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Facebook retargeting: Why it’s so effective and how to start

facebook retargeting

When you create a website for your brand, remember to include a contact or subscriber form so you can reconnect with your visitors. That said, many distractions and competing priorities often lure people away from websites before they take action. So how can we solve this? Facebook retargeting.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can incorporate Facebook retargeting into your social media marketing strategy to get your ads in front of previous website visitors. Then, we will show you how to set up your first retargeting campaign. You can launch and manage your campaign using Facebook Ads by Wix. The tool uses advanced machine learning to automatically retarget people who have visited your site.

What is Facebook retargeting?

Retargeting is an online advertising method used to show ads to people who once visited your website. These ads appear to your audience on Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram and their Audience Network and are an excellent way to tailor your Facebook marketing efforts.

What will your audience see? Ideally you will serve personalized content meant to quickly catch the person’s attention —like displaying a product they recently viewed.

Remarketing versus retargeting

You may have heard of the term “remarketing” before. While it sounds similar to retargeting, these are two different ways to advertise on Facebook:

  • Remarketing is the process of emailing former customers with relevant offers or information to bring them back to your site.

  • Retargeting is the process of displaying eye-catching, relevant ads to previous visitors to encourage them to pick up where they left off in the buyer's journey or make another purchase.

Why are Facebook retargeting ads so effective?

You can use a Facebook business page to promote your website for free. Facebook’s users spend, on average, 38 minutes on the platform every day—offering a big window of opportunity for you to reach former visitors and customers. It is easy to control spending on this beginner-friendly platform, too.

They target people who’ve already been to your site

Most importantly, retargeting ads differ from standard Facebook ads. Running ads online can be tricky. You need to know your audience and, more importantly, how to use the advertising platform’s parameters to reach them.

With retargeting, your ads get targeted to people who’ve been on your site, know your brand, and have already shown interest in your offerings.

The ads are personalized and, thus, more engaging

You’ve likely seen a retargeting ad on Facebook or other platforms: A familiar product image or description you viewed just a few days ago pops up as an ad, and you stop to take notice. You remember that you didn’t complete the checkout process because you left your credit card in the other room. Now, with your wallet sitting atop your desk, you go back and complete the purchase.

For many of your former visitors, a personalized ad may entice them back to your site, too.

Tip: Check out our roundup of the best Facebook ad examples for inspiration.

Retargeting ads can be used to boost new item sales

You can also use retargeting ads to promote related items, attractive offers and new product releases to previous customers. Simply segment your audience based on their purchase history to show them an ad that matches their interests.

Retargeting ads improve brand awareness

Your company may need to interact upwards of eight times with a potential customer before they finally purchase. Help keep your brand top-of-mind with retargeted ads that pop up from time to time. Even if one ad doesn’t trigger a purchase, the stream of brand exposure may influence their decision later.

Retargeting can bring back visitors, customers and your competitors' customers

While Facebook retargeting ads can remind one-time visitors about your site, you can also use them to reconnect with previous customers. Just target people who’ve performed a specific action, like purchasing a product or buying a subscription.

You can also target people from similar demographic or behavior profiles, or even those who visited your competitors’ websites.

How does retargeting work?

Because your ads will target previous website visitors or customers, Facebook needs to know who they are. Retargeting uses these technical methods:

With pixels (cookies)

When someone visits your website, your site places a cookie in their browser, or a tiny data pixel that allows website owners to track visitors and learn more about them. For retargeting, the pixel provides valuable information about a visitors’ site behavior, including which pages or products they visited.

Facebook Advertising syncs this information with your account to choose who to target. Here, you have two options:

  • Behavioral retargeting, which reaches people who visited and engaged with your site before.

  • Contextual retargeting, which reaches people with similar habits and preferences to your audience, but on other sites.

Keep in mind that with behavioral retargeting, Facebook can only reach people who have visited your site. So, if your traffic numbers are low, start with standard ads focused on acquiring new visitors.

With contact info (lists)

If you use forms, checkouts or landing pages to collect visitor’s contact information, you can import those custom lists into Facebook. The platform will then identify which email addresses or phone numbers match existing users and will serve them relevant ads.

The best practice with this option is to upload segmented contact lists rather than your master list and then create relevant ads based on their demographics and previous brand engagement.

