Facebook Retargeting: The What, the Why. & the How

Facebook Retargeting: The What, the Why, & the How

Facebook Retargeting: What is it and how could it benefit your business?


Retargeting, sometimes referred to as ‘remarketing’, is an essential part of doing business online. It’s become the cornerstone of many e-commerce strategies and can provide a superb return on investment for businesses of all sizes when handled correctly, but what is it?

Whether you’re a high street retailer looking to sell more goods online, or a service provider looking to attract the right customers at the right time, you can benefit from retargeting.

If someone enters your store and shows interest in a product, but doesn’t make an immediate purchase, wouldn’t it be great to follow them around and give them reminders?

Perhaps even show them an offer or two?

This is essentially what retargeting does online, and it works exceptionally well.

When a customer visits your website, they’re ‘tagged’ with a pixel or cookie – a piece of code that is saved in their browser. This code then surfaces your ad on various websites around the web as the customer continues to browse, for days weeks or months depending on how you have things set up.

If a lead shows an interest in a small, inexpensive item, you might only want your ad to follow them for a day or two; however, if you’re selling an expensive considered purchase like a new bathroom, you might want your ad to follow them for longer while they make up their mind.

Which ads follow which leads is entirely up to you and the platform you choose to use.

Google Ads is one of the most popular, and allows you target specific ads to specific leads after they’ve clicked on a certain item.

Of course, you could just choose to fire the same ad out to everyone who visits your site, but a less tailored approach is likely to see less success.

So next time you’re browsing for a new set of headphones on Amazon and then start seeing the same pair advertised while you’re reading the news or browsing Facebook, you’ll know it isn’t a coincidence.

What’s different about Facebook Retargeting?

Once you grasp the fundamentals of retargeting/remarketing, the principle remains the same. While Google AdWords has a network spanning thousands of websites and is able to show your ads on all of them if you so choose, Facebook Retargeting stays within the confines of Facebook.

Don’t let that fool you though.  

As of 2017, Facebook has 32.5 million daily active users in the UK alone and for many people it’s their primary way to digest content.

That’s a bafflingly large audience.

Facebook likes to refer to their users as a ‘Custom Audience’ and the concept is very similar to that of AdWords.

Someone visits your website and clicks on a product, then for whatever reason they bounce without making a purchase. Later, when they’re browsing their Facebook feed, your advert will show up as they’re scrolling to remind them of what they’re missing.

It’s an excellent way to re-capture leads who you know are interested in what it is you’re offering (after all, why would they have been on your website in the first place?).

Mastering the Facebook Pixel

While Facebook Retargeting bears many similarities to AdWords, it has aces of its own too.  

Our exclusive Facebook Retargeting Cheatsheet is jam-packed full of useful advice for small/medium businesses looking to get ahead, but if you take one thing away from this article it should be an understanding of the Facebook Pixel (formerly known as the Custom Audience Pixel).

When you set up your account in the Business Manager application you’ll be able to organise your product catalogue, giving each product, service or page a unique identifier.

When a visitor accesses one of these they’ll be tagged with that identifier, and the corresponding advert will start following them.  

It doesn’t stop there, however.

The Facebook Pixel allows you create identifiers for where in the buyer journey your visitor currently is. For example, you could have three identifiers for the same product – one if a visitor has looked at it, one if they’ve clicked on it or chosen a product variant, and one if they’ve placed it in their shopping cart. You can then tailor adverts more suitably to your leads.

More on this in a moment.

Not only is the Facebook Pixel a clever way to retarget, it provides real-time conversion tracking and countless options for optimisation – you can even set up automatic bids depending on how much a conversion is worth to your business – something we at Leadfreak specialise in.

Don’t forget the ability to target ‘Lookalikes’

This article is about retargeting visitors to your website, but we’d be remiss not to mention the Facebook Pixel’s Lookalike feature.

Using this tool, you can create a ‘lookalike audience’ which will build a database of Facebook users that are similar to your website visitors.

In this way, Facebook retargeting can net you brand new customers based on data taken from your web traffic.  

For this to work, it’s worth noting that you need have tracked at least 100 conversions to have some data to go on, but the more the better.

Will Facebook Retargeting work for your customers?

We’ve already talked about its ability to help you connect with the right market, but what else is in it for your business?

Not only can it help you to increase conversions and sales, but it can also offer unparallelled access to a qualified target market that would be otherwise difficult to pinpoint.

This is true for all walks of business, whether you’re a simple online store with ambitious plans for growth or you provide a vital local service and want to target people geographically.  

The Facebook Pixel allows you to customise your ads based on time of day, days of the week or even keep them running around the clock. For example, if you’re a restaurant operating at usual hours but see natural upswings during weekends or holidays, you may decide to customise your campaign to surface ads in the build up to those times.

Targeting people who have visited your website at these key times with special offers may just swing a group booking your way.

It all comes down to buying cycles. If your buying cycles are short (low cost goods, lots of repeat purchases), you don’t want to fatigue your audience with endless ads, but if the cycles are long (high cost, considered purchases) it’s okay to be a little more aggressive in your remarketing efforts to remind them of your presence over time.

The same is true for limited time offers like Black Friday deals or January Sales.

The bottom line

Retargeting won’t give you sales on a plate, but it will help your retain leads that otherwise may shop elsewhere.

It’s very easy for people to window shop online, and many people bounce around several websites before making a purchase, depending on how much consideration they feel it’s worth. Through retargeting, your business can remain at the forefront of their mind as they’re browsing around, days, weeks and even months after the fact.  

What you’re aiming to do is make buying from you as easy as possible – where a lead might be less inclined to navigate back to your website to buy a pair of shoes they were looking at, if those shoes they were considering surface on Facebook at 10% off, they’re far more likely to make the leap.

In a nutshell, retargeting makes it easy for qualified leads to do business with you.

With the right tools and management in place, retargeting could help you increase sales and leverage your brand with an excellent return on investment.

What next?

Based on the success we have with retargeting with Facebook for many of our clients we would definitely recommend integrating it into your digital strategy.

Start to consider what you are going to give to your retargetted audience in the form of value to help them engage with your business. Is this a discount (ecommerce), is it a no obligation consult (professional services), or it could be a walkthrough guide?….

Ask yourself, what value can I deliver to my audience, who I know have already interacted with my business, to help convert them into leads or customers.


About the Author

Alex - Leadfreak

MD of Leadfreak, Alex Thackray likes to spend time speaking with clients, solving problems, and getting results. With a background in complex sales, B2B industries, and lecturing at Aston University, he enjoys the commercially focused creativity that Leadfreak brings.

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