The Complete Guide to Facebook Retargeting

Facebook retargeting

Retargeting is often described as the process of advertising to people who have already visited your website. While that’s true, it oversimplifies what retargeting can do for your business. 

The integration between the Meta pixel and a company’s website allows businesses to retarget prospective customers from their very first interaction with a brand, all the way to website checkout.

Your website visitors can be segmented by pages they’ve visited, time spent on a specific page, and almost any other behavior or action taken on their path to purchase. 

With the ability to track user behavior at such a detailed level, retargeting strategies have evolved to become more sophisticated, making them even bigger revenue drivers for businesses. 

What is Facebook retargeting?

Facebook retargeting is a marketing technique that uses Facebook ads to target people who have already visited your website or used your app. Facebook retargeting can encourage these people to come back to your site or take a specific action, such as making a purchase.

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How does Facebook retargeting work?

Facebook retargeting allows you to reach prospective customers who have shown an interest in your business or product, based on their online activity. This can range from something as passive as a like on Facebook to actions with a high purchase intent, like clicking Add to Cart on your website. 

The Meta pixel must be integrated into your website to take advantage of Facebook retargeting and custom audiences.

If you’re on Shopify, you can set up the Meta pixel easily:

  • From your Shopify admin, click Settings > Apps and sales channels.
  • From the Apps and sales channels page, click Facebook.
  • Click Open sales channel.
  • Click Settings, and then click Data sharing settings.
  • In the Customer data-sharing section, click the Enable data-sharing toggle.
  • In the Choose data-sharing level section select Standard, Enhanced, or Maximum.
  • Select your pixel from the list.
  • Click Confirm.

What are the benefits of Facebook retargeting?

If you have website traffic and are not running retargeting ads of any kind, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on potential sales.

Whether you want to warm up your latest followers or remind past website browsers about the products they were interested in, retargeting can play a pivotal role in most marketing strategies. 

1. It’s the highest ROI advertising activity 

Facebook ads targeted at those who have never heard of your business can be effective at driving brand awareness and traffic to your site, but they might not pay off in sales right away. 

Getting sales from a “cold” target audience is often expensive, since it takes time to build trust with a customer. 

Retargeting as a form of online advertising can quickly pay off and produce a healthy ROI, since you’re only reaching people who have already shown interest in your brand and are therefore more likely to convert.

2. You can target specific behaviors 

If your business offers more than one product it can be difficult to predict what new customers will be interested in. Retargeting allows you to tap into user behavior and only show ads for relevant products that the potential customer is most likely to buy.

An example of this is the furniture company Article. Article sells a variety of items, ranging from rugs to couches to bed frames.

facebook retargeting ad example

Understanding which of its products a website visitor is interested in requires knowing which pages and products a visitor viewed. By tapping into retargeting ads, Article can only show customers products that are relevant to their interests.

3. It improves your conversion rate 

According to the latest data, as of August 2022, the average conversion rate for ecommerce stores was 1.62%.

Since only a small percentage of website visitors will end up making a purchase on their first visit, retargeting can be used to help bring more people back to your website to complete a purchase.

Ads targeted at those who abandoned their shopping cart or didn’t complete checkout can help capture sales you would otherwise lose, increasing your overall conversion rate. 

How to set up a Facebook retargeting campaign, step by step

The goal of creating a retargeting strategy is to set up your campaigns in a way that allows you to scale your positive returns and convert more prospects into customers.

The best retargeting strategy requires focusing equal parts on targeting the right audiences and using the right creative. Once you have both elements working in tandem, you can be assured that every potential customer is being served the right advertisement at the right moment. 

1. Creating retargeting audiences 

After adding your Meta pixel to your Shopify store, you will be able to create Custom Audiences in the Audience section of the Facebook Ads Manager, which are made up of people who have engaged in app activity, followed you on social media, or taken certain actions on your website.

setting up facebook custom audience

The Audience section of the Ads Manager allows you to create custom audiences (i.e., your retargeting lists).

Here you can create audiences based on the following credentials: 

  • People who engaged with your brand on Facebook and/or Instagram 
  • People who visited your website
  • People who spent a certain amount of time on your website 
  • People who visited specific pages of your website 
  • People who viewed a product (called “viewed content”) 
  • People who added a product to their cart 
  • People who initiated checkout 

You can also create a Custom Audience from a customer list. A customer list is a file that contains information you’ve collected about your Facebook remarketing audience. It has “identifiers,” which can be names, phone numbers, or email addresses. Meta uses this information to build an audience that matches with Meta profiles. 

All of these audiences can also be defined by time frame, which allows you to create tighter audiences of more recent prospects and larger segments of those who visited your website as far back as 180 days ago. 

