Social Media Retargeting: Touch Base Again

Turn window shoppers into paying customers


Anam Jalil


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Mark Zuckerberg famously said to the American Senator who was confused about how Facebook remained free,

"Senator, we run ads."

That's why social media exists and that's how it makes money.

social media retargeting Mark Zuckerberg

That Senator wasn't on Facebook but 2.037 people have made the social media platform a part of their daily lives, while it boasts approximately 3 billion users worldwide.

Facebook and other social media platforms are definitely at large and most of us are also exposed to the frequent ads that pop up between our daily scrolling. When you see an ad campaign featuring a product, brand, or business offering something of value on these well-known platforms, it is likely to arouse interest.

But if you are scrolling in between your jog or in between a boring university class, you might not be in the frame of mind to purchase, though you may be a potential customer down the line. For example, you see a campaign for home furniture - you may be interested, but just not now. That means you lack purchase intent.

You are more or less in just browsing mode.

Also Read: Customer Lifetime Value for SaaS

In the same way, you may have visited a website after searching for something on Google and bounced after a few seconds - mainly because you were too busy or your purchase intent wasn't immediate.

That ad disappears sometimes and you never see it again or you forget all about that website - out of sight, out of mind principle.

The need for social media retargeting

According to HubSpot, 96% of people leave a website without taking the action that the marketer is hoping they will take. That's a large chunk of people that are not complying to your Click Here, Add to Cart, or Buy Now demands (there may be many other CTAs, these are just examples).

So do you just give up?


Instead you retarget these visitors to your website via social media. This is where we begin our discussion on social media retargeting.

Social media retargeting campaigns explained

Social media retargeting campaigns are a form of digital marketing where you can serve specific ads to custom audiences based on their expressed interest in your products/services.

We just love the way HubSpot explains it!

"Remarketing or retargeting is the process of tagging your site visitors and targeting them with content after they leave your site in an effort to re-engage them and bring them back to your website."

For example, if someone previously clicked on a baby cot ad you published, you can retarget them with another ad later on or you can show them the same or similar products in ads to re-engage them.

In the same way, if a person views a particular page on your website but bounces without purchasing, you can show them ads on social media regarding the products they viewed or similar products on that page to re-engage them with your brand and move them along the buyer's journey.

Ads can be shown to past, existing, or potential customers based on the custom audience you select. Usually, your target audience is people who are likely to purchase from you in the future because they were previously website visitors or app users.

However, your target audience can also be people who have previously purchased from you or have subscribed to your mailing list - existing contacts - to encourage repeat purchases.

Retargeting ads are then shown to them on social platforms, popping up in between their everyday scrolling and reminding them of a product/service they previously seemed to be interested in, would be interested in again, or are likely to be interested in.

The importance of social media retargeting

Social media retargeting is needed because sometimes one contact with a potential customer is not enough to encourage them to convert.

Potential customers need time to decide to buy and they need to be in a situation which allows them to think about and act on purchasing. A retargeting campaign helps you find your target audiences on other mediums and put your brand front and center to remind them that you exist.

A retargeting campaign works best with potential customers at the consideration stage of the buyer's journey. At this stage, they are warm leads and have a high potential to convert. Displaying ads to them at this stage can give them that needed push to convert.

However, retargeting ads are not only used to grab a new client but are also used to remind existing customers about your products/services so that they can make repeat purchases.

The advantage of social media retargeting is that it shows your ads to the right audience or a targeted audience - people who have shown interest in your product or service - rather than showing them to random audiences.

This allows you to personalize the experience for custom audiences, increase the chances they will convert, and enhance your brand visibility.

Retargeting is more effective than other ad formats with a 1,046% efficiency rate, according to Truelist.

Types of social media retargeting

There are different types of social media retargeting campaigns and they are targeted towards different audience types. Here is what you can do:

  • Website-based retargeting is pixel-based retargeting where you target users who have previously visited one or more pages on your website and have not made a purchase yet. You can also serve specific ads based on the pages they have visited.

  • Email-based retargeting is list-based retargeting where you show ads to people who are on your email list or who have interacted with your company through email. They may have stopped opening your emails or you may want to target them on another medium, so you show them ads to encourage them to visit your website or online store.

  • Retargeting based on search aims to show retargeting ads on social platforms to people who have searched for certain keywords on search engines such as Google. For example, if you have been searching for lipstick brands, Mac may show you an ad through a Facebook retargeting campaign. This doesn't mean you have engaged with the Mac website before. You may have clicked other websites, but Mac wants to remind you that it is also an option.

  • Dynamic retargeting shows ads according to what the visitor views on the website. If they are looking at a particular product, the ad will then show them that product again or similar products. The cookie notifies retargeting platforms of visitor actions which are then translated into relevant ads.

The type of retargeting campaign you want to create depends on your target audience and the purpose of your campaign. If you have a long subscriber list but low conversions. you will retarget to existing contacts. If you have website visitors but a high bounce rate, you will retarget those who have visited your website and so forth.

Companies have now set a separate budget in their digital marketing budget for retargeting on a social platform because of its effectiveness.

Let's quickly look at the different objectives you may have for social retargeting campaigns and then go on to elaborate on how retargeting works.

Purposes of retargeting campaigns

Retargeting campaigns can have numerous purposes, but it is important to understand the purpose so you can customize your ad accordingly.

Let's quickly go over three stats that reinforce the effectiveness of having a marketing strategy with room for retargeting.

social media retargeting can increase revenue by 50%
  1. Mailchimp says that using retargeting tools with other advertising tools can increase sales and revenue by 50%.

