Social Remarketing - A Guide to Audiences, Strategy & Creative

4 October, 2022


Tim Searle 2021

Tim Searle

Tim joined Vervaunt in March 2021, coming from an in-house role at World of Books, where he led performance marketing. Tim has previous experience of working for agencies also and brings a wealth of eCommerce paid media experience with him to Vervaunt.

New customer acquisition is a key focus for many ecommerce brands, and whilst prospecting campaigns on paid media need a lot of care and attention, so do your remarketing campaigns if you want an effective, holistic paid media strategy.

Alongside new customer acquisition, remarketing campaigns also bring existing customers back to your store to increase customer lifetime value and average basket value.

Remarketing campaigns are far less intrusive than other ad types, as customers are familiar with your brand. You are likely to see impressive ROAS and CPA metrics when taking full advantage of remarketing ad types.

What types of remarketing ads can you run? How do you identify who to target and who to exclude in your remarketing campaigns?

Remarketing Events

The key part of any remarketing campaign is to determine which events you’ll be targeting, and how long you want each event to stay in the campaign for.

The core events to look at for ecommerce remarketing are:

  • Web visits - simply put, this event fires any time someone visits the website.

  • View content - this is set to fire when an important page is visited - usually a product page view. The ratio of web visits to view content can be surprisingly low.

  • Adds to cart - does what it says on the tin.

  • Purchases - as above.

One common concern when looking at these audiences is that they seem far smaller than what you see on Google Analytics. This is usually due to a combination of Facebook audiences showing users rather than total events (e.g. number of people who have added to cart, not total add to cart events), and also due to the challenge of matching each session to a Facebook account - if someone isn’t logged in, they can’t be matched. The iOS 14 update also complicates this.

There are many other events you can look to target, such as adding payment details, beginning checkout or use of the site search function - but the main thing to consider is intent vs volume.

Retention Lengths

When building Facebook audiences you’re asked to specify an event and the retention length (how long after the event someone will be included in that audience).

As mentioned above, the key consideration here is intent vs volume. A low intent event (such as a web visit) isn’t one that you should utilise with a long retention length, as there’s not much point assigning budget to hound someone with an ad if they haven’t expressed anything more than a passing interest in your brand.

For the example events above, we’d suggest a starting point could be 7 days for web visits, 14 days for view content and 30 days for add to cart. This should give the system a nice mix of a longer retention length for those who have already found a product they like enough to add to their basket, while also providing an opportunity to nudge those who have recently shown a lower level of interest in the right direction.

However, it’s worthwhile to trial different audience structures. On websites with high enough traffic volumes, you may be able to utilise 3-day, or even 1-day add to cart audiences. Frequency (how many times a user sees the same ad) will be a thing to watch for here, as although those potential customers who added to basket in the past day are among your most likely to convert, showing them too many ads may be off putting.

One important thing to remember is to exclude any remarketing lists you’re using for any prospecting activity. This ensures that people aren’t shown multiple campaigns at once (which results in inefficiencies), as well as giving you peace of mind that prospecting budgets are actually being spent on brand introduction rather than those who have recently interacted with your business.

Types of Remarketing Campaigns

There are many campaign types that you can use to retarget those who have visited your website, but the most important are usually DPA campaigns (Dynamic Product Ads), and ‘Conversion’ campaigns optimising towards sales, that we’ll refer to simply as RMKT campaigns. Both run alongside each other in most accounts, with budget allocation dictated by performance, but as DPA campaigns require a bit more data to target people, they can often have slightly lower spend ceilings.

DPA Campaigns

DPA campaigns are dynamic because they monitor on site behaviour, and serve an ad that’s composed of a product carousel, with the first tile populated by a product the user has visited, and the subsequent tiles populated by similar products. To do this, Facebook links activity tracked by the pixel with the product feed (stored in catalogue manager), using machine learning to test the best products to show a user to tempt them back to the website. DPA campaigns usually have a great CTR and ROAS, as they’re able to show the specific product that a user was considering buying, and have far fewer creative inputs as so much is dynamic.

RMKT Campaigns

RMKT campaigns serve standard ad types, primarily consisting of single images, carousels and videos. The creative used should be more product centric rather than top of funnel/prospecting content, as you can assume the user has more knowledge of the brand given that they’ve visited your page. Users can sit within a RMKT campaign for a number of weeks depending on how you have your audience structure set, so ensure you have 3-5 ads in rotation, and regularly prune and refresh these assets.

Remarketing Messaging

As with everything, testing is key when determining the best messaging to show your audience but, in general, messaging at the lower stages of the funnel should be focussed on chipping away at any reasons not to buy. These include:

  • Highlighting free shipping

  • Highlighting returns policies

  • Showcasing social proof, such as reviews

  • Product centric creative with more info

Example: P448


Retention / Existing Customer Campaigns

One thing we’ve not yet covered is where existing customers fit into remarketing strategy. Some businesses decide that they’re happy with their existing customers being included in the BAU campaign structure without exclusions, but best practice is to at least exclude those who have purchased recently enough that a second purchase is unlikely. This timeframe will vary for each client - large, luxury purchases are likely to be less frequent, whereas FMCG may only need exclusions for a week or two. Your CRM data will help paint a picture of what the repeat purchasing timelines look like.

If you decide to isolate your retention audience, it can be a well positioned way to inform your existing customers of new products, as well as giving you the option of targeting those who have stopped engaging with your CRM campaigns.

Performance targets are usually a bit higher for existing customer campaigns however, as although they can produce strong ROAS numbers, they don’t come with the benefit of adding to your customer base or introducing new people to your brand.

Simply where new customer acquisition is such a focus for our clients and within performance marketing generally; we would run social activity in the below tiers:

  • New customer acquisition would encompass pure prospecting audiences. Exclusions are in place for anyone who has visited the site or is present in the CRM database.

  • The second group here is remarketing to first time customers. This be your normal remarketing activity targeting those who have visited your page, but excluding previous buyers.

  • Then you’d have your retention activity where less focus is on the brand story-telling, and there is more focus on loyalty and new collections.

In Summary

Remarketing campaigns give you the luxury of assumed knowledge of your brand, so you have more freedom to push product led ads, with greater expectations in terms of performance.

When structuring your campaigns, keep in mind intent and recency, and experiment with audience sizes to find that balance between performance and scale, with frequency and ROAS being key guiding metrics.

You can use remarketing audiences in both DPA and remarketing campaigns, giving you a mix of more visual ads as well as showing specific products that interested previous visitors.

In terms of messaging, focus on chipping away at objections, and nudge people towards a purchase.

If you need any help with your remarketing campaigns, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or get in touch.