Retargeting on Social Media – Why you should try it and how to get it right

Retargeting, at its simplest level, is advertising to users that have interacted with your brand before. It is an effective strategy designed to help you reach users who haven’t converted, and an opportunity to reconnect with visitors who leave your site without taking any action. Social media channels are an invaluable tool in getting this right as a big chunk of your potential customers are on social media, every day.

Retargeting on social media platforms is an effective and convenient way of reconnecting with the ‘window shoppers’ – those who are ‘just looking,’ – and transforming them into an online captive audience, ready to buy from your store.

Here are the stats: Recent online behaviour studies have found that 50% of the global population is using social media. That’s a phenomenal 3.8 billion people! In Europe, Northern Europe has the highest percentage of social media users (79%), versus Southern (66%), Western (62%) and Eastern Europe (57%). 90% of Americans, between the ages of 18-29, are active on social media. 

Source: Digital 2020

In 2019, people spent an average of  2 and a half hours on social media every day.

Source: Digital 2020

These statistics present a huge opportunity for brands to gently remind users and potential customers of the services or products that they looked at on their website. 
Retargeting on social media is nudging and persuading potential customers to go through with their purchase (or another marketing goal) that they started with on their user journey. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a user come to your site and then leaving without subscribing, making a purchase or taking any action. Social media retargeting becomes a powerful tool to re-engage these users and convince them to return and complete the action.

How to use retargeting the right way

There are three main options when it comes to retargeting, ensuring you get exposure at every level of the funnel: social media behaviour-based, pixel-based and list-based. 

Let’s dive deeper into each option:

Social media behaviour-based retargeting

Facebook gives you the ability to retarget users based on their engagement with your social media pages. This is a great strategy for mid-funnel campaigns, getting users who have shown interest in your brand to now take the next step and click through to your website.

An effective way of implementing this is to launch a video campaign to a brand new prospecting audience, getting the attention of people who have never heard of your brand before but have shown interest in the type of products or services that you offer.

You can then build an audience of everyone who watched (or partially watched) your video and retarget them with an image-based ad with the aim of getting them to click and go to your website.

Two additional ways of retargeting an audience that has interacted with your brand on social media is to either launch a campaign only targeting your followers, or to target anyone who has interacted with your posts during a specific time frame. (Always remember to exclude your website visitors from these audiences to ensure you reach a group of people who have not yet taken that step).

Pixel-based retargeting

Pixel-based retargeting is a popular option that works with a cookie which tracks the pages and products that a user on your website views and interacts with. (Basically a pixel – or piece of JavaScript – is placed onto the browser of everyone who visits your site).

If your goal is to retarget users who showed specific behaviour on your website – like viewing a specific product or adding something to their cart – then pixel-based retargeting is the way to go.

A campaign to boost awareness – telling potential customers about your services, new products, promotions,events etc. – is also well suited to pixel-based retargeting as these customers are not likely to be on your database.  

The following are examples of audiences that you can build using your Facebook pixel:

  • Website visitors
  • Visitors who browsed a specific page on your website
  • Visitors by time spent on your website
  • Product viewers
  • Cart abandoners
  • Users who took a specific action on your website that you have an event set up for

All these audiences can be very useful to include in your retargeting strategy as they have shown a greater sense of intent to support your business. Now they just need that last little bit of convincing information to close the deal.

How to take this to the next level…

If you would like to retarget product viewers or users who added a product to their cart with the exact product they interacted with, you will have to add a catalogue to your Facebook ad account and link your pixel to it. If all the correct settings are in place, you will then be able to run dynamic retargeting campaigns to ensure a very personalised and relevant experience for the user. This is the most effective way of running a retargeting campaign for ecommerce stores. 

List-based retargeting

Facebook allows you to upload a customer list (email addresses, phone numbers etc.) which can be your existing customers or newsletter subscribers. If the list is big enough, and Facebook can match enough email addresses to actual user accounts on Facebook or Instagram, you will be able to use this audience for retargeting campaigns. It also works really well for upselling campaigns or if you’d like to run specific offers to existing customers only.

This type of audience presents you with the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell specific products to your existing customers with products you know they should be interested in. You can also use a newsletter subscription list and offer them something valuable, like free shipping or a discount code, to nudge them in the direction of making their first purchase on your store. (Once again, remember to exclude the audience that has already purchased from you!).

List-based, pixel-based and social media behaviour-based retargeting are but 3 of many different ways in which you can use retargeting on Facebook and Instagram. And if done right, you can boost your website’s conversion rate, average order value, revenue and return on ad spend. 

Here are a few general pointers to keep in mind if you want your retargeting campaigns to be a success:

  • It is of vital importance that your pixel and event setup is done correctly and that the setup allows you to track variables. If this is not done correctly, your retargeting campaigns will not be able to run.
  • If you would like to use dynamic retargeting, you will need to upload a product catalogue and give the pixel enough time to gather data. You will not be able to run dynamic retargeting campaigns to small audiences with less than 100 matched events.
  • Keep an eye on your frequency levels! You can easily saturate a retargeting audience if your budget or time frame settings are unbalanced. 
  • Remember to align your messaging and creative to the specific retargeting audience you are using in your campaign, considering where they are in the funnel. Someone who has never been to your website but interacted with your brand on social media needs a different selling point to someone who has already added your product to their cart. Make sure you meet the person where they are at currently with relevant information. Create personalised buying experiences.
  • Always make sure that you are applying the right audience exclusions to avoid showing ads to users that are not relevant to them anymore.

What does a great retargeting ad look like?

A retargeting ad is a unique opportunity to engage with a specific customer and should not be wasted. By going a step further and crafting a new and bespoke personalised ad, instead of displaying an old one, is likely to result in more clicks and more conversions. (Remember these customers already know your brand, so you cannot just re-use generic ads to capture their attention and convince them to return)

Make sure your ads include the following: 

  • An engaging and compelling headline, relevant to the customer’s previous experience on your website – showcasing products you know they are interested in. 
  • An specific and clear CTA
  • Copy that is simple, original, clear, punchy and articulate – not too wordy. Focus on urgency. (Most people suffer from FOMO!) Give them an offer they can’t refuse. 
  • When possible, consider adding a discount code or free gifts.
  • Take advantage of customers who love your brand by reminding them why your brand is so great and rewarding them for being loyal customers. 

Retargeting campaigns on Facebook and Instagram can be some of the most profitable campaigns you have, as long as your setups are correct and you personalise your messaging and creative to match customer’s needs. There are many strategies that you can use to re-engage users on every level – all you need to do is identify which strategies are right for your business and adapt them as and when needed.

It is  always recommended that you get campaigns up and running for a week to allow the account to gather data. After you receive initial results you can then optimize and test until you find what really works for your specific business. 

There is no denying that if done well, retargeting ad campaigns can be very impactful in reconnecting with an already primed customer. By caring what that customer wants because you have paid attention to their user journey and behaviour, sets you on the path of re-engaging with that customer. This is the personal touch that makes people feel cared for and important. 

Facebook and Instagram campaigns can be optimized in so many different ways – let us help you navigate this influential aspect of digital advertising and find the strategies that work best for you.

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