentioned, ad fatigue is real and can hurt instead of help your campaigns if not done right.
Another option to prevent this is to go bigger with your prospecting budget.
For instance, use 70% of your budget for prospecting and 30% for retargeting. This way, you build larger retargeting lists, while preventing fatigue and without running your retargeting interest dry.
6. Keep your retargeting lists out of your prospecting audiences
We can't stress this enough: exclude retargeting audiences from non-retargeting audiences to prevent warmer audiences from seeing colder offers.
Again, this hurts the personalized experience today's consumers expect from brands. Plus, you don't want to compete with yourself in multiple stages of your funnel.
So save yourself the headache and money by separating your retargeting and prospecting audiences.
7. Get your pixel and event setup right
This leaves you in the dark and puts you at risk of your strategy failing.
To prevent this, ensure your Facebook pixel and conversion events are set up correctly. This way, you’re correctly adding users to retargeting lists and tracking the right campaign conversions to accurately assess campaign performance.
After all, if your conversion tracking is off, everything you’re trying to do with your campaign is a wash—you’ll never know what really performs well for you and what doesn’t.
12 Facebook retargeting ideas and examples for beginners and pros
Let's say you get 5,000 ad clicks per month on average at $1.20 each. This means you'll pay around $6,000 to get 5k visitors on your website.
If you adjust this number to your visitor-to-lead and lead-to-customer conversion rate, you may end up turning only a handful of those 5k visitors into clients.
But you know what? You could significantly increase your visitor-to-lead and lead-to-customer conversion rates by introducing Facebook remarketing to your PPC strategy.
This way, you've done your best to bring the first-time visitors back to your website to turn them into paying customers.
Need a few ideas? We're going to cover various ways you can use retargeting ads to improve your traffic and sales as well as provide a few of our favorite examples. And if you need more inspiration, check out our in-depth post on Facebook ad examples.
1. All website visitors
Probably the most widely-used Facebook remarketing audience is the easiest one to create—it includes all your past website visitors.
Retargeting all the website visitors works well if you're advertising a newly-created brand and have few daily website visitors.
If you're already seeing a ton of website traffic, get more specific with your remarketing audience segmentation.
Here's an example of a Facebook retargeting ad from Joybird.
In this case, the user had both engaged with another ad and visited their site, triggering Joybird’s personalized Facebook Messenger ad.
Furthermore, when remarketing to past website visitors, pay attention to your Facebook ad design—does it match with your website? Would visitors be able to make the connection?
People are more likely to click on your Facebook ads if they recognize the design and language they saw on your website.
For example, Udemy's Facebook ad has the same colors as its website. Here's the ad:
Now, look at their website:
In addition to increased brand awareness, remarketing to all past website visitors is also beneficial for
- A/B testing several value propositions: see which offer or UVP (unique value proposition) makes people click on your Facebook ad
- driving additional traffic to your blog articles: retarget past website visitors with a Facebook ad offering helpful content
- building a more engaged audience: people who visit your website for the first time may not yet be ready to buy from you, so remarket to them with the goal of warming up the relationship
One more thing.
When setting up a remarketing audience of website visitors, only target the visitors of the past 15 to 30 days. When targeting a longer time frame, people might've forgotten about your brand and are less likely to engage with your ads.
2. Retarget your blog readers
If your brand's excellent at content marketing, you may get tens of thousands of blog visits a month. But unless you've got a huge marketing budget, you won't be able to retarget all of those people.
So, how can you narrow down your remarketing audience to only reach the blog visitors with the highest potential of becoming a lead or customer?
Here are some tips for reaching your high-ROI blog audience:
- Target people who visited more than one blog article.
- Target people who visited a blog article and a landing page.
- Target people who visited a blog article and the pricing page, indicating their interest in your product.
By filtering out the less-engaged blog visitors, you'll increase your Facebook ad campaign's ROI.
What message should you advertise to blog readers?
When remarketing to blog readers, focus on engaging them further by sharing valuable content.
If you narrowed your blog readership to the people who also showed interest in specific landing pages, try to nudge them towards testing or even buying your product.
For example, Getsitecontrol’s Facebook ad focuses on getting people to sign up for a free product trial.
When remarketing to blog readers, remember these best practices:
- Segment your blog readers based on the landing pages they visited, only targeting the high-potential audiences.
- When retargeting all past blog visitors, start with soft sells to increase their interest and engagement levels.
- Avoid asking people to buy something right away.
- Make your ads relevant to a specific article's readers.
- Use Facebook Boosted Posts to amplify your blog's reach.
- Exclude people who already read/downloaded your promoted content.
3. Gated content downloaders
Similar to blog readers, e-book downloaders and webinar attendees have also shown some interest in your branded content.
However, e-book downloaders are one step further down inside your marketing funnel. After all, they willingly shared their contact information to receive your gated content.
