Retargeting is one of the most exciting and powerful marketing techniques in recent years. Although it has been around for a while, it has become very popular in the last few years. This is mainly due to the enormous power of Facebook as a marketing platform. So let’s find out how to do retargeting.
This article will explain what retargeting is, why it works, and how to do it. I will provide examples of retargeting for both Facebook and Google ads.
Retargeting or remarketing is showing ads to an audience of people that have already seen some piece of content or interacted with a website in a particular way.
So instead of just running an ad campaign targeting people interested in affiliate marketing, you could run an ad campaign targeting people who have been to your website and read your website articles about affiliate marketing.
There are two main advantages to retargeting.
The first is that it lets you create an audience much more likely to be interested in a specific topic.
For all that Facebook knows about us and our lives, it actually isn’t very good at defining our interests. If you run an ad campaign just targeting people based on interests, you won’t often get a very good result. That’s because truly understanding people’s interests based on what they like or look at on Facebook is really hard.
Just say someone often clicks Like or Share on Facebook when they see funny cat photos or videos. Facebook will then assume that person is interested in the topic Cats.
But are they really? If you were running an ad campaign for a new brand of cat food, and you targeted Facebook’s definition of people interested in cats, you would probably get lots of people who like funny cat videos. But they might not have cats or have any interest in getting a cat!
Or maybe your brother runs a cat grooming company, and to do your brother a favour, you like his cat grooming page and all his posts. Again, Facebook now thinks you “like” cats, even though you possibly have no real interest in cats or cat products at all.
Targeting based on demographics or interests is actually less effective than people think it is because figuring this stuff out based on Facebook behaviour is way harder than Facebook makes it out to be.
Retargeting, however, gives you a much clearer picture of what people really are interested in. If someone visits a cat blog, it’s very likely they are really interested in cats – why else would they be reading a cat blog? You can put tracking pixels on your cat blog and track people who go there and then send them ads about cat products.
You’ll get a much higher CTR (Click Through Rate) and thus lower CPC or CPL (Cost Per Conversion or Cost Per Lead) than if you just targeted based on demographics and interests.
Another and more powerful use of retargeting is if you retarget based on people’s interactions with specific pages. For example, you could create a retargeting audience of people who visited a product page but then didn’t visit a checkout or thankyou page.
People often need between six and eight interactions with a product before they decide to purchase. So if someone has been browsing and looking at a product, then you can run a followup retargeting ad.
They might see the ad on Facebook or a Google network site, and think “oh that’s right, I was looking at that product, maybe I should get it”. It can also help you chase down people who abandoned a shopping cart before doing the final purchase.
There are several different types of retargeting. I’ll describe them all here.
This is the simplest and most widely known type of retargeting. You basically create an ad campaign, targeting people who have visited your website or web property (funnel, Youtube channel, etc).
If you are retargeting visitors to your website, you will need to put a retargeting pixel on all the pages on your website. The two most common pixels are Facebook and Google.
There are other social media platforms that will automatically track visitors and let you retarget them. For example, anyone who watches your Youtube videos is added to a potential retargeting list in Google Adwords.
Leon’s pro tip: a lot of people don’t realise this, but Instagram tracks visitors too. And Facebook owns Instagram, remember. See where this is going? Everyone who visits your Instagram page gets tracked by Facebook. So you can then create a custom audience for Facebook retargeting ads based on that audience of Instagram visitors.
You can take retargeting a step further by doing dynamic retargeting. This involves retargeting based on what specific actions or specific pages people visited.
Facebook offers quite a complex set of options here. You can define a custom audience based a page or pages they visited, a page or pages they didn’t visit (this is very useful for targeting people that went to a landing page but didn’t convert i.e. didn’t reach a confirm or thank you page), or even specific buttons they did or didn’t click.
You can also retarget based on interactions with emails. Most auto-responders let you track who open an email, click a link in an email, and so on. If you can export this list of emails, you can import it as a custom audience on Facebook or Google.
Leon’s pro tip: you can also upload your email subscriber list (you have been doing email marketing and collecting emails, right?) as a custom audience for your Facebook ads. You might be wondering what the point of this is. If someone went to your website and subscribed to your list, you would have captured them with your pixel, right? So they would already be included in your custom audience of site visitors?
Not necessarily. Believe it or not, but not everyone is logged into Facebook all the time. In fact, around 80% of peopel are and thus 20% are not. So about 20% of your list of email subscribers will not have been captured by the pixel and thus will not be in your custom audience!
So you can target your ad to a combination of two audiences: your site visitors, and your list of email subscribers. That way, you get them either way.
There are also retargeting campaigns based on what terms people have searched for. This is a more complex solution that would involve a specialised marketing agency, so I won’t go much into this type of retargeting.
The two most common platforms for retargeting by a long way are Facebook and Google Adwords.
These companies both own large social media platforms (Facebook owns Facebook and Instagram, Google owns Google, Youtube and dozens of other smaller platforms).
They offer tracking pixels and let you build an audience on Facebook or Google ads.
To build a retargeting campaign, you have to create what is called a custom audience. This concept works basically the same in both Facebook and Google.
A custom audience is either defined by a rule about your pixel or social property (those people visited a specific page on your website, or watched one of your Youtube videos, and so on), or is a group of specific people, i.e. a group of email addresses.
Once you have defined your custom audience, you can then create an ad targeting that custom audience. This is powerful because you now don’t have to try and guess their demographics, interests and so on. You are targeting an exact list of people, rather than leaving it to Facebook or Google to guess who might be interested in your ad.
Another way to take retargeting a step further is to use a lookalike audience. Say you have installed your pixel and collected enough data to form a custom audience of 2,000 people. You might successfully run an ad campaign to those people. But eventually the audience will be saturated, i.e. they have all seen the ad and either converted or chosen they are not interested.
Facebook has a concept of a lookalike audience (Google has this too, but they call it “similar audiences”). This involves Facebook analysing your existing custom audience, and then re-creating a new custom audience based on the properties of that initial custom audience.
This will probably not be as effective an audience as your initial retargeting custom audience, but it will still be a lot more effective than just guessing an audience by putting in demographics and interests.
If you want to know how does Facebook retargeting work, I’ll go through it step by step.
To set up a remarketing on Facebook campaign, first, you need to install your pixel on your web properties.
Go to the Facebook Ads Manager. Then from the main menu, go to Measure and Report, Event Manager, Pixels.
Now in your WordPress site, install the Insert Headers and Footers plugin. Then in the Scripts in the Header section, paste your Facebook pixel code. You should be good to go!
Within a few minutes, all visits to your website will trigger the Facebook pixel.
If you are using a funnel builder like ClickFunnels or BuilderAll (which I really recommend – it costs half as much as ClickFunnels, and does more!), those tools have an easy way to insert tracking pixels as well.
If you are using social media like Youtube or Instagram, those platforms are automatically set up to track visitors to your properties.
Once you have gathered some data, you can go to the Facebook Ads Manager, create retargeting Facebook ad and use a Custom Audience based on your pixel data that you been collecting.
Retargeting on Google is pretty similar to Facebook. Log in to your Google Adwords account, go to Tools, then Audience Manager, then Audience Sources.
Then go to Google Ads Tag, then Details, then Tag Setup. If you scroll down, you’ll see your Pixel code in a box called Global Site Tag.
Copy and then paste it into the Insert Headers and Footers box as I described above for Facebook. You now should have both Facebook and Google pixel events firing on all pages on your website or funnels!
Now if you go create say a Google Display Network campaign, you can create a custom audience for it based on what pixel events i.e. which pages they have visited or not visited.