Whether you’ve just started your eCommerce business or have been in the eCommerce game for some time, you might be shocked to learn that the vast majority of consumers won’t add products to the cart and buy from you the first time they visit your site.

(In fact, a 2017 survey from Episerver found that 92% of first-time visitors to an eCommerce site aren’t there to make a purchase.)

A 2017 survey from Episerver found that 92% of first-time visitors to an eCommerce site aren't there to make a purchase. #ecommerce #facebook #remarketing Click To Tweet

Even those who have been to your site before – and even those who have bought your products in the past – aren’t going to make a purchase every time they click over to your page. Modern online consumers typically visit a variety of websites to compare products and prices, read up on informational content, and get an overall “feel” for the brands they’re considering doing business with.

This is all to say that conversions don’t happen with the snap of your fingers. The modern buyer’s journey involves several touchpoints.

The problem with the nature of eCommerce, unfortunately, is that there’s no guarantee your visitors will even come back to your site a second or third time – let alone come back to make a purchase.

…that is, unless you do something to keep your brand top-of-mind in the eyes of your site’s visitors.

This is where remarketing comes in.

A quick list of what you’ll find in this article:

What Is Remarketing?
How Effective Is Remarketing, Anyway?
A Step-by-Step Guide to Facebook Remarketing for eCommerce
Prerequisite Steps
1. Installing a Facebook Pixel
2. Creating a Custom Audience
3. Creating Your First Facebook Remarketing Campaign
4. Setting Up Ad Spend and Bids
5. Quick Tips, Tricks, and Warnings
Wrapping Up

Dig in!

What Is Remarketing?

Even if you’ve never heard of remarketing, you almost certainly have seen it in action.
Remarketing meme

Have you ever visited a website once, then started seeing ads for that very same website all over the web less than a week later?

Or, maybe you used Google to search for a specific product, and are now seeing sponsored posts on your social media feeds from companies that offer said product?

Or perhaps you had a dream about a certain brand, then turned on your TV and immediately were presented with a commercial featuring that company?

(Okay, I made that last one up…but you just know that kind of thing isn’t too far off…)

Anyway, that’s remarketing.

Essentially, the way it works is:

  • An individual visits your site, and takes action of some kind
  • Using tracking cookies, they’re automatically placed in an appropriate audience segment based on the action they took (or didn’t take)
  • Soon after, ads you’ve created will begin to be displayed to this individual on platforms and channels you’ve partnered with

For example, let’s say you’ve been looking into beginning a new healthy lifestyle, and have been searching the web for related content. You might, then, be presented with an ad such as this one the next time you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed:
Facebook ecommerce remarketing exampleSource.

As we said earlier, the goal of remarketing is to keep your brand top-of-mind in the eyes of your potential (and current) customers. Moreover, the goal is the same as any other marketing initiative: provide the right content, to the right person, at the exact right time. In doing so, you’ll stand a much better chance of getting them back on your site – and hopefully moving toward conversion.

How Effective Is Remarketing, Anyway?

Remember our little joke about seeing a commercial on television right after dreaming about the product within said commercial?

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that something like that could actually happen.

To be sure, the first time it happened to you, it’d probably freak you out a bit. Eventually, though, you’d not just get used to it – you’d begin expecting to see commercials specifically tailored to your needs, desires, and interests.

That’s pretty much the exact path remarketing has taken over the past few years.

Facebook remarketing memeSource.
When it first gained prevalence years ago, many consumers’ first thoughts were something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s way too creepy.”

But, as the saying goes, the times, they are a-changin’. Nowadays, the majority of eCommerce consumers prefer online ads to be personalized to their liking. This would explain why remarketing is seen as the most effective tactic for improving the performance of search ads and social ads:

How effective is remarketing chartSource.