When remarketing to people who shared their contact information, address them with a sales-oriented offer (e.g., a limited-time discount on your popular products).
Why not even offer a discount on your entire product line to some leads? This is exactly what MOO did in the example below.
If you're working with SaaS Facebook ads, target your e-book downloaders with a free trial offer to bring warm leads into the next stage of your marketing funnel.
For example, Pipedrive's Facebook ad asks people to sign up for a free product trial.
Here are some best practices for remarketing to gated content downloaders:
- Make it your goal to convert the leads from one marketing funnel stage to the next.
- Offer a limited-time discount.
- Offer a free product trial.
- Test Facebook ads that are driving people to complete a purchase.
- Keep your branding aligned across your gated content landing pages and Facebook ads.
4. Facebook engagements
You can retarget people based on how they interacted with your content on Facebook.
Currently, you can create Facebook Custom Audiences that include those who engage with your
- Instant Experience ads
- lead forms
- Facebook store (shopping)
- Instagram account
- Facebook page
- On-Facebook listings
- events (responding "going" or "interested")
Check out Stitch Fix’s Facebook retargeting ad that does just that:
Here are a few best practices for remarketing to engagement-based audiences:
- Ensure that the engagement you're targeting indicates that the person has actually engaged (e.g., a 25% video view might not be enough to indicate a high level of engagement).
- Use engagement-based retargeting to drive people to complete their abandoned conversions (e.g., complete an e-book download).
- Try to move leads to the next stage in your marketing funnel and turn them from prospect to a warm lead.
5. App installers
Retargeting the people who installed your app is beneficial in several ways:
- You'll keep people engaged with their newly downloaded app.
- You help people get started with the new app.
- You drive more in-app sales.
For example, Spotify offers its app downloaders a premium service at a discounted price. This way, they can show their app owners the full value of owning the app while using the paid service.
Here's another brilliant example by QuickBooks.
First, they set up a Facebook ad campaign to get people to download their app.
Later, they can remarket to app downloaders and share helpful content to keep their audiences engaged.
Here are some best practices when remarketing to app installers:
- Make your offers and links mobile-compatible.
- Keep your app downloaders engaged by sharing helpful content or tips.
- Use Facebook advertising to bring back disengaged app users.
- Track a set of advanced in-app events to segment your app downloaders into multiple audiences.
6. Landing page visitors
Retargeting these people with landing page-specific Facebook remarketing ads can bring them back for the second visit. And hopefully, you'll convert them with a slightly different offer.
One way to re-engage your landing page visitors is to share with them relevant content (e.g., your blog posts on a topic related to the landing page a person visited).
Here’s a great example by Petco:
When remarketing to landing page visitors specifically, you should also test a more sales-oriented approach and promote a free product trial, suggest products they might like—or even just ask people to purchase your product.
Here are some more best practices for remarketing to landing page visitors:
- Remarket to the visitors of landing pages that show high purchase intent.
- Make your offer specific to particular landing pages.
- Slightly alter your ads' offer from the one on the landing page—if the person didn't convert on the first offer, try a different one.
- Be clear about what you want the prospect to do—add a clear call-to-action both in your ads and on the landing page.
- Again, don't forget to exclude the people who have already converted on your offer.
7. Use dynamic product ads
Facebook's dynamic product ads are like remarketing display ads on steroids.
This Facebook ad type allows you to deliver remarketing ads that contain the exact product a person visited on your website.
For example, if someone's on Udemy looking for courses, they may find dynamic ads on Facebook showing the same (or relevant) courses based on their search.
Around 23% of online shoppers say they made a purchase after encountering remarketing. Another 38% say it helps them find better prices, and a quarter appreciates remarketing because it offers personalized advertising.
So reminding potential buyers of the products they liked is a highly efficient way to turn the casual online store browsers into actual buyers.
According to Facebook, brands are seeing great results when using the Dynamic Product Ads:
- John Boris, CMO at Shutterfly, reported a 20%+ increase in click-through rates.
- Kristi Argyilan, Senior Vice President at Target, also told Facebook that these ads resulted in a 20% increase in conversions compared to other types of Facebook ads.
8. Free trial users
If you're selling a software solution or a subscription service that offers prospects a free trial period, think about what happens during and after the free trial.
- making it easy to use your product
- teaching them about your most valuable features
- creating a sense of urgency
- providing personalized demos
- sending an end-of-trial email
- monetizing users that won't likely convert
- making it easy to switch between free and paid plans
For example, The New York Times can offer a free trial. Then when the free trial period is about to end, they can retarget the subscriber with a remarketing offer: a 50% discount for a 1-year subscription.
Another way to increase people's interest in purchasing your product's paid version is by sharing case studies to communicate your product's benefits.
Here's an example from ConvertKit showcasing a happy customer's testimonial:
Here are the best practices for remarketing to free trial users on Facebook:
- Make people understand the full value of your product.
