Most people see Facebook retargeting as a checklist and thus miss out on a lot of profits because they simplify it while it is one of the most complex areas of paid advertising.
Of course, you can get better at it and your results will thank you for it, but there is a learning curve. Like anything, when you try something new, your results suffer for a little bit until they get better. It’s the same thing with Facebook retargeting.
How can it be so complex? Shouldn’t I just incentivize people who didn’t buy from me with an ad like the one below?
It isn’t that complicated to retarget on Facebook, what’s complicated is truly using all audiences with relevant, creative and efficient ad creatives while optimizing with a balance of data and intuition.
Why you need Facebook retargeting?
Facebook retargeting is about showing to people who took an action on your website, Facebook page or Instagram page to be retargeted with a contextual ad you’ve created.
Those actions we talk about can be:
- Someone liked your Facebook page
- Someone visited your website
- Someone purchased from you
- Someone messaged you on Instagram
- And so on…
The goal is to get people who didn’t convert to finally convert. Let’s face it, someone who already knows your brand has a bigger chance of converting than someone who has no clue you exist. You can even get people who bought from you to buy again.
Facebook retargeting can become by far your most profitable advertising. Don’t believe us?
- Website visitors who are retargeted are more likely to convert by 43%. [Criteo]
- The click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad. [Wishpond]
- 91% of marketers who have used retargeting have found it to perform the same as or better than search, email, or other display ads. [IAB]
- 68% of marketing agencies and 49% of brands have a dedicated budget for retargeting. [Incite]
- Compared to other placement strategies, retargeting generated the highest lift in business name searches by 1,046%. [PR Newswire]
Although a lot of marketing agencies claim that not all strategies are great, we’ve had success with almost every strategy out there, even bundling your audiences together. It’s not the strategy that matters, it’s knowing when to use each.
From our experience, you want to start gathering all your retargeting audiences together until they are big enough for you to segment it.
A first strategy would be to dissect your audiences based on their stage in your marketing funnel.
A second strategy would be to segment according to the website. Here’s what it would look like for an eCommerce store.
How to fine-tune your goals & improve your results?
It’s all a matter of math. You want to layout your inverted funnel and look at the numbers so you know how many website visitors you get per month and how many of them become customers.
Knowing that will allow you to know if you would be profitable spending on PPC which is a smart way to approach this.
Now let’s do some quick math. If you profit $10 per purchase, it would mean that for 5,000 web visits, you would breakeven with 150 x $10 which is $1,500. Optimally, you’d want to get website visits at $0.3 which is doable but not very easy.
Until you aren’t able to have a realistic cost per click or cost per purchase goal from your website’s conversion rate, you shouldn’t spend too much on Facebook ads.
Coming up, we made a list of 18 Facebook retargeting audiences with examples you could use for your campaigns. If you need more Facebook ad examples or Facebook video examples, we’ve got a list of the best ones.
Table of contents
1. Retargeting all your website visitors
Creating an audience of your website visitors is by far one of the easiest strategy, but also the best when starting out. This strategy works best when having a limited amount of people to retarget, usually below 1,500.
Why does it work well?
It works well because very small audiences don’t perform with Facebook ads for a number of reasons. First, you might reach too much frequency, which means people would end up seeing your ad 21 times. Second, you’ll end up paying a lot since your audience is small.
What should you show to these website visitors?
You should show to your website visitors what your brand is doing and what’s the next step they should take.
Although these people have shown interest, they can still be far from closed. You need to see it as these people will say your brand name “rings a bell” but won’t remember exactly what you do.
There are two important parts to this Facebook retargeting strategy. The first one, make sure the copywriting of your ad matches one of your landing pages. Step two, make sure your image or video design matches the one on your website.
As you can see, this is a great example of having congruent design & copy from your Facebook ad to your landing page.
Other benefits of using the “website visitors” audience
- You can A/B test your offers – testing your offers on that audience can work really well and give you insights faster than targeting a cold audience.
- You can lure people back in – you can target people with helpful content, freebies or exclusive offers to make them more loyal to your business.
- Most people need to see you multiple times – a big percentage of people don’t become your customers after they see you once, it’s why this audience is essential if you want to push people to end up buying from you.
Final advice, make sure you select people who visited your website in the past 30 days, the most recent, the more chances you have of keeping those active.
2. Retargeting people who saw your content
This audience is a really interesting one compared to the first one because it does add a little touch of personalization. Being able to know which page someone visited and retargeting them with relevant content can have a drastic impact on your bottom line.
