Social Media

11 Facebook Retargeting Tips For Converting Warm Leads

Over half of the marketers we surveyed use website traffic segments to retarget on Facebook. Here are seven other options, plus a handful of tips to maximize results.

Elise Dopson Elise Dopson on June 11, 2019 (last modified on June 17, 2019) • 19 minute read

Got a group of people who’ve engaged with your brand but not yet purchased? Facebook retargeting ads could be the nudge they need–especially when the average Facebook user clicks on eight ads per month.

There’s no doubt that retargeting people–whether customers, prospects, or website visitors–via Facebook campaigns is one of the most powerful forms of advertising.

But, there are a lot of ways to retarget people of interest to your brand.

…Where do you start?

We asked over 30 experts who run Facebook campaigns exactly that. From selecting your audience to maximizing results, here’s what they said.

*Editor’s note: View your most important Facebook metrics all in one place with our Facebook Ads Campaign dashboard. You’ll be able to see account-wide KPIs (such as total impressions and amount spent), along with campaign and ad breakdown overviews:

facebook ads dasboard

What is Facebook retargeting?

Simply put, Facebook retargeting allows you to target specific people with your ad campaigns based on the engagement they’ve already had with your brand online.

For example, you can retarget people that have already visited your website. Or, you can get even more specific and target only visitors of your pricing page.

In addition to website traffic, you can also run Facebook retargeting campaigns based on:

  • Customer file: An example of this would be an email list of blog subscribers. You can use this email list and retarget these subscribers on Facebook.
  • App activity: Retarget people who have downloaded your app or took specific actions within your app.
  • Offline activity: Create a list of people based on offline interactions they’ve had with your brand, i.e. phone calls, events, etc.
  • Engagement: Create a retargeting list based on people that have engaged with your brand on Facebook or Instagram.

Who should I be retargeting?

It’s all well and good to create a remarketing campaign based on everyone who’s visited your website. But unfortunately, not all of those people will be interested in buying from you.

You need to prioritize people who are most likely to convert through a retargeted ad.

According to to our experts, those are:

Website visitors within the past 30 days

Our survey discovered segments of website visitors were the most popular type of custom audience:

PHLEARN‘s Seth Kravitz retargets the same group of people: “My biggest tip for maximum conversions on a retargeting campaign for Facebook is to use a website traffic retargeting audience with a short time window, such as three days, and then select Unique Daily Reach as the optimization for ad set.”

“What this allows you to do is to reach up to 100% of the people who visited your target URL in the last three days, while they are still in the buying mindstate and remember your brand.”

Kravitz continues: “Restricting your reach to just Conversion or Value based optimization and then retargeting people up to 30-60 days can be pointless as your not reaching everyone who could possibly convert and your reaching people well after they have most likely forgotten your brand.”

Andrew Clark’s team at Duckpin retarget website visitors “as we understand that our clients’ products often require longer lead time and research before converting because of a high price tag.”

Once Kelly Andersen’s team at Wealth Continuum Group have made a list of people who’ve visited their website, they exclude people who have already made a purchase “predominately because our audience went there for a reason but they also did not convert for a reason.”

“This is where you connect the dots and make the retargeting campaign more relevant this time around and try to answer any questions that might have been misleading them,” Andersen explains.

…with sessions longer than 30 seconds

Gary Ennis of NSDesign Ltd disagrees with targeting all website visitors “because you’ll possibly have 1000’s in that list who couldn’t care less about your business. They stumbled across your site [by] accident. They clicked a link from Google and immediately hit “back”, they thought you were someone else, did something you don’t, or they just didn’t like the look of you!”

Ennis advises to “go and look at your bounce rate in your analytics, that big number of people who visited your site and immediately left (maybe around 60 or 70%?). That’s the percentage of people who you’ll be wasting money on, when you re-target “all website visitors” on Facebook.”

As Jonathan Aufray explains, “if someone stayed 3 seconds on our website or blog, this visitor is probably not really interested by what we offer.”

That’s why the team at Growth Hackers “do NOT retarget all our website visitors. […] We custom code the Facebook pixel in order to only retarget people who spent at least 30 seconds on our website. This allows us to reduce our cost per acquisition and only re-target more relevant people.”

Visited a contact page, but not a conversion page

Facebook allows you to create a Custom Audience of people who’ve viewed one page, but not another.

custom audiences for facebook retargeting

Schutt Media‘s Andrew Schutt advises that you “create a custom audience that hit your Contact or Opt-in page, that didn’t hit the Thank You or Conversion page.”

“By targeting such a specific custom audience, you can speak directly to their personal situation based on their past experience with your site.”

Eric Melillo’s team at COFORGE also do this by “retarget[ing] visitors of specific web pages”–a tactic that “allows us to segment our retargeting audience by the topic of the web page visited.”