2. Segmenting your Facebook audience 

With all of the Facebook Custom Audiences available to you through the Ads Manager, choosing which segments to target has a lot to do with the type of product you sell and your customers’ typical buying behavior. 

For businesses that sell impulse-purchase products that are lower cost, you may not need to retarget people further back than 30 days. 

For higher-end brands or those selling big-ticket items, like mattresses or engagement rings, retargeting might take place over a 180- or even a 365-day window. 

If you’re not sure exactly how long you need to retarget people, these are some of the most commonly used audience segments for retargeting:

  • Social (Instagram and Facebook) engagers: past 90 days
  • Website visitors: past 30 days 
  • Viewed content: past 14 days 
  • Added to cart: past 7 days 
  • Initiate checkout: past 7 days 

3. Building your sales funnel 

Once you have your audience segments created, it is time to structure them into a funnel so you can monitor and optimize how each audience performs separately. 

This can be done at the Ad Set level when you’re building your retargeting campaign. If you want to only target your social media engagers, for example, you will need to exclude those who have made it past that point and visited your website. 

facebook custom audience set up 2

By excluding website visitors from your social engagers, you will only be reaching those who haven’t done anything on your website yet. This way you can retarget that lower-funnel audience separately. 

By taking this strategy and building out a full retargeting funnel that separates upper funnel (aware of your brand) and lower funnel (closer to purchase) audiences, you can successfully target all of these segments of customers at different stages of the purchasing journey.

You can see how each action implies the stage of the funnel that the audience is currently at:

  • Social media engagers (upper funnel)
  • Website visitors (upper funnel) 
  • Viewed content, which means viewed product page on Shopify (middle funnel)
  • Added to cart (lower funnel)
  • Initiated checkout (lower funnel)

A good retargeting funnel should exclude lower-funnel objectives (purchase) from higher-funnel audiences (social media engagers).

By properly applying exclusions to each audience in the Ad Set section of your campaigns on Facebook, you will successfully segment your customers out and avoid audience overlap. 

Audience overlap happens when you are targeting the same segment of customers in two places, which creates unclear results as to which segment is driving purchases.

4. Setting budgets

Once you’ve set up your retargeting campaign, complete with multiple audiences for each segment of your funnel, it’s time to start monitoring them and optimizing your spend.

Knowing how much to spend each day on each segment of the funnel requires some testing. Begin with setting low or moderate daily budgets for each audience (e.g., around $20 to $60). 

You can decide how much to initially allocate to each segment of your funnel based on the estimated audience size given in Facebook Ads Manager:

  • For smaller audiences, like those who abandoned checkout in the past seven days, you will likely only need a small budget to reach everyone in this segment.
  • For larger audiences, like website visitors within the past 180 days, you might want to allocate a slightly larger budget in order to give your campaign the opportunity to reach enough people to drive conversions. 

5. Optimizing your Facebook retargeting campaigns

Once your retargeting campaigns are up and running, you will want to check in on them each day to monitor results and make optimizations to improve their performance.

Optimizations are usually done by decreasing or increasing budgets based on how many purchases you are getting and, when it comes to retargeting, the frequency of your reach. 

Frequency refers to the average number of times a person within one of your retargeting audiences is seeing an ad for you over a given period of time. Checking on your daily or weekly frequency for each audience will ensure you aren’t over- or under-serving your campaigns to the same people.


You can keep an eye on the frequency (the average number of times the same person saw your ad during a given time period) in your Ads Manager account.

As you adjust your budget, you’ll notice your frequency changes. Once you’ve tested out different budgets to find which delivers the best results, you should also know what frequency is ideal for each segment of your funnel. This will allow you to monitor frequency and make sure it stays at an ideal level, regardless of the size of your audience. 

Facebook retargeting ad tips

One of the best ways to continue optimizing your campaigns for better results is to experiment with creative formats, like videos, photos, and ad copy. 

While segmenting your audience properly will set your retargeting campaigns up for success, it is equally important to make sure that the actual ads your potential customers see are converting. 

Understand Facebook retargeting post-iOS14

Facebook retargeting changed after Apple’s iOS14 update. Users can now opt out of app tracking, which means custom audience sizes are getting smaller. But, retargeting and lookalike audiences are still effective with a few tweaks.

  • Create more custom audiences based on Meta sources, like interacting with your Instagram account or Facebook page. 
  • Set longer retention windows to track visitors longer on the web. 
  • Retarget all website visitors instead of specific landing pages.
  • Collect your own first-party data (like an email list) and target them with ads. 
  • Try other retargeting objectives rather than the Conversion objective. 

