Conversion rate optimization

Using Social Media Retargeting to Boost Your Conversions Among Millennials

This article was written by Jake Rheude. He is the Director of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

What Is Retargeting?

Estimates vary, but a quick summation finds that about 75% of online shoppers will abandon an online shopping cart before they buy something. And, only 0.25% of new visitors to your site will make a purchase. If you can get them to visit again, your chances of making a sale increase nine-fold.

Retargeting is the tool you can use to get more of them back — and also to reach out people who have browsed but didn’t buy. The good news is that retargeting can get you back about a quarter of people who abandon shopping carts. Retargeting ads also generate up to 10-times more click-throughs compared to standard display ads because your audience has already looked at and shown interest in these products.

Retargeting works by using a piece of code on your website that tracks visitors — you’ll hear this called a pixel throughout.

The pixel isn’t something anyone will notice and doesn’t impact your website; it just adds a cookie to the user’s browser. That cookie later tells your advertising partners that you can reach this person with the content they were already looking at based on the info in that cookie.

Why Is Retargeting Right for Ecommerce?

Retargeting is all about telling interested people that you’re still around and getting them excited about your products. They’ve already seen your site and taken some action — usually adding things to a cart — that your site tracked. Now, you can remind them and give them a little nudge to see if they’re ready to buy.

Retargeting only reaches out to those people who have visited your site so that it won’t drive new leads. What it will do is work to improve your conversion rates by targeting people based on those product views and abandoned carts.

You can remind people of your stuff or deliver a coupon-focused ad to help push them into a final sale. Retargeting ads can also boost your upsell options by delivering a deal or related products based on what they were looking at already.

A retargeting ad example

An ad for Squarespace displayed on Facebook after we visited their website


Choose Social to Target Hungry Millennial Buyers

Most adults in America are on Facebook, and many use it regularly. Younger adults — think Millennials and on down — are growing in their use of more image-focused services like Snapchat and Instagram. These are likely your two big marketing segments, so you’ve got some great opportunities in social ads.

Breaking it down a little more using the latest Pew data, 68% of adults in the U.S. are on Facebook, and about 75% of those use it each day. Instagram is used by 71% of Americans in the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, and about 81% of those aged users are on the service daily. While Instagram only secures 35% of U.S. adults, it’s notable that this is a significant jump from the 28% reach it had in 2016.

Millennials are the buying powerhouse today, and the next generations are starting to grow their disposal income. Women in the millennial cohort alone represent about $170 billion in spending. We like social because it allows you to tell a story through a combination of ads and posts.

Social apps

Your posts can share lifestyle items and tips while ads do the direct selling. Why is that combo good? Millennial women are influenced by the story of a product and how it improves their lives. Around 70% say that brands are doing this, which means you’ve got competition. Social is a quick and easy avenue to join this effort.

They’re also easily swayed by influencers on platforms like Instagram. About 25% say that influencers impact their purchase decision and 62% have tried a brand based on a recommendation. Even if an influencer is not talking about your specific product, getting your ads near their content is a big win if it’s the same category.

Facebook Retargeting

Now that you know the “why” behind both retargeting and social, it’s time to get to the “how.” Here’s your step-by-step guide to reaching out to the millions and millions with Facebook retargeting.

First, we’re going to install the Facebook pixel on all the pages of your website.
Step 1: Log into your Facebook Ads Manager account.
Step 2: Click the “Tools” menu item and select “Pixels.”
Step 3: Choose the “Create a Pixel” option and name your pixel.
Step 4: Get your webmaster to add this pixel between the <head> tags on every page that you have. This will start generating some information for you once you have an audience and a campaign through Facebook. To target people who abandon a shopping cart, there are a couple of things to do. You’ll want to track when people visit the “add-to-cart” page with this script:


You may also want to track when people click your buttons to add products to your cart. This is considered an “in-page event,” and it’ll require a bit more work. However, the Facebook Developer page here has a great walkthrough.
The final thing to do is to track people who go to your “Thank You” page and exclude this group from your audience. That way, you’re not sending retargeting ads to someone who made a purchase.
Step 5: Head back to your Facebook Ads Manager account. Click the “Tools” menu item and then choose “Audiences.”
Step 6: You’ll want to create a custom audience, and then choose a type of remarketing group based on building your customer list, driving traffic, or generating activity for an app. In this case, you’ll typically want to choose the “Website Traffic” option.
Step 7: Adjust the options on this page to create your custom audience based on site activity. For retargeting, you’ll want to put the “Add to Cart Event” in the “Include section” and use “Purchase Event” in the “Exclude section.”
Step 8: Now, create some personalized ads to get people’s attention and highlight your brand, logo, or even a discount.
Step 9: Set your budget and launch that campaign!

Now, using a combination of Facebook’s ad management tools and Google Analytics, measure how well you’re doing and what actions people are taking. If you’re increasing sales and generating traffic via Facebook, great! If not, adjust and update until you get the results you want.

Those are the basics. You’ll find plenty of advanced options too. Mix in these ads with storytelling from your brand and your customers will be grateful. It’s smart Facebook retargeting that’ll be beneficial for your business.

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Instagram Retargeting

After all of those steps can feel a little daunting, especially now that you’re thinking about tapping into the potential of the visually fantastic Instagram. Fret not, though. Back in 2012, Facebook spent about $1 billion to buy Instagram.

What that purchase means for you is that there’s plenty of data sharing between Facebook and Instagram, so you don’t have to duplicate many of the steps above for your Instagram retargeting.
Once you’ve created your Facebook Pixel and added it to your site, the hard part is done. Facebook has added some Instagram options to its “Custom Audience” selection, so you just need to update it there and ensure that your brand pages are linked. Then you can follow the same campaign, budget, and ad steps to launch.

An interesting note in this combination is that you can use Instagram retargeting specifically for people who view your stuff on Facebook, as well as Facebook retargeting for Instagram interactions. So, if you have people clicking on your Instagram photos, you can send them ads on Facebook, and vice versa. There’s a lot to play around with in here.

One thing to note is that you’ll want to create ads that are different for Facebook and Instagram. There are plenty of guides available online, but the biggest takeaway is that Instagram puts an emphasis on visuals and minimizes text, so you’ll want multiple photos that are killer and showcase products and logos, so people don’t necessarily need to read.

If you’ve got a great series of images showing your products in use, consider an Instagram Carousel Ad with up to 10 snapshots for a very engaging post. Feel free to get creative if you’re retargeting people who abandoned carts by showing a series of images that mix your products with online shopping and the joy of opening a box.
An Instagram carousel ad example

An Instagram carousel ad example (source)


Get Started Now

That’s our guide to the how and why of Facebook and Instagram retargeting. What’s left to you is creating an idea of who your customer is and building out some sweet ads that will reach them.
Remember, storytelling and branding are essential on social. Aim to create something you’d share with your friends if you saw it. Then, retarget and mix in deals or special offers to see what makes people bite. Good luck!

Greg D'Aboville Greg is Head of Growth at Wisepops.

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