Getting the Most out of Facebook Retargeting

Finding it difficult to get a return from bringing new users to your site? Wondering how you can re-engage all those people that you paid to bring to your site, but who dropped off just before converting? This is where retargeting comes in.

Retargeting refers to the act of showing ads to people who've already engaged with your brand in some way. This could be showing ads to people who've liked your posts, visited your page, or even started the conversion process (e.g. adding items to their cart, to use a retail example).

Because retargeting involves showing ads to users who've already exhibited intent or affinity for your brand, it often brings much higher returns than showing ads to new users (what advertisers call prospecting).

But just because retargeting is profitable doesn't mean it's easy, and just because you might already be doing well with retargeting doesn't mean you can't be doing it better. In this guide we're going to look at how the top advertisers approach retargeting.

Look at The Full Funnel

When was the last time you decided to buy something online the moment you saw it? For most of us this is difficult to recall. This is because we rarely make impulsive decisions or purchases. Most online purchases we'll think over for hours, days, even weeks.

In advertising, we use the term funnel to refer to the steps that someone takes before completing a conversion. Depending on the brand, this might involve watching some of their Facebook videos, visiting their site, going back to research it more, before finally deciding we want what they have to offer us.

In order to have an effective retargeting strategy, it's important to understand your funnel—all the steps that someone could take before deciding to convert on your site. Once you know all the possible steps that someone could take, you can start to build retargeting audiences off the back of this.

On Facebook, a typical funnel might look something like this:

Let's go through each stage of this funnel, and look at how we can create audiences that correspond to users who've reached this stage. Once we've done this, we'll look at how we can build campaigns which target each stage of the funnel.

Page Engagers

Page engagers are people who've interacted with your Facebook page in any way. They could be people who've liked your ads, clicked on your page logo or left a comment. These people are right at the beginning of your funnel because they've had some interaction with your brand, but haven't really signalled any significant intent.

We can target them quite easily on Facebook Ads by going into the audience library, and clicking Create Audience then Custom Audience. This will bring up the custom audience screen, where we're going to choose to build an audience based on our Facebook page.

We're going to make sure that:

Once you've done all this, you can click create, and your audience will start populating!

Video Viewers

If you have any videos on your Facebook page, or you're running ads which contain videos, a good marker of customer intent can be whether they've watched your videos.

You can create audiences of video viewers easily through the audience library. Simply click Create Audience then Custom Audience, and select Video as your audience source.

On the screen that appears you'll want to:

Bang. That's your video viewers audience done.

Site Visitors

People who've visited your site are definitely interested in what you have to say. Visiting a site is a strong intent signal, and it tells us that these users are in the consideration phase for your product.

Because site visitors are such a crucial audience for retargeting, we're actually going to split them into two separate audiences depending on how they've interacted with the site.

Audience 1: All Site Visitors

First, we're going to create a catch-all audience for anyone who has visited your site. For this, go to the audience library and click Create Audience then Custom Audience, and choose Website Traffic as your audience source.

When the audience creation page appears, you'll want to:

Audience 2: Top 10% Site Visitors

We're now going to create a more specific version of the same audience. We'll be putting the top 10% of site visitors, ranked by time spent on site, into this audience. People who've spent longer on your site are likely to be further down the funnel, and thus more likely to be high-intent. Splitting them out like this allows us to focus our advertising on them more.

As before, we'll go to the audience library, click Create Audience then Custom Audience, and choose Website Traffic as our audience source.

This time, we'll:

Voila. Click Create Audience, and you now have two website visitor audiences. One is a catch-all for anyone that's been on your site, and the other is a more targeted one which contains only people that have spent serious time on your site.

Micro Converters

The last audience we're going to create will be full of micro converters. A micro conversion is one that happens one the way to your full conversion. If your full conversion is a purchase for example, then your micro conversions will be things like adding items to the cart, or initiating the checkout procedure.

In order to track micro conversions, you'll need to have them set up for your Facebook pixel. I'd recommend checking out my guide on the Facebook pixel, and in particular looking at how to set up event-based goals to track things like button presses.

Provided you have tracking set up for your micro conversions, you can head on over to the audience library for the last time. Click Create Audience then Custom Audience, and choose Website Traffic as the audience source. You'll want to:

Building The Retargeting Campaign

Now that we've built all the audiences we need, we're going to start building our retargeting campaign. We're going to begin by going to Ads Manager, and creating a campaign using quick creation. Your campaign should look like this:

Note that we've called our first ad set Micro Converters (we'll duplicate it later to create the others), and we've chosen to skip creating ads for now.

