The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Remarketing


Facebook remarketing guide

My beautiful mother, who is “technologically challenged,” told me about the Cole Haan boots she found online that followed her around the internet. “It was so weird. I saw them on Facebook three times in the last two weeks so I ordered them. I figured it must’ve been fate,” she said.                     

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was not fate, it was remarketing. We’ve all been victim to the power of remarketing. In fact, I’m often prey even though I’m fully aware what these sneaky advertisers are up to.

What is Remarketing?

For those of you unfamiliar, remarketing works by following your leads around the web with related offers. When a user visits your website they are “cookied” or tagged. To remarket to these visitors, a code is placed on the page that the user visits, which then triggers your ads to follow that cookied user around the web, whether that be on a social media site or on various websites across the internet. So when you see ads on the sidebars or top banners of other sites of the new dining set you just browsed on Pottery Barn, this isn’t a coincidence or “fate,” it’s remarketing.  

Facebook remarketing example of how it works 

Remarketing comes in many shapes and sizes. For instance, Google AdWords allows advertisers to remarket through their platform by creating remarketing lists with a set of rules. You can targeted all website visitors or you can target visitors who came to a specific page on your website or completed a specific action. Then Google will trigger your ads to show to the same visitors on websites across the Google Display Network.

What is Facebook Remarketing?

Facebook remarketing works similar to Google AdWords remarketing, but rather than showing your ads across websites within the Display Network, your ads are shown on Facebook. Facebook also more commonly refers to remarketing as “Custom Audiences.” The concept is the same: someone visits your site or interacts with your brand, they’re tagged with a code you implement to track them, and then while they’re scrolling through their Facebook feed your ad pops up to remind them what they’re missing.

Facebook remarketing funny image saying "don't you forget about me." 

But there are actually a few different flavors of Facebook remarketing, including customer lists, website traffic, and app activity.

Facebook remarketing screenshot of creating a custom audience 

Customer List

Perhaps one the most powerful tools Facebook has to offer is the ability to serve personalized ads to a list of contacts you’ve already acquired. With customer lists, Facebook ads becomes more like email marketing by targeting specific people with personalized messages. Whether it be email addresses, phone numbers, or even Facebook user IDs, you can pull a list of contacts from your CRM or wherever your customer data is stored, upload it directly to Facebook, and target people with ads that are relevant to where they are within your sales funnel.

Facebook remarketing funny gif of Adele saying "Don't forget me, I beg" 

Website Traffic

This is the flavor of remarketing that you’re likely most familiar with, which will serve ads to people who have visited your site within a set time frame. Once you’ve placed a Facebook pixel on all pages of your site, you can set up specific audiences with filters based on pages they’ve visited. For instance, if you sell running gear, but you want your Facebook ads to target people searching for sneakers, then you can set up an audience that shows ads to just people who have visited pages with the keyword “sneakers” in the URL.

Want more Facebook tips? Download our Free Guide: Awesome Power of Facebook Custom Audiences

App Activity

Finally you can target based on app activity. If you have an established app this is typically a good option, and there are multiple ways to show relevant ads to the right people based on user behavior. For instance when someone abandons a shopping cart within your app you could target them with the same product and special discount code. You can reach people who have recently opened your app, recently completed a purchase (to upsell), or achieved a certain level in a game.

Why Should I Remarket on Facebook?

Why wouldn’t you?

“Remarketing is life,” said WordStream founder Larry Kim when I asked him his thoughts on it. “Your lowest hanging fruit can be converted by using Facebook’s custom audiences and site visitor remarketing tactics. It’s ridiculously awesome and you’d be stupid to ignore it.”

Still not convinced? With Facebook’s active monthly user base larger than China’s population, and 22 billion ad clicks per year, the opportunities to gain more business through Facebook ads are endless, and what better way to start than with familiar faces?

Just think about it like the dating pool. You’d be more comfortable going on a second date with someone you’ve already had a pleasant evening with, rather than a blind date which is much more intimidating and the chances of flaking are higher. The same goes for advertising. If someone has already visited your site, downloaded your e-book, or engaged with your app, the chances of them interacting with your ad and purchasing from your brand are much higher than if they saw your brand for the first time on Facebook. In fact, Facebook remarketing ads get 3X the engagement then regular Facebook ads!

Facebook remarketing funny gif from Friends 

Regardless, you should be advertising on Facebook, which makes remarketing on Facebook a no-brainer.

