Facebook Retargeting Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide

4 min read


Not everyone who lands on your site will buy from you. Most people stumble on your store page, look around, and close the tab. You know this already as a business owner, and it must be frustrating. But with Facebook retargeting, you can change that completely.

By the time you finish reading, you will know what Facebook retargeting is, how it actually works, and how to create a successful retargeting campaign that will dramatically increase your returns.

What is retargeting?

Before we delve deeper into Facebook retargeting, let’s step back and understand retargeting is. Here’s an easy definition to remember.

Retargeting is marketing to people after they have visited your site, based on the actions they perform when they are on your site.

Now that’s out of the way, here’s an example of how Facebook retargeting works.

You’re browsing through a store that sells summer dresses. You look around their catalog and open a few tabs to browse through. Not only that, you’ve even added two dresses to your shopping cart. And you’ve gotten so far as to keying in your shipping address and your payment information.

But then, you close the tab — you say to yourself you’ll buy it later. Then, you forget about it altogether for the rest of the day.

The next day, though, you start seeing ads everywhere on Facebook showing you the dresses you wanted to buy. First, on your News Feed. Then, in the right-hand column. Then, in your Messenger app. This goes on for another week. By the end of it, you go back to the store and complete your purchase.

This is retargeting.

Why is Facebook retargeting important?

Facebook retargeting has forever altered the digital advertising landscape.  Here are three key reasons:

  • Firstly, it gives you more opportunities to deliver ads to the people who already know about you and have shown interest in what you sell.

  • Secondly, you are forced to focus on your potential customers in the place that they spend time in the most (e.g. the News Feed) so you can remind them you have something that they want. 

  • Thirdly, it shows you which stage your potential customers are in the buying cycle. Then, you will know what to highlight (and what to exclude) in the ads you deliver to them.

facebook retargeting and the buying cycle

We all like to think what we sell is amazing, and that every person who comes in contact with us will follow a straightforward path to purchase. But that’s rarely the case. If ever.

Before someone decides to buy your product, they need to feel like they know your business first before they give their hard-earned money in exchange. Generally, people prefer to do their research first before making a decision. Also, they might even come back to your website a few times and still not decide.

Ultimately, the goal of advertising is to increase sales. Period. The key question is figuring out who is most likely going to buy from you — they will be the best people to advertise to. And Facebook retargeting will help you find that out.

How does Facebook retargeting work?

Facebook gives you the power to break down your retargeting ads based on extremely specific demographic and behavioral data on your customers.

Facebook allows you target your customers by the usual things, like age, gender, and location. After that, you can create very detailed retargeting ads based on criteria like:

  • When did people visit your website (1 day ago? 1 week? 30 days? 90 days?)

  • What other pages did they look at

  • Whether they’ve liked your Facebook Page

  • What products did they add to their cart (and abandoned)

  • What products did purchase (and if they purchased again)

To retarget your ads to the right people on Facebook, you will first need to use the Facebook Pixel.

The Pixel is a tool that helps to track all your website visitors and conversions. This allows you to create Custom Audiences, which are segments of people who have already interacted with you through your ads or on your website.

Without the Pixel, you can’t create Custom Audiences. Without Custom Audiences, you can’t do Facebook retargeting. But don’t worry: we’ve written a detailed guide on how to set up the Pixel here.

6 tips on running a successful Facebook retargeting campaign

Here are some things we think you could do for your first try.

Target your most recent visitors

retargeting - recent visitor

No one likes to see the same ads forever. If someone comes to your website and doesn’t buy from you, that doesn’t mean you should put retarget your ads to them for the next year. Make use of Facebook’s limits and focus on the people who have just visited your website.

Break down your audience

Custom Audience

Don’t target everyone who visits your website with the same ads. The more traffic you drive to your website, the more you have to separate your audience into different segments. For example, you should run an ad to people who reach the checkout page that is different from your other ads.

Exclude your past purchasers

retargeting - exclude past purchaser

Retargeting is about generating more sales and increasing conversions from people who haven’t converted. People who have already purchased something from your website on their visit do not necessarily need to be retargeted, as they’ve already performed the action you desired.

Target your past purchasers

retargeting - past purchased

On the other hand, your past purchasers are more likely to be repeat customers. You can run a retargeting ad that is specifically focused on them. For example, you can send a thank-you email with a video after they’ve completed the purchase.

Focus on people who abandoned their carts

retargeting - abandoned cart

People who are on the checkout process but don’t complete the purchase are perfect for retargeting. For example send them a personalized email with an add-on, like a 15% discount. This could push them over the line.

Connect with your fans, specifically your viewers

retargeting - video view

If you post product videos on your Facebook page, this tip is for you. Facebook collects the data on how much of the video do people complete watching, between 25% to 95%. Those who have watched almost all of the videos would have a higher level of interest — why not remind them of who you are and what you sell with a retargeting ad?

Rounding off

Facebook retargeting is one of the easiest ways for any new business to reach out to a wider audience — specifically an audience that already knows about your brand and expressed interest in your product. It is easier to sell what you make to people who already know about you than to complete strangers.

Facebook has made it easy for you to gather and use the data on how your customers engage with you, so you can deliver the ads that matter, to the people who matter the most.

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