Facebook retargeting campaigns are a must-have in every Facebook advertising strategy.


Imagine this scenario…

You’re advertising your product to a large group of people. But although they clicked on your ad and checked out product, they weren’t willing to make a purchase right away.

Now if you’re not running a retargeting campaign to bring those potential buyers back to your website, here’s what happens:

A competitor who’s more advanced in Facebook advertising will show their ads to your potential buyers and snap them away from right under your nose.

facebook retargeting campaigns

There go your customers – Image source

“Alright,” you say… “I get it. I’m in. How can set up a Facebook remarketing campaign?”

That’s exactly what this guide is for: to help you understand…

  • … why Facebook remarketing campaigns work
  • … how to set up your marketing funnel for remarketing
  • … how to use Facebook ads for efficient marketing
  • … how to set up Facebook retargeting pixel
  • … how to create Custom Audiences on Facebook
  • … and what are the best practices for Facebook retargeting campaigns

But in case you need some more convincing, here’s some additional proof.

Do remarketing campaigns really work?

Put briefly: they work 95% of the time.

And there’s plenty of proof that Facebook retamarketing ads can be highly effective.

An eMarketer study showed that 30% of consumers show a positive reaction to retargeted ads, while only 11% feel negative about retargeting campaigns.

Moreover, 58% of people surveyed said that they usually notice online ads for products they have previously checked out.

Remarketing ads get people’s attention – Image source

But there’s more to it…

A comScore study with ValueClick Media revealed that retargeting tactics generated the highest lift in trademark search behavior at 1,046%, compared to other targeting strategies.

remarketing ads statistics

Retargeting is also good for brand awareness – Image source

To give you more Facebook-related examples, here are some key takeaways from some campaigns I’ve worked on:

  • When promoting Aggregate blog’s Facebook posts to a warm audience vs. cold audience, our CPC for remarketing audience is usually 40% lower.
  • When we advertised an HR application to an audience that had already read about the app, the CPI (cost-per-install) was 32% lower compared to a cold audience.

Facebook ads are highly efficient and applicable in almost every industry.

But in order to get the best results, you’ll need to build a marketing funnel with different offers for each stage.

How to create a (re)marketing funnel?

Marketing funnel is a technique used by marketers for getting a better overview of different audiences they have.

As Johnathan Dane from KlientBoost put it: Some of your audience members are ice cubes while others are hot as lava.

When running marketing campaigns for the first time, you will reach people who know nothing about your brand (ice cubes). After a while, there will be a new group of people who are already slightly familiar with your product and offers. People who are ripe to buy from you are the hottest (lava).

how facebook remarketing works

You have several customer segments –Image source

Each of the stages in your sales funnel requires a different set of messages and remarketing campaigns.

You can add as many steps into your marketing funnel as you please.

Here’s an example you can use as a model.

Usually, having 3-5 funnel stages is enough – Image source

Let’s break down the stages in the traditional marketing funnel one by one.

Awareness – In the first stage of your advertising funnel, your Facebook campaign will be targeting people who have never heard of your product or service before. This is a regular ad campaign, not yet remarketing.

Prospects – Your first-stage Facebook retargeting campaign should be directed at people who have seen your ad or visited your website at least once.

Leads – This is an optional stage that includes people who have engaged with your website/posts/emails many times. You can but don’t necessarily need to set up a separate Facebook ad campaign for targeting this stage of the funnel.

Customers – In this funnel stage, you’re going to run a retargeting campaign that’s focused on engaging your existing customers. E.g. you could upsell or cross-sell something.

Promoters – This is also an optional stage that you can use to segment your brand’s fans and loyal users. From Facebook marketing perspective, you could advertise to them some special offers or promote news about your brand.

Ok, now that you’re aware of how to set up a marketing funnel for your Facebook retargeting ads, here’s what we’ll do:

  1. We’ll learn how to set up the Facebook retargeting pixel and create Custom Audiences.
  2. We’ll take a look at 8 efficient ad strategies that cover all the stages of your marketing funnel.

You can skip the first part if you already know how to set up Facebook remarketing campaigns, and go straight to the section with ideas and examples.

How to create a Facebook retargeting campaign?

To set up an ad campaign on Facebook, you need to know how the setup process works.

We’re not going to stop on it longer. But you can check out this guide on how to set up Facebook campaigns.

Assuming that you already have Business Manager and Facebook Ads Manager accounts set up, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Add the Facebook remarketing pixel on your website or app.
  2. Identify your Facebook campaign’s goal.
  3. Create a remarketing audience using Facebook Custom Audiences.
  4. Set up an advertising campaign in the Ads Manager.

