How to retarget visitors who have already been on your website

by | Aug 3, 2020 | Facebook Ads, Strategy | 0 comments

In this day and age of everything having the ability to be tracked online like views, clicks, and engagement, it seems crazy to me that we used to buy advertising media to reach as many people as possible without knowing if they would respond to an ad.

Back in the early 2000s, I used to work in print advertising sales convincing customers to do exactly this: buy an ad in the back of a magazine to try to reach as many of the readers as possible.

These days I convince website owners to adopt a strategy of retargeting users who have already interacted with their business at some point in their sales funnel.

This user could be someone who has already visited a key page on your website or carried out an action like placing a product into an online store basket.

In this post I am going to walk through how you can do this and why it’s important and by the end give you the next steps you can try to retarget your own website visitors.

The “bottom” of the funnel

Small businesses starting out with their online marketing tend to focus a lot of time trying to pursue a strategy of only driving “cold traffic” to come to their website, yet ensuring that a user who has already visited comes back and takes an action is equally as important.

A user who has made it through your sales funnel to a place where they are giving your signals that they want to buy are often called “hot” leads.

Lifecycle of a customer
Source: https://www.smartinsights.com/ecommerce-lifecycle-marketing/

If they take an action on your website that gives the signal that they were prepared to buy from you and then click away, retargeting them is one of the best way to ensure that they “convert” and buy or take the action that will lead to driving more sales for your business online.

If you let them go after spending all of that time (and money) driving them to your website that you’re not making the best of the opportunity you have to convert their business.

The different ways to retarget your hot users

Pixel-based Retargeting

They work by adding a small piece of code to your website’s browser so that when you visit a website that the advertiser is running ads on. you will be shown an ad.

Websites would serve ads in the banner spaces on their website, but this would rely on the user returning.

Magazine and forum sites were able to dominate the retargeting space for a while, but Facebook has become the king, queen and emperor because of its ability to allow advertiser to add the Facebook “Pixel” to any website without the need to use a developer and then use it’s tools to target users based on their exact behavior as they moved around your website.

List-based Retargeting

You can also create an audience based on an email list that you own or on audiences that you already manage like your Facebook Page or Instagram profile followers and retarget these users too.

It’s not so much retargeting, as remarketing and although is effective, isn’t directly based on whether a user has already visited your website or not.

Why retargeting is so effective

Retargeting ads are 76% more likely to get clicks than regular display ads because you are showing your ads to users who have already heard of you.

You’ve probably seen ads like this yourself over on your Facebook or Instagram feeds, especially if you have already been to the advertisers website.

The example below was shown to me after I had visited the event sign-up page for Stu McLaren’s Tribe Live!

By visiting the page, it could be assumed that I was told about it and went to investigate. It’s a $500 cost so not a snap decision purchase. Retargeting means that they can keep the fact that the event is coming up soon and there’s a deadline to book in the forefront of user’s minds:

Stu McLaren retargeting ad


3 out 4 customers notice retargeting ads and don’t suffer the “banner blindness” that led to users ignoring the traditional types of online display media of the past.

It because they contribute to an experience that the user had already started i.e. you search for shoes, then shop for shoes and then see said shoes later in your feed – it’s not a surprise.

You can still provoke a send of “ad fatigue” however through repetition of your ads, or even worse annoy or anger your prospective customers, so it wise to have strategy behind when and how you show your targeted ads.

Retargeting ads put people off
The negative impact of retargeting via: https://neilpatel.com/blog/how-retargeting-could-kill-sales/

There also seems to be a distrust of the platform because sometimes contextual retargeting (i.e. targeting based on a user’s online behavior) is often mistaken for retargeting.

It’s not time to get the tin foil hat on yet, but worth understanding how users feel about the concept of seeing ads related to them and their behavior and avoid an angry or annoyed reaction.

Retargeting Ads make people angry


How to define a strategy for retargeting your website visitors

As noted above, it is vital that you don’t just start targeting users who have already been to your website without a plan first.

Understanding the pages they have viewed on your website and why they have viewed them will help you decide what creative, title and test to use in your ads.

Gary Vaynerchuk is super keen to get entrepreneurs testing hundreds (literally!) of different audience segments because it’s much more impactful top target a user that way than to send a blanket message,

If you don’t contextualise your creative based on the content that your user has already viewed then again, you are wasting the opportunity that you have to convert that user when they see your ad.