Once you've clicked Save to Draft, you'll see this appear in your Ads Manager. Click on the campaign to take you to ad set level, and you should see your single ad set, Micro Converters.

Before we go any further, we're going to click edit below the ad set, and do some quick optimisations. This will include:

  1. Adding the relevant conversion event at the top. This will be purchase, lead, or whatever else it is that you're hoping to drive volume of.
  2. Changing the location targeting to whichever locations you serve.

With this out of the way, we can scroll down to the custom audience section, and choose Micro Converters | 30D as our audience:

And with that, our first ad set is ready!

We're going to exit the ad set editing screen, and click the duplicate button below the ad set name:

We've got four more ad sets to create, so we're going to duplicate this ad set 4 times in the screen that appears.

Once you've clicked Duplicate, you'll see four new ad sets titled Micro Converters — copy. Select any one of these, and click on edit. Change its name to Website Visitors Top 10%

If we go down to the custom audiences section again, we'll see that this new ad set has the same audience applied, Micro Converters | 30D. What we're going to do is click on the arrow next to the audience name, and then exclude this audience. You'll see that the audience moves down into a new box (for audiences that are excluded) and the box at the top (for audiences we're targeting) is left empty.

Click on the box at the top, and select the next audience above in our funnel, Website Visitors Top 10%| 30D. Your targeting should look like this:

What we've done here, is we've created an ad set which targets the top 10% of website visitors (ranked by time spent on site) but excludes people who've completed any micro conversion. Excluding micro converters is important to ensure that this ad set doesn't compete with the one we created earlier.

What we'll do next is we'll go through each of the remaining duplicates, and apply the same procedure. We'll:

  1. Rename it to the step before in the funnel (so Website Visitors for our next ad set).
  2. Exclude all of the audiences which we've already targeted, and select the audience that we want to target for that ad set.

Your targeting for each ad set should end up looking like this:

The benefit of this structure is that it ensures no competition between ad sets, and it lets you view performance for people at each stage of your funnel.

Once you've finished, your ad sets should look something like this:

If we were to draw out the targeting that we've created on a Venn diagram, it would look something like this:

One thing to bear in mind though is that your Video Viewers ad set, for example, is only targeting people who've viewed videos and no more. As soon as they visit your site, they'll be targeted by one of your Website Visitor ad sets.

This campaign structure means you can efficiently channel your spend towards the most efficient retargeting audiences, and push users along into the highest-intent audiences.

With your campaign and ad sets all set up, the only thing left to do is add your ads in, and you're ready to go! Check out my guide here if you're unsure on how to add ads.

Once You're Live

Once your ads are live, there are a couple of things to keep an eye on.

Your ads

If you're running multiple ads per ad set, take a look at how they're performing. Don't just look at an aggregate level though, look at each stage of the funnel, and see if people prefer different ads based on how far down your funnel they are.

Analysing ads in this way can throw up interesting insights on what sort of text and creatives people find most engaging when they've already engaged with your brand.

Your ad sets

If you set up your campaign with campaign budget optimisation, check how much spend each ad set is getting. Are all of them getting a roughly equal share of the spend?

If any audiences aren't getting enough spend, consider grouping them with other ad sets that sit next to them in the funnel and that have similar performance. For example, if your video viewers audience isn't getting much spend, consider:

  1. Pausing the Video Viewers ad set.
  2. Adding the Video Viewers | 30D audience to your Page Engagers ad set (and removing it from the excluded audiences).
  3. Renaming the Page Engagers ad set to Page Engagers + Video Viewers.

The benefit of this is that it'll make life much easier for Facebook's optimisation algorithms. These work at an ad set level, and need a certain amount of volume to learn from. By grouping together audiences into single ad sets, you can help Facebook's algorithms learn more about your users, and show your ads more effectively.

To wrap up

Keep checking in on your ad sets as we've outlined above, and you'll have a flying retargeting campaign in no time. Don't forget to ask yourself every now and then whether you can segment your funnel more.

Maybe you've added more steps to your conversion flow, and you should target people at all of these steps with different ad sets? Maybe you've launched a load of great video ads recently, and it's time to try targeting video viewers again? Stay on top of your customer journey, and this will pay off in your retargeting campaigns.

Don't just stop at retargeting

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