Facebook Remarketing: Pay to Play, Conversion Style

As one of the world’s most popular websites with more than 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook is an attractive place to be for marketers. And it can be a happy hunting ground too, when used properly.

Sadly for most businesses, the days of being able to use the ubiquitous social network as a source of free traffic providing an endless stream of no-cost customers are largely gone. After all, Facebook is a business too, and for some time now it has made its money from advertising. If you want to engage with Facebook’s users for your own benefit, then you’re going to have to pay for the privilege.

Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm prioritizes organic content from real people rather than businesses. Salesy messages and promotional images will get short shrift if you post them as ordinary updates, so the only effective way to ensure you get your self-serving content in front of relevant people is to invest in Facebook Ads.

Why Facebook is such a powerful platform for advertising

The flip side of Facebook burying businesses’ organic content, is that it has also invested heavily in its advertising technology, meaning it offers one of the most sophisticated platforms for targeting relevant people, who are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer and more likely to become customers.

The data Facebook holds is vast. After all, 62% of Americans have an account and every time they use the site they give away information about themselves which can be very valuable to marketers. This huge amount of data allows you to get very granular with your targeting options.

This not only applies to seeking out new customers and users, but also gives you an advantage when trying to put yourself in front of returning users, encourage repeat customers, and rescue sales from browsers who are yet to buy from you. Remarketing, which involves serving targeted ads to people who have already visited your site or interacted with you, is one of the most effective and efficient modern advertising tactics, and it can really help you boost your advertising ROI.

By adding the Facebook tracking pixel to your own digital properties, the social platform can help you connect with users who’ve previously browsed your store, keeping your brand front of mind, reminding them about products they were interested in, promoting special offers, and

Facebook plays a daily role in many people’s lives, which makes it a perfect platform for reconnecting with your potential customers. It is also used across multiple devices, desktop, mobile, tablet, work computer and personal computer, and so on. This means Facebook can often identify the same person no matter what device they are using. The upside for you? You can remarket to them at different times no matter what they are using to access the web. Cross-device targeting is a big step when you consider modern browsing habits. For example, a common journey would be to browse on mobile on your daily commute, but purchase on a laptop when you get home, or on your work lunch break. By serving ads across both these devices, you can stay front of mind at each different stage, engaging with them across multiple devices and at various buying stages as they surf the web.

Having the Facebook pixel on your site also allows you to target people based on every step of the journey. You can build up very specific segments based on every touch point. For example, you can focus on people who’ve abandoned their cart, shoppers who’ve viewed a particular item, those who’ve viewed one item but not another, or those who’ve purchased an item 30 days ago which is due to run out any day now.

How to get the most out of remarketing on Facebook

There are lots of reasons why you might want to remarket through Facebook, but there are also lots of variables that affect whether or not your campaigns will be effective. By applying the principles of conversion optimization, you can really take your Facebook Ads to the next level, learning and improving all the time. Here are some tips to help you maximize the return from your remarketing efforts.

Tailor your content to each segment

We’ve previously explored the advantages of personalization when it comes to ecommerce. The same advantages apply to your advertising – your users are more likely to respond if the experience is tailored to them. By being very granular with your segments and adopting your creative to suit different devices, different buying phases, different demographic details, or different shopping tastes, you can get pretty close to a personalized advertising experience.

As a simple example, you could create different custom audiences in Facebook based on people who have purchased sneakers in size 10 before. There are a couple of ways to do this: it could be based on an event tracked in the Facebook pixel for people who’ve selected that size, or you could upload a list of email addresses of your customers who have bought size 10’s. Then when you want to advertise a new range of sneakers to them, your ad copy could include something along the lines of: “Size 10s available now.” This personalizes the experience and removes one of the barriers that might stop someone from progressing with a purchase, making it easier for them to find their size straight away.

Get your metrics in order

A common issue for digital marketers is finding ‘one version of the truth’. It is often the case that your stats in Facebook for a campaign will look very different to in Google Analytics. This can make it harder to tell whether or not your remarketing is working, make it tougher to report, and ultimately can make it hard for you to convince colleagues to release budget for you to carry on.

One reason for this is often down to the attribution window. Facebook’s default is set to 1-day view and 28-day click. This means that it will credit a sale to the Facebook Ad if a user buys from you within 1 day of ‘seeing’ your ad or within 28-days of clicking on it. Google Analytics, on the other hand, uses a ’last non-direct click’ attribution model by default, which means your sales that Facebook recorded as conversions may be attributed to another channel clicked on during that 28-day period in Google Analytics.

It’s important you agree your key metrics in advance and to decide on an attribution model that you’re happy with. Then you can configure the default settings in both Google Analytics and Facebook so they match as closely as possible. This means you get a consistent reporting model and measurable results which you can use to confidently optimize your campaigns.

Remarketing should not be a set it and forget it solution

The Facebook pixel allows you to create dynamic audience lists that automatically update, adding new target users as more people visit your site every day. This essentially means that you can switch on an ad campaign and it will keep itself ticking over, reaching out to new people on a daily basis.

The temptation here is to leave it to its own devices, safe in the knowledge that the target audience is staying in sync with how people are engaging with your site. But it shouldn’t be a completely hands-off approach if you want to get the best results.

If applying key optimization principles, then you want to be testing different versions of your ads, copy, images, targeting options, links, and so on. If thinking about the build/measure/learn cycle, it’s important to analyze your campaign performances and consider how you can test different options to constantly improve. Facebook has split testing built into its platform, so it is already set up for ongoing optimization, but you still need to respond and learn from the results of your tests to make sure you are constantly improving your ads.

Let Facebook’s tech do the heavy lifting

While you shouldn’t adopt a hands-off approach, you also want to avoid making unnecessary work for yourself. Some CRO purists still like to manually split test their ads, running even distributions of traffic to separate ads that they have created themselves.

But as mentioned, Facebook now offers a split testing option within its platform, allowing you to set up your tests as you build a new campaign. Even without that, it will automatically optimize ads within an ad set, giving more weight and visibility to the variations which start to generate the best results. This uses the power of Facebook’s algorithms to optimize for you. The company is now also rolling out a dynamic creative option, which works similarly to the way Sentient Ascend’s evolutionary algorithms build multiple variations of your web designs. With Facebook, you upload various options for the different components of your ad, such as multiple headlines, copy, images, descriptions; then Facebook’s algorithms will build different variations based on which it thinks will perform the best. This can be a real time saver from manually building different ads to split test, but it’s important to keep a close eye on your results as well to make sure you are getting an uplift in performance.

Think about the entire buying journey

Even if your own job is purely focused on creating Facebook advertisements, it’s important to keep in mind that the experience for the user doesn’t begin and end with the ad. Think about what they did on your site in the first place to make their way onto your remarketing list. Consider what action you want them to take from your ad, then also look at what will happen and what the next steps will be when they click through or revisit your site.

It might be useful to get a pen and paper and sketch out some typical journeys. This will help you to think about specific audience segments you can create, as well as help you plan the content you need for your ads and beyond. It’s important to make every step of this journey as specific and relevant as possible. This includes your landing pages, which can have a huge impact on the results of your campaigns.

You could run the most persuasive ads in the world, with a 100% click-thru-rate, but if your landing pages or the experience on your site once they arrive is not relevant or optimized, then all your ad efforts will be wasted. It’s crucial for the ad teams and CRO teams to link in together (if they’re separate) and look at ways you can split test your landing pages and personalize the experience to match the journey your remarketing campaigns have created.

There are many steps to creating a killer remarketing campaign, but hopefully these pointers have given you plenty to think about for delivering optimal performance.