Get More Sales and Conversions With The Facebook Retargeting Pixel

top of post targetFor most website owners, there is usually a lot of focus on getting more people to visit our sites. There are endless resources and articles on how to get more traffic. But the vast majority of that traffic is wasted.

Most visitors leave your site before they become email subscribers or customers. And most of them never return, even if they found your content valuable.

If you stick with me to the end of this article you will know exactly how to get the most out of the traffic that visits your website. You’ll understand how to use the Facebook retargeting pixel to reach out to people who visited your website and convince them to come back, join your email list, or become customers.

Retargeting website visitors with Facebook ads means showing Facebook ads to people who have previously visited your website. It’s one of the cheapest ways to achieve your goals with Facebook advertising. If you’re serious about using Facebook ads to grow your business, retargeting is an absolute must.

In fact, Ryan Deiss, CEO of Digital Marketer predicts that “soon all display advertising will be retargeted advertising and the pixel will become even more valuable than the click itself.

What does that mean?

Basically it means that having your website properly set up to support retargeting with Facebook ads is becoming one of the most valuable things you can do for your business.

And it’s free to set it up and start building your list of ‘pixelled’ audience members. So even if you aren’t ready to use Facebook ads, there’s not reason not to set your web site up so you are prepared to use retargeting when you are ready.

Keep reading for the full step-by-step guide on how to get started with Facebook retargeting today.

Why is Facebook retargeting so effective?

Before we get into the how-to, let’s take a quick look at why retargeting is so effective.

Most of us with an online business are looking to build our email lists as quickly as possible. It’s common knowledge that email marketing is one of, if not the most effective digital marketing methods.

 

Why email marketing works

1. Because people on your email list have already expressed interest in you. You know that because they gave you their email address.

2. And with email you can reach them directly with messages that you know will appeal to them. For example, if they gave you an email address in exchange for a lead magnet about Facebook advertising, you know they are interested in content about Facebook advertising.

3. You can deliver messages based on where they are in your funnel. You will want to speak to people who have only just discovered you differently to your loyal fans. Likewise, you can deliver specific emails to people who have visited specific product pages or abandoned their shopping cart.

 

The problem with email marketing is that it’s hard to convince people to actually give your their email address.

Your audience is smart, and they know that by handing over their email address they will be marketed to. So they hold on to it and only share it with people and brands that they trust.

New audience members who have only just discovered you might not have that level of trust in you just yet. You need to build that trust. It takes time and usually a few separate interactions with you and your brand before you get there.

You end up with a lot of people visiting your website, enjoying your content, but never joining your email list.

 

Facebook retargeting solves that problem.

It gives you almost all of the benefits of email that I described above without requiring and email address or opt-in.

Every time someone visits your web site, they automatically get ‘pixelled’ by Facebook. This just means they go into a group that you can target with Facebook ads.

You can then run Facebook ads to these people whenever you like.

That means you are running Facebook ads only to people who have expressed interest in you by visiting your website. You are also reaching them directly in their Facebook news feed.

And you can separate them based on specific pages or content they viewed on your site! That means you can show different ads depending on what they like or where they are in your sales funnel.

 

Ready to get started with Facebook retargeting?

The first step is adding the Facebook retargeting pixel to your website, and I’ll walk you through how to do that in the next section.

 

How to add the Facebook Retargeting Pixel to a WordPress site

In this section I'm going to walk you through adding the Facebook retargeting pixel your WordPress site.

First, let's look at what the pixel actually is.

 

What exactly is the Facebook Retargeting Pixel?

The retargeting pixel (also known as the custom audience pixel) is just a little piece of code that you copy and paste into a specific part of your web site.

Once the pixel is on your site it tracks site visitors, and if a visitor is logged in to Facebook, the pixel lets Facebook know that the person visited your website.

In fact, the pixel can even tell Facebook which specific pages a person visits on your website!

There are actually 2 uses for the pixel.

1. To create website custom audiences – which is what we are focused on in this article.

2. To track and optimize conversions. This allows you to measure the performance of your ad campaigns, but this is a topic for another day.

And as long as you set things up properly, Facebook can put people into special groups based on the pages they visit. These are called ‘custom audiences’ and I’ll show you how to set them up later in this post.

These custom audiences are the groups you will want to target with highly relevant Facebook ads.

 

Why it’s important to add the pixel to your website ASAP

The FB retargeting pixel is able to track people who visit your website from ANY traffic source. That means that even organic traffic will be added to your custom audiences if you have the pixel installed.

The sooner you add the pixel to your website, the sooner you can start building your custom audiences.

