Remarketing is essential for any ecommerce business.
In fact, it’s not only the first Facebook campaign most retailers create, it’s also the most profitable.
There’s just one problem …
If you’re relying on industry standard WCA 30 to set up campaigns (website custom audience from the last 30 days), you aren’t using it to its full potential.
Instead, remarketing campaigns can and should address your entire funnel.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive. That’s why, we’re going to cover Facebook retargeting ads in five parts with plenty of examples along the way:
To make this as practical as possible, you can download our six-part Consolidated Account Structure Cheat Sheet.
Warning: the big picture can be overwhelming.
Still, if you’re already running Facebook ads at scale — or, if you’re curious about how we do it as an agency — then this video is for you …
A visual overview of how and why you should ditch the old way of looking at remarketing as one bucket.
First things first … what’s the difference between reengagement, remarketing (retargeting), and dynamic product ads?
Reengagement ads operate in the middle of the funnel targeting people who have seen one of your ads, engaged with you on Facebook or Instagram, but have not visited your site.
The targeting options include:
While it’s possible for users to click and convert, it’s very unlikely. Reengagement audiences aren’t ice-cold. But they’re pretty close.
When building out your reengagement audience, remember to exclude WCA 30 (website visitors from the last 30 days), Pixel Purchasers from the last 180 days, as well as your existing customers (uploaded via csv).
Remarketing ads operate at the bottom of the funnel and always target people who have visited your website — whether through an ad, one of your pages, or a referral.
Use videos, gifs, or still images in your remarketing ad sets centered on specificity and validation: proof that this product will solve this problem because it’s already done it for this customer … and it can be purchased through this offer.
Because you’re privy to what pages (products and collections) they’ve checked out, use your ads to highlight more information that will convince them that those products will improve their image, identity, or lifestyle.
Just like reengagement, make sure that you’re excluding Pixel Purchasers from the last 180 days and your lifetime customers.
Dynamic product ad (DPA) is your lowest hanging fruit, targeting people who have either viewed specific product or category content, added to cart, or initiated check out.
This kind of engagement indicates strong purchase intent, and using DPAs and custom audiences from your website is one of the easiest ways to edge them closer to conversion.
First, you’ll need to use your Facebook Pixel to build a custom audience of people who have interacted with your website. Then you’ll have the following targeting options:
Just like reengagement and remarketing, when you’re setting up DPA campaigns, exclude those who have already purchased from you.
The fundamental mistake brands make with retargeting lies at two extremes.
First, under-personalizing. Second, over-indexing.
The former afflicts business owners running their own campaigns. In short, treating all website traffic the same. The latter appears at scale — agencies who report strong single-account ROAS while hiding who and from where those returns are coming.
Instead, Facebook and Instagram remarketing should address the full funnel.
How? By using a consolidated account structure to …
Combine prospecting and remarketing ad sets in the same campaign:
The blueprint above only features two campaigns, a mere snippet of what a full account would look like. Campaign 1 aims at the full funnel. Campaign 2, retargeting through DPAs.
And yet, despite its simplification, it captures the essence of what we’ve discovered — across hundreds of ecommerce businesses and close to a billion dollars in Facebook revenue.
Consolidation not only ensures more accurate data and attribution, it’s also better for reporting, spend allocation, and propelling ads out of Facebook’s learning phase.
Just as your website visitors vary day to day, including your remarketing and prospecting ad sets in the same CBO lets Facebook allocate appropriate budgets day to day.
Even more importantly, consolidated accounts let you optimize for the best kind of growth there is: new customers.
Combining remarketing and prospecting sounds odd. And you shouldn’t always do it. However, the majority of your evergreen campaigns should be structured this way.
If you’re running single-SKU campaigns, then you should add DPAs as another ad set within that same campaign. If you’re not, then break your DPAs out into a separate campaign.
Something else to consider is moving your DPAs up from the product, cart, or checkout level and building categorical products feeds. As long as they’re triggered by collection pages or landing pages that contain multiple (though thematic) products, you can extend the power and specificity of DPAs.
The primary exception to consolidating surrounds special events and seasonal sales.
During cultural moments like holiday shopping, that’s when you should put your reengagement and remarketing ad sets in the same CBO, but separated from prospecting.
This allows you to control the budget and spend at the campaign level, as well as measure the results of the event-specific campaign effectively.
Why? Because you don’t want to have to guess what percentage of your advertising budget should be spent on a particular audience. That's what Facebook’s AI is for.
Even more importantly, the key to winning Black Friday social-media campaigns is to buy your visitors early, before costs explode. And then remarket to them and lean hard into email during the big event.
We’ve already covered the basics of custom-audience creation and exclusion. After all, there’s no point spending money trying to reach existing or active customers.
Still the success formula for retargeting ads is more about the timing: when over who.
The time lag is the number days from a person’s first visit to your site that it takes them to complete a purchase. Understanding the lengths of time customers cluster around will allow you to set up accurate remarketing exclusions.
To find it, log into your account and search “time lag.”
In the following example, most purchases happen on day zero with another large group batched between days 12-30. This will be the time window you’ll need to build out for your typical remarketing custom audiences.
The lookback window is set to 30 days by default. You can expand the report in GA beyond 30 days. However, most brands will see the bulk of conversions happen within the first 30 days. You would only change this if you see 90% of your conversions beyond 30.
Set up the following exclusions in Facebook Ads Manager for your remarketing audiences:
Lapsed visitors are applicable to brands who have a high-repurchase rate that is beyond 30 or 90 days, and know exactly when an existing customer is likely to re-purchase.
However, owned channels like email or SMS work best to re-acquire lapsed visitors, rather than spending your ad budget on customers who have purchased from you in the past.
