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6 Facebook Retargeting Strategies to Test

With around 20% of the market, Facebook is the second-largest player in the digital marketing space, behind only Google.

It's a profitable place to play for those who have mastered the ins and outs of targeted ad buys.

But sometimes overlooked in the search for a solid ROI on social media advertising is the possibility of using Facebook retargeting ads.

And while you can run retargeting ads on a number of platforms, in this post, we are going to focus on how to set up and run a number of Facebook retargeting campaigns so you can best capitalize on your warm audiences.

Let's jump in.

What is Facebook Retargeting, and Why is it Important?

First, the basics. Then, some retargeting tips and strategies.

"Retargeting" at its core, is the act of showing ads to someone who has already visited your website.

When someone visits your site, they are tagged with a piece of code. Facebook can then read these code snippets when a user is browsing on Facebook, and then show them your ads based on your specific targeting parameters.

This form of "warm" advertising can have a higher conversion rate and a better ROI than standard advertising because it puts your ads in front of people who have already expressed an interest in your company or products, and who already have some level of awareness of your brand.

Retargeting ads are an essential component of every ROI-generating marketing funnel, regardless of industry or customer base.


Because retargeting flawlessly connects your offerings with people who have a higher probability of converting into paying customers.

Getting Started with Facebook Retargeting: Building Your First Custom Audiences

Your first Facebook retargeting campaign starts with building a custom audience. Like everything else on Facebook Business, it’s ridiculously easy.

  • Step 1: Go to your Facebook ads manager, click “Business Manager” in the top left corner, then “Audiences.”

  • Step 2: This will take you to a page where you can choose between creating a custom audience, a lookalike audience, or a saved audience. Choose “custom audience.”

  • Step 3: Now we’ll choose “Website traffic” to retarget audiences who have visited your website searching for a product, service, or just more information.

Note that you don’t have to choose “Website traffic.”

There are several other great options you can choose, including App activity, Customer list (uploading your customer email list), Offline activity, and within the Facebook suite, Video views, lead forms, events, Instagram, and more.

  • Step 4: Now you’ll create a pixel that will tell Facebook which website to track visitors from. Be sure to enter your website’s page in the text field.

  • Step 5: From here, you can choose the time frame that you want to target, for example, people who have visited your site in the last 30 days.

Or better yet, people who have visited specific pages on your website, like product pages or sale confirmation pages, so that you can target them with ads that are highly specific to what they were looking at on your site.

You can also target by the amount of time spent on your website.

Think of this as a way of trusting consumer instincts. If someone visits your website and immediately bounces, there’s a strong possibility that they were looking for a different product/service and accidentally landed on your site.

So why spend money targeting them?

Instead, focus on the people who did some in-depth browsing and thoroughly considered what you had to offer.

  • Step 6: And voila! You’ve created your first custom audience!

Facebook has a thorough set of instructions on how to create a retargeting campaign using this custom audience, so I won’t get into that here.

The key is embedding a Facebook pixel on your website that allows Facebook to measure the effectiveness of your advertising.

Once complete, you'll be able to target specific audiences, including people who have abandoned items in their shopping cart, people who have visited a specific piece of content, or who have simply viewed an item without purchasing.

6 Facebook Retargeting Strategies to Test

Campaign 1: The Brand Awareness Campaign

The people you are targeting visit hundreds of websites every week, and for people who aren’t familiar with your brand, there’s a good chance that your site will get lost and forgotten in the mix.

One way to use retargeting is simply to put your brand in front of people who have visited your website for any reason.

Really, this is what retargeting is at its core, and the following campaigns are all variations on this with more specific audiences.

This may not result in the highest short-term ROI, but if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of sales yet, you may utilize this type of campaign just to build your brand. Typically, I recommend using one of the following strategies, however.


Because with simple brand awareness, you’re not differentiating between someone who browsed your site for two seconds before realizing they were looking for something else, and someone who fully intends to buy, but was distracted.

To target both consumers without differentiating means that you are burning ad dollars with little chance of conversion.

Campaign 2: The Product/Service Reminder

Instead of just building your brand (as in Campaign 1), a product/service reminder campaign shows ads that reflect the specific product/service pages (depending on what your company offers) a person visited on your site.

You can even customize these campaigns to exclude people who made a purchase so that you aren’t wasting your advertising budget on people who already converted.

This is where dynamic ads and custom audiences come in. To do this, exclude people who have visited the confirmation page that pops up after someone makes a purchase.

