The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Retargeting

In a perfect world, every visitor of your online store is ready to make a purchase, sign up for an email newsletter, grant Facebook permissions and do whatever your CTAs are intended for. The truth is, most of your website visitors leave it for good without performing any actions.

Facebook retargeting was designed to give you that second chance. A well-placed and well-timed retargeting ad multiplied by users’ familiarity with your brand and your product results in statistically higher chances of purchasing.

If you’ve never used retargeting before, don’t worry: By the end of this step-by-step guide you will be able to run your first campaign and turn all of those one-time site visitors into lifelong customers.

Creation of a Facebook ad campaign is such a broad topic that it’s nearly impossible to cover it within one article. I won’t teach you how to create Facebook Ads in general but only share my own tips that might be useful when you launch your first retargeting campaign.

Are you up for the challenge?

Table of Contents

  • What Is Retargeting
  • Why Retarget on Facebook
  • Technical Side of Retargeting
  • Installing Custom Audience Pixel
  • Creating Website Custom Audience
  • Installing Conversion Tracking Pixel
  • Creating Retargeting Campaign with Custom Audiences
  • Placement
  • Optimization & Pricing
  • Ad Creative
  • Analyzing Results
  • Improving Results
  • Conclusion
  • BONUS: Facebook Dynamic Ads + Useful resources
The Ultimate Facebook Retargeting guide, are you up for the challenge?
Click to Tweet

What Is Retargeting

Has it ever happened to you that after you had checked out some hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, similar propositions appeared on Facebook later? That’s retargeting. Facebook knew that you had visited TripAdvisor because TripAdvisor placed a small bit of Facebook code onto its site.

Facebook retargeting is an advertising campaign that is aimed at those who visited a store, showed interest in a particular product but didn’t make a purchase. The core idea is to show them exactly those products a bit later on Facebook. As a result, ROAS (Return on advertising spend) often exceeds 1000%.

Why Retarget on Facebook

Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world. There are over 1 billion people hanging out there worldwide, so without any doubt it’s too big to ignore. Because you already attracted these users once to your site, you know what they are interested in and can more easily create ads that speak to their needs. This creates more engagement, more likes, higher conversion rates, and more sales.

Technical Side of Retargeting

Setting up Facebook retargeting implies that you will need to get your hands dirty with some code, but don’t worry, there’s no need to be a programmer to set this up.

This code is called ‘pixels’. There are two types of pixels: A Website Custom Audience (WCA) pixel that lets Facebook track visitors from your site back to Facebook so that you can advertise to them and a Conversion Tracking (CT) pixel that lets you track when your goal is reached whenever your ad is followed by an action from the user’s end.

Before you start: instead of using one of the cranky ad editors, I suggest that you use Power Editor, a professional tool for creating, managing and tracking your ad results.

To get started, go to Power Editor in your Ads Manager and in the popup, hit Download.

Installing Website Custom Audience Pixel

Most likely, you’re already familiar with Facebook Audiences, specific groups of users gathered by their interests, gender, age, etc. Similar audiences but in terms of your store’s visits are used by Facebook to retarget to your products (all the visitors / users who visited your store but never completed a purchase / those who visited only particular pages, etc.).

It’s very important to install WCA pixels on your store’s website as soon as possible to allow the audiences to get populated with your store’s visitors.

I divided this task into two: First, let’s get those pixels and then install them on your Shopify store’s website.

Here we go:

I. Getting a WCA pixel

  1. On the left-hand side panel, hit Manage Ads and pick Audiences from the dropdown
  1. Click Create a Custom Audience and choose Website Traffic
  2. In the new window, you’ll get the pixel that you need to copy
  3. Hit Cancel (at this step, you just need to copy the pixel)

II. Installing pixels to your Shopify store

  1. Log in to your Shopify store dashboard
  2. Go to Online store > Themes > … > Edit HTML/CSS
  1. Click theme.liquid and paste your pixel after the opening <head> tag
  1. Click Save (Since Shopify uses a different domain for checkout, you should install the same pixel to your Thank You page)
  2. Go to Settings > Checkout
  3. In Additional content & scripts, paste your pixel again
  • Hit Save

* Even for multiple websites, you’ll be using just this one audience pixel; thus, place it on every website you’d like to advertise on Facebook.

After the pixels have been installed, website custom audience starts to be built and will take a few hours to reach the final user count.

Tip: Install Facebook Pixel Helper to check the pixels installed on your website.

