How to Retarget Customers on Facebook

Wondering how to get lost customers to come back to your website? Retargeting is the solution, and using it on Facebook is especially effective. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to set up a Facebook retargeting campaign.

Whether you call it retargeting or remarketing, no ad campaign is complete without some sort of retargeting campaign. We won’t get into the differences between remarketing and retargeting in this article but here’s what you need to know about retargeting and how to start a campaign in Facebook.

What is Retargeting

It’s a kind of magical thing if you’re not familiar with ad technology. You happen to be on Amazon checking out the best deals on cutlery or maybe you’re shopping for the best deals on a new iPad. Then, you head over to Facebook and you’re sure Facebook has spied on you because right there on the right hand side you see ads for the same products at the same stores you just visited. Creepy? To some people, yes. Effective? Absolutely. Retargeting ads perform 3 to 10 times better than traditional online ad campaigns, according to research.

Let’s not forget to address the potential problems. We weren’t kidding when we labeled it, “creepy.” People unfamiliar with how retargeting works (that would be most people) label it as creepy, annoying, intrusive, and distracting far more often than other ad types but the younger the audience, the less they care. If you’re retargeting to an older population you might find a more pronounced negative sentiment than with younger crowds.

RELATED: Remarketing to Site Visitors with Your Ads

Creating a Facebook Remarketing Campaign

First, a quick workflow. Customer comes to your website. They look at something but don’t end up buying. We call that “converting” in the marketing field. When they leave, your website installs a cookie in their browser. When they go to Facebook, that cookie creates an ad for the products they viewed. But how do you make it all work?

It starts with something called a pixel. A pixel is a small piece of computer code you install on your website that helps Facebook track visitors and also install that cookie in the person’s browser.

By the way, a cookie only sits on a person’s computer. No information is transmitted back to your computer about the person’s browsing habits or other sensitive information. Here’s the rest of the step-by-step.

1. Head to the Ads Manager

To create a retargeting campaign you’ll need a business account. That starts with having a Facebook page for your business. Go to your page and look for the blue “Promote” tab on the left side of the page. You will also find it on the right side if you scroll down.

2. Create Your Pixel

Click, “Go To Ads Manager.” Once you’re in the main dashboard, click the hamburger menu in the upper left corner and choose “Pixels.” Then click “Create Audience.”

There are a lot of options in here but choose what works best for your site. If you want to reach anybody that comes to your site, you can. If only certain pages, you can do that too. It’s totally up to you.

3. Install Your Pixel

Next, click the “Actions” dropdown and choose “View Pixel Code.” Copy the code and place it in the <head> section of your website pages. If you have a WordPress site, you can download a plugin that allows you to install code in the header section of your site.

If you don’t, and you don’t know how to work with code, there are plenty of websites that will show you how or head to Facebook and post a status asking for help. You probably have a friend that can help. If not, hire somebody.

RELATED: Tips for Marketing Effectively on Facebook

4. Design Your Ad

From here, you need a good ad. What are you going to show them on Facebook once they leave your site? The quality of the ad is what will or won’t convert to sales. Often, it takes a lot of testing to figure out what works but once you find the high performing ad, put it to work.

If you’re not sure how to create the ad, read up on how to create high-performing Facebook ads first. Then when you start the process of creating the ad, choose “Custom Audience” and select the audience you created. After that, you create an ad just as you if you weren’t retargeting.

Times are Changing

If you’ve installed a pixel in the past, it will soon be out of date. By February of 2017, Facebook will completely retire what used to be called the conversion pixel. Instead, marketers will have to install the new Facebook pixel that combines a lot of technologies into 1 piece of code. If you haven’t created a retargeting campaign yet, you don’t have anything to worry about. As soon as you do, you’ll have the new Facebook pixel. Problem solved.


Don’t forget that nothing is more important than the quality of your ad. The colors, the messaging, and everything else that makes for a great looking—and converting ad—must be on point or no amount of ad technology will work. Just like you would any advertising campaign, test different ads.

Facebook is constantly tweaking its ad interface. Some of the buttons might be in different places depending on when you read this article but the steps for creating a retargeting campaign aren’t likely to change any time soon.

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