Chances are that you have been on the receiving end of retargeting at some point or other. You’ve probably also heard people talk about retargeting without really knowing what it is.
Maybe your mom exclaimed at some point how weird it was that she kept seeing ads for a new heating unit… and just when she was shopping for a new heating unit!
How did Facebook know to show her those ads? That’s some incredible coincidence!
Of course, you and I know that this is not a coincidence at all. But perhaps you’re not entirely sure how precisely it works.
The answer is cookies. Cookies are actually small files that can get saved on your computer via the browser. These files are stored there by websites, and that in turn enables the website to identify that user again in future. This is how you can stay logged into a website when you return to it later on – because the website checks for the file, which identifies you.
This also means that other websites can interact with cookies placed by yours. In the case of Facebook retargeting, your website might leave a file on the visitor’s computer, and then Facebook can identify that file in order to use it to show you the correct ads.
Any page on a website can leave a cookie, which means that not only can you tag users, you can also tag their specific actions.
So, one cookie might tell Facebook that a visitor came to your website, but another might tell Facebook that they looked at THIS specific product and then added it to their checkout but stopped just short of clicking buy.
The cookie can even contain additional information – such as the time of day that they were active.
Facebook retargeting actually allows you to do several different things with this basic functionality though, and uses some unique terminology to describe the various different methods. These can work in slightly different ways in some cases too.
Many of these fall under the category of the ‘Custom Audience’.
Custom Audiences Explained
Custom audiences on Facebook are basically lists or filters that you create in order to show your adverts only to specific members of the public that you have somehow pre-selected.
We’ll go into depth on how to set this up, as well as how to make it work wonders for you in a moment.
First, we should address the two other types of options here. One is the Customer List.
A customer list is exactly that: a list of people with their details. You will collect things like their emails, their phone numbers, their Facebook IDs, etc. You can also integrate this with email marketing tools such as MailChimp and simply upload an entire list.
Facebook will then match those visitors to its own huge user base, looking for users that added those same numbers and emails as their contact details.
This form of retargeting works slightly differently in that it doesn’t look for a specific action the user has taken, but rather looks for leads that you have already generated.
A lead is any contact that has had some kind of interaction with your brand and that you have the contact details of. Leads are important because they give you the option to take further action and convert them into customers.
Leads can further be broken down into cold leads, warm leads, and qualified leads. The more engaged with your brand the lead is, the ‘warmer’ they are, and the more likely they are to be persuaded to buy from you.
If someone has willingly and knowingly subscribed to your email list, then you should certainly consider them ‘warm’ – as they clearly know your brand and at least want more information about them.
And of course, you can always create lists based on the engagement of the users. Some autoresponders (email list tools) will allow you to organize your lists based on how many emails they open, and how many links they click.
Likewise, you may have one email list for people who are interested in your brand generally, and another list for people who want to hear about news for a specific product. In that way, this form of retargeting can become just as highly targeted.
Finally, the ‘App Activity’ option is for retargeting to people who have taken an action of some sort in an app or game that you created. This is a useful option for those marketing across multiple formats, but otherwise works similarly to the two mentioned above.
There are other methods you can use to target your audiences. You might use a ‘Lookalike Audience’ for instance, which looks for potential customers that share similar properties with your lists and your warm leads. Likewise, you can filter audience members based on a whole range of different factors from their interests, to their age, to their geographic location.
These alternative forms of Facebook marketing may be useful when used in conjunction with retargeting strategies, but are distinct and separate from that approach.
Facebook Dynamic Ads
Another great feature Facebook has introduced to make retargeting that much simpler, is its dynamic product ads. These are adverts that you only have to create once, but which will adapt to show visitors the products that are likely to be most relevant to them.
Facebook’s dynamic product ads will employ a simple template which will show a number of different products, along with their details, depending on the data provided by the cookie or the app SDK you provide.
To use this, you will need to create a product catalog, which Facebook lets you do by adding your products through your account. It’s worthwhile doing, as it allows you to effectively turn Facebook into a storefront!