Installing Conversion Tracking Pixel

Now that you installed your WCA pixel and have your audience gathered, it’s time to install CT pixel to track the campaign results. Since this pixel is aimed at tracking users’ actions, it should be installed only on those pages where these actions are performed.

For now, we’ll install two CT pixels that will be very helpful to analyze your campaign’s metrics:

  • Key Page Views (Product page)
  • Checkout (Thank you page)

I. Getting pixel

  1. Go to Power Editor
  2. At the top left-hand corner, select Conversion Tracking from the dropdown
  3. Click Create Pixel and choose Key Page Views from the dropdown
  1. Click Create Pixel and then View Pixel Code
  2. Copy the pixel code and hit Done

Repeat these actions for the Checkout pixel.

II. Installing Pixel to your Shopify store

  1. Log in to your Shopify store dashboard
  2. Go to Online store > Themes > … > Edit HTML/CSS
  3. Click product.liquid, paste your Key Page View pixel after {% include ‘product’ %} and hit Save

Also, you need to install the Checkout pixel on your store’s Thank You page:

  1. Go to Settings > Checkout
  2. In Additional content & scripts, add your Checkout pixel right after your Custom Audience Pixel
  1. Hit Save

Creating Website Custom Audience

Now that the pixels are installed, it’s time to create custom audiences based on related properties.

I’ll show you how to create a targeting campaign for an abandoned shopping cart (users who visited the product page or added a product to cart but did not complete a purchase).

  1. Go back to Tools > Audiences
  2. Click Create a Custom Audience and choose Website Traffic
  1. In the Website Traffic dropdown, select People who visiting specific web pages but not others.
  2. In the Include section, enter ‘products’
  3. Click Add exclusions and enter ‘thank_you’
  4. In the number of days, enter ‘7’
  5. Hit Create Audience

We’ll create the audience Viewed but not purchased within 7 days. It’s a typical duration of ad campaigns which means that your product will be advertised only for 7 days after a user has visited the store. Make sure to set reasonable limits, otherwise your ad will be demonstrated to users for months which will likely annoy them and make unsubscribe.

The Website Custom Audience will include only those who visited a product page and exclude those who made a purchase, see combinations below:

I suggest that you divide your “Viewed but not purchased campaign” into two audiences, ‘two waves’ of retargeting so to say:

  • The audience that did not make a purchase within the first 7 days (day 1–7)
  • The audience that did not make a purchase within the next 7 days (day 8–14)

So, now create another audience Viewed but not purchased within 14 days by following the steps above, except that you should enter ‘14’ in the number of days.

Apart from these custom audiences, you also need to create an audience All website visitors within the last 7 days.

Creating Retargeting Campaign with Custom Audiences

Now, let’s create a campaign for all your store visitors who haven’t completed a purchase.

  1. Click Manage Ads in the top left-hand side dropdown
  2. Go to Campaigns tab and hit + to create an ad
  3. Enter Viewed but not purchased, select Website Conversions objective and click Create
  1. Go to the Ad Sets tab and click +. Make sure that the right campaign is chosen and give the name to the ad set itself. For example: “Not Purchased / 7 days / $10 daily / test” and click Create
  2. In the section Conversion Pixel, choose the Checkout pixel you installed on the Thank You page which will serve as the main goal of your campaign

Add Custom Audience (Viewed but not purchased within 7 days)

  1. Scroll down and click Edit Audience
  2. Remove the content from the Locations section
  3. In the Custom Audiences section, select Viewed but not purchased within 14 days

Now, let’s create an ad set for the second audience (Another Ad set):

  1. Click +
  2. Select campaign ‘Viewed but not purchased’
  3. Give a name to the ad set, for example, Not Purchased / 14 days / $5 daily / test and click Create
  1. In the section Conversion Pixel, choose the Checkouts pixel you installed on the Thank You page which will serve as the main goal of your campaign

What’s left is to make sure the two audiences don’t get mixed up:

  1. Scroll down and click Edit Audience
  2. Remove the content from the Locations section
  3. In the Custom Audiences section, select Viewed but not purchased within 14 days
  4. Select Exclude from the dropdown and select All website visitors within last 7 days
  5. Hit Save

*I don’t recommend you to start a campaign if your audience is 100–200 users because it will be too expensive or won’t run at all despite the Active status. The audience of 1000 users will generate much higher conversion rates.