An easy way to track various conversions for specific products or content offers is to create separate "thank you" pages for each one. I like to name all of my thank you pages with "thank-you" at the beginning of the URL and then a specific keyword string for the rest of the link.

That way, if you want to exclude anyone who has ever converted, you can choose "contains 'thank-you'" instead of having to list them all out.

Campaign 3: The Old Audiences Strategy

When setting up a Facebook ad retargeting campaign, it might seem intuitive at first to only target people who have visited your website in the last few weeks or months.

After all, if they haven’t been around for a while, that means they aren’t interested, right? Wrong.

I guarantee you that right now there are people who considered making a purchase on your website months or even a year ago, then got distracted, forgot about you temporarily, but would still like to make a purchase. Then there are those who purchased before, but for whatever reason, haven't come back to buy again.

And especially in the case of B2B companies where sales cycles are longer and purchase prices are often higher, sometimes a little branded reminder in the form of thought leadership content will draw them back into your funnel.

Whether the overdue visit is a result of long sales cycles or plain forgetfulness, this audience can still be valuable to target.

In some instances, I wouldn't be afraid to target consumers who haven't purchased in up to 3-5 years.

Campaign 4: The Evergreen Campaign

Some of your retargeting campaigns should be evergreen. That is, they won’t need to change much as long as your products stay the same.

For example, if you are a residential painting company in Indianapolis, you may successfully run evergreen campaigns targeting people within the greater Indianapolis area, running ads like “Top rated painter in Indy” or “How much would it cost to paint your house?” that links to pertinent content on your website (see step 5 above).

You should consider having an evergreen campaign for each of your products or services (as long as they continue to show ROI).

Campaign 5: The Time-Sequenced Campaign

In the 1920s and 30s, Burma Shave ran a brilliant advertising campaign along U.S. highways. Instead of a single billboard, they would have a sequence of signs that, when read together, formed a rhyme-like jingle. For example, "Takes the "H" out of shave / Makes it save / Saves complexion / Saves time and money / No brush - no lather / Burma-Shave.”

You can create your own digital version of the classic Burma Shave ads by sequencing your advertisements over time.

To do this, create multiple ads with different exclusion rules.

For example, on your first ad, show it only to people who have viewed your website in the past week. The second ad should only be seen by people who viewed your site in the past two weeks, and so on. That way, each person will see a string of ads in a logical flow based on the last visit they made to your page.

You might even consider offering a bigger sale the further away they get from their last visit, luring them back with the promise of a steeper discount.

Campaign 6: The Abandon Cart Campaign

I can’t tell you how many times I have logged into my Amazon or REI account and found an essential item still lingering in the shopping cart.

For me, it usually happens when I start browsing on my mobile device, then transition to my computer and get distracted by open tabs on my browser. Or occasionally, I will put something in my cart, then decide to do a price check on another website and end up getting overwhelmed by all the choices and putting off my purchase.

Whatever the cause, if you are tracking the metrics on cart abandonment, you are likely aware that people do this all the time.

A shopping cart campaign targets people who have left an item in their shopping cart. You can run this straight, merely reminding them to come back and make the purchase, or you can sweeten the deal by offering free shipping or a discount on the sale.

If You Aren’t Running Facebook Retargeting Ads, You Are Missing Out

I took up salmon fishing this year.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, the salmon run is quite an event, as millions of fish make their way from the Pacific Ocean to the rivers and streams where they spawn.

The first few times I went out, I caught nothing, despite the countless fish splashing in the water around me. I was feeling frustrated and confused until a more experienced fisherman showed me what I was doing wrong.

I had assumed that because there were so many fish, I could play the odds and use almost any bait, casting into any part of the river. That was a waste of time, effort and money (lures can be expensive).

The truth is, you can catch your limit of salmon using nothing more than a hook and a piece of yarn as bait if you know where to fish.

If you’re just starting out in digital advertising, you might assume that there are millions of potential consumers out there, so it doesn’t matter where you put your ads. But placing generic ads around the Internet is like my initial approach to salmon fishing.

You’ll wonder why your ads aren’t converting, and you’ll spend money needlessly.

Retargeting allows you to save money by using the right ad for the right consumer and actually see conversions (but be sure to set KPIs so you can be sure that your strategy is working).

If you need more proof check out these statistics:

  • Only 2% of consumers convert the first time they visit a website

  • Consumers who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert

  • 3 out of 5 consumers notice and consider ads showing products they’ve seen on another page

  • Click-through rate (CTR) from retargeted ads is 10 times higher than standard digital ads

This article first appeared at Hearst Bay

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