By not having the pixel on your website you are missing out on adding website visitors to your custom audiences, and therefore missing out on retargeting opportunities.

 

Steps to Add The Facebook Retargeting Pixel To Your Site

Adding the Facebook retargeting pixel (aka custom audience pixel) to your website is relatively simple.

In a nutshell, you will need to:

  • Find your pixel
  • Include it before the </head> tag on each page of your website

Don’t worry! I know talking about “</head> tags” sounds scary, but you don’t have to be a developer to do this. I’ll show you how to do it the easy way.

Here’s how to get your pixel from Facebook:

1. Go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/pixel/facebook_pixel/and click ‘Create a pixel’.

Ads_Manager

 

 

2. Give your pixel a name and click ‘Create Pixel’

Image 2

 

3. Click ‘Install pixel now’

Image 3

 

4. This is your retargeting pixel. This block of text is what you are going to add to your website.

facebook retargeting pixel code

 

Ok, you’ve got your Facebook retargeting pixel code. Leave the window open, we’ll come back to it soon.

Now how do you actually install the pixel on your WordPress site?

The easy way to install your pixel using a free WordPress plugin.

For those of you who are familiar with installing and using new WordPress plugins, here is a quick overview of the steps involved:

1. There are many plugins available that do what we need. My personal favourite is called ‘Head & Footer Code’. First you will need to install this plugin.

2. Once the plugin is installed, go to the plugin settings and copy & paste your pixel code into the ‘HEAD CODE’ section.

3. The just click the blue ‘Save Changes’ button and you are done!

And in case you need them, here are those steps in detail:

First, you’ll need to install the Wordpress plugin. Here's how you do that:

To do this visit www.yourwebsiteaddress.com/wp-admin

a. Make sure you replace “yourwebsiteaddress” with your own URL ;-).

b. Enter your login details & click ‘Log In’

Image 5

c. Once you’ve logged in, go to ‘Plugins’ -> ‘Add New’

Image 6

 

d. Enter ‘Head & Footer Code’ in the search box and press enter

Image 8

 

e. Install & activate the plugin

Image 9

Image 12

 

f. Access the settings for the plugin by going to ‘Tools’ -> ‘Head & Footer Code’

Image 11

 

g. And finally, copy your pixel code that you got from Facebook into the ‘HEAD CODE’ section.

Click ‘Save Changes’ and you’re done.

Image 10

 

That’s it, now you’ve got the Facebook retargeting pixel installed on your WordPress website!

From now on, Facebook will be able to ‘pixel’ people who visit your web site. That means Facebook will know who visits your site and which specific pages they visit.

Setting up your custom audiences on Facebook

Remember I mentioned earlier that Facebook adds your website visitors to special groups called ‘custom audiences’? It’s actually these custom audiences that you will retarget with Facebook ads.

Now I’m going to show you how to set up your custom audiences on Facebook.

This is a relatively easy process. I’ll even show you how to create custom audiences that only contain people who visit specific pages on your website.

1. Go back to your Facebook Ad Manager. You can access the ad manager using this link: https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager

You should see something that looks like this:

Image 14

 

2. Navigate to the ‘Audiences’ screen by clicking ‘Tools’ -> ‘Audiences’

Image 14-1

 

3. From the ‘Audiences’ screen, select ‘Create a Custom Audience’

create a facebook custom audience

 

4. Select ‘Website Traffic’

website traffic custom audience

 

5. Tick the box to accept the terms & conditions, then click ‘Create Audience’

custom audience creation confirmation

 

6. Now it gets a bit more interesting. You’re going to set the conditions for your custom audience and give it a name.

For ‘Website Traffic’ you have a few options, but in this example we will choose ‘Anyone who visits your website’.

For ‘In the last’, you can enter a number of days up to 180. In this example I’ve entered 30 days.

This means that anyone who has visited your website in the last 30 days will be included in this custom audience. You will then be able to create retargeting ads on Facebook and show them to this audience.

Next, choose a name that will be easy for you to recognise. You can always change it later so don’t stress about it too much.

Hit ‘Create Audience’ when you’re finished to create your audience.

create retargeting audience

 

I usually create several custom audiences for ‘Anyone who visits your website’.

Generally I’ll have separate audiences for the last 180 days, 90 days, 60 days, 30 days and 7 days. This allows me to retarget people based on when they visited the site.

More recent visitors are more likely to remember you & your brand. For that reason they are often more likely to respond to your ads. But that audience will be smaller, which is why you want to have a wide range available.

Custom Audiences For Specific Pages or Categories

I’ve just shown you how to create custom audiences that allow you to retarget anyone who has visited any page on your website.