For the first retargeting campaign, I suggest that you set all the available placement options in order to test which one works better for you. Usually, experienced sellers know what placement works for their store, but retargeting is aimed at those users who are already familiar with your store and the way they react to your ad will be different from the first time, so it’s better to give a try to knew placement options. Further on, I’ll tell you how to check which one works better for you.

Optimization & Pricing

This one is the most painful part because there is no one-size-fits-all setting for perfect Facebook ad bidding of your store. A rule of thumb is to use the Website Conversions setting since it covers 90% of all the campaigns. Facebook defines those users who correspond with your campaign goals and optimizes your ads respectively.

As far as the budget is concerned, let Facebook decide how much you should pay dynamically for a click or action (conversion). While you set objectives, Facebook adjusts the costs. I suggest that you start at the $10/day budget as it makes it easier to compare campaign results.

Now that you set up a campaign and an ad set, all you need to do is create the ad itself. Go to the Ads tab and hit +.

Ad Creative

Your ad’s copy and visuals are what influences the user’s decision to return and make a purchase. I suggest to not start with the offers like Sales, Discounts, Free Shipping, Gifts, etc. Spare them for the second wave of retargeting. In your first retargeting campaign (1–7 days) you want to remind your clients that you’re out there, doing a good job and taking care of them — all in a creative manner.

Your copy should be simple and fun. Write out 1–2 of your benefits that will seal the deal for getting the click and keep it to a maximum of 9 to 10 words. Your users want to feel that you’re offering them something special, so stay away from traditional advertising slang.

Also, make sure to add a CTA to your headline, ad copy or image. As your objective is a clickthrough, use action words like Order Now, Get Today, Download Now, Buy Now, etc. Whatever it says, it should make a nice contrast with the background.

  • An example for days 1–7


An example for days 8–14 (second wave)

If you go for adding text to an image, make sure to follow Facebook’s guidelines of not having more than 20% of the image contain text. You can use Facebook’s free grid tool to see how your ad measures.

All in all, you’ll have one campaign, two ad sets (1–7 days, 8–14 days) and two ads.

Analyzing Results

First, let me say the obvious “everything depends on your industry and there are no exact benchmarks to follow.” Now, most retargeting campaigns have a positive ROI. In order to define whether your campaign has been successful, your should use the Reporting feature in Power Editor. My recommendation is to reach at least 500 impressions, even better if you can wait until 1,000 impressions before pausing the underperforming ads.

Nearly all Facebook Retargeting campaigns have a positive ROI.
Click to Tweet
  1. Go to Reporting in the top left-hand side dropdown
  2. In the Last 30 days dropdown on the right select Today
  3. In the Columns dropdown, select Customize Columns

Sort your metrics exactly like I did on the image below. This way, you’ll get the funnel from Ad Impressions to Checkouts. You’ll need all these metrics to keep track of the campaign’s current state and react respectively.

Check the Save as preset box at the bottom left-hand corner and enter the name, after which click Apply. This way you’ll always be able to find your funnel in the Columns dropdown.

*On the screenshots above, the names of metrics are slightly different from yours since I’m using WCA pixel for tracking while you’re using CT pixel. I added the names you should see in your interface in red. If you have enough traffic, you’ll get the first results within 24 hours.

Improving Results (for the stores with up to $200 average product price)

  • Cost per Checkout: <$10 (Good)
  • Cost per Checkout: <$5 (Great)
  • Cost per Checkout: >$20 (Bad)

What you should do if your results are good or great:

  • Increase your daily budget
  • Switch to CPM (up to $10 per 1000 impressions)

If your results are bad, here are some of the most common reasons for why your campaign might have failed:

Bad ad

First thing you should do if your campaign failed is improve the ad itself (copy, headline, image, CTA). This mistake often results in high CPC (cost per click) — more than $1 or CTR (click-through rate) of less than 1%.

Switch to CPM

This way Facebook will show your ad to a higher number of visitors. As a result, Cost per Checkout will get cheaper while sales will grow.

CTR (click-through rate) less than 1

If you changed your ad but are still unsatisfied with the results of your ad, switch from CPA to CPC > Get more clicks at the best price (oCPC), Facebook will pick for you the users who tend to click by a lower price. Do not manually choose bids. Why: If your rate is too low, your ad will miss some share of your audience because your rate is lower than the other ads your users see. oCPC option will let you reach the most loyal audience without being interfered by other advertisers.

