How to Set Up Facebook Retargeting Ads

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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If you look at your website analytics (and you’re paying attention to the metrics, right?) – you’ll probably notice that most visitors don’t make a purchase on their first visit.

Many shoppers put items in their carts and leave the site without completing the checkout process.

In fact, the average cart abandonment rate is 76%!

How can you recoup some of this lost revenue by driving customers back to your website?

Retageting ads 70 percent more likely to convert

A retargeting campaign can help you get as many as 26% of these shoppers to return and complete the transaction. Also, it’s been found that visitors who see a retargeting ad are 70% more likely to convert.

Retargeted visitors are also three times more likely to click on an ad. The higher Click Through Rate (CTR) will increase the Quality Score of your campaigns. This will, in turn, lower the Cost per Click (CPC) and increase your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

Besides driving high-quality traffic to your website, retargeting ads are highly effective in building a brand presence.

While you can run retarget ad campaigns on many platforms, Facebook is one of the most popular thanks to its large user base and robust targeting features.

For example, you can filter a remarketing cookie pool using demographic data (age, life events, job titles, etc.), purchase history and interests to deliver highly targeted ads.

Ready to take advantage of this highly effective online advertising method?

What’s Facebook Retargeting?

Facebook retargeting is a form of PPC campaign that allows you to re-engage shoppers who have previously interacted with your website in a specific way.

Create an Ad on facebook

When shoppers visit a particular page or take a certain action, the website drops a tracking pixel on their browsers. When they visit Facebook (or other Facebook products, such as Instagram and Messenger), they’ll be shown highly specific ads tailored to their interactions with the brand to deliver a personalized customer experience.

How to Set Up Facebook Retargeting Ads

In order to maximize the effectiveness of Facebook retargeting ads, fine-tune your campaigns by using the various options available to target a specific audience and deliver the most relevant message.

Here’s how to set up a remarketing ad on Facebook:

How to Set Up Facebook Retargeting Ads Infographic

1. Install the Facebook Tracking Pixel

Properly installing the Facebook Pixel is the first step to ensuring that your campaigns are set up correctly.

In the Facebook Ad Manager, go to Menu > Pixels. You only need to create one pixel per ad account. If you don’t have one already, name the pixel and hit “next.”

Facebook integrates with many popular eCommerce platforms, such as BigCommerce, Google Tag Manager, Magento, Segment, Shopify, Wix, and WooCommerce. If you use any of them, simply follow the step-by-step instruction to install the pixel.

Otherwise, you can manually insert the pixel code snippet by copying and pasting it between the tags on your site. 

You can also use the pixel to track specific actions visitors take on your site (e.g., adding an item to cart, completing a purchase) by following the instruction to add a few lines of code.

2. Create a Custom Audience

You need to create a custom audience, i.e., your website visitors, for retargeting.

In Facebook Ad Manager, go to Menu > Audience > Custom Audience and Create an Audience based on “Website Traffic.”

Abandoned Cart

Next, select the type of actions visitors take or the pages they visit on your site that will trigger the retargeting ad.

If you’re targeting shoppers who have abandoned their carts, you need to show the ad to those who have visited a product page and the checkout page but haven’t completed the transaction.

Meanwhile, the ad shouldn’t be shown to customers who have already made the purchase because it will be irrelevant, annoy your customers and drive up the cost.

To prevent customers who have already purchased a specific product from seeing a retargeting ad, use the “exclude” field to filter out users who have visited the thank you/order confirmation page.

You can also set a frequency cap and control the timeframe for showing an ad, i.e., the number of days after a shopper has been to your site, to avoid annoying the audience, causing ad fatigue or wasting your ad budget.

3. Set Up Your Retargeting Ads

It’s most effective to create individual ads for specific products or categories so you can show highly relevant messaging that increases CTR and conversion rate.

Use Facebook Dynamic Ads to generate ads automatically based on the specific product each shopper has viewed. To do so, you have to set up a catalog and associate the Facebook Pixel to it – which requires some upfront efforts and works best for eCommerce merchants with a large selection of SKUs.

large selection of SKUs.

Otherwise, you can simply set up retargeting ads with a brand-focused message or to promote different product categories.

Facebook Dynamic Ads

To set up your retargeting ad, hit the “Create Ad” button on the Facebook Ad Manager dashboard and select an objective.

For eCommerce retargeting ads, the most common objectives are traffic and conversion. After selecting the campaign objective, you’ll be asked to verify your pixel by following the instruction.

Next, select an audience for the ad by simply choosing the one that you have created in step 2. This is typically sufficient for most retargeting purposes.

However, if you have run an ad for a while and find it’s been getting a lot of unqualified traffic, you can use the “Detailed Targeting” feature to exclude showing it to users based on demographics, interests, behaviors and more.

You can also use the “Connections” feature to pull in data from your Facebook pages, events or apps – then target those users, target their friends or exclude them from the audience.

The “automatic placement” feature will show your ad in places they’re likely to perform best. Placements may include Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network and Messenger.

Automatic placement tends to work well in most cases because Facebook can leverage a vast amount of user data to determine the best option. However, you can also manually target your ads for specific devices, platforms and locations.

You can run most retargeting ads continuously. However, check the metrics regularly to make sure that they’re effective.

4. Create Your Retargeting Ads

After setting up the ad for retargeting, you’ll have to create the ad. Follow Facebook ad best practices when writing the copy and designing the visuals.

If you mention specific items on the ad, use high-quality product photos. Include your brand and logo on the image to increase brand exposure and build brand awareness.

Girl holding a smartphone with a 50% discount advertising on the screen

Also, add urgency to entice users to click on the ad and take action right away – e.g., by promoting a limited time offer, a discount for first-time customers or free shipping.

Duplicate the ad set for each ad so you can advertise to an audience more frequently without causing ad fatigue. Each ad set should have an ad with copy and look distinctly different from the others.

Create 10 or more ad sets to make your campaign evergreen by keeping the messaging fresh. E.g., with different products or special offers and by using a variety of ad formats, such as video ads, image ads, carousel ads and simple text ads.

In addition, if you’re targeting a small custom audience, you can use the accelerated delivery feature and set a high bid cap to ensure that a larger percentage of the audience will see your ad. (Note that this will likely increase your cost.)

5. Explore Advanced Audience Building Options

While website traffic is the most commonly used retargeting method, there are other ways to build a custom audience for retargeting:

  • Customer file: import customers’ email addresses or other contact information to promote an upsell related to their past purchases, preferences and profile information.
  • App activity: track app launches, event, recent purchases, or add to cart to run an engagement or abandoned cart campaign.
  • Offline activity: upload data from offline customer interactions (e.g., in-store purchases, events) to continue building relationships online.
  • Facebook engagement: target users based on their behaviors on Facebook products (including Instagram). For example, you can show a reminder to customers that are going to or interested in a specific event.


There are many moving parts involved in running Facebook retargeting ads. You need a strategic approach to make sure that you’re setting everything up systematically and optimizing the results.

In addition to creating highly relevant dynamic ads, you also need to optimize your product feed, create the right audiences, architect the campaign structure and integrate your campaigns with other marketing efforts.

Don’t forget to review your analytics and test the campaigns so you can optimize the various elements and get the best ROI.

Here at Visiture, we help eCommerce merchants dial in all the pieces involved in Facebook retargeting ads. Learn more about our Retargeting Service and see how we help our clients increase online sales by 102% and increase eCommerce revenue by 167% here.

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