How to create a Facebook retargeting campaign in 7 steps

Ready to harness the power of the largest social media network? You can start by using machine learning technology to run campaigns with Facebook Ads by Wix. Alternatively, you follow these steps to set up a campaign manually:

01. Set up your accounts

To retarget on Facebook, make sure to set up the following accounts:

02. Customize account settings

  1. Go to your Facebook business page.

  2. Click on the section called Ad Center in the left sidebar and open the All Ads tab beneath it.

customize account settings

3. Click on Ads Manager.

The campaign dashboard looks like this:

facebook campaign dashboard

You will use this dashboard to create, manage, and track any ads you run on Facebook, retargeting or otherwise.

Before you do anything else, go to the Settings (gear) widget in the bottom-left area of the sidebar. Take a moment to fill in your business’s information as well as your Payment Settings:

payment settings

Add a payment method that Facebook can withdraw funds from to cover the costs of your ads. Also make sure to set a withdrawal limit on your account to ensure you never overspend on any given campaign.

03. Create your audience

To create retargeting audiences, click on the Business Tools (waffle) widget in the top-left corner of your Ads Manager. Select the Audience option and the following screen will appear:

create your audience

You’ll want to use Custom Audience. Click “Create a Custom Audience” and select the correct source from the next screen:

Since we want to retarget website visitors, you’d choose Website. However, you can just as easily use your other sources:

  • App activity if you also have a mobile app

  • Customer list if you have a CRM, email marketing, or eCommerce spreadsheet with customer email addresses or phone numbers

  • Offline activity if you have data to upload from your brick-and-mortar business

Click “Next” and fill in the following info:

create a custom audience

Give your pixel a unique, descriptive name and enter your website URL. Click “Continue” to let Facebook know which data to track from this source:

create a custom audience

You can get as specific as you’d like here:

  • Decide if your audience meets ANY or ALL of the following rules.

  • Track All website visitors, People who visited specific pages, or Visitors by time spent.

  • To include more than one group, use the “Include More People” option.

When finished, name your audience and click “Create Audience.”

04. Install the Facebook pixel

Open your Facebook Business Tools menu and go to the Events Manager. You’ll be taken to a list of your Data Sources (i.e. the pixel and site you set up in the previous step):

install the facebook pixel

You’ll now need to install the pixel so Facebook can pull in data from your site. Click “Continue Pixel Setup.” There are two ways to do this: Manual or third-party integration.

connect website activity using pixel

If you built your site with Wix, you can use the built-in integration for Facebook pixels. Select Use a Partner Integration, then click “Use a partner” and choose Wix from the next screen.

Facebook will take you through the rest of the Wix setup process:

connect your wix account

Toggle on the Turn On Automatic Advanced Matching button and click “Continue” to get your instructions for installing the Facebook pixel.

Make sure you test that the pixel works when you get to the “Verify Connection” step. Also, follow the steps outlined under “Set Up Events.” This will take you back to the events manager, where you should now see your data source as active.

05. Set up your campaign

Go to your Ads Manager and click the green “+ Create” button to set up a campaign. Choose a goal for your campaign:

set up your campaign

Your goal depends on your audience and what action you want them to take on your site. Should they:

  • Sign up as a subscriber?

  • Message you about services?

  • Buy a product?

Pick the objective that most fits your campaign goals.

Once you’ve set up and named your campaign, create an ad set with your preferred rules.

You need fill in the following information for your ad set:

  • Name

  • The conversion event on your website

  • Budget

  • Start and end date

  • Your custom audience

  • Placement type (automatic is best)

When you’re done, click the “Next” button.

06. Set up your retargeting ad

First, Facebook wants to know your destination URL; in other words, when someone sees your retargeting ad, where do you want to send them to? Then, give your ad a name—something memorable and distinctive from the other ads you’ll create.

Next, you’ll see the option to segment your audience. Rather than use Facebook’s parameters, select your custom audience from the dropdown provided.

Next, set a budget for your ad that aligns with your cost-per-lead and return on investment goals.

After that, follow our best practices for creating successful Facebook Ads. When satisfied with your ad, click “Place Order” and let Facebook do the rest.

07. Measure your results

Keep a close eye on your Facebook retargeting campaign to ensure success.

Your Ads Manager dashboard will provide you with rich information about your ongoing and previous ad runs. This metric will tell you if you’ve optimized your ads to reach your visitors and bring them back to your site.

If you do not see many views or clicks, this could mean:

  • Your website traffic numbers are too small. Try to drive more traffic to your site.

  • Your ad creative or offer doesn’t convince your target audience to return to your site. Change your targeting settings and test different copy and images.

You can also use your most successful retargeting campaign data as a framework for future campaigns, helping you drive even more traffic back to your site.

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