After all is said and done, you can sit back and wait for the sales to come in. And, if you do everything correctly, the sales will follow.

facebook retargeting ads

Retargeting will help your sales reach the next level – Image source

Tip: To add a retargeting campaign, you need to create a new ad set with a Custom Audience. You can create new Facebook campaigns or add new ad sets into a current campaign.

We’ll also cover the setup process for remarketing audiences later in this article.

How to set up Facebook retargeting pixel?

Facebook pixel is a tool that helps to track all your website visitors and on-site conversions. Without the pixel, you can’t create any remarketing audiences.

Facebook pixel allows you to target your ad campaigns on the people who have previously visited your website or a specific landing page.

To set up a Facebook remarketing pixel, follow these steps:

1. Go to the Facebook Business Manager, and navigate the top-left menu to find the “Pixels” section.

Facebook retargeting pixel

Click on “Pixels”

2. Click on the green “Create a Pixel” button to set up your first pixel.

Create a new Pixel

Create a new Pixel

3. Name your Pixel and click “Next”.

4. Add the pixel code to your website. Usually, it’s easier to copy-paste the pixel code to your website’s header section, just above the tag.

Add Pixel's code to your website

Add Pixel’s code to your website

5. Verify that your pixel is working and recording on-site events.

If you want to learn even more about the Facebook pixel, here’s an in-depth guide I recently wrote for the AdEspresso blog.

After you’ve set up the pixel, Facebook will start tracking your website visitor data, and you can start targeting your website visitors.

Tip: Note that it may take a couple of days or even weeks until you have an audience big enough to create a Custom Audience.

According to Facebook, you need at least 20 people in your audience. In my experience, it’s better to have at least 1,000 people per target audience – otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time creating a campaign that only reaches a handful of people.

How to create Facebook retargeting audiences?

The next big question you’ll run into is “How to set up my audiences?

First of all, it’s important to know that all remarketing audiences for your Facebook campaigns are targeting Custom Audiences.

What is a Custom Audience?

It’s a Facebook audience that’s based on people’s engagement with your brand.

For example, your Custom Audiences could include people who…

  • … engaged with your Facebook Page, Facebook ads or Facebook posts
  • … visited your website in the past 30 days
  • … watched your videos on Facebook’s platform
  • … read one of your blog articles
  • … made a purchase on your website
  • … added sth to their shopping cart on your website
  • … signed up for a free trial on your website
  • … took a specific in-app action in your application

There are many more options.

facebook retargeting

You’ll have tons of different options – Image source

Are you already getting excited about all these low-hanging fruits?

Let’s see how you can set up all of these Custom Audiences from scratch.

How to create Facebook Custom Audiences?

To create new Facebook audiences, go to the Ads Manager and from the top-left menu, select “Audiences.”

create facebook retargeting audience

You can manage all your Facebook audience here

On the Audiences page, you can see all your existing target audiences and create new ones.

From the “Create Audience” drop-down menu, select “Custom Audience.”

Select "Create Audience"

Select “Create Audience”

Next, you will have plenty of different options for creating a Facebook retargeting audience.

There have recently been many Facebook updates that made new audience types available to all advertisers.

As of January 2018, you have the following options:

2018 Facebook ad audiences

Facebook audiences in 2018

You can create Facebook Custom Audiences based on:

Customer Files

Add a file with names and email addresses of your leads/customers that Facebook will match with their user base.

Retarget people based on emails, etc.

Retarget people based on emails, etc.

Website Traffic

That is the most widely-used option for Facebook retargeting campaigns. You can target…

  • … everyone who visited your website
  • … people who visited specific pages
  • … users that spent a specific amount of time on your website
Retarget people based on website visits

Retarget people based on website visits

App Activity

This Custom Audience is relevant for advertisers running Facebook Mobile App Install campaigns. You can target…

  • … the most active app users
  • … users who made in-app purchased
  • … people who have installed your app
  • … users that have taken specific action in your app
  • … users with a specific number of sessions
Target people based on mobile app events

Target people based on mobile app events

Offline Activity

You can also upload or import via API offline conversions to Facebook and match them with people on the platform.

Target people based on offline activity

Target people based on offline activity


This audience type is based on how people engaged with your branded content on Facebook’s platform. You can target…

  • … people who watched your videos on Facebook for specific time or % of video
  • … people who opened/completed your Lead Ads’ lead form
  • … people who engaged with your Facebook Canvas ads
  • … people who engaged with your Facebook page/posts/ads
  • … people who interacted with your Facebook events
Retarget people based on video engagement

Retarget people based on video engagement

Phew, that’s A LOT of options for retargeting on Facebook!

