Spicy strategies that will heat up your conversions & make your campaigns sizzle.
Reading time: 12 minutes
Are you flushing 💸 down the 🚽 ?
If you spend any amount on Facebook acquisition campaigns and you don't have a solid retargeting strategy in place... then that's basically what you're doing 💸🚽
While you can get a great return from just cold traffic acquisition campaigns, you'll see the biggest returns when you complement these with retargeting "warm" and “hot” audiences. People that already know, like or trust you… at least a little bit.
Retargeting is often mistakingly perceived as stupidly simple.
I get that.
It’s just showing some ads to people who visited your website right?
Well, not exactly...
Although that's indeed what many Facebook advertisers do.
As a result they'll see a return on ad spend (ROAS) on their retargeting campaigns that is even lower than their acquisition campaigns, decide it doesn't work for their product or service and keep looking at other people sharing screens of sizzling “$1 in $21 out” Facebook retargeting campaigns 🔥
I'm here to tell you that retargeting is by far the easiest and most profitable Facebook advertising strategy to implement in your business. It’s also set-and-forget.
"If you do it the right way, it will multiply the effectiveness of EVERY minute and EVERY dollar you spend on marketing".
On the other hand...
If you don't do it the right way and you don't see 15x-20x ROAS on your Facebook retargeting campaigns (10x at the bare minimum), there's room to improve 🤔
That quote is not mine by the way. These are the words of Justin Brooke, one of the best media buyers in today’s marketing realm.
He wrote a book, Retargeting Recipes, that I’m going to discuss in this article. It’s not just a book review. I’ll sprinkle in some of my own hard-earned learnings as well. So it’s more like an educational piece on FB retargeting.
Regardless of whether or not you decide to order the book yourself after reading my article (it's only $6.95 for the hardcopy), I am sure you'll get many valuable insights to improve on your Facebook retargeting strategy... just from reading this article.
So I promise you that in any case it will be time well spent.
First things first...
Heads up: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links you won't pay more, but I'll be rewarded a commission.
Retargeting Recipes is an 80-page "cookbook" written by Justin Brooke (the founder and CEO of AdSkills), with his easy-to-follow recipes for retargeting campaigns compiled after spending 10+ million on ads.
It looks like this when you're like me and want to highlight and take notes while also keeping your hardcovers neat.
You can pick up a hardcopy + PDF version + bonuses straight from their website for just $6.95 when you're in the United States.
It's $14.95 to ship it internationally (you do get direct access to the PDF by the way).
They say the book is "free". But it actually costs $6.95 for shipping & handling.
Potato potato, it's a cheap book that is very informative and a must-have for advertisers.
Not just for Facebook advertisers by the way, I’ll get to that later.
So, why are they giving this book for "free"?
Justin Brooke, the author of the book and CEO of AdSkills, is a no-BS guy and states it like this himself:
"Maybe you’re thinking there is a hidden fee. There isn't. I’m trying to ethically lure you into the AdSkills world. My hopes in giving you this book for free is that you are so impressed, that you come back afterwards to buy all our training and mentorship. That’s my secret evil agenda… to impress the heck outta you."
I have a strong preference for no-BS people, so I think Justin is pretty cool 😎
He's a big guy, both in real life as well as in the digital marketing space.
He's known as the "Traffic Guy Millionaires Recommend", because he has been the media buyer for authorities like Dan Kennedy and Russell Brunson and he has trained world-class media buyers like Molly Pittman (DigitalMarketer) and Chris Evans (T&F).
After running his own digital agency and managing $10,000,000+ in ad spend, Justin and his partner Chaunna now run AdSkills. That’s an online ad buying school with 11.000+ students, incl. yours truly.
He's not just a Facebook guy, but an all-round media buying pro.
I stumbled upon him when looking for strategies to broaden my scope towards other ad networks beyond Facebook which is my own expertise.
So I ordered his Retargeting Recipes book, that he uses to attract new leads into his world by offering massive (close to free) value as a starter.
Enough for this intro, let us advance to the tasty parts of this article 🍗
I'll discuss 4 reasons, while going back-and-forth between the insights I got from the book and my own hard-earned learnings after running Facebook ads for years.