Overall, Facebook retargeting is still effective, but you may need to change your strategy to account for smaller audience sizes.

Run Advantage+ catalog ads (formerly dynamic ads)

If you’ve seen a retargeting ad while on social media or while browsing the web lately, it likely took the form of an Advantage+ catalog ad.

These ads pull website images, titles, prices, and descriptions directly from websites you’ve visited to create a carousel of products you might be interested in.

A dynamic product ad from Allbirds showcasses different styles from its catalog of products in the following example.

allbirds retargeting ads

These types of retargeting ads are very effective at bringing website browsers back to their cart or checkout to complete their purchase. The Facebook algorithm personalizes which products are shown to only include ones the person has viewed or is likely to purchase based on their past behavior. 

In order to create dynamic product ads, you will need to upload your product catalog to Facebook. Once this is done, you can create a campaign with the Catalog Sales objective and start targeting your audiences with DPAs.

Use creative photos and videos 

While catalog ads make great Facebook advertising creative for retargeting, you should also test using creative that goes beyond static website photos. Other creative content worth integrating into your retargeting strategies are: 

  • Photos taken by customers or influencers using your product 
  • Videos demonstrating how your product looks or functions 
  • Videos answering frequently asked questions from customers 
  • Any new products you’ve launched lately that they may not have seen on your website

After testing multiple creative formats, it is likely that your overall Facebook retargeting strategy will include a mixture of catalog ads for lower-funnel retargeting audiences, and informative videos for those who haven’t yet made it to a product page. 

Master ecommerce copywriting techniques

Aside from the media used in your retargeting strategies, it is important to also write copy that will speak to questions customers have during the consideration phase of their purchasing journey. 

If a customer hasn’t yet converted on your website but has shown interest in your brand or product, what can you say to convince them that the purchase is worthwhile?

Here are some top pre-purchase concerns and how you can reassure customers. 


  • Highlight the value (quality, number of uses, etc.) of the product. 
  • Offer a discount code to first-time customers to sweeten the deal.
retargeting ad example 2

Stone and Strand uses a first-purchase discount code to bring potential customers back to its website to make a purchase.

Shipping and returns: 

  • Do you offer free shipping on orders over a certain value? Call it out in the copy. 
  • If you have an easy return and exchange program, consider surfacing it here. 

ad campaign example

Reformation mentions free shipping in its retargeting ads as a way to increase conversions.


  • Feature a customer quote that addresses any concerns a prospect might have around the quality of the product. 
  • Talk about the materials and/or process used to create your product to give customers peace of mind. 

retargeting ad

Piglet In Bed calls out in its retargeting ads that it has over 1,000 five-star reviews and 100% natural linen materials.

“In our middle-of-the-funnel retargeting, our copy aims to showcase our unique selling propositions or brand origin story in a succinct, easy-to-digest way,” says Jake Newbould, Head of Digital Marketing at Piglet. “We’re trying to persuade already-engaged customers why you should buy Piglet products over our competitors.”

The best creative for a Facebook ad campaign both reminds and reassures customers about your brand and your product. In addition to showing them relevant products through catalog ads, use the post copy as an opportunity to fill in the blanks for them, whether it be through social proof or highlighting your customer service. 

Run Facebook retargeting ads for your store today

A strong remarketing strategy will allow your ads to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. Timing plays such a key role in the decision-making process that you should structure your entire strategy around segmenting your customers based on their user history.

By creating a retargeting funnel that works from the first interaction a customer has with your brand all the way down to their final decision to click Checkout, you can make sure no potential sales are left on the table. 

Even better, if you can pair together creative that addresses any questions and concerns while providing social proof and a frequent reminder of what they viewed, your remarketing campaign can persuade passive visitors to become enthusiastic shoppers. 

Facebook retargeting FAQ

How do I enable Facebook retargeting?

Facebook retargeting can be enabled through the Ads Manager by creating a custom audience and adding the relevant pixel code to your website.

Does Facebook automatically retarget?

No, Facebook does not automatically retarget. You have to set up your ad campaign to target people who have visited your website or taken a specific action on your website.

What are 3 retargeting strategies?

There are three major retargeting strategies: pixel-based, server-side, and client-side. Pixel-based retargeting uses a pixel placed on a website to track visitors and serve them targeted ads based on their web activity. Server-side retargeting uses information gathered from a visitor’s web activity to target them with ads on other websites. Client-side retargeting uses information gathered from a visitor’s web activity to target them with ads.

How does Facebook pixel retargeting work?

Facebook pixel retargeting allows you to show ads to people who have visited your website or interacted with your app. Pixel retargeting works by placing the Facebook pixel on your website or app and then creating a Custom Audience from people who have visited your website or interacted with your app.