In turn, Melillo adds that they can “show the visitor a more compelling and relevant ad.”

Performance Marketers‘ Sebastien Godin puts that into practice for an eCommerce website: “Segment based on product category visited. Show ads about products from category 1 to users who viewed category 1 on the website. This will allow you to increase relevance of each ad.”

Previous customers

You’ve probably already got a list that contains key information about your previous customers.

Best Company‘s McCall Robison advises that you “create custom audiences for each of your retargeting campaigns—one specifically would be to target users that haven’t purchased from or engaged with your site for a set amount of time.”

“For example, you could create an entire Facebook retargeting campaign for the users that haven’t bought from you in six months. You can easily find this audience by going through past customers as well as filtering your email list of people who haven’t opened your recent emails,” Robison explains.

“You can use this information to create catchier headlines such as “You deserve a little something extra!” With this campaign, you could even give these potential repeat buyers coupon codes to draw them in and make conversion more likely.”

Lookalike audiences

Once you’ve uploaded a customer list to Facebook, their algorithm will find Facebook profiles of the people you plan to target.

A Lookalike audience is a separate group of people who haven’t heard of your business, but match the qualities of people on your customer list.

As Pedro Campos of PedroConverts explains: “If you already have a customer base, why would you go solely after cold traffic when you can create lookalikes of your most valuable customers?”

“Instead of going after leads, you’re now attracting potential buyers.”

Abandoned cart

Almost 70% of all online shopping carts are abandoned.

“In my experience, abandoned cart retargeting is incredibly effective,” writes Jesse Perreault of Car Loans Canada. “The reality is the user has shown significant intent to buy your product/service.”

Perreault continues: “In marketing, we discuss TOFU, MOFU & BOFU (top, middle & bottom). A large portion of marketing costs is to get the user to the bottom of the funnel. This means you can save a significant amount of money to convert users as individuals who abandoned cart are already at the bottom of the funnel.”

Taylor Kincaid of Online Optimism also adds that “these viewers showed a high level of interest in your product and are likely to follow through with their purchase if their hesitations are addressed, and the product they wanted is continually placed in front of them.”

…”especially if you are able to mitigate the cause of their abandonment (e.g. offer free shipping),” as David Hamilton of Oppilo Marketing notes.

Abstrakt‘s Lauren Irwin notes that the people who’ve abandoned their online cart “can be split out by product value through the catalogue, so you’re only retargeting to those that are interested in higher value items to combat CPC when budgets are low.”

“Testing against 1-day windows and 7-day windows to find the best opening for customers is also very effective alongside this type of campaign,” Irwin adds.

National Positions‘ Matt Erickson also explains that “cart abandonment retargeting can be very effective – especially if it is targeted at mobile cart abandoners. If the user started the purchase process on mobile they may be more likely to go straight from their Facebook or Instagram feed to your e-commerce site.”

Summarizing, Bright Oak‘s Nery Solano says: “They have shown the highest level of interest in your product and you can show them that exact product along with suggestions of other similar products. What could be better then that?!”

Video viewers

Are you using videos in standard Facebook campaigns?

“A simple but effective custom audience to retarget that is often overlooked is a video view audience that you keep updated as new videos are added,” AdEspresso‘s Paul Fairbrother explains.

“I use a 10 second video view audience with a 3 day window. The audience starts with the recently used videos being included, then it can be edited daily to add any new videos that have been posted to the Facebook page or used in Facebook ads.”

Email subscribers

“If you have enough subscribers, and good enough click-through rates, you can target these contacts that have clicked links from your email campaigns,” says Nathan Sebastian of GoodFirms.

“These people are already way down the funnel, and you have their emails to directly target them on Facebook, saving your much [needed] budget.”

Now we’re clear on the types of audience you can retarget, let’s move onto the techniques our experts use to convert them.

1. Install the Facebook Pixel correctly

The Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code added to your website that tracks on-site behaviors, and syncs them with your Facebook Ads Manager.

“Without the Facebook Pixel, you can’t track your Facebook engagement as well as who’s visiting your website and how they’re surfing through,” explains GoodFirms‘ Nathan Sebastian.

“You need the Facebook Pixel to track precise actions and events that visitors make on your website, similar to Sign-Up, Subscribe, Add to Cart, Add to Wish-list, Purchase Complete, Searched a Keyword, and so on.”

Sebastian continues: “What’s more, it’s exceptionally simple to do. While creating the pixel select the action/metrics you wish to track and you get the modified code to match your values.”

You can install the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome extension for more help with this on your website.

facebook pixel helper for retargeting

2. Work backwards from the end of your funnel

You want your Facebook remarketing campaigns to have a superb ROI, right? That’s why David Hamilton of Oppilo Marketing thinks you should “start with the end of the purchase funnel and work backwards.”