Timing, frequency, creative and strategy.
"The more times someone sees your ad, the more likely that person is to buy".
That’s an old marketing wisdom stated in the book. It comes from Thomas Smith’s “advertising frequency theory” published in 1885, which is still accurate today.
Thomas wrote it like this:
1. The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
2. The second time, he does not notice it.
3. The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
4. The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
5. The fifth time, he reads it.
6. The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
7. The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
8. The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
9. The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
10. The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it.
11. The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
12. The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
13. The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
14. The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
15. The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
16. The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
17. The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
18. The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
19. The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
20. The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering.
Sure, it’s not about the absolute number of impressions, but about the underlying idea.
Up until a certain point I think it holds true. But after a certain point the few additional sales you can squeeze from your audience can come at a high price.
In the book Justin says, for this reason, that he likes to cap his ads to 3 impressions per day per person in the audience and run his retargeting ads no longer than 30 days.
As a starting point it might be ok to use this default. But I would recommend to quickly move towards a more tailored timing.
Time is a very important variable when it comes to targeting your Facebook ads.
Especially retargeting ads.
When you show ads to someone who visited your pricing page yesterday, you'll have a much bigger chance of success compared to showing it to someone who visited more than a month ago.
So for how long should you retarget? What's the ideal duration?
That's unique to your sales process.
Some products are straight impulse buys and some purchase decisions require lengthy consideration from your buyers. A mistake many advertisers on Facebook make, is to just create custom audiences using a default number of days they see others use.
Like 7 days, 14 days or 30 days.
The result is that they're either showing their retargeting ads way beyond the length of their average sales cycle, or way too short.
That's what causes the difference between a 20X return retargeting campaign and one that barely hits 2X ROAS.
To see high returns you'll need to spend your budget on showing ads to the right people at the right time. Any shorter and you'll leave profits on the table. Any longer and you'll diminish your returns by wasting budget on people that will never buy 💸🚽
So while 30 days might be a good starting point, I argue you should look at your own unique sales process and the data you collect to be able to answer vital questions like:
See what I mean?
Taking this perspective when looking at my own web statistics taught me that a little more than 80% of all my conversions in the past year happened within the first 2 days after a person’s very first interaction with me.
My customers buy fast 💨
If you keep the classic 80/20 rule in mind, you have to ask yourself: does it really make sense then to retarget people for 30 days?
Should I spend significant ad costs to squeeze out these last few sales? Wouldn’t they maybe just trickle in organically or through my email sequences anyway?
Based on the data I've decided that the 1 day, 3 day, and 7 day window are most important to focus on specifically in my business.
Let's discuss timing a little more.
Have you ever thought about the difference in the average time people spend on your website when they DO make a purchase vs when they DON’T make a purchase?
In the book Justin talks about the importance of a "burn" pixel and goes as far as calling everyone who leaves your website in the first 30 seconds "bouncers". That audience could be as high as 60% of all your website traffic.
These are people (or bots 🤖) that should be excluded from your retargeting audiences.
While I do agree with the fact that it's very important to properly manage exclusions I think the number of seconds in his statement really depends on your audience. Again it will be a vastly different number for any type of website / product / niche.
In the screenshot below I overlaid my own website stats with 2 traffic segments. The first segment includes all website visits with a transaction / purchase. The second segment one represents the larger part, website visits that didn’t include a purchase.
When I look at the overal session duration and pages per session there’s obviously a huge difference when comparing sessions with and without transactions.
But when I zoom in specifically to my pricing page I find that both people that ended up buying and people that didn’t, have spent on average around the same time on my pricing page. It's just a 24 sec. difference.
Hmmm...now that’s interesting 🤔
Based on the data I've decided that I want to create audiences of people that have spent a specific time on my website. Both overall as well as specifically on my pricing page.
That’s why I’ve created timed triggers that fire Facebook events after 5, 60 and 120 seconds.
I use these Facebook pixel events to create custom audiences for retargeting.
OK, let’s move on.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, Justin recommends as a starting point to cap your retargeting ad impressions to max. 3 per day.