How Do I Get Started with Facebook Remarketing?

To get started with remarketing log into your Facebook Ads Manager account, select the “Tools” dropdown and select “Audiences.”

Facebook remarketing screenshot of the tools dropdown 

Then select “Create Audience” and “Custom Audience.”

Facebook remarketing screenshot of custom audience option 

On the next screen you can chose which type of remarketing list you want to create from the three I explained above: Customer List, Website Traffic, or App Activity.

Facebook remarketing create a custom audience 

Customer List

To import a customer list you can do so by either copying and pasting your customer list or uploading a file that contains emails, phone numbers, and/or Facebook user IDs (or mobile advertiser IDs). Facebook also has an integration with MailChimp if you chose to upload your list through the email server.

Facebook remarketing screenshot showing how to upload a list 

Website Traffic

Before targeting website traffic you need to create and install your Facebook pixel on all pages on your website (NOTE: if you installed a custom audience pixel in the past you can bypass this step). This is a one-time step since each ad account is only allowed (and only needs) one pixel to remarket to visitors. To do so…

  • Go back to the “Tools” dropdown at the top of the page
  • Select “Pixels”
  • Select “Create a Pixel”
  • Name and create your pixel

If you’re not in charge of placing code on your site reach out to your webmaster or developer and have them place the pixel between the <head> tags on every page of your website. The pixel won’t start remarketing until you’ve create an audience tied to an ad campaign.

Facebook remarketing screenshot showing pixels 

Now return to the “Create a Custom Audience” screen and select “Website Traffic.” On this page you can decide the parameters the site visitor must meet in order to get remarketed to. For instance, anyone who visited your site or just people who visited pages that contain the word “shoes” in the URL. Name your audience (for instance: “Shoe Shoppers,” “All Visitors,” “Visited Lead Gen Pages”), and create it!

Once you have your custom audiences set up you’ll need to either apply them to ad sets you’ve already created or create new ad sets that you tie to your customer audience(s). If you’re unfamiliar with the campaign, ad set, and ad creation process, refer to this guide.

Facebook remarketing  

5 Facebook Remarketing Best Practices

Now that you understand the value of Facebook remarketing and how to set it up, it’s important to ensure you’re doing it better than your competition. Follow these five best practices to run conversion-worthy Facebook remarketing campaigns.

#1: Buy Followers with Remarketing Lists

Are you looking to grow your page likes? Whether it be metrics you’re trying to hit to please your boss or providing legitimacy behind your brand on social, it’s always great to have high follower numbers, but growing these organically can be challenging. Luckily, Facebook allows you to run paid campaigns with the main goal of getting page promoters (see image below).

However, Larry advises that you should never buy followers unless it’s through remarketing! Why? Because you want to reach your “super-fans” to get the highest engagement rates possible, which will lead to higher relevance scores, cheaper clicks, and more organic visibility.

Facebook remarketing screenshot of promote your page 

If you are an AdWords advertiser then you’re likely aware of how Quality Score affects your ad rank and the price you pay per click. Facebook has a similar metric called relevance score, which dictates how much you pay and how often your ads are shown to your target audience. The main influencer of relevance score is engagement rates, which are likely to be much higher if you’re showing your ads to Facebook brand loyalists.

Facebook remarketing mean girls gif 

You wouldn’t want a bunch of grumpy people who hate turkey to attend your Thanksgiving feast, right? The same goes for Facebook page likes. You want your Facebook fans to be brand ambassadors who are likely to engage with your content so that every post has a high relevance score, leading to cheaper clicks and more visibility. The best way to do this is to promote your page to people who are already familiar with your brand via remarketing!

Then there’s the added bonus of organic visibility. If one of your Facebook fans also “likes” your page posts, then that post is likely to show up to the users Facebook network of friends, leading to the potential to gain free likes and followers from this organic visibility.

#2: Remarket to People Who Have Already Liked Your Page

Now that you have the followers, you need to ensure they see and interact with your posts. Take tip #1 a step further by remarketing your boosted posts to your Facebook followers. This is a full-proof method because these people have not only already interacted with your brand, but they’ve interacted with your brand on the same platform you’re remarketing with, Facebook. If a user has taken the action of liking your page, then it’s clear they’ve embraced some level of brand loyalty, and the chances of them engaging with your posts are much higher. This again leads to higher relevance scores and organic reach.   