One thing to keep in mind again is that you’d want at least 1,000+ people to have seen the content you want to retarget. Otherwise, you would probably end up paying too much and reducing your profit.
This would likely be due to a high frequency of ads (ad being shown too many times to people).
Why does it work well?
This strategy works well because it adds a touch of personalization to your Facebook ads and marketing in general.
Furthermore, when you get more than 10,000 visitors per month, you might not have the budget to retarget all of them, so you must make choices. The question becomes “how can you narrow down and increase your ROI?”
This is where retargeting people who visited specific web pages come in.
What should you do with people who saw your content?
You should show them something relevant to what they’ve already seen on your website to further draw them into your brand.
Say someone visited any of your articles talking about a certain subject, you could retarget those people with other articles on the subject. Again, if someone visited your service page, you could retarget them with an offer related to that service or better yet, a helpful article.
Here a few ideas of audiences you could create:
- People who visited your blog multiple times
- People who landed on your service or product page and your blog
- People who visited your blog and a service page
- People who visited your checkout and your blog
The goal here is to show those people more content that is relevant to the intent they’ve shown on your website. Hubspot does a good job here, giving away free sales templates.
- Select the highest performing audiences to spend your budget on
- When retargeting those people, make sure you try to lure people in with soft sells instead of being aggressive with the sale
- Make sure your ads are relevant to the intentions shown by what people have visited
- Make sure to exclude targeting people who have already seen or downloaded the content you are promoting
3. Retargeting your leads
Retargeting your leads is most likely the oldest trick in the book because the reason you get leads is to retarget in the first place. If you were only retargeting them through your emails, now could be a good time to add Facebook retargeting to your strategy.
Why does it work well?
This works because people who downloaded gated content from your brand are definitely showing interest in what you do. These people are most interested than the ones who only read your blog because they are sharing their contact information with you.
Again, make sure you have more than 1,000 people in your audience to make this work properly.
What should you do with your leads?
You should show them relevant and contextual ads talking about what you offer.
You could give them a discount to lure them in like the example from CoSchedule below:
You could offer a free version of your product, like the example from Hubspot below:
- Be focused on bringing those people from lead to customers
- Offer time-sensitive discounts
- Offer free versions or free trials of your tool (if possible)
- Keep your branding intact
4. Retargeting people who purchased from you
This is definitely one of the most underrated strategies. Retargeting people who bought from you recently is one of the best ways of either improving your relationship with them and/or increasing the amount of money they spend with you.
You can create this audience by either linking your thank you page to a custom conversion or by creating a “customer visited a specific web page” and adding the part of your “thank you page” URL that doesn’t change.
Why does it work well?
This works well because people who bought from you are the ones that are the most interested in your business. The sale isn’t over after they’ve completed their purchase, far from it.
What should you do with the people who purchased from you?
At this stage, we always recommend showing appreciation first to your customers by something that resembles a “thank you note”. You could select a timeframe of 7 days after they bought from you.
Here are a few ideas of ads you could try out after 7 days:
- An offer to refer their friends (if they received your product or service already)
- A discount on their next purchase
- A one time offer
- A way to get in touch with you
- Make sure you show appreciation
- You can tweak the timeframes
- At this stage, reassuring and helping your customers will have the highest impact
- After you’ve reassured your customers, give them a time-sensitive offer
- Give them valuable content for free
- Show them your new products or services
Here’s an example from Shopify showcasing their new POS product:
5. Retargeting customers with the highest LTV
Targeting your customers with the highest long term value is probably the best strategy there is. The only caveat is that you need to have a lot of customers in your list to create that audience, usually at least 1,000.
Why does it work well?
It works well because people who have the highest long term value are the customers you want to put the most energy on because they buy from you again and again.
What should you do with your highest LTV customers?
There really isn’t a one size fits all strategy for this one, but here’s a list of ideas:
- Showing them your new products
- Giving them exclusive discounts and offers
- Thanking them for being so loyal
- Giving them free gifts
- Sending over the content you know they’ll love
- A way to get in touch if they have any question
Here’s an example of a promotional offer from BigCommerce. It’s not an exclusive one, but it’s just to spark some ideas.
- Make sure you focus on improving your relationship first and not selling like a madman
- Make sure you run “exclusive” offers if possible
- Focus on giving first, these customers already love buying from you
6. Retargeting people who took an action on your emails
Did you know you most email providers such as Sender, Mailchimp, Klayvio or Active Campaign offer a way to retarget the people who opened on your emails but didn’t click?
