Facebook Ads

    Ultimate Guide to Facebook Retargeting

    When retargeting came onto the digital advertising scene, marketers went wild, and for good reason. Instead of going all-in on the first, and possibly the only touchpoint they had with a new customer they could now be more strategic with their storytelling and offers. Retargeting is sometimes called remarketing, and it gives marketers another chance to show customers they can fulfill a specific need.

    What is retargeting

    Before we get into Facebook retargeting specifically, let’s step back and look at what retargeting means in digital marketing overall. 

    Retargeting is marketing to people by showing them ads after they’ve visited your website. If you’ve ever looked at something on a website and later noticed an ad for it on a completely different site, someone was retargeting you. 

    Retargeting on any platform is hugely valuable since you’re marketing to hot leads as opposed to the cold leads you’re going after in regular targeted campaigns. Hot leads are familiar with your brand and are hopefully interested in it on a purchase level since they’ve already spent time on your website. 

    What is Facebook retargeting

    In order to retarget on Facebook, you must first install the fabled Facebook Pixel. The Pixel is a piece of code that tracks anytime a visitor takes an action you’ve specified ahead of time. The Pixel’s code automatically loads on all pages of your website and installs small text files called cookies, which are what tracks a visitor’s actions. Then when that person visits Facebook later, no matter the device or IP address, Facebook can identify the user and serve him or her the correct retargeting ads. 

    On the advertiser’s side, once the Pixel is installed and tracking and recording data, the campaign manager creates custom audiences based on parameters like “people who have interacted with your website” or “anyone who has engaged with your app” and shows these audiences retargeting ads. 

    How to set up retargeting on Facebook

    Setting up a retargeting campaign on Facebook for the first time is one of the more difficult processes you’ll go through to advertise on Facebook. First, we’ll take you through a brief step-by-step overview, and then we’ll go through a more detailed how-to for each section. 

    Brief step-by-step overview

    1. Create and install a Facebook Pixel
    2. Create one or multiple custom audiences to include/exclude
    3. Check the audience availability (an audience must have a minimum of 20 people before it’s available)
    4. Create your campaign
    5. Monitor and optimize

    How to set up the Facebook Pixel

    1. Go to your Pixels tab in Events Manager.
    2. Click Create a Pixel.

    Image from Facebook


    1. Click Create in the box that appears to finish creating your pixel.
    2. Add the Facebook pixel to your website by choosing from three possible flows:
      1. Someone else makes changes to my website
        1. Go to the Pixels tab in Events Manager.
        2. Click Set up Pixel.
        3. Click Email Instructions to a Developer.
        4. Enter the recipient’s email address.
        5. Click Send at the bottom of the page.
      2. I update my website's code
        1. Go to the Pixels tab in Events Manager.
        2. Click Set up Pixel.
        3. Click Manually Install Pixel Code Yourself.
        4. Go to your website's code and find the header of your website.
        5. Copy the entire code and paste it in the header of your website. Paste the code at the bottom of the header section, just above the closing head tag.
      3. My site uses a tag manager or is hosted on a popular website platform
        1. You can use a partner integration to set up your pixel without having to edit your website's code.
        2. Go to the Partner Integrations tab in Events Manager. 
        3. Select your platform or tag manager. 
        4. Click Connect Account. 
        5. Follow the onscreen instructions to connect your pixel to your website
    3. Set up events to measure the actions you care about with the point-and-click Event Setup Tool
    4. Make sure your Pixel is working correctly with the FB Pixel Helper

    Create Custom Audiences

    Now that the Pixel is set up, you need to define the groups you want to use the Pixel to retarget. That’s done by creating Custom Audiences. In this case, your Custom Audiences will be made up of people who have had contact with your business in at least one form. That might include a visit to a specific webpage, someone who’s signed up for your emails, etc. Let’s use website visits as an example for how you’d set up a Custom Audience. 

    1. Navigate to the Audience area of Ads Manager.
    2. From the Ad Manager Menu, in Assets, click on Audiences.
    3. From the Create Audience drop-down menu, click on Custom Audience.
    4. Click on Website Traffic.

    From there, create one or more audiences, depending on the actions being tracked by the pixel on your website. That might include:

    1. Anyone who visits your website
    2. People who visit specific web pages
    3. People who visit specific web pages but not others

    Once you have your Custom Audience set up, you’ll need to check the audience availability. Facebook won’t make your audience available until it has a minimum of 20 people. You’ll then create your campaign as you normally would, and monitor and optimize. 

    3 beginner Facebook retargeting strategies

    There are so many opportunities with Facebook retargeting, and eventually, you’ll land on and refine what works best for you. Here are three great starting points.

    All Website Visitors – Past 30 Days

    This setting simply shows your retargeted ad to anyone who has visited any part of your website in the past 30 days. This is a great way to remind someone who showed interest in your business but didn’t purchase that you have something amazing to offer. 

    Product/Service Categories

    If you sell a wide variety of products or services you segment your visitors by category and retarget them with ads that are most in line with what they were browsing. For example, if you sell men’s and women’s shows, segmenting can help you make sure you’re not showing high heels to a man who looked at running shoes.

    Lead Generation

    With some products and services, it takes a little longer to woo a customer. That’s where lead gen comes in. Perhaps offering someone a free ebook in a retargeted ad is the push they need to sign up for your software service. 


    Retargeting may seem like a lot to set up, but it is so worth it once you’re up and running. Soon, you’ll find yourself diving through the data and devising new ways to get the most out of retargeting. 


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    Breanna Lambert

    Breanna has 10+ years’ experience in marketing, though the tides & trends have pushed her almost exclusively into digital. She lives in the hills above Boulder, CO and spends her downtime outside exploring with her husband, son, and pup.