#3: Layer Your Custom Audiences with Facebook’s Targeting Options

The level of granularity you can achieve with Facebook targeting options is absolutely mind-blowing. From targeting different variations of mom personas to the Prime Minister of Spain, if you know your audience well, you’ll have no trouble finding them. While it’s important to not get too granular and limit your reach, it’s even more important to not stretch your budget across an oversized arena of Facebookers since this will actually limit your visibility and lead to lower relevance scores (and less profitability).

 Facebook remarketing funny gif of Joey from Friends

Let’s say your remarketing audience is bordering on the larger side. Perhaps you’ve uploaded a list of 1,000+ contacts, but you only have $150 to spend. Rather than sprinkling a dollar here and there, you’ll be more effective if you combine this list with demographic targeting to hone in on the most in-market, ready-to-buy audience.

It’s all about finding the right balance between budget and audience size, but experimenting with layering targeting options on top of your custom audiences will likely increase your relevancy and allocate your budget to an audience that is more likely to convert.

#4: Think Strategically About Your Goal When Setting Time Frames & Creating Ad Schedules

Advertisers need to be cautious about fatiguing their remarketing audiences, but at the same time if buying cycles are longer or special offers are limited they need to be more aggressive. The life of a Facebook ad is typically short-lived, but rather then running your ad continuously until the budget runs out think about the goal of your ad. Are you running a Black Friday, limited-time discount on dining room sets? Then run the ad aggressively for the time of the sale, without frequency caps, to a remarketing list that looked at the one of your dining set landing pages, but didn’t convert. If you’re trying to simply promote your page to site visitors, this might be an on-going ad set, where you change the copy and imagery from time to time to keep your ads fresh.

Facebook remarketing ad schedule 

Similar to AdWords you can also set up ad schedules to run your ads on specific days of the week and hours of the day rather then 24/7 all week long. If you’re a SaaS company and notice higher traffic and conversion volume Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, then create an ad schedule accordingly.

Facebook remarketing ad schedule calendar 

Moral of the story, when setting up your ad sets be strategic when it comes to timing and scheduling to get the best results possible.

#5: Find New Customers by Layering Lookalike Audiences onto Custom Audiences

Lookalike audiences allow you to clone a relevant audience to expand your reach to an entirely new set of leads. This is an incredibly powerful way to expand your reach and find an untapped audience. What better way to do this then by cloning your remarketing list? These people have already converted by downloading an e-book or subscribing to your blog. You know this list is “in-market,” and perhaps you’ve already converted them and need to find new opportunities. By layering lookalike audiences on top of your custom audience Facebook will find leads that are similar in makeup and likely to be interested in your products or offerings.

Facebook audience lookalike

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Arne Verwoert
Nov 17, 2015

Hi Margot, thanks for for the useful tips! My core business is Google AdWords, but I'm really convinced of the opportunities that Facebook advertising has for my clients and in particular remarketing on Facebook. Can you share some of your best practices regarding to Ad types (News Feed, Right-Hand Column, Carousel Ads) and bidding strategies (automated bids versus manual bids, CPC versus CPM)? That would be great :-). Cheers, Arne

Margot da Cunha
Nov 18, 2015

Thanks Arne! We'll keep those suggestions in mind for future posts. Appreciate your comment.

Kontominas Dimitri
May 24, 2016

Superb blog you have here but I was curious if
you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talkjed about in this
article? I'd really like to bee a part of group wheere I ccan get feed-back from other experienced
individuals that shar the same interest. If you have any suggestions,
please let me know. Thank you!

informatica training in chennai
Nov 18, 2015

wonderful article.We share that the lot of new information.

Margot da Cunha
Nov 18, 2015

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

Jun 08, 2016

If you are going for best contents like I do, just pay a visit this web page daily
for the reason that it provides quality contents,

Adam Lundquist
Nov 18, 2015

That was a ridiculously good guide. I especially like the last point with the look alike audiences. It makes sense since the remarketing audience is already people that you know for a fact are interested. Also I thought that your point about not fatiguing your audience is a good one. I have been guilty of that myself in certain verticals. Do you at WordStream pay for all content to be promoted or do you wait for certain articles that matter more?

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 19, 2015

Thanks, Adam! We generally only promote our best stuff that is already doing well -- that way we know it will do extra well when we promote it and get high engagement at a low cost.

Margot da Cunha
Nov 23, 2015

Thank you Adam! I see Elisa answered your question. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the guide.