These Facebook retargeting can be amazingly personalized since they are based on an action someone took recently. There are a few audiences you can create:
- People who opened your email but didn’t click
- People who clicked on your email
- People who haven’t opened your email
Why does it work well?
This works well because it acts as a fuel to your email campaigns.
The two audiences we recommend using are:
- People who have opened the email but not clicked on it
- People who clicked on your email but didn’t take the next step
Now, this may or may not be a good strategy to use it on every email you send, but if you send an amazing offer to your most loyal customers, adding a Facebook ad to your email strategy won’t hurt.
What should you do when retargeting people who took action on your emails?
You should incentivize them to move forward in your funnel.
If people are on your email list, it means they are already quite interested in your company. At this stage, you want to push them to become customers with offers, discounts and free trials.
Keep in mind that if those people are your customers, you might want to focus on other things such as “thank you” ads or exclusive offers.
Here’s an example of a free trial ad:
- Focus on taking people from where they are to where you want them to be.
- Make the offer in your email congruent to the offer in your Facebook retargeting ad
- Do not create a Facebook campaign for every email, keep it for the best offers.
7. Retargeting people who saw a percentage of your Facebook videos
To create this ad, you need to have a list of 5,000 views on your video or videos if you aggregate them together. We also wrote an article with 24 Facebook video ad examples we think are awesome to spark some ideas if you need them.
Here a few Facebook retargeting video audiences you can create:
- 3-second view
- 10-second view
- 30-second view
- Video watches at 25%
- Video watches at 50%
- Video watches at 75%
- Video watches at 95%
- Video watches at 100%
Why does it work well?
This works well because people who have watched a significant percentage of your videos definitely show an intent to know more about your business. You definitely have to be careful because 3-second views don’t mean much at all.
What should you do when retargeting people who saw a percentage of your videos?
At this stage, you want to push people to go on your website and not stay on Facebook. We also recommend you only retarget people who have watched more than 50%, we usually use 75% as a minimum or 30-second view if the video is very long.
The truth is, a lot of people can watch your Facebook videos and not care about your product, so it’s important to take the highest percentage of video watched possibly.
We recommend remarketing this Facebook audience with content you’ve created. A good example would be Hubspot’s “50 Facebook Ad Examples We Actually Clicked” lead magnet:
- Make sure you pick the highest percentage of video watched to make sure people were truly interested in your business
- Retarget people with content to bring them to your website
- Make sure your audience is above 1,000 people if it doesn’t grow your video views a bit more
8. Retargeting people who started a free trial
This strategy is really underrated. Most companies see getting someone into a free trial at the end of the Facebook ads journey, but it’s just the beginning. It’s the most crucial time, to get someone from free user to paid user. This is the stage where someone is the most receptive to becoming your customer.
You can set up this audience by creating a custom conversion or with “people who have visited a specific web page” if a part of your confirmation URL doesn’t vary.
Here’s a great free trial ad from Canva (remember, this is where it begins not where it ends):
Why it works well?
This audience performs well because this is one step before the last step of your funnel, getting people to buy from you. This audience is very receptive and is literally saying “I think I want to join but why should I?”
Free trial subscribers are the equivalent of people who added products to their cart for eCommerce stores.
What should you do when retargeting people who started a free trial?
We recommend that you focus on pushing people to become your customers with benefits. Your goal is really to layout in front of people what they get when they purchase and why it’s useful to them.
Here’s a great example of a successful Facebook ad retargeting campaign from Intercom:
Here a few ideas of Facebook retargeting ads:
- Case studies if you have a service
- Customer testimonials
- List of benefits
- Unique value proposition
- What’s inside & features
- Time-sensitive offer to become a paid member
- Make sure you created an audience of “free trial users” or “add to cart”
- Make sure to only advertise to people who are still on the free trial (this depends on the length of your free trial)
- Make sure to clearly tell the benefits of your product or service
- Try promotional tactics to push people to become subscribers while giving value
9. Retargeting app installers & action takers
Those people are interested in your product, they could be on a free trial or maybe your app is free and has in-app purchases options.
You can create app events within the “audiences” dashboard on Facebook and you are completely free to do what you want.
Here are a few recommendations of what to start with:
- People who downloaded the app
- People who signed up (created a profile)
- People who bought from you
As you can tell, the audiences here are pretty infinite and go from the top of funnel to the bottom of the funnel. Our recommendations here might link back to other audiences, but will still be very relevant.
Why it works well?
This audience works well because you can capture people who have a keen interest in what you are selling. If someone downloaded your app or even took actions within your app, they most likely are way more interested than someone who has no clue your app even exists.