And we didn’t yet mention the fact that you can also exclude people from your Custom Audiences by using advanced targeting options.

facebook remarketing

That’s a LOT of options – Image source

However, the fact that you can use all of these Facebook remarketing options doesn’t necessarily mean that you need all of them.

A couple of well-defined Custom Audiences will do the job.

8 Facebook retargeting ideas that work

As said before, all advanced Facebook advertisers run some kind of retargeting campaigns.

Depending on your business type, there are many options to choose from, one more efficient than the other.

Up next, you will find 8 retargeting campaign ideas I’ve seen succeeding repeatedly.

#1: Start with a brand awareness campaign

The first step of every remarketing campaign is making the first touchpoint between people and your brand.

Before you can start campaign setup, you need to have an audience. And that’s why it’s good to start off with a brand awareness campaign.

The goal of your Facebook brand awareness campaign is to introduce your product to potential buyers and arise their interest.

For example, Packlane’s Facebook ad simply explains what their product is: Custom branded packaging.

Packlane's ad is great for the awareness stage

Packlane’s ad is great for the awareness stage

You could also advertise a media article about your product, and later retarget the people who engaged with your Facebook page.

Do not try to immediately sell in the awareness stage. First, you need to get people’s attention with softer marketing tactics.

For example, MeetFrank’s advertising a Business Insider article about their secret recruitment app before launching other Facebook ad campaigns.

Test sharing an article about your product

Test sharing an article about your product

Need more ideas? Check out these 84 best Instagram ad examples.

How to set up the audience for awareness campaign?

Target a wide audience of 100,000+ people, and let Facebook’s auto-optimization algorithms find the best audience for you. Create a Saved Audience where you target people based on demographics, interests, and location.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Make sure your Facebook ad clearly says what your product or service is.
  • Lead people to your website, where you can track them with Facebook pixel.
  • When sharing an article, write a fascinating headline that catches attention.
  • Run the awareness campaign for 1 week or until you have a big enough remarketing audience.

This tactic works best for: All types of businesses, i.e. consumer products, business services, eCommerce, SaaS, mobile apps, etc.

#2: Retarget all your website visitors

After running a brand awareness campaign, you have a set of website visitors who have shown some interest in your product (or service).

That’s an opportunity for setting up your first retargeting campaign.

Important note! If you’re already getting thousands of daily web visits, you can get more specific with your remarketing audience segmentation. (See the next point.)

However, if you’re a small brand, you can start by showing the same ad to all your website visitors.

But what should you advertise?

If your product is consumer-facing and people make the purchase quickly, you could offer a slight discount to drive people back to your website/e-store. Here’s an example by TopShop:

Discount works great for remarketing

Discount works great for remarketing

When you’re doing marketing for SaaS or other B2B services, your sales funnel can be a little more complex.

Before a company purchases your product, they need to understand its value to their business. In this case, you could advertise a webinar introducing your product or a free trial period.

facebook retargeting campaign

Convert people with webinars

AdEspresso ran a 10-day Facebook ad campaign targeting Custom Audiences made of past 30-day website visitors.

As a person visited AdEspresso’s website, they were added to the retargeting ads campaign, and were offered a free eBook. As someone downloaded the eBook, they gave AdEspresso their email, and were entered into an email marketing campaign.

Lead Ads experiment results

AdEspresso’s campaign results – Image source

AdEspresso’s campaign is a good example of a multi-step lead nurturing strategy that turns cold leads into customers via constant Facebook advertising. Also, they managed to keep down their Facebook ads cost.

How to set up this remarketing audience:

To target all your past website visitors, create a Custom Audience based on website visits, and simply target all the people who have visited your domain.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Advertise a compelling offer, e.g. a free giveaway, a discount or a free trial period.
  • Make sure that your remarketing campaign’s frequency won’t get too high (keep it at the maximum of 10 ad views per every two weeks).
  • Advertise blog articles, eBooks or webinars to make people more familiar with your brand and product.

Works best for: Consumer products, B2B products/services, eCommerce, SaaS.

#3: Retarget specific landing page visitors

If your website is getting a lot of traffic, you have a big enough audience pool to divide it into multiple segments.

By segmenting your remarketing audiences, you can create more relevant Facebook campaigns for each.

For example, if you’re selling multiple products, services or use cases that each have a different landing page, you can set up different ads with different messaging.

Let’s take MOO, for example – they sell business cards, branded stickers, notebooks, etc.