7 out of 10 marketers use social media retargeting to enhance brand recognition

2. 7 out of 10 marketers use remarketing to enhance brand recognition. If prospects are not converting right now, they may convert later.

social media retargeting causes 700% web traffic

3. Web traffic has been found to increase up to 700% through retargeting, according to ReadyCloud.

Now, that we know exactly why retargeting is important, let's talk about what purposes using a retargeting tool on a social platform fulfills.

Your retargeting campaign can be to:

  • Generate awareness and enhance brand recall

  • Target people who were in the process of purchasing a product/service or inquired about it

  • Target specific audiences that are in a certain stage of your sales funnel to move on to the next step - usually the consideration stage

  • Create lookalike audiences on Facebook to target potential customers with the same characteristics as your existing customers

  • Create a custom audience based on what shoppers browse on social channels

  • Gather data of potential or past customers to retarget them on a more personal level later

  • Show current customers ads related to products that they may have been interested in to encourage repeat purchases

  • Show people who have used search engines or communicated with your company via email, ads to enhance their brand recall and to encourage them to visit your website

Let's explore in depth how social media retargeting works.

How social media retargeting works

Let's imagine a girl named Marie who is interested in lipstick shades. She types in "buy lipsticks online" in Google and finds your website. She checks out a couple of pages of lipstick and then she realizes she has a meeting and clicks out of the site.

If you have pixels installed, you can create a retargeted ad for Maria on a social network showing her more from the specific pages she viewed or the items she has shown interest in.

If you are using Facebook retargeting, Marie will then see an ad for your lipsticks again when she is browsing Facebook. Perhaps then, she will be free and have more purchase intent. Therefore, she will be likely to purchase.

social media retargeting process

In another scenario, Paul entered birthday venues near me on Google. He may not have visited your website but you can retarget users who have entered a key term that is relevant to your business.

You then show Paul an ad for your restaurant on Facebook, helping him move on to the consideration stage with your restaurant in evaluation.

However, do remember that social media retargeting is not only on Facebook or Insta. LinkedIn retargeting ads are highly effective. Most companies have experienced more than a 30% increase in click-through rate with retargeting ads shown on the platform.

This is how conversion rates spike. A social media retargeting campaign encourages users to take action while they are idly scrolling through social media - they usually have more time on their hands and are likely to pay more attention.

This is how retargeting works but lets go into a little more depth and see which factors you need to consider when setting up your retargeting campaign.

Factors to consider for social retargeting ads

So you have your ad networks chosen and you have a limited ad spend. You need to show these ads to a perfect audience - with minimum wastage. Where should your retargeting efforts be focused?

  • Neil Patel makes a valid point when he mentions that you shouldn't cast too wide a net. Running a pixel-based ad on everyone who visited your website in the past 30 days won't be as effective as if you narrowed down the audience.

  • Create retargeting ads based on actions that people have taken on your website. If someone has already downloaded the lead magnet and your ad provides a lead magnet, they don't need it. If someone has read a blog post but has not given their contact details, your re-marketing campaign can be about giving them a discount if they provide those details. Be specific in serving ads on social media.

  • You can also set a frequency cap on your audience. For example, some people may be coming to your site often and reading your content but not purchasing your product. You can retarget them on social media and they probably only need a small nudge to go ahead and purchase now.

  • You can retarget existing customers to upsell them something new you are offering. They may already be on your email list but they may have become unresponsive and now social media is the ideal place to show them an unobtrusive ad and encourage them to give you more business.

  • Lead-generation ads based on page engagement can really spike up your revenue. If a visitor is on your page for 4-5 minutes but does not purchase or has been reading your blog regularly, you can base your retargeting on offering them a lead magnet so they give you their contact details and add themselves to your contact list. You can ask for email addresses, names, phone numbers, or any other information you need. Try to keep the form short though.

So, this gives you a general insight into retargeting ads on a social media platform, but is that the only way you can retarget visitors to your site?

Retargeting via email

We have talked about retargeting ads but you can't always show users ads and what if some of them are not as active on certain platforms? How do you reach them on a more personal level?

A remarketing campaign is when you target visitors on your website who have left their email addresses but have not completed the required action - and you do this through email.

Email is a cheaper form of marketing and it provides a more personalized experience for customers or potential customers. Plus, there are companies that are getting an ROI above 1000% with email marketing.

Email marketing allows you to serve your customers with bite-sized content, and personal discounts, and make them more familiar with your brand by turning up in their inboxes from time to time. With email marketing, you can create drip campaigns that can slowly nurture a lead, build a relationship, and move them towards conversion.

Email marketing is a cheaper way to remarket to an audience that has visited your website or has provided their email address to you via social media. You also have more personalization options with email marketing.

You can also show ads to people who have visited your website but not left their email address and get them to give you their contact information on a social media platform. You can then remarket to them via email.

Email does last longer as they will have the message in their Inbox and can refer back to it as and when they want . Using this medium as a part of your marketing strategy can significantly increase your returns and is an essential component of any marketing or business development strategy.

Bottom line

Social media retargeting is definitely a beneficial process. However, to remarket or to begin retargeting those that you were previously engaged with via email, you need to engage in email marketing - and for that, you need excellent email marketing software.

GoCustomer has all the features you need and more - email verification, email warmup, A/B testing, and an AI writing assistant. Start creating drip campaigns or other email sequences with our Tester package now!

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Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    Retargeting in social media advertising is showing ads to people who have previously interacted with your website or social media content.
    Social media retargeting campaigns can be used to reach people who have already shown interest in your product or service, and to encourage them to take action.
    The purpose of creating lookalike audiences on Facebook in retargeting is to reach people who are similar to your existing customers and are more likely to be interested in your products or services.
    Retargeting works in social media advertising by using tracking pixels or cookies to follow the online behavior of people who have interacted with your website or social media content, and showing them targeted ads.
    Factors to consider for social retargeting campaigns include the audience size, ad frequency, ad format, messaging, and call-to-action.
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