Going along with this, data collected by Wishpond find that:

  • The click-through rate of retargeted ads is ten times that of display ads (0.7% vs .07%)
  • Retargeting can lead to an incredible 726% increase in site visitation over a four-week period
  • Retargeting gets 26% of cart abandoners back on track and converting (as compared to only 8% of cart abandoners who do the same when retargeting is not used)

Now, these stats are with regard to remarketing overall. But we see a similar story when focusing solely on Facebook remarketing:

  • 44% of Facebook users’ purchasing decisions are influenced by ads they see on social media
  • 26% of Facebook users who click on an ad go on to make a purchase
  • 62% of marketers say Facebook is the most important social media marketing channel available

Now, it’s one thing to know that Facebook remarketing is effective. But it’s essential that you understand why it’s so effective.

For one thing, Facebook collects a ton of information on your target customers. From demographics and interests to online behaviors, you stand to gain a lot of info on your customers by using remarketing on Facebook.

44% of Facebook users' purchasing decisions are influenced by ads they see on social media. #stats #ecommerce #remarketing Click To Tweet

(Yes, Facebook has been under fire for this as of late. That said, a quick word of advice: be ethical about the way you collect and use your customers’ data. Not only is required by law in many areas of the world – it’s the right thing to do, period.)

Additionally, many ads presented via Facebook remarketing can be interacted with by audience members. Remember the health-related ad we showed earlier? Those who see this ad are able to like it, share it, and comment on it. Not only does this enhance engagement levels of potential and current customers alike, but it also works as social proof, as well (in that, friends of those who engage with the content may potentially be exposed to it, as well).

Finally, running remarketing ads on Facebook is generally cheaper than doing so on Google and its advertising network. While the generally-accepted reason behind this is that Facebook users aren’t always as primed for shopping as Google searchers may be, as we said earlier, you basically have a one-in-four chance of converting those who do engage with your best Facebook ads.

To recap:

Remarketing via Facebook allows you to present highly-relevant ads to specific target consumers in a cost-efficient manner. Need we say more?

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Facebook Remarketing for eCommerce

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s dig right into how to get started with your first Facebook remarketing campaign.

Prerequisite Steps

If you’re a complete newbie to using Facebook for your eCommerce business, there are two main things you’ll need to do before anything else.

The first, of course, is to set up a Facebook business page. This is relatively straightforward, as Facebook walks you through the process step by step.
Setting up a Business Facebook PageSource.
(Note: Be sure to flesh out your page as much as possible before spending money on advertising. A subpar page is a huge turnoff for consumers – and will lead to a huge waste of ad spend on your part.)

You’ll also need to create an ad account within your Business Manager account, as well. This will allow you to promote your products not just on Facebook, but on Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and the Audience Network, as well.

Finally, you’ll need to create a product catalog and begin adding the items you wish promote via Facebook into said catalog. You can do this manually, or use Facebook’s Catalog Manager to automatically sync your product data from an existing platform (such as Shopify or BigCommerce).

Once you’ve taken care of these initial steps, you’ll be ready to dig into Facebook remarketing.

1. Installing a Facebook Pixel

A “pixel” is simply a piece of code that you’ll put on your website that connects your site to your Facebook Business page.

This allows data collected from your customers on both platforms to be automatically interchanged. This, of course, is what enables you to use Facebook remarketing in the first place.

First, go to your Ads Manager page within your Facebook Business account, then click on the Settings tab. Then, click on “Pixels,” as shown below:
Setting up a Facebook pixelSource.
Then, click “Create a Pixel,” label it, and follow the instructions regarding terms of use, etc. Once you’ve accepted the terms, click “Set Up Now.”

You’ll then have the option of assigning the Pixel to a specific Ad Account (if you have more than one). You can also assign a Partner Account if you’re working with a third-party for a given campaign.

Now, you’ll need to install the Pixel on your website. If you use a third-party eCommerce platform, click “Use an Integration or Tag Manager,” and follow the applicable instructions.

If you wish to manually install the Pixel into your website, click “Copy and Paste the Code.” You’ll then need to add the code snippet into the header of your website’s code as follows:
Once you’ve installed the Facebook Pixel on your eCommerce site, Facebook will begin collecting data on your visitors based on both their Facebook profiles and their on-site actions (as long as they are currently logged into their Facebook accounts).

In the meantime, you can begin creating custom audiences, as well as your first Facebook ads.