But what if you want to retarget only those people who visit certain pages, or read content within certain categories? That’s possible too!

 

Here is how to do it:

First you will simply need to follow the first 5 steps I walked you through above for creating a new custom audience.

But once you reach this screen there are a few things you need to do differently:

Including only those people who visit a specific page on your website

There are a couple of ways to do this. You can either use the ‘URL contains’ option, or the ‘URL equals’ option.

Using the ‘URL contains’ option:

1. Instead of selecting ‘Anyone who visits your web site’, this time you will need to select ‘People who visit specific web pages’.

2. Now you will want to enter the part of your URL that is unique to the page you would like to use.

 

For example:

If you have a post about Facebook retargeting pixels and the URL is https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-retargeting-pixel, entering ‘facebook-retargeting-pixel’ in the ‘URL contains’ section will ensure that only people who visit that specific page will be added to your custom audience.

url contains facebook retargeting pixel

 

And this is how you use ‘URL equals’:

This time instead of selecting ‘URL contains’, select ‘URL equals’.

When you use this option, you must include the entire URL that you want to use. So rather than just entering part of the URL like we did previously, you will need to enter the complete URL.

 

For example:

As you can see in the image below. If we use the ‘URL equals’ option for the same page, we need to enter the complete address – https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-retargeting-pixel

This will have the same effect as the previous example. It will include everyone who visits the page about the Facebook retargeting pixel in the custom audience.

custom audience url equals

You’re probably wondering why you would use one option over the other if your goal is to include everyone who visits a specific page.

Honestly I usually just use the ‘URL contains’ option because it’s all I need.

The main reason I can think of for using ‘URL equals’ is if you are using the same pixel on multiple domains. If you had similar content on both domains you could use the ‘URL equals’ option to make sure captured the right audience.

 

For example:

You may have the same retargeting pixel installed on www.myfirstwebsite.com and www.mysecondwebsite.com.

Both websites could have an article about eating healthy food. The articles themselves could be different, but the URL’s both end in ‘/eating-healthy’.

Let's say you’ve got 2 different web sites, each with with a similar post. The URL's are:

http://www.myfirstwebsite.com/eating-healthy and http://www.mysecondwebsite.com/eating-healthy.

In this instance let’s say you only want people who read the article on myfirstwebsite.com to be included in your custom audience. You can’t use ‘URL contains – /eating-healthy’ because that will include people who read the article on mysecondwebsite.com as well.

Your only option in this example is to use ‘URL equals’ and enter the full URL.

Including people who have shown interest in a specific category or type of content

Most websites will contain content or products that fall into different categories. So it makes sense that you would want to retarget all people who have shown interest in a particular category.

Now I’m going to show you how to do just that.

If you’re starting a new website, this might even help you decide how to structure your URL’s so you can simplify your Facebook retargeting efforts.

To do this you’ll need to create a new custom audience, and select the ‘People who visit specific web pages’ option again.

In this case you will always want to use the ‘URL contains’ option.

The first option you have is to enter a broad term that is contained in the URL of all of the pages you want to include.

 

I’ve created an example for you below:

As you can see, I’ve selected ‘URL contains’ and entered the keyword ‘facebook’.

url contains facebook

 

This means that anyone who visits an URL with ‘facebook’ in it will be added to this custom audience.

So if I have multiple blog posts that look something like this:

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-retargeting-pixel

https://andrewhubbard.co/buying-facebook-likes

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-advertising-guide

Anyone who visits any of those pages will be included in the custom audience.

 

The second option is to structure your URL’s so that you can easily distinguish between categories. This is a great option for ecommerce sites and those of us who like to keep everything super organised.

You do this by structuring your website URL’s like this:

Your domain comes first (as always), followed by the category name, followed by your page title.

 

Example:

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook/retargeting-pixel

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook/buying-fb-likes

https://andrewhubbard.co/youtube/retargeting-pixel

 

So all of my posts about Facebook, would be under /facebook/. That means I can just select ‘URL contains' – ‘facebook’ when I create my custom audience containing everyone who has read content about Facebook.

You can see from the examples above, the post title in the URL doesn’t need to contain Facebook every time. But because I’ve placed them all under /facebook/, they are all still included.

Most blogs don’t bother structuring their URL’s this way, but other types of sites like ecommerce are already doing this. That makes it easy (and logical) for them to use this method when setting up custom audiences.

 

Here is a look at how asos.com structures their URL’s around different categories:

asos womens clothing facebook retargeting

 

‘Women’ is a category, and they also have different types of women’s clothing sorted into sub-categories. As you can see in the example above, ‘blazers’ is a subcategory.