“For instance, your first campaign would be abandoned carts. Once you are producing profitable returns for abandoned carts, then move to product page. Then maybe home page, etc.”

Not only does this help prioritize your campaigns, but you’re actively retargeting the top 10% of customers who are most likely to convert.

“Start with post-conversion retargeting and work your way up the funnel, with segments for checkout abandoners, cart abandoners, category browsers, and homepage entries,” writes Nathan Griffin of O’Malley Real Estate.

Griffin advises against treating “all site visitors the same”–because “the deeper they browse into your site the higher the response rate.”

3. Don’t go with the most obvious goal

When you’re creating a new Facebook campaign, you’ll be given the choice to optimize the campaign for a specific goal, such as:

  • Conversions
  • Link clicks
  • Impressions

However, Jess Riches of Enriches Business thinks you shouldn’t go for the most obvious goal: “For example, just because you are retargeting customers who added to cart but did not purchase, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to optimise your campaign for purchases. You could retarget with an optimisation goal of add to cart again.”

“Facebook uses the signals it picks up on users to determine if an ad is optimised to be shown to them or not,” Riches continues.

“Whilst it may have signals that indicate a customer is likely to interact with products on a website (such as view content or add to wishlist) it may not have collected signals that indicate they may buy.”

“You might be targeting a huge pool of people who have visited your site and be optimised for purchase. But by doing so, you may risk cutting down your retargetable audience – should Facebook not have the signals it needs to determine they are likely to complete the action you want.”

Riches add that “this cam shrink an audience, increase your frequency and cause high CPMs and CPAs.”

*Editor’s note: Unsure which campaigns the majority of your leads are coming from? Grab our Facebook Ads Purchase & Leads Breakdown dashboard to calculate important metrics that can otherwise be overlooked, such as cost per lead.

Facebook Ads Purchase & Leads Breakdown

4. Give personalized offers to retargeted audiences

When running remarketing campaigns, Car Loans Canada‘s Jesse Perreault thinks you should “retarget the user intent” because “blanketed retargeting is much less effective.”

“Many people who use retargeting use “All visitors” and hit them with generic product/service offers. Retargeting really becomes valuable when a marketer gets more granular than this.”

Perreault continues: “If someone is looking at your pricing page for a long time but doesn’t convert then hit them with a BIG incentive. It’s much different from hitting them with ads saying “We are Canada’s oldest drywall company” – they likely know this and don’t care, this should be a sale with an urgency factor attached.”

“People are savvy and know that if they abandon a cart or sign up for a newsletter instead of purchasing, a special offer is likely coming their way,” writes Tracy Iseminger of Crimson Vine Marketing.

“By running an offer remarketing campaign with a discount code, often consumers will return and complete the purchase.”

Pedro Campos of PedroConverts agrees, and thinks “the most important part is really understanding what types of offers your prospects are interested in. Knowing this key price of information allows you to show ads with relevant offers that move them to the next step of the funnel.”

“For example, it wouldn’t make sense to retarget people that saw a blog post about vegan recipes with an offer, in this case, an ebook, showing them how to prepare quick gluten-free recipes.”

“If you know they are interested in vegan type food, give them what they want. Retarget those folks and offer them an e-book with vegan recipes. Is that simple,” Campos summarizes.

5. Target based on recency

When defining a custom audience, WebSavvy‘s Trevor Henselwood thinks you should look at recency–the amount of time between someone visiting your website and displaying a retargeted ad.

According to Henselwood, this metric is crucial because “the longer the time since a site visit the higher the chance that person has forgotten all that stuff. The higher chance the “care-factor” hits zero.”

However, “the more recently somebody has been on your site, the more they’ll recall about your offer, your brand, your products. And maybe most importantly – how much they wanted it.”

6. Retarget based on purchasing category

Ascesis Media‘s Luke Conrad thinks “most people will fall into 4 purchasing categories:

  1. Routine response
  2. Limited decision making
  3. Extensive decision making
  4. Impulsive buying”

“There are multiple psychological variables that will influence the type of retargeting a consumer needs and segmenting prospects based on their behaviour into one of the four categories will direct your advertisement to meet the consumer’s requirement, triggering a buying response,” Conrad continues.

“For example, an impulsive buyer may need a discount incentive, whereas an extensive decision maker will require influencer reviews.”

Conrad thinks that “if you can work out how each prospect fits into those categories through utilizing facebooks audience, engagement and frequency parameters and segmented customer files, and match that with ultra-relevant adverts, landing pages and email automation that resonates with their purchasing requirements, you’re in for a killer retargeting campaign!”

7. Use scarcity in your ad copy

The copy you’re using in your Facebook ads is just as important as the audience you’re targeting–but the two need to match.

Lewis Kemp thinks you should “utilise urgency and scarcity” in your Facebook retargeting campaigns.