If you’re not using the full exclusions mentioned above, then you’re not truly remarketing. It’s really just a murky prospecting campaign.
At this stage, you should feel comfortable using Facebook’s default attribution window and ad conversion tracking. And, if you’re curious, you can learn more about how iOS 14 will impact Facebook advertising here.
As we move into the remarketing ad set level, you’ll want to tighten the attribution model.
For remarketing, you should look specifically at a 7-day click.
You want to make sure that if you count an attribution — once somebody has been to the website — that it is because they have clicked on the ad.
And then finally on the DPA level — which is usually PDP viewers and abandoned cart or abandoned checkout — look at a really tight window: 1-day click.
If you don’t, you will begin to over-assign view conversions, which are much more likely to show up in your DPA and remarketing buckets.
Following this standard level of attribution in your funnel will inform the optimization as well as the reporting on these channels.
When you go into Facebook, you can choose how you want Facebook to optimize — whether it’s on a 1-day click or 7-day click.
Now, the fun part most people like to skip straight to. What sort of creative converts best?
Rather than thinking about remarketing as one bucket of people who have been to your website, break it apart into a tree.
The primary question is, “From what page did the prospect leave my website?” Let’s use the scenario of a basic 5-page website.
Each exit tells you something unique about that visitor …
If they visited your home page and left, you know they’re in the consideration phase. They’re interested in why you exist. What you don’t know is which product to show them or their level of purchase.
If they visited a category or collection page, you know what type of product they’re looking for. For instance, if you’re an apparel brand and they exited on a pants category page, you could serve them a UGC retargeting ad on pants.
If they visited a product page, you know exactly what they’re interested in. At this stage you can serve them a review of that specific product.
The next layer of sophistication considers the ad that drove them to your website in the first place. Knowing that, you can start thinking about your marketing sequence.
Outside of audience considerations, there are three main ingredients you should be using to inform your ad copy. While separate, they all add up to the same thing: validation that what you’re selling works. In other words, proof. These include:
But first ...
Long-form vs Short-form: Which is Best?
Both! We’ve tested long-form vs short-form reviews in our accounts. People do read long-form if they make sense or clearly state and answer questions that people have. Don’t let that put you off.
Take your best performing headlines and add them to static images, to ensure it gets seen.
Especially in Instagram placements — if you have a headline that is super strong that touches on a review or based on a PR headline, not everyone is going to read or see the body copy.
You should include the most important copy on the still image or the video itself within the first three seconds.
Consider adding a simple movement to your still image that is gif-like. For example — five stars lighting up as a review.
Use frequently asked questions to create ad copy that overcomes initial barriers to entry.
For example, a sunglasses company could tap into “What type of frames look good on a round face?” The ad copy could read something like: Attention all round faces, this product is for you!
User-generated content like reviews and testimonials really count. Instagram stories in particular, have provided the perfect platform for testimonials in first-person that look very native to the feed.
You don’t need an elaborate shoot. There are so many engaging stickers, gifs and text options that allow consumers to easily add their personal touch to their testimonial. Those little touches are great to add and super cost-effective.
Let’s start with FLO, who sell gummy vitamins to help women suffering from PMS.
This is a great example because she’s talking about how she feels taking these gummies, but you can see the added elements in there with the text and gifs. This demonstrates just how easy it can be to create an ad like this for yourself, without having to rely on influencers.
With UGC, there is a misconception that if you’re planning to run a sponsored ad in Instagram stories, you need to have an influencer with a huge following.
What makes these specific ad types so effective is they feature consumers just like anyone else. They aren’t being paid to talk about the product — they are your friends, a friend of a friend, or someone you just discovered.
And the best part of all is that it doesn’t require much production. Videos like this take ~5 minutes to make and we see them work well specifically in remarketing placement.
A couple of things you should think about before you whip up your next remarketing ad:
To get your creative juices flowing, here are another three examples pulled from our internal brands that are the best performing remarketing ads.
Against some of the other examples, these ads are in-studio productions. Highly stylized and highly produced.
That’s because the product itself comes at a high price point. The look and feel of the ads have to reflect the aesthetics of the product as well as the quality of the brand.
At the other extreme, these ads are low production. Essentially, the team cut out a product, placed it on a colored background, and added to a product review to the body copy.
Nonetheless, all the value props are hit in the body copy, and the headline clearly states what the product is and does.
Much like Bambu Earth, these ads display the products and clearly explain every step in the cleaning process.
The review in the body copy is strictly why “Brandon” likes the kit and the headline tells you exactly what you’ll get out of it.
Moral of the story here is that you don’t have to have high production assets to build out effective ads.
What is the common thing all of these ads have in common? Review copy.
Lastly, if you don’t have many reviews to pull ad copy from, you can get creative and write one yourself … or get one from friends and family.
It’s easy to jump straight to the creative side of remarketing ads. But so much relies on behind-the-scenes elements.
Particularly, how you set up your remarketing campaigns to address the full funnel — specific to the structure of your account, onsite behavior, the audiences you target, and the timing of your creative.
If you have any questions, please drop them into the comments below.
If you’d like more ecommerce training on growing your business, then check out ADmission — Common Thread Collective’s membership community where there’s even more how-to content on the consolidated ad account structure.
Or, if you want to simply off-load your ad buying to a trusted partner … then start a conversation here.
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Adrianne Austin is Growth Strategist at Common Thread Collective, where she helps some of the most-recognized DTC brands scale profitably. She’s also “mama to Valor boy,” an investor in Our Spare Change — a social enterprise creating jewelry out of high quality metals — and baked sourdough before the pandemic. If you’d like to connect, reach out to her on Twitter.