For some time now, marketers have been using inbound marketing to convert sales prospects into brand loyalists, a technique almost wholly enabled by the digital age and the dawn of the social-media era.

Long gone are the days when a business could afford to have zero web presence, not to mention a robust rotation of creative, captivating content to draw in potential purchasers and tickle the fancy (not to mention incite the engagement) of its existing customer base. Earning that sale or a new client is much easier when a person has already expressed an in interest in—or interacted with—your content.

While having a website and social media accounts has become the norm, the savviest strategy for really putting your web properties to work for you is making use of the rich data those platforms provide to create a clear picture of your current and potential customers, hyper-focusing on those with the greatest likelihood of clicking “buy” or “sign up to learn more.”
In short: think of Facebook retargeting as the next logical step on your organization’s path to digital marketing optimization. Take a look at your analytics, and let the data do the heavy lifting.

First of all: what is retargeting?

At its core, retargeting is a very simple concept. It’s taking an individual (or audience segment, if you’ve done your analytics homework) who has visited your website (or another one of your sites) and focusing an ad or piece of content specifically on them, in another place. It’s much more precise than traditional marketing, because instead of spending precious dollars on shouting out your message to a large, noisy crowd of largely uninterested people, it’s more like whispering in the ear of someone with whom you’re already having an in-depth conversation.

It goes something like this: imagine you run a specialty cheese shop with a large e-commerce component. One of your major holiday promotions is to offer exquisitely curated cheese trays and ship them anywhere in the country; another is to offer “cheese of the month” subscriptions, both of which you actively promote across your website and social media channels. You do see a flurry of activity on your website around the holidays, but one of your business goals is have more sustained sales numbers throughout the year.

This is where retargeting can be very, very useful. By using a simple piece of code (Facebook Pixel), you can “capture” those people who were visiting your site—maybe they sought you out specifically because a friend recommended you; maybe they found you after reading one of your clever blog posts about curating the perfect holiday cheese board; maybe they were simply googling “cheese of the month clubs” in search of last-minute gift ideas—and serve up advertising aimed directly at them, on Facebook.

While your previous Facebook ads might have employed an audience segmented by demographics, the retargeted ad features the added layer of finding people who’ve visited your website in a new place—in their own Facebook feeds.

Why Facebook?

As of 2018, Facebook objectively still dominates the social media landscape with some 2.2 billion active monthly users; it also now owns the sixth-ranked (in terms of users) platform, Instagram, making retargeting between the two even more fluid.

Also, Facebook makes it relatively easy for even a small business owner or novice online advertiser to segment its audiences and retarget those who have engaged, in part because they’ve been in the social media advertising game longer than anyone. Additionally, their back-end interface is user-friendly, so while we have some tips on how to best deploy these retargeting tactics and build your strategy, it helps that the platform is streamlined and un-busy.

Facebook Retargeting Tactics

First things first—before you get started with retargeting, it would be useful to make sure you have a general facility with Facebook’s Ads Manager.

With that under your belt, the next step in retargeting is adding the Pixel code to your website, which will use cookies to track your site’s visitors, and retarget them on Facebook with your selected ads. You can learn about setting up Facebook Pixel on your website here, but if you’re using a web developer to manage your site, it might behoove you to get them involved for that step.

Once Pixel is in place, it’s time to start developing your retargeting campaign, essentially by creating audiences in your Facebook ad campaigns, with the addition of adding specific URLs from your site into the relevant segmentation fields.
Need some ideas to get you started?

  • Pursue the stranded cart-fillers
    According to the Baymard Institute, an average of nearly 70% of all online shoppers abandon items in an online shopping cart before making a sale, for numerous reasons; they might be comparison shopping, or ultimately decide an item is too expensive.
    This is the perfect time to retarget those shoppers on Facebook with an ad—why not offer an exclusive coupon code?
  • Timing, timing, timing
    This is one of the easiest ways to get your feet wet in the Facebook retargeting game, but this could mean several things:
  • A simple segmentation to retarget all of your site visitors within a certain recent timeframe, like all visitors from the last 30 days or two weeks.
  • Retarget visitors with a time-specific (“24-Hour Flash Sale!”) ad.
  • Remember our earlier example of a subscription service? Time ads to re-target around key holidays, or customer’s birthdays with a special “birthday gift” ad, for more sustained peaks of sales activity.
  • Cross-sell and upsell, but be wary of too aggressively targeting recent customers
    So they’ve bought your curated cheeses—this means they’ll likely be an excellent re-target for your custom cheeseboards and maybe your fine cheese knives, right? True, and you should pursue those previous customers with new products. Be careful, however, to not bombard recent customers immediately and constantly, as that’s a road that heads directly to the “unsubscribe” button.
  • Leave out the unlikely customers
    An obvious tactic, but one that’s easy to omit. You’ve already studied your core costumer demographics—Facebook Ads (and retargeted ads) allow you to put more money behind your key constituency, while still throwing some dollars at secondary markets. But don’t forget to leave out groups—maybe you don’t ship to a certain geographic area, for example, or your product is much more likely to resonate with a particular age group—that will never become customers.
  • Give them what they’re looking for
    This is an approach for those of you who are also using Google or other search ads—by using those metrics to determine the search words visitors used to land on your site, you can then target them with ads that gave them specifically what they were searching for.

These are just a few of the myriad options available to even the most novice inbound marketers—with a world of data and segmentation possibilities just a few clicks away, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start retargeting your current and potential customers with precise, focused content. It’s as simple as meeting them where they’re at, and giving them what they already want: your products and services.