Instead of creating one remarketing campaign that tries to sell everything, they could…

  • … advertise business cards to the people who visited a landing page about business cards.
  • … advertise stickers to the people who visited a landing page about stickers, etc.
MOO remarketing ad example

MOO’s ad targets a specific customer segment

How to set up remarketing audience:

Create Facebook Custom Audience based on website visits, but instead of selecting all website visitors, only include the visitors of specific landing pages.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Make your campaign’s offers specific to particular landing pages.
  • Indicate what’s the next step – what do you want the person to do after clicking on your Facebook ad (Buy something? Start a free trial?)
  • Exclude the people who have already converted on your offer, so that they won’t keep seeing your ads.

This tactic workd best for: SaaS and B2B products/services.

#4: Set up dynamic remarketing ads

If you’re running an eCommerce store, you don’t have to set up a different campaign for every single product on your website.

You can completely automate your campaign, and show people the exact product in your online store that they have previously looked up.

This Facebook feature is called Dynamic Product Ads.

The Dynamic Product Ads feature allows you to create an online product catalogue, and automatically create ads based on the products people check out on your website.

This makes it super easy to deliver super personalized Facebook ads. For example, like this ad by The Kooples:

eCommerce brands can use Dynamic Product ads

eCommerce brands can use Dynamic Product Ads

According to a Facebook case study, the Honest Company saw a 34% increase in CTR and a 38% reduction in cost-per-purchase when using Dynamic Product Ads.

Dynamic Product Ads' benefits

Dynamic Product Ads’ benefits

To create a Dynamic Product Ad, you’ll need:

  • A Facebook Page
  • A Facebook ad account
  • A Facebook pixel installed on your website
  • A Facebook catalog or another catalog of your products that’s hosted online through Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or Magento.

How to set up this remarketing audience:

Facebook will automatically create a personalized ad for every person visiting your online store. You will need to set up a product catalogue and a campaign with the Catalogue Sales objective.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Make sure your product catalogue features high-quality product photos.
  • Make attractive offers, e.g. a limited-time discount.
  • Make sure that you have the advertised products in stock, so that people won’t be left empty-handed.

This remarketing campaign type works best for: Large online stores with a wide selection of products.

#5: Advertise to your blog readers

In case you’re actively working on a branded blog, you can retarget people who have read particular blog articles.

For example, if you’re a grocery brand, you could first promote a blog article on Facebook, and later advertise your products to the people who read the blog article.

Here’s another example: Grammarly could promote an article about copywriting, and later advertise their grammar correction tool.

But what if you want to retarget to people who read other blogs?

With a third-party tool, this is possible as well. You can use a tracking tool like PixelMe that lets you retarget anyone who clicked on your link – even if it leads to another website. These tools are far from perfect in tracking all the clicks – you will get around 30-40% of people to your Facebook Custom Audience.

So basically, you can first create a high-quality audience by promoting another publication’s story, and then show these people your Facebook ads.

How to set up remarketing audience:

To set up a target audience of your blog visitors, create a Facebook Custom Audience based on website traffic, and target people who visited your blog page (use the slug “/blog” or whatever link best refers to your blog).

To remarket to people who clicked on your links to third-party blogs/websites, use a tracking tool.

Tips for retargeting blog visitors:

  • Target people who have read more than one blog article – they are more engaged.
  • Target readers of a specific blog article.
  • Make sure that your Facebook ad is related to the article or blog that your audience previously read.

This tactic works best for: All brands with a blog, nut also brands that want to remarket to people interested in specific articles/websites not their own.

#6: Bring back shopping cart abandoners

Shopping cart abandoners are users that have been shopping in your online store, even added some things to their cart, but then abandoned your website without completing the purchase.

Tip: The concept of cart abandoners is also applicable to other types of services. For example, people who almost completed a signup form or a survey on your website.

Shopping cart abandoners are a highly valuable segment as they have shown clear interest in buying your product. According to Statista, as many as 80% of people abandon their shopping carts. What if you could use some Facebook advertising hacks to bring back even 20% of them…

remarket to shopping cart abandoners

Shopping cart abandonment rate is close to 80% – Image source

One of the easiest ways to convince cart abandoners to return to your website is offering them a discount or a coupon. Even better if you can make the offer personalized and limited in time.

For example, Nespresso is promoting a limited-time free delivery. This offer could be directed towards all potential buyers or only used as a remarketing ad.