I completely agree with him that frequency capping is very important, yet very little Facebook advertisers do it.
Let me explain why it's so important.
Custom audiences that you’ll use for retargeting (like past visitors of your pricing page in the last 7 days) will often be small.
That means that if you combine a small audience with a normal budget, these people will literally be bombarded with your ads.
In Facebook Ads Manager you can see the “frequency”, meaning how often on average people have seen your ads.
But that’s always after-the-fact.
And it’s an average so there will surely be people who have seen it a hell of a lot more.
While it does make sense to show ads more than once, you should also avoid annoying people with them. So there should be some kind of cap on the number of times people should see them (at least per ad platform, I’ll get to that later)
The caveat is that Facebook doesn’t allow frequency capping for most of the campaign objectives you can choose.
I know most Facebook advertisers are taught to always use the Conversion objective, which is also what I would recommend to anyone running acquisition campaigns.
But retargeting campaigns are an entirely different beast.
When you’re running an acquisition campaign targeted at a cold audience (using either interest-based targeting or lookalikes), you should be as specific as possible OR feed Facebook enough conversion data so it can optimise for you, i.e. find the best people to show your ads to in a larger audience.
That’s what Facebook’s machine learning algorithm does...IF you feed it conversion data and IF the volume and recency of that conversion data exceeds the thresholds for your campaigns to exit the “learning phase”.
When you’re running a retargeting campaign, you’re targeting a custom audience that’s filled with people that triggered a certain pixel event on your website (like the Add to Cart event) while excluding everyone who triggered the Purchase event.
That will in most cases be a small audience.
And based on what I described above, you should let people automatically fall out of this audience after a number of days as well.
So that makes it an even smaller audience.
You don’t need Facebook’s brilliant AI to optimise anything for you when it comes to these micro-audiences. Your goal should be to show your retargeting ads to everyone in that audience during the timeframe you set.
With one important addition: WITHOUT annoying them with a high frequency.
The solution I recommend is to use a campaign objective that supports frequency capping, so you can limit the number of ad impressions to people in your audience.
Personally I always use the Reach objective for retargeting campaigns with a frequency cap of 3 ad impressions per day.
The result is that I retarget a very specific audience, while excluding people who are already my customers… and without drowning them in ad impressions.
Within these 7 days the max number of times they’ll see my retargeting ad is 7 days x 3 impressions per day = 21 times
That's close to Thomas Smith's 20th time...
This is an area in which the Retargeting Recipes book shines ☀️
It’s not a typical book with long stories but a practical “do this, not that” guide. That’s why Justin Brooke picked the metaphor of a “cookbook” with recipes to follow.
He has spent millions of dollars on testing retargeting ad designs and presents five winning ads (“the workhorse”, “the brander”, “the product reminder”, “the instant celebrity” and the “fence jumper”).
In the book he states specifically the goal of each of the ad types, when to use them and what to put in them (image, headline, description, call-to-action).
Since reading the book I’ve been testing most of them and I ended up using the “product reminder” and “instant celebrity” ads for promoting my software offer.
In my experience most advertisers tend to overcomplicate retargeting and what to put in their ads. While it is important, it should also be set-and-forget.
You’ll see a much bigger impact on your ROAS from making sure you retarget the right people at the right time, while excluding bots and people who are not interested.
It really helped me to just use the ad creative guidelines from Retargeting Recipes.
And these ads have been running untouched for a months now at a +20X ROAS 🚀
Strategic "retargeting recipes" are the main topic of the cookbook.
Like the ad content guidelines, these recipes are also extremely practical in a sense that they aren’t long-winded explanations but clear “how-to’s”.
These recipes are blueprints for retargeting campaigns you can implement in your own business and get results from. Justin put them in the order of implementation he recommends. Start simple and then scale up by adding each of the others.
They go from really basic (like retargeting people who abandoned their cart) to advance multi-step recipes that include all ad types mentioned earlier.