And here you can see the URL structure when looking at the men’s jeans category:

asos mens clothing facebook ca url

 

How ASOS can retarget website visitors:

A simple way that ASOS could use Facebook retargeting would be to:

  • Create a custom audience containing people to visited a URL containing ‘mens/jeans’ within the last 30 days.
  • Create a Facebook ad campaign directed towards that custom audience showing them different styles of mens jeans, or offering mens jeans at a discount price.

This campaign would be highly effective because the ads are being shown to people who have already expressed interest in mens jeans from ASOS.

As you can see, either method works when it comes to creating custom audiences based on the type of content your website visitors viewed. It’s up to you to decide which URL structure works best for you and your situation.

 

Advanced Combinations

You’ve seen how to include people who visit a specific page, or page with a specific phrase in the URL in your custom audiences.

Now let’s take a look at using include/exclude combinations to refine your audience even further.

Using this method you are able to set multiple criteria for inclusion in a custom audience.

 

Here is how you do it:

1. Select ‘People visiting specific web pages but not others’.

2. Select either ‘URL contains’ or ‘URL equals’, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

3. Enter the URL or partial URL you would like to include. If people visit this page they will be included in your custom audience.

4. Enter a URL or partial URL you would like to exclude. People who have visited this page will be excluded from your custom audience.

advenced website custom audience

 

Example:

You can see in the image above, I have included ‘URL contains' – ‘facebook’, and excluded ‘URL contains' – ‘pixels’.

This means that people who visit a page on my site with a URL containing ‘facebook’ will be included in my custom audience. But ONLY if they haven’t also visited a page with ‘pixel’ in the URL.

 

How would this be used in the real world?

Let’s say I have a post about Facebook retargeting pixels and it has the URL:

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-retargeting-pixel

I might also have lots of other posts about Facebook, but not about the pixel. They would have URL’s like:

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-likes

https://andrewhubbard.co/facebook-lookalike-audiences

If I want to retarget people who have visited one of my posts about Facebook, but not about Facebook pixels, that’s exactly what this method would achieve.

Retargeting to previous visitors who haven’t visited your website in a set number of days

There is one other option when it comes to selecting which website traffic gets added to your custom audiences.

That option allows you to capture people who have visited your website in the last 180 days, but haven’t visited in a set number of days.

For example, you could create a custom audience containing people who visited your website in the last 180 days, but who haven’t visited in the last 30 days.

Do set this up is really simple. All you need to do is select ‘People who haven’t visited in a certain amount of time’ and then enter a number of days.

This will add anyone who hasn’t visited in the number of days you set to your custom audience.

time based retargeting audience

 

Important notes on Custom Audiences

Here are just a few more important things to know about Facebook custom audiences:

  • Your audiences take time to populate. You won’t be able to use your audiences immediately because it takes time for Facebook to add people to them. Once they are ready you will see the audience size change and the availability will change to ‘Ready’. Usually this takes less than 24 hours.

facebook custom audience list

 

  • Facebook can retrospectively add people to new custom audiences, but only back to the date when you installed the Facebook retargeting pixel on your website. That means you should add the pixel to your website ASAP!
  • This post covers website custom audiences only. You can also create custom audiences based on email lists and mobile app activity but those are topics for another post.

 

Targeting Your New Custom Audiences With Facebook Ads

So now you’ve seen how to add the Facebook retargeting pixel to your website.

You’ve also learned how to use that pixel by creating Facebook custom audiences that you can retarget.

The last thing that I want to walk you through is how to actually retarget, or run ads to those custom audiences.

This is the final piece of the puzzle in this guide for Facebook retargeting.

To target one of your custom audiences, simply select the custom audience you would like to target in your Ad Set targeting options. Specifically, in the ‘Custom Audiences’ section.

fb ad set targeting options

 

You can also layer other targeting options along with your custom audience.

 

Example:

As you can see in the image above, I have selected a custom audience along with several different countries.

This means that only people who are in that custom audience AND who are located in one of those countries will see the ads.

Quick Summary

Well done if you’ve stuck with me to this point! Let’s take a look at the key takeaways from this article and each of the actions you need to take to start building your audiences to retarget.

  • Retargeting your website visitors is one of, if not THE best way to leverage Facebook ads. It’s also a perfect way to market to people who engaged with you by visiting your website but didn’t quite take the next step and join your email list.
  • The first step for you is to install the Facebook retargeting pixel. This can be done quickly and easily on WordPress using a free plugin.
  • You can only start building audiences to retarget with Facebook ads once the pixel is installed on your web site. The longer you delay adding it, the more website visitors you are missing out on adding to your custom audiences.
  • Creating Facebook custom audiences allows you group people depending on the actions they took on your website. This allows you to get very specific with your retargeting.