Retargeting Ads - Gary Vee

His thinking is that you don’t just test one ad creative with your audience but you test many depending on the type of user that they are.

If they have visited your product page and started the checkout process, then reminding the user of the product that they have just viewed would be a good place to start with retargeting:

Retargeting Ad - Boden

You can also use this point to remind users why your product or service was attractive enough to view in the first place with reviews and testimonials and give them a money-off voucher or other incentive to convince them to come back to your website to buy.

After around 24-48 hours , if they haven’t returned to your website to buy you could assume that they have moved on and don’t want to buy.

You can target users for up to 180 days after they have visited your website but do you want to offer them money off and show them a product they once viewed after months of not being on your site? This is where you need to rethink your creative and go back to running awareness campaigns:

Retargeting Ad - Boden

The other thing to note is that some users you will be retargeting may be of different ages, genders and locations so you would need to use an ad creative that resonated with that user.

A younger user may not want to see images of being a father reflected back to him but may buy the same product as with this example:

Contextual Ads

Also it’s worth noting that 25- to 34-year-olds are less likely to be against interest-based retargeting ads—18.8%, compared to 38.4% for the next age bracket up so you could provide more context in the ad to why the user is seeing it compared to the older audience segment.


How to get started with a Facebook Retargeting Ad

Firstly, you’ll need to ensure that the Facebook Pixel is installed on your website.

You can do that by navigating to the ‘Event Manager’ section of your Facebook Business Manager account (more on that here) and click the ‘Connect Data Sources’ button:

Facebook Ads - events manager


Once clicked you’ll be asked what type of data source you want to set up – choose the ‘Web’ option and then select ‘Facebook Pixel’:

Facebook Ads - Pixel set-up
Facebook Ads - Pixel set-up

You’ll then need to give your pixel a name and tell Facebook on what website you plan to install it:

Facebook Ads - Pixel set-up

Facebook then detects what platform your site has been built with and will provide you with the step-by-step instructions for how to get started to install the Pixel, so ensure that you follow the steps as it runs through the wizard.

Facebook Ads - Pixel set-up


Once installed, you’ll be able to Then you’ll need to create a customer audience of users who have already visited a specific url based on your Pixel data.

Navigate to the ‘Audiences’ section of the Business Manager and select the option to create a new audience. Then select ‘Custom Audience’.

Facebook Ads - custom audience

It’s here where you can define an audience based on those users who have visited your site by selecting the ‘Website Traffic’ option.

Facebook Ads - custom audience

Ensure that your Pixel is selected and then choose either the option of ‘All website visitors’ or ‘People who visited specific web pages’ from the dropdown to create a custom audience based on users who have visited your checkout, your thank you or a particular product page.

Facebook Ads - custom audience - website
Facebook Ads - custom audience - website



Then create ad creative that will speak directly to the user.

Remember not to be creepy…a gentle reminder of the product or page they were viewing and an incentive to come back to site i.e. time is running out or there’s a discount code to use is an example to try.

Then set-up and run a reach objective ad to your custom audience to ensure that as many of the users from your custom audience are served your ad:

Facebook Ads - objective

You can then add your custom audience to the ‘Audience’ section when you’re setting up your Campaign’s Ad Set and define if you wish to segment the users in any way (by gender or age for example):

Facebook Ads - audience

At the bottom of the ad set settings, you can also define how many times your user is served your ad. This is where you can ensure that you’re not being annoying (only works with this type of objective).

Facebook Ads - frequency


Then get your ads approved and running. You’ll need to keep an eye on them to ensure that they are working and have a high enough click-through rate. Remember to keep testing different images and copy to try and improve that conversion and using your Google Analytics data to track what content your ads are driving users to look at and why before they decide to buy.


If you made it this far, then thanks for much for reading this! You clearly are an action-taker!

I appreciate that it only scratches the surface of what you can achieve with Facebook Retargeting Ads though.

If you want some more focused help to either get you set up with tracking your website users with the Facebook Pixel, setting up a retargeting campaign or with understanding your campaign data, then you can book a Zoom call ‘power hour’ with me via the link below.

For the cost of £99 I could help shortcut you to getting to a place where you can start testing rather than worrying about the tech set-up.

Book your slot now right here

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