2. Creating a Custom Audience

As we’ve discussed, the entire point of remarketing is to target specific individuals within your overall audience base, and present them with ads and marketing content that has seemingly been created just for them.

To that end, Facebook allows you to create custom audiences based on a variety of data points, collected from a variety of sources. Here, we’ll go over some of the most effective ways to create a custom audience.

(Your first step, here, will be to click on “Create Audience” on this page within your Business account.)
Current Customers
Your best bet is to start by creating a segment based on your current customer list.

After clicking the button that reads “Create a Custom Audience,” click on “Customer File.” From there, you’ll simply copy and paste your customers’ email addresses into the next form, as shown below:
Adding current customers to remarketingSource.
Facebook will then automatically crosscheck this list with its own database, identifying customers who also have active Facebook accounts.

(Again, if a customer doesn’t have a Facebook account – or they use different email addresses for Facebook than they did when signing up for your mailing list – they won’t be a part of this audience. However, these instances will likely be few and far between.)

Starting with this ready-made audience is a great way to begin your Facebook remarketing initiative, as you likely already have a ton of data on these individuals. In turn, you’ll be able to create laser-focused ads and content to present to them as they scroll through their Facebook feed.
Website Custom Audience
Here’s where things get a little more in-depth.

The purpose of creating a Website Custom Audience is to segment individuals based on actions they’ve taken while browsing your site.

There’s a rather large list of potential actions to choose from, including the following:

  • Visited site
  • Visited a specific page on your site
  • Spent x amount of time on-site
  • Used a specific search term
  • Added product to cart
  • Purchased specific product
  • Abandoned cart
  • Spent x amount over a certain period of time

While you’ll want to start on a basic level by defining just one parameter, you have the option of combining up to five. This will allow you to create ultra-specific audiences in the future.

(For example, you may eventually choose to target individuals who used a specific search term, visited a specific page on your site, and spent a certain amount of money within a single session.)

You can also set a parameter so that only those who have taken a specific action within a certain timeframe (e.g., in the last thirty days) are included in the custom audience.

Engagement Custom Audience

In similar fashion to the above, you can also create custom audiences based on consumers’ actions with regard to your Facebook content.

Create custom audiences based on consumers? actions
After choosing one of the above actions, you can then get a bit more granular. For example, after clicking on “Facebook Page” (i.e., creating an audience from those who have engaged with your Facebook Business Page), you’ll be presented with the following menu:
Creating an audience from those who have engaged with your Facebook Business Page
Once more, you can define multiple parameters in order to narrow your focus even further. So, you may create a custom audience full of those who have visited your Facebook Business Page, and also have “liked” a post you created on Instagram.

(Again, you’ll probably want to start rather broadly, and only start narrowing down your audiences as you learn more about what these actions actually mean in terms of their buyer’s journey.)

Lookalike Audience

So far, we’ve focused on segmenting individuals who have already engaged with your brand in some way or another.

If you’re looking to generate brand awareness, though, you’ll want to consider creating Lookalike Audiences, as well.

As the name suggests, Lookalike Audience members are those who are similar in some way to an audience you’ve already defined.

The most common traits to consider when creating Lookalike Audiences are demographics (such as age, gender, and profession) and geographics (which can be rather broad, or more specific as needed). If your brand’s products tend to sell well to 30-something men who live in New York, you’ll of course want others who fit this description to be exposed to your brand via Facebook ads and content.

You can also tap into your current audiences’ interests (as defined on their Facebook profiles), as well. While creating Lookalikes based on demographics and geographics is a decent way to find new potential customers, doing so based on interests will almost certainly be more efficient in the long run.

At any rate, Facebook provides the following instructions for creating Lookalike Audiences:

  • Your Lookalike Audience will only include people from the country/countries you select during creation.
  • Your source audience must contain at least 100 people from a single country in order for us to use it as the basis for a Lookalike Audience.
  • You can create up to 500 Lookalike Audiences from a single source audience.
  • People in your source audience will be excluded from your Lookalike Audience unless you use a pixel as your source audience.
  • You can use multiple Lookalike Audiences at the same time for a single ad set. The ad set will target your ads to people who are in any of the selected Lookalike Audiences

Now, the only problem with Lookalike Audiences is that you won’t be able to reach those whose engagements on Facebook don’t reflect their interests or hobbies. In other words, someone who loves to ski might not necessarily use Facebook to engage with skiing-related content, so Facebook wouldn’t know to place them in a Lookalike segment.