Time to take action and add the Facebook retargeting pixel to your website today!

It doesn’t matter if you’re not ready to run Facebook ads just yet. Adding the pixel now will put you in the box seat when the time comes for you to start using Facebook ads in your business.

What's next?

One you've got the pixel set up, you'll want to make sure you're tracking conversions properly. Use this complete guide to Facebook conversion tracking to help you choose the best conversion tracking method for your business and walk you through the process of setting it up.

Do you plan on adding the retargeting pixel to your site? Or maybe you’ve already been using it and have seen great results? Let me know in the comments!

 

  • Gabriella Goddard

    Thanks Andrew. One of the best explanations and ‘how to’ articles I’ve read…and I’ve read loads! This same Facebook pixel can now be used to set up custom tracking conversions as well right? Things like ‘complete sign-up’ ‘started purchase’ etc.

    • Thanks Gabriella! Glad you found it useful. That’s right, the same pixel works for the new custom conversions feature which is very handy. You can only create up to 20 custom conversions but that’s enough for most people I think.

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  • kevinjoyner

    Great guide, but your introductory comparison to email does make it feel problematic to me that we think the solution for not having marketing permission is to proceed without it. When you’ve failed to attract someone’s engagement, and to start a respectful conversation, since when was it a good idea to start following them around?

    Not a thought that applies to you Andrew any more than the rest of the industry 🙂

    • Interesting insight! While there might be an ethical dilemma with retargeting, it’s much broader than just Facebook advertising. Google have been doing it for years with their website ads. Not saying that alone makes it ok though :).

      Here’s another way to look at it – An advertiser is going to run ads no matter what. Whether it’s billboards, ads at the train station or Facebook ads, you’re going to see ads every day, everywhere you go. If Facebook didn’t allow retargeting you’d still see ads in the news feed, they would just be less relevant to you. So knowing that I think it’s a question of which one you would prefer. Relevant ads or irrelevant ads.

      I definitely think you can use this technique to add value to visitors as well.

      For example, lets say you read this post and liked it, but you didn’t see an opt-in offer you like on the page so you didn’t join my email list. But what if you really struggle with writing ad copy for your Facebook ads, and in 2 days time you see a Facebook ad from me linking to an article detailing how to write better ad copy? You’d probably click that ad, read the post, and assuming it helps you, you’d be glad you saw that ad wouldn’t you?

      • kevinjoyner

        Yep, it does sometimes work.

        But I think in the advertising industry we’ve begun to believe the industry’s own pitch material a little bit too much. Think about it honestly: of all the ads you see every day online, how often would you – as a person, not a marketeer – describe them as truly relevant?

        And how often do you see an ad that is irrelevant, despite the targeting technology behind it, because it doesn’t know about your attitudes and intentions and the other stuff in your head?

        The classic case is the re-targeting that doesn’t know you’ve already bought the product from another supplier, but of course there are so many other diverse scenarios where an advertiser is attempting to be relevant to a cookie, but fails to connect with the person.

        Now think about the ads you really enjoy: the emotional, clever or surprising ones that make you feel good about a brand. In my experience, they’re the TV ads and billboards that are hardly targeted at all. They’re the brave ads, and the ads that I know have been funded by a successful brand that can afford to “waste” money by not laser-targeting the messages that it’s proud to broadcast.

        Personally, I’d like to see advertising exist at either ends of the spectrum: either bold, broad brand content; or genuine two-way connection with me as a person. We can do better than the muddy surveillance marketing territory in the middle.

        • True, it’s far from perfect at the moment.

          Would love to see the scenario you described become a reality. Would be great from both an advertiser and a consumer perspective.

          • kevinjoyner

            Exactly: better for all involved. I will post the link to the solution here as soon as it exists!

            But in the meantime, Doc Searls writes some great posts about this stuff and I found his “The Intention Economy” a really important book.

            Cheers Andrew!

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  • alicette10

    Thank you Andrew, can it be used Facebook’s re-targeting pixel for a mobile app instead of a website?

    Cheers

    Alicette

    • Hi Alicette,

      For a mobile app you need to install the Facebook SDK. You can see the details for that here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ios/

      That will allow you to do all of the same things as the pixel does for a website.

      Personally I don’t think you should ever run FB app install ads without the SDK installed in the app. This is because you can’t track your cost-per-install without the SDK, and if you can’t track CPI you’re flying blind.

      You can also do some really interesting things like creating lookalike audiences based on people who have complete an in-app purchase, retarget people who haven’t opened the app in x days and lots more.

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