For that reason, “if someone has added a product to the cart and not converted,” the Lightbulb Media team “inform them that the product will be re-released and open to general purchase in the next “x” minutes.”

This tactic has been used by huge brands like Amazon and Booking.com purely because scarcity influences how we view a product.

In fact, one study found that using urgency in Facebook ads decreased CPCs and CPM–alluding that it’s more cost-effective to run scarcity-focused advertisements:

urgency in facebook ads - study

8. Tell your audience you’re retargeting them

“Many retargeting ads that I’ve seen are generic calls to action that don’t let the user know that they’re being retargeted,” explains Dan Christensen of Morningdove Marketing. “This is a mistake.”

“Whatever action the potential customer took needs to be mentioned,” for example:

  • “Hey, you left an item in your cart!”
  • “Come back to our site for a special deal”
  • “Since you left…”

Christensen adds that “there are thousands of catchy headlines, but segmenting audiences to get them intrigued (again) needs to be a top priority, one that will be dividends in the future.”

9. Adjust your call to action

The people you’re retargeting already know who you are; they’re not viewing your name in their News Feed for the first time.

For that reason, AKvertise‘s Akvile DeFazio thinks you should “adjust your call to action (CTA) since these people have not yet converted.”

“For example, if you work in ecommerce and were previously targeting cold audiences with a “Learn More” CTA button to get them into your funnel and now you want them to make a purchase, use a stronger CTA such as “Shop Now” to entice them to complete your ultimate desired action that results in a sale.”

10. Check saturation with ad frequency

“When running a retargeting campaign be aware of the frequency on your ad groups,” writes Steve Latronica of SL Development.

“Be careful not to oversaturate and overpay for the audience target. It’s always important to test your audiences against cost per lead, purchase or action so you know your ideal frequency.”

RJ Jacques of Big Sea explains: “Delivering your retargeting ad once a day to your target audience is a great approach to remarketing. All of the other delivery options can burn out your remarketing audience out too quickly, or generate lacklustre results.”

Jacques thinks hitting the maximum number of impressions “will burn your audience out due to high frequency, and Landing Page Views tends to generate a small response for the same daily budget.”

Living Online‘s Riana Young agrees: “It’s easy to frustrate, annoy, and creep potential customers out with poorly planned retargeting campaigns.”

“Ensure that you make use of frequency caps, so your ads are only seen a couple of times in the day or week, and that you exclude audiences that aren’t relevant (such as purchasers). You don’t want to waste ad spend or put your brand at risk by developing negative associations with poorly targeted ads.”

Alexandra Zelenko of DDI Development explains how optimizing for Daily Unique Reach helps combat that problem: “Facebook will show your ad to the maximum number of users in your target audience 1 time per day.”

“That’s why you will reach as many users of your target audience as possible without spamming. If you have a powerful lead list and want to build a custom audience, Daily Unique Reach is a good choice to re-target your audience.”

11. Exclude custom audiences from other remarketing campaigns

You might decide to run Facebook remarketing campaigns targeting these two groups of people:

  • Website visitors within the past 30 days
  • People who’ve abandoned their cart

But as Andrew Becks of301 Digital Media explains, one person could fit into both of those custom audiences: “One effective tip for running an effective Facebook retargeting campaign is to segment your audiences properly, and make sure to refresh data frequently.”

“For example: If you’re re-targeting prospective customers, be sure to remove anyone who makes a purchase or otherwise converts, otherwise you’ll find that you’re still paying to re-target people who have already completed the conversion action you’re seeking, which will drive up your overall costs and reduce return on ad spend.”

“If the product/service isn’t something you would buy multiples of in the time frame of your ad campaign, you’re not using your budget as effectively as possible if you aren’t excluding the people who’ve already converted,” adds Carma Levene of Carma The Social Chameleon.

Crediful‘s Chane Steiner agrees, and recommends to “always make sure to exclude people who convert. If a person who has already been converted into a customer still keeps seeing the same ads come up, it is likely to be off putting. This is an easy thing to set up and may save you some long term clients.”

You can do this by simply adding the Custom Audience into the “exclude” field when defining the audience targeting of a new campaign:

exclude custom audience on facebook

Final thoughts

The world of Facebook retargeting can be a minefield, as Jake Lane of NuBrakes Mobile Brake Repair explains: “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all custom audience. It really depends on your business and the type of engagement you’re seeking from the retargeting.”

However, by working through this list of potential audiences and tips, there’s no reason why Facebook retargeting couldn’t be the biggest driver of revenue for your business.

About the author
Elise Dopson
Elise Dopson Elise Dopson is a freelance B2B writer for SaaS and marketing companies. With a focus on data-driven ideas that truly provide value, she helps brands to get noticed online--and drive targeted website visitors that transform into raving fans.
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