(Of course, these individuals wouldn’t be prime targets, anyway, since they likely aren’t all that engaged on Facebook in the first place.)

A Note on Audience Overlap

As you may have surmised by now, there’s a pretty decent chance that specific individuals may fall into more than one Custom Audience segment – especially as you create more and more Custom Audiences.

(As a rather simple example, an individual might have recently abandoned their cart, and they also might have recently shared one of your Facebook posts with their friends.)

When such overlap happens, you run the risk of showing them multiple ads, each relating to a different action or characteristic that applies to them. Not only does this mean you run the risk of annoying them with too many ads (more on this later), but each applicable ad will end up competing for visibility from this customer against one another (more on this later, as well).

Setting up Audience OverlapSource.
To minimize the chances of this happening, you’ll want to analyze your Audience Overlap from time to time in a couple ways.

If you notice that two or more audiences are incredibly similar, you might want to consider melding them all into one. There’s no sense in creating two different ads for two different segments when one ad will do, right?

On the other side of things, if you notice an overlap and also notice each overlapping audience is rather general, you’ll want to define each segment a bit more specifically – and even add exclusions to each. For example, say you define one segment as “People who live in New York,” and another as “People who live in the northeast.” (This would mean people who live in NY will be seeing two different sets of ads, since they fit into both categories.) To avoid this, you’d want to further define the second segment as “People who live in the northeast, excluding those who live in New York.”

For more on dealing with audience overlap, check out what Facebook has to say.

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    3. Creating Your First Facebook Remarketing Campaign

    Once you have at least one Custom Audience defined, you’ll be ready to create your first Facebook remarketing campaign on.

    First, head back to Facebook’s main Business page. From there, click “Create an Ad,” located near the top-right of the screen.

    You’ll then be presented with the following screen:
    Creating Your First Facebook Remarketing Campaign
    You’ll of course want to choose the option that applies best to your current campaign. From there, Facebook will walk you through the creation of your campaign, allowing you to tailor pretty much everything about it, including:

    • Your target audience
    • The placement of your ad
    • Your ad budget
    • Your ad scheduling

    For most of these options, Facebook will guide you through best practices for implementing them. In some cases, Facebook will even automatically define certain parameters (such as the placement and timing of your ad), allowing you to maximize the effectiveness of the ad while also keeping costs to a minimum.

    Also, Facebook provides predictions regarding the reach of a given ad, as well as the projected number of conversions you might expect once your ad goes live.

    Now, there are a variety of ad formats to choose from when creating a campaign. Of course, you’ll want to choose which format you use carefully, depending on your goal for the campaign in question.

    If your goal is to generate traffic to your site, your best bet is to go with Page Post Link or Video ads. Typically, these ads will be presented within your target audience’s social feed:
    Facebook remarketing add example Source.

    If you’re looking to increase and enhance engagement on your brand’s Facebook page, consider using:

    • Page Like Ads
    • Page Post Photo Ads
    • Page Post Video Ads

    Facebook ecommerce remarketing ad example Source.

    Or, if you’re looking to generate sales, you’ll want to go with:

    Example of carousel facebook remarketing adSource.
    Now, for ads focused on promoting your overall brand, you’ll of course need to create the content and media showcased within the ad on your own. You can also recycle and “boost” past posts and content that have performed well in the hopes of exposing new audience members to your brand in the process.

    For eCommerce companies looking to drive sales, promote upsells and cross-sells, and/or recover abandoned carts, Dynamic Product Ads may be your best bet. When creating these ads, you simply need to have your product catalog connected and up to date, and Facebook will take care of the rest. Essentially, Facebook will pull information from your catalog, such as a product’s name, description, price, and photo, and create an ad from a template created by your company.

