Feb 11 2021
Clare McKinley

How to Use Retargeting on Facebook and Instagram


Retargeting is such a powerful advertising tactic that you’ve probably already experienced it multiple times today. You’re scrolling through Instagram, and you see an ad for the jacket you put in your Target.com shopping cart yesterday. Or, you open up Facebook in your desktop browser, and at the top of the page there’s an ad for the pajamas you considered buying last month. Sound familiar?

For most websites, only 2% of traffic convert on the first visit. Retargeting allows advertisers to reconnect with the 98% that don't convert the first time. Here’s how it works:

  1. Website Visit: A potential customer visits your website to learn more about your products and services.
  2. Retargeting in Action: Later, that potential customer sees your ads on the other websites they visit.
  3. Closing the Deal: You’ve caught the potential customer’s eye, and they return to your website ready to transact.

So, how do media buyers make retargeting magic on Facebook and Instagram? Luckily, Facebook and Instagram are owned by the same people, so media buyers can use Facebook Ads Manager to run ads on both platforms.

How to Run Retargeting Ads on Facebook and Instagram

The first step to retargeting on Facebook and Instagram is to add the Facebook Pixel to your website. The Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code that tracks the people who visit your site and the actions they take there. 

Once the pixel is set, you're ready to identify your retargeting audience segments. Click the “Audiences” tab in Facebook Ads Manager to get started. Under “Create a Custom Audience,” you can choose either website or customer database retargeting. Website retargeting uses the Facebook pixel, while customer database retargeting requires the media buyer to upload a list from their CRM. 

It’s best practice to create multiple audience segments that will be targeted for different periods of time. This way, you can test which audience segments are most responsive.

Now that your audience segments are set, you can start creating your campaign. You’ll need to set the conversion action you want to optimize for, as well as your budget. 

Finally, you’ll upload your creative assets. Since you’re retargeting consumers who already know about your brand, you can skip straight to advertising your product or service. Learn more about how to create effective retargeting ads here.

Once your campaign is live, it’s important to monitor it closely. Keep track of how the campaign is performing, and reallocate budget from your worst-performing ad combinations towards your better-performing ad combinations. 

Interested in learning more about retargeting? Check out our post on ROI for retargeting ads, or find out more about retargeting advertising with Basis here.