Still, it would surprise you how many advertisers aren’t even running Recipe #1
Recipe #1: The Cart Fixer
Recipe #2: The Blog Monetizer
Recipe #3: The Instant Celebrity
Recipe #4: The Face-To-Face
Recipe #5: The Microwave
Recipe #6: The Greased Funnel
Recipe #7: The Webinar Assistant
Recipe #8: The Earnings Multiplier
I’ve definitely not implemented all of these myself yet, so this book is more like a reference guide that lays on my desk and that I’ll gradually implement over time.
I also haven’t implemented the more advanced concepts from the book yet, like “message sequencing” and “audience laddering”.
One thing I did do is implement more ad network pixels than just the Facebook pixel, because that was what I actually was searching for when I found the book.
Justin highly recommends making sure you have active ad accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Adwords and Taboola (I’ve also included LinkedIn). These ad networks together let you cover roughly 98% of the internet with ads.
And you can build the same retargeting audiences and type of ads in these platforms to blanket the internet with your messaging.
To make it feel like you’re everywhere…
But for a very specific number of days and only to a very specific “hot” audience 🔥
Retargeting Recipes lives up to its name of being a highly practical “cookbook”.
You can read the book cover-to-cover in an hour or two. But you can lay it on your desk for months or even years to come if you want to implement everything that’s in it.
While at first reading I skimmed through it and thought hmmm…😒 (I expected more of a “book”) I completely changed my mind. I've made more practical changes in my business because of this $6.95 book than I did after following some $997 guru courses.
In the end you can have all the information in the world, it wilI be worthless without you actually doing something with it.
I’ve used the book (among other things) to change my ad designs into set-and-forget winners and I’ve started running retargeting on ad platforms outside of Facebook.
Or $14.95 when the Retargeting Recipes book has to be shipped to you internationally. They had to ship mine to Gouda 🇳🇱🧀
Should you decide to order a copy, I'm inviting you to do that through any of the partner links in this article. I'll be rewarded a commission by AdSkills and you'll get my 32-page < Perfect Pixel /> PDF as a bonus.
Heads up: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links you won't pay more, but I'll be rewarded a small commission.
Some of the strategies I shared in this article come from this < Perfect Pixel /> guide.
I wrote this guide to explain more in-depth how you can use data for analysing your unique buyers journey to define exactly how long people should stay in your retargeting audiences before they drop out.
So you can tailor your Facebook pixel events to that and increase your ROAS.
The examples I gave from my own website statistics are also described in this guide so you can replicate this same analysis. I’ve outlined all the steps you need to take including screenshots.
I’ll show you how to use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to install your Facebook pixel way beyond the basics. And I’ll show you how to setup advanced triggers to make sure that the data you send to Facebook is as clean and effective as possible.
+ you'll also get some more bonuses (from AdSkills)
With your purchase or Retargeting Recipes you'll also get access to "Tracking 101".
That's a 40-lesson online course on using Google Tag Manager for tracking & analytics. It’s extremely handy to have this as a backup when you need bit more guidance on how to use GTM while setting up the advanced pixel triggers from my < Perfect Pixel /> guide.
AdSkills will also give you access to a 30-minute videotraining titled "7 profit killers ad networks are hiding from you".
One of these profit killers is the fact that ad networks like Facebook and Google are hiding targeting options to sell more impressions.
That's actually reason I came up with the idea for my InterestExplorer software that uses Facebook's API to reveal hidden interests.
I hope you find I delivered on my promise of teaching some new things about Facebook retargeting you didn’t already know.
Maybe it sparked your interest both in the Retargeting Recipes book from which you can "cook" proven retargeting campaigns and in my complementary < Perfect Pixel /> guide that teaches you how to find the perfect timings for your retargeting campaigns and implement the required pixel events for it.
If that’s the case, hit the button below 👇
While you wait for the hardcopy to be shipped, you'll get instant access to the PDF version of the book.
How to get access to my bonus?
To apply for my bonus, you need to make sure you purchase Retargeting Recipes through any of the links on this page. Only when a click through my link was the last before your purchase, I'll be rewarded a commission by the seller. And only then will you get your free copy of the the 32-page < Perfect Pixel /> guide as a bonus.
Please send a copy of your invoice to email@example.com to confirm your purchase. I'll then cross-reference the timestamp with the awarded commissions, if you've indeed made the purchase through my link I'll send you the bonus.