    (For best practices regarding specifics like title length and photo quality/size for Dynamic Product Ads, check out Facebook’s in-depth guide here.)

    4. Setting Up Ad Spend and Bids

    As is the case with many other forms of online advertising, you’ll need to bid for visibility when remarketing on Facebook.

    If you’re at all familiar with bidding on ads, you’re probably aware that a strategic approach is necessary in order to ensure visibility, and also to ensure you don’t spend too much on ads that end up being ineffective.

    Once your ad campaign goes live, there are three main factors that determine whether Facebook will present it to your targeted audience:

    • Bid Size: Obviously, you’ll need to outbid your competitors if you want your ad to win the auction. In the interest of not overspending, though, you can use automatic bidding, setting a maximum allowed bid for a given campaign. Also, automatic bidding ensures you will only bid the minimum necessary amount to win an auction (e.g., if your maximum bid is $10, and your closest competitor’s max bid is $4, you’ll only be charged the next-highest increment – not the full $10).
    • Engagement Level: The more your ad is shown, the more data Facebook will have regarding how many individuals have engaged with it. The more people that engage with the ad, the more valuable it will appear in the eyes of Facebook’s algorithms. Basically, this means you’ll likely need to spend more on your ad at first in order to generate engagement and “prove” that your ad is worth checking out. As you begin to gain traction in this aspect, Facebook’s algorithms will start to see your ad as more valuable than your competitors’
    • Estimated Action Rates: This is similar to the above, but it goes a bit deeper. That is, Facebook’s algorithms essentially analyze a given ad to predict how it will perform in front of a given audience. An ad that is deemed highly-relevant and engaging will be given a boost over its competition. While lower-quality ads can still outbid such ads, it will cost much more for them to do so.

    Now, as we’ve discussed, you can run remarketing campaigns for a variety of purposes (from increasing brand awareness and enhancing engagement to driving initial and subsequent sales). Depending on your goal for a specific campaign, you’ll be able to choose between being charged per impression, per click, or per conversion:

    • If your goal is to generate brand awareness, your only option is to be charged per thousand impressions (since clicks and conversions aren’t your goal, of course)
    • If your goal is to generate traffic, you can choose between paying for impressions or clicks to your site
    • If your goal is to generate conversions, you can choose between paying for impressions, clicks, or actual conversions

    While the more advanced bidding strategies and techniques go beyond the scope of this article, we’ll offer the following piece of advice for those just getting started with Facebook remarketing:

    Start small by choosing the “Lowest Cost” bid cap option. This will allow you to “dip your toes in the water,” so to speak, and to see if you can win an auction even by bidding a relatively small amount. While you might not end up gaining visibility this way, you’ll at least gain a ballpark understanding of how much you’ll need to spend moving forward.

    (And, again: You might get lucky and gain some visibility on the cheap!)

    After you’ve let a campaign run for a period of time, you might then switch to “Lowest Cost with a Bid Cap.” As the name implies, here you’ll be starting with the minimum necessary bid, and will only end up bidding more if you have some competition for a given campaign. However, you’ll also automatically stop bidding after the auction reaches a certain dollar amount – so you won’t end up spending more than you’ve anticipated on a given ad.

    With the data you’ve collected via the above methods, you’ll likely have a much more concrete idea of how much you’ll need to spend on a specific ad. At this point, you might consider using the Target Cost option, where you’ll automatically bid a certain amount, regardless of your competitors’ bids.

    (Again, if you win, you won’t be charged the full amount – only enough to win the auction.)

    As you get acclimated with the process of bidding (and as you gather more and more data), you’ll inherently gain a better understanding of the best way to approach the process altogether. While experimentation is key in the long run, your goal for getting started should be to gather as much information as you can without breaking the bank.

    5. Quick Tips, Tricks, and Warnings

    As we begin to wrap up this guide, let’s quickly go over some of the things to keep in mind as you get more acclimated with remarketing on Facebook.

    Start Simple, and Focus on Value

    Earlier on, we mentioned that you can create audience segments based on up to five on-site (or on-channel) actions or inactions.