What should you do when retargeting app installers?
You should always start with context. Your ad will definitely be different if someone downloaded your app and if someone bought something on your app.
If someone just downloaded your app, you might want your Facebook ads to talk about the benefits of your product and why people keep using it to push them to create themselves an account or take the next step.
If someone has an account but didn’t buy, we recommend you incentivize them with discounts or limited time offers while explaining to them why the paid version or in-app purchases are awesome.
Finally, if someone has bought from you, you might want to thank them and then show offers, discounts and products they might be interested in for the future.
We love the ads from Calm which give you a hint of what’s inside the app and shows the user by watching the video the usefulness of their app:
- Make sure you don’t forget the context of your retargeting ad based on the app event
- Make sure you push people to the next step in your funnel
- Make sure you show the benefits of your app while incentivizing people to follow through
10. Retargeting people who engaged with your Facebook or Instagram page
You can retarget people who took any action on your Facebook or Instagram page. This is really useful to know because if you have an ad that has a lot of engagements but doesn’t bring sales, you could keep it because it increases your Facebook engaged audience.
You can create an audience of people who took any of the actions listed below:
- Anyone who engaged with your page (this takes inputs all the audience below in one)
- Anyone who visited your page
- People who engaged with any post or ad
- People who clicked on any call-to-action button
- People who sent a message to your page
- People who saved your page or any post
Now, it’s hard to quantify which audience has the most intent, but we recommend trying them all.
Why it works so well?
It works well because building an audience of people who engaged on Instagram and Facebook is easy to build. Gathering likes isn’t as hard as gathering website visits or purchases, so this audience might be useful earlier on.
What should you do when retargeting people who engaged with your Facebook or Instagram page?
This audience has shown an interest in your content but not necessarily in your products or service. Your goal should be to show more content to push them to want to know more about what your company does.
Retargeting those people with content you create on a regular basis might be a really good idea to lure them in to know more about what your company does and if it’s something that interests them.
This ad from Neil Patel is a good example of an ad that brings people to want to read your content and know more.
- Make sure you test all the different audiences Facebook & Instagram allows you to create
- Advertise with content to bring people to want to know more about your product
- Take the time to write a compelling retargeting ad that draws people in
11. Retargeting with dynamic product ads
Retargeting with dynamic product ads definitely relates mostly to eCommerce store owners.
Essentially, if someone saw X product on your website then they would see a carousel ad with the same product on Facebook.
What you have to do is go in your “catalogues” which should look like this and you guessed it, you have to click the create catalogue button.
After that, you need to select the type of business you are running. For the time being, we will focus on eCommerce since it’ll be the majority of you, but the other options such as Travel, Property & Auto are insanely useful to run ads.
You could essentially retarget someone who has checked a specific car, property or flight to a certain destination.
After clicking eCommerce, you should see two options:
- Upload product info
- Connect to an eCommerce platform
For now, we will select entering the product info manually, but platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce usually have an integration that does the work for you.
You can name your catalogue however you want, and then you’ll be prompt to your actual catalogue dashboard.
There, you will be able to add products under the “product” tab and group products together under the “product set” tab.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to create custom conversions based on products or product sets in the tabs below.
Why it works so well?
It works well because these audiences see what they like on Facebook. You have way more chances of converting someone interested in a flight to Mexico with deals in Mexico, then flights to Europe.
What should you do when retargeting people with dynamic product ads?
There are quite a few options here, so if you want to dive deeper, take a look at Adespresso’s article on the subject.
Here are a few audience ideas:
- People who viewed your product but didn’t add to cart in the last 7, 14 or 28 days
- People who added to cart but didn’t buy in the last 7, 14 or 28 days
- People who initiated checkout but didn’t buy in the last 7, 14 or 28 days
- People who bought from you in the last 7, 14 or 28 days
For the first 3 audiences, you should try to show to people products within the category they were looking at or the same product they saw. Also, you might want to wait until the third audience to offer people discounts. Although you want to push these people to be customers, you don’t want to devalue your brand in the process.
Here’s an example of a dynamic carousel ad from MVMT you could show to people who initiated checkout but didn’t buy in the last 7, 14 or 28 days.
For the last one, we recommend trying an upsell, selling them a more expensive complementary product, or a cross-sell where you propose to them a product from another category.
Here’s an example of a retargeting cross-sell single image ad from “Blenders Eyewear”.
As for the format, you can choose between three options carrousel, single image/video or collection. We recommend testing all these options as they don’t require much effort in the design since Facebook uploads dynamically your product based on what would work best.