Tanmoy Das
Nov 20, 2015

This is another valuable & informative post from you Margot. I have seen people going crazy over the number of Likes they get on their page but to me ultimately what matters is conversion. If your fans are not converting into your clients then there is no point in having thousands of fans on your page for the sake of it. In order to get a higher conversion we must promote our contents only to specific audiences based on location, time zone & interests as you have pointed out . This was indeed an eye opener for everyone investing in Facebook ads . Thanks for sharing Margot ! Always enjoy reading your posts :)

Margot da Cunha
Nov 23, 2015

Thank you Tanmoy! I couldn't agree more, it's important to focus less on the number of likes and more on conversions and promoting your best content.

Dec 11, 2015

Great article.

Valerie Goren
Jan 23, 2016


We're setting up our re-marketing on Facebook and I was wondering if it is better to charge based on CPC, CPM, or oCPM?

What are the advantages to each for re-marketing?

Malcolm Myers
May 18, 2016

I attempted to create an audience of 'people who had liked my page' via 'connections' but the No. of people targeted per day didn't change when this was selected or unselected. Why?

Aug 06, 2016

Awesome article! I wish you had a pdf download option of your post like this! :-)

Oct 11, 2016

Thanks for the post!
Do you have a similar Article for google Adwords ReMarketing Campaigns or other articles for Facebook?
Best wishes

Allen Finn
Oct 12, 2016

Hi, Max.

Here's a link to our guide on getting started with AdWords Remarketing campaigns:

Good things,

Mys Palmer
Nov 20, 2016

Great post! Super informative and easy to understand. I think we all had that one moment like your mom, "its fate!" but really- its just marketing. Sometimes its hard to resist that temptation though...
At least we know that remarketing works!

Nov 16, 2017

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book
in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit,
but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

Jacquie Turner
Dec 01, 2016

I've been searching for an answer to this question about Facebook pixels - maybe you can help!!

After installing the facebook pixel, I can set up an ad campaign at a later date targeting visitors to my website even though they did not arrive to my website from facebook?

Sienna Eskildsen
Dec 28, 2016

This is an exciting trend. creating and sponsoring content for people who want it. Mass advertising is so wasteful and doesn't help your reputation amongst the vast majority of viewers.

Jan 08, 2017

Hey guys, thanks for sharing.
What about on sites where we cannot place our own pixels - Like a listing on the App Store or Play Store? Is there a way to run Facebook remarketing to people who visited the listing but didn't download for example?

Allen Finn
Jan 09, 2017

Hi, Adam.

I don't believe this is possible!


Jan 24, 2017

Hi, thanks for sharing – would you be able to share the source for this statistic? 'Facebook remarketing ads get 3X the engagement then regular Facebook ads!'

Paul Verhoef
May 11, 2017

I’m extremely heartened with what I’m reading here. I like the fact that you can use Facebook for video retargeting. Does anyone know about dynamic remarketing with Treepodia? That’s the company that I’m really interested in using to do my video marketing campaigns.

Laurie Macomber
Jul 25, 2017

You had me at 'fate'! Ha ha. Brilliant write up of something can seem way too complex in Facebook 'help'.

Gene Catrambone
Sep 10, 2017

For pay-per-click advertising (initial impression not re-targeting) is there any evidence that a custom target list converts (results in sales) any better than a random list? Laser targeting may be advantageous when paying for impressions, CPM, but for PPC where the user action is all that matters, multi-data point targeting seems superfluous. Does anyone have data on this that isn't anecdotal?

Peter Gould
Oct 19, 2017

Ich habe die Kommentare gelesen und bin dabei auf einen Post vom 11. Mai von Paul gestoßen. Ich habe daraufhin auch mit Treepodia angefangen und war angenehm überrascht. Der Post hat mir viele Anregungen gegeben, wie man Videokampagnen auf Facebook startet und sie zum integralen Bestandteilt der Marketingstrategie macht. Der personalisierte Ansatz ist super und ich konnte die Kampagne so steuern, dass die Einblendungen zu optimalen Zeitpunkten innerhalb des Tages erschienen. Danke an Margot und Cunha für den Post. Ist immer noch sehr relevant.

Oct 27, 2017

Remarketing is a very important role in Online Marketing Strategies. Among all the platforms of remarketing, Facebook remarketing is one of the most popular one. In Facebook remarketing, we connect with visitors to one’s website who may not have made an immediate purchase or enquiry. This is a very useful blog. Thank you for sharing

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