    But you probably don’t want to start here. Rather, start by focusing individual campaigns on reaching those who take a singular action on your site or Facebook page.

    For example, you might create one campaign focused on re-engaging cart abandoners. Here, you’d want to present the specific item they left in their cart within a Dynamic Product Ad.

    At the same time, you could run a separate campaign focused on those who simply viewed a product, but didn’t add it to their cart at all. Again, you’ll present this item within a Dynamic Product Ad, as well.

    And, for those who did end up making a purchase, you’d create yet another ad campaign – this one either a Dynamic Product or Collection Ad, showcasing various accessories to allow them to get more value out of the initially-purchased product.

    As you begin to gain a more in-depth and granular understanding of your customers’ path to purchase, you can then start thinking about getting a bit more “fancy” in how you create your campaigns. For example, you might find that Dynamic Product Ads are more effective after an individual has visited a specific product page three times – and that presenting them before this third visit actually turns them off. Or, to get even more specific, it might be more effective to have the ad be presented after the third visit and after a certain amount of time has elapsed.

    Needless to say, you aren’t going to be able to know all this from the get-go. So, again, the process should be:

    • Start simple
    • Collect data
    • Go deeper
    • Profit

    Beware of Ad Fatigue

    We alluded to this before, but it’s worth repeating:

    Your audience will get tired of seeing the same ad over and over again whenever they load up their Facebook feed. Heck, they’ll even get tired of seeing different

    ads from your brand over and over again if they see them too often.

    Now, there’s really no hard-and-fast rule as to “how many is too many.” And that’s actually for the better, as it will require you to be a bit more cognizant of the performance of your remarketing ads in the long run.

    That said, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the following metrics:

    • Frequency: The number of times your ad is shown
    • Actions: The number (and quality) of actions your audience members take after seeing your ad
    • CTR: The number of times your audience members clicked your ad’s call-to-action, divided by the number of impressions the ad generated

    In general, you’ll start to see your CTR dip as your audience members get more “used to” seeing your ads within their Facebook feeds. In the interest of not desensitizing your audience to your ads (and your brand as a whole), you’ll want to cap the number of times a given ad will be presented to a given person.

    But that doesn’t mean you need to stop advertising to this person altogether. Instead, you’ll want to change up something (or perhaps a few things) about the ad, including:

    • The copy (both of the headline and the body)
    • The image or video used
    • The call-to-action

    As we’re about to remind you, remarketing isn’t just about making a sale – it’s about enhancing engagement among your audience in a variety of ways. However, if you continue showing the same exact ad over and over, your audience will get the feeling that you’re just trying to push them toward converting.

    Don’t Just Focus on the Sale

    As we mentioned earlier, different ad formats work best for different purposes.

    That said, you’d do well to keep in mind that remarketing is about more than just selling your products. It’s about catering to your audience’s needs at a specific moment in time.

    So, rather than going all-in on Dynamic Product Ad campaigns, remember that you can also use remarketing to get visitors to click back over to your site, engage with specific content, and overall learn more about what your brand has to offer.
    Facebook remarketing ad engaging with specific contenteSource.
    Basically, don’t forget that the buyer’s journey is still a thing, just because you have the ability to showcase specific products to individuals who may have clicked on a certain page. Keep their needs and intentions in mind, and give them what they want; they’ll return the favor eventually.

    Wrapping Up

    Whew…we covered a lot here, didn’t we?

    Don’t worry, though.

    You don’t need to digest it all at once.

    Reason being, you don’t need to do all of this at once. As with most marketing tactics, remarketing is about testing the waters, and figuring out what works best for your audience and your company. In other words, you’re supposed to start small, and use what you learn to dive into the more advanced tactics we discussed in this article.

    The only thing to do now is get started. And btw, check out our article about social commerce so it will complete your knowledge about use of social media platforms in ecommerce.

    Author bio:

    Anthony Capetola from Sales & OrdersAnthony Capetola is the Marketing Manager for Sales & Orders, the ultimate ecommerce marketing suite. Sales & Orders’ award-winning platform and team have helped thousands of retail brands capitalize on some of today’s most valuable digital marketing channels.

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