Facebook ad example

Nespresso’s ad offers a free delivery

How to set up remarketing audience:

To make your Facebook ads reach people who have abandoned their shopping cart, create a Custom Audience based on online events. You can set up an event on your website that records a person clicking on the “Add to Cart” button.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Don’t just advertise your products as you would to a new website visitor.
  • Make your remarketing ad’s offer worthwhile of returning to your website – add a discount or coupon to nudge people to complete their order.
  • Advertise rather aggressively on the first 7 days after the person abandoned their shopping cart, then pause, and advertise your products again to them after 30 days.

Works best for: eCommerce, all other types of online stores, mobile apps.

#7: Turn free trial users into paying clients

Are you marketing a SaaS (software as a service) or some other type if subscription business?

On top of your marketing funnel, you’re likely offering a free trial / subscription period, so that people can learn more about your service.

After the trial period, the user has two options: to continue paying for your service or discontinue using it.

In my experience, it is not after the trial period that you should convince the person to sign up for a paid subscription. It is more efficient to get a person’s readiness to pay during the test period.

During the free trial period, your number one goal should be to delight the user with great user experience. However, you can also convince people to continue using your paid service by advertising an attractive offer.

You can run a Facebook retargeting campaign and…

  • Offer to the user a nice discount if they sign up for a longer time period. E.g. “sign up for 12 months instead of 1 month and save 40%.”
  • Offer to extend the free trial for users who haven’t been active this far.
  • Share helpful materials such as guides and eBooks on how to get more out of your product.

For example, Litmus has created a series of blog articles around email marketing to help their customers succeed at work.

Litmus remarketing ads

Litmus is sharing helpful guides

How to set up this remarketing audience:

The easiest way to remarket to your free trial users is to set up a Facebook Custom Audience based on the “Free Trial Signup” website conversion event. Another way to target your existing users is to upload a customer list with people’s emails and names to Facebook, and create a Custom Audience based on that.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Differentiate the free users’ ad messaging from your top-of-the-funnel value offers.
  • Think what would make you to start paying for your service/subscription. Outline that value offer in your ads.
  • Educate your free trial users – offer them guides, webinars, etc.

This type of Facebook marketing strategy works best for: SaaS and online subscription services, but also for delivery services and publications.

#8: Re-sell and upsell to past customers

According to WordStream, the remarketing CPC is significantly lower to than that of regular search and social ads. Display and social remarketing ad clicks by contrast might cost anywhere from 2-100x less.

The same applies to advertisng to your existing customers. Once someone has already bought something from you, they’re a lot more likely to purchase again.

Targeting your existing customers on Facebook is a powerful way to remind them of your product line and show them your latest products.

For example, a fashion brand could advertise their new collection while a software vendor could use Facebook advertising to introduce their upgraded services.

GoPro uses another interesting tactic to get their product owners upgrade to the latest device. Instead of just promoting the new GoPro model, they offer to trade it for $100 off when a client returns an older model.

GoPro discount campaign

You can test a similar campaign

You can also use Facebook ads to inform your clients about ongoing discounts, e.g. like this ad by AllSaints.

Allsaints facebook ad example

Notify your clients about discounts

So here’s the key takeaway: Once a person has purchased something from you, don’t move them out of your Facebook marketing funnel. Keep showing hem relevant offers (e.g. discounts) once in awhile.

How to set up this remarketing audience:

Set up Facebook Custom Audiences based on customer lists or website purchase events.

How to increase your success rate:

  • Find ideas for cross-selling. For example, if someone bought coffee, advertise a coffee machine to them.
  • Use Facebook ads to notify your clients about discounts and other offers.
  • Support your campaigns with regular Facebook posts. For example, share a blog article on Facebook that your clients will find helpful and interesting.

Here’s another interesting thing to know about Facebook retargeting. While people will easily get tired of seeing your regular ads, it’s the opposite when doing remarketing.

People will still act upon your retargeting ads even after they’ve seen it for over five times.

Your retargeting ads can reach a high frequency

Your retargeting ads can reach a high frequency – Image source

Final suggestions

If you’re going to take away five key insights from this article, remember these:

  1. Facebook retargeting campaigns can really benefit any type of business, both B2C and B2C.
  2. Don’t be lazy about setting up your campaigns, they’re usually highly efficient and well worth the effort.
  3. Your ads should deliver a slightly different message from your main ad campaigns – their goal is to engage people who are already aware of your brand and product.
  4. Let your remarketing campaigns reach people for more than five times, but don’t keep them running infinitely. Ten ad views during a 14-day retargeting period is sufficient.
  5. Combine Facebook ads with other online marketing channels to bring more people to your marketing funnel, and then use Facebook ads to convert them to customers.
high five gif

High five! – Image source

Alright. You’ve got it! Good luck with your remarketing campaigns!

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