- Make sure you segment your audiences
- The more recent your audience, the higher chance they have of converting
- Do not give discounts too early to not devalue your brand
- Try all types of ad formats to see which one works the best at every stage
10 Extra Golden Nuggets For Facebook Retargeting
#1 – Don’t over segment your retargeting audiences
If you segment your audiences from the beginning, you’ll end up with a tiny fragments of audiences where Facebook will spend $10 and have reached your audience 50 times each.
When you create an audience, make sure it has at least 500 people in it, otherwise, your results will greatly suffer and you’ll end up overspending.
When starting out, we recommend grouping all your website visits together and the people who engaged with your Facebook & Instagram page as two separate audiences. Take your time before you start segmenting with things like the past 7 days, people who visited my blog and service page, and so on.
#2 – The frequency myth
It’s not true that you should keep your frequency under a certain ratio. We’ve had clients get amazing results with a frequency of 12 and others with a frequency of 2. It really depends.
For those who don’t know, frequency is the amount of time one person in your audience sees your ad. The only important metric you should look at is if your quality score is high and you are still getting quality results.
The conclusion? Frequency doesn’t always matter. Just make sure you alternate your ad creatives and have a time limit in your audience, say 14 days. By adding a time limit, people who have seen your ads for the past 14 days but didn’t engage with it will stop seeing it.
#3 – Retargeting isn’t easier
A lot of people think they found the holy grail when they start retargeting. You might be surprised at the results you will get if you haven’t used any retargeting in the past.
Don’t forget the number of creatives and tests you should make in your retargeting campaigns should be bigger than the ones you make to target cold audiences. Most marketers do the opposite and that’s a huge mistake.
#4 – Budgeting to keep results
It’s important not to spend too much on your retargeting. What usually happens is that people end up seeing your ads too often (frequency) and it rubs many people the wrong way. This means, pace your budget, you don’t need to overspend and if you are in a business that operates all year long, don’t push your luck.
#5 – Creative dying out
If your ad creative is dying out and you don’t know what to do, you already made a mistake. You need to constantly be testing new ad creatives because Facebook retargeting ads that worked in 2015 probably look like crap today.
It’s key to always rotate 2-3 ad creatives inside your retargeting campaign to prevent running out of performing ad creative. You can create these ads with Facebook marketing tools such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or Premiere.
We created a feed with all the Facebook updates + insights every month if you want.
#6 – Optimizing your retargeting
If you start seeing dropping results, don’t be ashamed to turn off the underperforming ad sets and only keep the best performing audiences and ad creatives. It could also happen that your entire retargeting campaign starts performing like crap. Don’t be afraid to turn it off, I’ll explain more on why it happens at number 9.
#7 – Choosing a placement
We always recommend testing all placements. Back in 2016, while everyone was recommending against the “right-hand side” placement on Facebook, I was getting the best results ever.
Once you have tested all placements and you see a placement performing way better than the others, you might want to focus on this one. One word of advice, keeping all placements and letting Facebook optimize might also be a good strategy.
#8 – Too many strategies to try
If you feel stuck where you should start, then you are thinking about this the wrong way. All strategies should work if done well and used within context, testing new creatives will just help you get better results.
You should pick the strategy that you feel relates the most to your business and add new ones you feel fit with your business.
#9 – Why am I getting bad results no matter what?
This is a big one. Remember, Facebook retargeting is about remarketing to an audience and, unless your creative is really bad, you might just have bad website visitors. Not all website visitors are created equal and if most of your audience doesn’t actually care about your product, your retargeting audience might be bad.
This is a big problem and it’s why we advise against building your audiences on “viral” videos that attract a lot of random people who have no interest in your company. It’s better to have a less performing ad that clearly shows what your brand does but builds an audience of actual potential customers.
#10 – Value over promotion
We’ve gotten our best results not from promoting & giving away insane discounts and deals but by giving value to people. Giving free guides, helpful information, saying thank you, showing products in a non-salesy way, are all amazing ways of doing that.
If your results are bad, I bet you are not focusing on scratching people’s back but rather over-promoting to get sales fast.
What truly matters with retargeting?
When it comes to retarget, it’s not hard to get better results than normal Facebook ads. The difficulty comes when you want to maximize your results. You might be getting a return of 3x your investment but could get 10x and you don’t know until an expert comes in.
We hope this guide takes you closer to being an expert although there are many more facets to Facebook retargeting, this is definitely one that should level up your skills and results.
The recipe for success is testing & knowing when to use the different options lying in front of you.