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How To Setup A Successful Facebook Retargeting Campaign

Martin Daniel

Display advertising has been around since the dawn of the internet and is not going away anytime soon as new forms of display ads keep coming up. Display ads can be annoying at times, but what if they are contextual? Won’t these ads help in getting more conversions than a standalone banner ad with no context? Retargeting, or remarketing as it’s often called, is a marketing solution that does just that.

Not all visitors to your website end up buying your product and most of them are in the different stages of the purchase funnel. Retargeting helps you to target these potential buyers and help them to revisit your website and complete the purchase.

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According to Marin Software survey, almost 9 in 10 US marketers use retargeting as a part of their digital advertising strategy and 48% of the marketers are using social media retargeting.

Giselle Abramovich, the senior and strategic editor of CMO.com reports that retargeting can boost ad response upto 400% and the average click through rate (CTR) for retargeting ads is 0.7% whereas it is just 0.07% for a banner ad.  

For more interesting stats on retargeting, refer to Chango’s excellent Slideshare presentation – 40 Stats you need to know about retargeting’

You can also download their ‘State of the Industry Retargeting’ report here.

In this article, we are going to go over the step by step process of creating a simple and basic retargeting campaign on Facebook. To get a holistic view on running a social media campaign we highly recommend you to read through the ‘Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing’ to get a better handle of the kinds of objectives, resources and points of measurement that are important to your campaign. With a clear understanding of pre-execution campaign details like budget, social media performance indicators, business objectives and resources required, you will find setting up a retargeting campaign much easier.

Choose your Marketing Objective:

To make it easier for marketers to figure out which campaign objectives will suit their business goals, Facebook has list of objectives to choose from as shown below.


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To set up a retargeting campaign you should select the ‘Increase conversions on your website’ option since it comes with a conversion tracking pixel which will be helpful in measuring the performance of the campaign.

Now enter the URL of your website to promote and place the tracking pixel onto your website page which will be shown to a visitor once they have completed an action. For example, you can place the tracking pixel on the ‘Thank you’ page of your signup form. Each time the ‘Thank you’ page of the signup form loads it will count as a conversion, so be careful with those page loads from your computer as you’ll start seeing lots of false-positives.

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Pro Tip: If you are running multiple campaigns at the same time, it is wise to use separate UTM codes for each URL you assign for the campaign. This will help better analyze the performance of each campaign and how much traffic they bring to your landing page or website.

Upload Custom Audience List:

Once the tracking pixel is verified, the next step will be to upload your list of email IDs of the audience you want to retarget on Facebook. This list can be from your lead gen activities where your target audience is at a different stage of the purchase funnel. You can create a custom audience list of leads who are currently in the awareness stage and retarget with them ads that can push them into the consideration stage.

Convert the audience list into a .CSV file (if your leads are in a spreadsheet you can save as a CSV in Excel) and upload it onto the Facebook Audience Manager. By clicking on the ‘Customer List’ on the drop down menu Facebook will attempt to match the email IDs with the Facebook profiles.

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You can also segmentize your audience and display different sets of ads for each segment. For example, you can create a set of ads to be displayed for those who have visited your pricing page and did not sign up for your product and you display a set of ads for those who have visited your page in the last 7 days.

If you are a SaaS company, check out the ‘7 must have retargeting segments for SaaS’, written by Ben at Biddyco.com which is very helpful in creating segments for your retargeting campaign on Facebook.  

Pro Tip: Creating custom audience list is one of the key strategies for a retargeting campaign to be effective. You can create different creatives for each of your audience lists and run them as separate campaigns for easy monitoring and measuring performance.

Narrow down your target:

Based on your business goals and the audience list you have the option to choose countries and territories you’d like to target. You can also specifically target a particular locality if you want your ads to be shown to a local audience. Choosing the right location will enable your ads be delivered to the relevant audience. For even more targeting you can segment by age, gender, interest, etc, based on the persona of your audience list.

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Pro Tip: Instead of targeting multiple locations, interest or behaviors within a single campaign, run them as separate campaigns. This will make it easier to manage and measure performance.   

Set the Budget and Bids:

The next step will be to set the daily budget, which will be the average amount you are willing to spend each day on the campaign. Pick a budget based on your marketing objectives.

Your ads will stop showing once you have exhausted your daily budget. You can also run the campaign for specified duration by specifying the start and the end date and your ads will be displayed only between those dates. This will help in better monitor and measure the performance of your ads rather than letting them run indefinitely.

Now set the bid for the campaign. A bid controls how you pay for users to interact with your ads. There are various types of interactions which Facebook allows your set you bid and optimize for: You can optimize for clicks, for unique reach or for impressions. Since we are running a retargeting campaign, optimizing and paying for clicks will be appropriate.

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If you are having difficulty in coming up with a budget for your retargeting campaign, check out Noah Kagan’s guide on how to spend your first $100 on retargeting ads

Pro Tip: Start small and keep measuring whether your current budget helps to meet your business goals and change your budget accordingly.

Create the ads:

The image size for a Facebook campaign should be 1200×628 pixels and the image can only contain upto 20% text. Each ad group can have up to 6 images which is helpful for testing the performance of the images. The headline below the image can be upto 25 characters and text above the image upto 90 characters long.

You can use the Ad Preview option to get a feel of how your ads will look like. Your ads can also be optimized for different formats like mobile news feed and right column.

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Keep the overall design and ad copy very clear and simple and speak the language of your target audience. Don’t overcrowd it with too much information. Providing social proof on your ads will go a long way in building trust for your brand and help you to get more clicks on your ads.

Finally, invest in a good designer or a design firm to design your ads as this will make your ads stand out and create a good impression about your brand. You might be a whiz at PowerPoint graphics, but it’s still going to look amateur next to a professional designer.

To get an idea on the different types of banner ads used in retargeting, refer to the excellent article on ‘13 real-life examples of retargeting in action’ by Laura over at Bannersnack

Now clicking on the ‘Place Order’ button at the bottom of the campaign setup page will start your retargeting campaign.

Pro Tip: Monitor and rotate your creatives periodically by doing A/B split testing which will help you figure out the creatives which are performing well and which ones are worth discarding.

Measure your performance:

You’ve successfully set up a Facebook retargeting campaign and now it is time to track and measure the performance of your campaign. You can always log into your Facebook Ads Manager to monitor key metrics like Reach, Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Conversions. Since you are sending your target audience to the website, you can use Google Analytics to track metrics website visits, sessions, bounce rate, session duration, etc.

Using the ‘Reports’ option on the Ads Manager, you can export all the key metrics for all Facebook campaigns for an in-depth analysis. This will come in handy when you have to do a performance presentation for your boss.

Pro Tip: Track your performance on a weekly basis and check whether the campaign results align with your business goals and make changes accordingly.

Good luck with your first Facebook retargeting campaign!