- Offer a small incentive (e.g., a limited-time discount) to get people to complete their purchase.
- Promote case studies to overcome possible objections.
- Offer a free call or demo with one of your salespeople.
- Exclude the free trial users from your Facebook marketing campaigns targeting the cold leads—they've already converted on your top-of-the-funnel offers.
9. Freemium users
Your marketing goal when retargeting freemium users should be the same as marketing to free trial users—you need these people to convert into paying customers.
So convince the freemium users that the paid version of your product or service adds lots of value to their work or life. Lucky you, they may be invested with the micro-commitment they made to engage the freemium version.
Once you get people to test the paid product features, convert them by offering an additional discount, or creating a sense of urgency. Let them know the value or discount is ONLY offered to them and ONLY for a limited period.
Spotify does a great job of executing this tactic by offering new premium users a free trial for three months.
Here's why scarcity and urgency is effective: when you give people too much time to decide, they're likely to postpone the conclusion and just forget about it.
And it works—applying scarcity and urgency on a website helped this entrepreneur increase sales by 332%.
As you apply the sense of urgency and scarcity to your Facebook ads, people will be more willing to complete a sign-up and purchase without contemplating too much about it.
10. Past purchasers
It would be a shame to leave this high-potential retargeting audience unused.
That's why you could set up regular Facebook advertising campaigns to
- remind the past purchasers of your brand
- share news about new products and services
- offer discounts and get past purchasers back to your website to buy another product
- promote upsell offers relevant to the purchasers of another product
For example, Airbnb's Facebook ad campaign can retarget people who booked a vacation rental with them in the past.
Or why not simply ask customers if they’re still interested (and create a sense of urgency on top of that) just like Pawz?
Here are the best practices for retargeting past purchasers on Facebook:
- Find the perfect timing—think about when the person's most likely to make another purchase (e.g., for seasonal products, it's once or twice per year).
- Promote related items to the ones the person already purchased.
- Offer to buy more items at a discounted price—this could work extremely well on the people who are your product's fans.
- Combine Facebook ads with other marketing channels for greater impact (e.g., run a display ad campaign).
11. In-app actions
If your brand has a mobile app, take your Facebook remarketing to a whole different level by creating action-triggered ad campaigns.
For example, when working with an Android app, you can track App Events (or specific actions), such as
- app launched
- added to wishlist
- added to cart
- added payment info
- unlocked achievement
- + many more
For example, if an Amazon Audible app user browses different books and adds some of them to their wishlist, Amazon could set up a dynamic remarketing ad promoting the same books. Or maybe an app user has simply made an in-app purchase before but hasn’t purchased in a while.
In-app event tracking is also beneficial if you're working with an online software product. You can set up Facebook campaigns that target the app users who've taken specific steps inside your app (e.g., if someone completes an important step in the onboarding process).
Here are the best practices for retargeting people based on their in-app activities:
- Define the most important in-app events that show high purchase intent.
- Use activity-triggered Facebook ad campaigns to make your app users more engaged.
- If you notice signs that some users are stuck with something inside your app, offer them helpful guides.
- Advertise on mobile and Instagram as people are already using their mobile devices. It'll be easier for them to switch to your app.
12. Inactive users
Companies are at risk of losing inactive customers all the time. Luckily, you can revive those inactive customers and improve your customer retention through remarketing.
Targeting inactive users on Facebook is possible by creating Custom Audiences based on inactive users' emails or by targeting your app users that show no in-app activity.
But how can you reactivate the almost-lost customers?
Besides sending reactivation email campaigns and push notifications, you could also set up a Facebook remarketing campaign reminding inactive users of your service or app.
For example, brands can share new enhancements to improve their experience or tips about overcoming challenges using their product. And if you can tie in precisely how your product helps through screenshots, case studies, and examples, then that’s even better.
Here are the best practices for remarketing to inactive users and customers:
- Remind the inactive users of your product's benefits.
- Send reactivation marketing emails and amplify the message by retargeting the inactive users on Facebook.
- Help your users keep pace with product updates by regularly informing them about the news.
Now, get started (with one last thing in mind)
When working with retargeting campaigns, remember that the “users” and “audiences” seeing your Facebook ads are real people.
This means that if you’re too aggressive at following a retargeted user across the web, they may get annoyed, and that’s the exact opposite of what you want.
Pacing, varying, and limiting the length of your campaigns are key to preventing this. So monitor your remarketing campaigns' Quality Ranking, ad frequency, and click-through rate closely.
If you notice drop-offs in clicks and conversions, then it's time to switch things up. Use the tips in this guide to revive your campaigns and gain traction again.
Another option? Sneak a peek at your competitors to see what they're doing that works. 😉 You can read our next blog on Facebook ad research and spy tools to help you do just that.