High Frequency

If your Frequency is higher than 10 (for the last 24 hours), switch bids to oCPA, oCPC or Daily unique reach (Facebook shows your ads to people up to once per day). A frequency cap will limit the number of times a tagged user will see your ads and will prevent potential customers from feeling overwhelmed. We typically recommend 8 ads per user per week. Also, try changing your audience from 7 days to 5 days.

Choose the right Placement

Usually, Mobile News Feed is what you should not ignore. For desktop devices, you can keep just one.

Go to Reporting, click Breakdown by Placement and check where you spend most of your money while getting little result. In most cases, Desktop News Feed is more expensive than Desktop Right Column but less than Ad Impressions.

You should define which of these two brings more results. If the ratio is 40/60, there’s no reason to make any changes. You should only make changes if there are obviously higher spendings vs minimum results.

*If you use oCPC or oCPA (optimized CPC or CPA) and your ROAS is higher than 200%, I would not recommend you to remove any Placement since Facebook will automatically choose users to show the ad to and you’ll interfere with it.

Next steps — Follow the roadmap

If you’re ready to start your first retargeting campaign, below is the checklist of all the actions you need to take to turn those one-time visitors into your store’s long-term buyers.

The Facebook retargeting checklist

  1. Place your audience and conversion pixels on your website / pages
  2. Create the audiences you want retarget at with your campaign
  3. Create campaign based on your conversion objective
  4. Create two ad sets based on your site visitors (0–7 days) and (8–14 days) that have not yet converted & choose the main pixels (Checkout) in each set
  5. Create an ad for each ad set with two different messages
  6. Spend $10 per day — If you start seeing success, you can increase your spending later
  7. Optimize bids for Conversions (oCPA) to start, then move to the cheapest conversions when you have more data (CPM or oCPC/CPC)
  8. Facebook will run the better performing ads more, but they decide early so try to let each ad get to at least 500 impressions before making your decision
  9. Test, Test, Test — Create other two different versions of ad copy and images, take the best performing ones and create 2–3 new variations of it. Repeat.

Conclusion: Test your ads

Even with default settings, retargeting is extremely efficient, but if you analyze data and test various approaches, your campaigns will generate really stunning results. Very soon, you’ll know what your perfect combination of copy, CTA and images for both retargeting waves is.

Now, it’s your turn:

Share your best practices and favourite settings in comments. I’ll be happy to hear about your experience with retargeting.

Good luck!

Bonus: Facebook Dynamic Ads + Useful resources

This year, Facebook released a new feature called “Facebook Dynamic Ads” that lets brands and retailers dynamically promote their products on Facebook, targeting the users who have already visited their website, but haven’t made a purchase.

How it works:

  • A user visits your product page but doesn’t make a purchase
  • He/she goes to Facebook to check out their timeline
  • Facebook campaign re-engages the user with a dynamic ad encouraging them to come back to your website
  • The user returns to your website and makes a purchase

In order to increase a conversion rate, you need to show your visitor the most interesting ad that will guide them to the page where they will reach the promised goal. Because people who see Facebook ads tend to get tired of seeing the same ad over and over, you have to constantly rotate your ad creatives in and out in order to keep things fresh. For this purpose, you’ll need to group your site visitors into custom audiences and create separate ads for each of them which is very time-consuming. With Facebook Dynamic Ads, you won’t need to create ads and audiences — Facebook will dynamically show your visitors the ads with products they’ve already seen.

How to Start Facebook Dynamic Ads:

  1. Create a Business Manager account
  2. Create a Product Catalog & Upload a Catalog Feed
  3. Install FDA required pixels to your website
  4. Run & monitor your campaign with Product Catalog Sales object in Power Editor

Seems like an easy to-do but the truth is that setting up dynamic ad campaigns is a challenging task that requires involvement of a developer. Retargetapp is an easy-to-use application that lets store owners without tech skills launch Product Dynamic Advertising (retargeting) on Facebook.

Useful articles on generating more traffic:

Useful articles on Facebook Ads:

General useful resources:

Selling with Shopify and looking for talks? Here are the best communities to join:

Did you find this guide useful?

Sharing is caring. Spread the word about the best retargeting practices and help your friends achieve great results themselves.

Here’s the example of the text you can use for sharing:

The Ultimate Facebook Retargeting guide, grab it while it’s hot.
#facebook @shopify #facebookads #ecommerce
Click to Tweet