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There’s a simple reason why retargeting ads are effective: They hit a warm audience with compelling content and relevant offers. However, “compelling content and relevant offers” is where many businesses and agencies fall short. Many marketers miss the opportunity for higher conversion rates and better ROAS simply because their segmentation is surface level rather than diving into the specific experiences of potential customers. Retargeting based on website visitors, brand video views, or someone following the company Facebook page is just the beginning.

Mitch Correia of Special World Marketing

Facebook Ads expert Mitch Correia spoke to us about taking segmentation deeper.

For insight into next-level retargeting strategies, we spoke to Mitch Correia, Facebook Ads expert and the founder of an agency called Special World Marketing. He’s worked with clients in a variety of fields, from B2B SaaS to eCommerce. Mitch sees Facebook marketers falling short because they don’t segment custom audiences deeply enough in response to their customer’s specific pain points, engagement, and knowledge.

The Facebook ad retargeting strategy we’ll discuss in this article is based on adopting an attentive and empathetic mindset, as well as leveraging the user data. We cover:

  • Which segmentation opportunities are often missed by businesses
  • How to use proactive content promotion to gauge pain points and do smarter retargeting
  • How to avoid a fatal retargeting blind spot after segmenting based on engagement.

To illustrate his points, Mitch also provided examples of campaigns in which he used these techniques, including one that shows how strategic collaboration between creative teams yields better results (for example, how he paired up Facebook retargeting with email sequences to build a $2 million pre-sales pipeline).

Bonus action list: Get our 2-page PDF summary of action items you can use to take your Facebook ad retargeting strategies to the next level.

Missed Segmentation Opportunities

According to Mitch, many businesses don’t fully capitalize on segmentation before kicking off their retargeting campaigns. This is especially true of businesses with longer sales cycles. They often miss a huge opportunity to serve specialized content that nurtures a prospect through the funnel.

“Many businesses simply serve top-of-funnel ads and lump people into one retargeting bucket thereafter. There is a ‘Just hit them again!’ mentality, meaning there’s a lack of appreciation for individual interests or need states. They just promote the same message multiple times. This is understandable for eCommerce businesses selling low-ticket items, because profit margins are small and purchase decisions are made quickly and independently. But for B2B products and services with higher value, multiple stakeholders, and a longer sales cycle, there’s really no excuse for not digging deeper.

But what does it mean to dig deeper, and how should we think about segmentation?

Mitch’s key advice is to “not see everyone in the retargeting pool as equal.” In particular, he often segments audiences based on exactly what they’ve seen, what actions they’ve taken, and how much they know.

Pain Point Segmentation

eCommerce businesses tend to cast out a wide net to see who gets tempted by specific products or category ads. Next, they’ll set up retargeted ads to nudge people towards making a purchase. This approach works to an extent, but Mitch points out that it is mainly a reactive mindset.

He believes that B2B businesses with longer sales cycles can be more proactive with advertising logic. By actively promoting content on a specific pain point (using the Reach Objective in Facebook Ads), they can drive awareness and engagement while building custom audiences. These audiences have clearly indicated their pain point, so they can be retargeted with middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel content.

This proactive pain point segmentation can achieve fantastic results. For one client, he achieved a 15x Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) by retargeting the viewers of a top-of-funnel management advice webinar.

“We’ve been working with John Murphy International, an Executive Coaching and Leadership Training company running workshops and coaching programs. One of their programs helps new managers to speed up their learning and become better leaders,” he explained.

The course is suitable for managers across disciplines, from Human Resources to Sales. Mitch targeted cold and lookalike audiences using a mix of detailed-based criteria: job titles, professional organizations and societies, popular leadership influencers, publications, blogs, and books.

These cold audiences were hit by a very specific promoted Facebook post empathizing with the challenges of becoming a manager for the first time. As you can see from the screenshot, the opening piece of copy was adapted based on the target’s area of expertise — in this case, HR Managers.

A sample of a message that was sent by John Murphy Interntional

Webinar opt-ins and viewers thereby indicated that typical new-manager pain points (like those below) resonated with them. So, Mitch followed up with strong, middle- to bottom-of-the-funnel, blog-style pieces of content that tackled associated pain points, including:

  • The lack of time available for managers to be trained up
  • The difficult transition from “individual contributor” to “manager”
  • The challenge of going from meeting attendee to meeting host
  • The struggle to evaluate the performance of individuals and teams.

The content backs these pain points up with stats, including the fact that 47% of new managers don’t receive any training, 44% feel unprepared for their role, and 60% of first-time managers fail within the first two years due to lack of guidance. It weaved in a personal story and concluded with a step-by-step training program breakdown complete with features, benefits, testimonials, and calls to action.

Unsurprisingly, those who watched at least 50% of the webinar converted at a much higher rate than those who only opted in (something we discuss more in the next section).

“We achieved a 4.5x ROAS when retargeting webinar opt-ins, which is a very respectable result. But when retargeting people who’d watched more than 50% of the webinar, we got a huge 15x ROAS. The average of 6.5x ROAS shows the power of proactively promoting top-of-funnel B2B content and how it can uncover the best retargeting prospects out there. The 15x ROAS shows why we act on engagement.”

Proof of ROAS

Engagement & Knowledge Level Segmentation

If a business wants to segment Facebook users by their pain points, the first step is to create an audience containing people who engage with a specific page, video, or other piece of content. But as we can see from Mitch’s example in the previous section, not all of their target audience has equal value in creating a positive ROAS.

“Segmenting based on pain point indicators is a step in the right direction, but retargeting budget must be spent on people who’ve shown a genuine interest. As a rough guideline, the most engaged people on a 2,000-word blog post might be those who’ve spent 5-6 minutes on the page. In Facebook Ads, this is done by targeting the ‘Top %’ — e.g. the Top 10% of visitors according to time spent on the page.”

For videos, this gets slightly more complex and nuanced.

“If you aim to use top-of-funnel video content to feed custom audiences for Facebook Ad retargeting, you need to act on meaningful data. Someone can easily watch 50% of a 15-second video without really paying attention. But watching 50% of a 2-minute video suggests a genuine interest. For this reason, I recommend videos to be at least 1.5 minutes in length. It provides better data.”

While segmenting for engagement is normal for Facebook Ad retargeting strategies, Mitch has noticed a fatal blind spot. Businesses aren’t connecting this data with what people actually know after seeing a certain percentage of that content. This is an underplayed advantage.

“Too many businesses say, ‘Great, these people have watched at least 50% of our video, so let’s retarget them with an ad!’ But they don’t stop to take stock of how much information those people have actually learned from the content they’ve consumed. Not everybody in that 50%+ segment will have watched 100% of the video, so could a proportion of your retargeting audience have missed an important message in that second half?”

This is where Mitch sees human attentiveness and empathy come into play, especially when shaping the creatives that are served to the segmented retargeting audience. The value proposition should be cohesive, and the audience must be able to relate to what’s being said in their News Feed thereafter.

“We used this principle in a recent campaign for Optimize by Brian Johnson. His new course to become a coach is most relevant to the people who are familiar with his content and his methods, so for the launch campaign, we decided to target existing Optimize members on Facebook with middle-of-funnel videos.”

As a result, this campaign was centered around engagement and knowledge from the start. The fact that Mitch was targeting existing Optimize members meant he knew the audience was familiar with Brian’s personality. The introductory video struck a warm and friendly tone, recognizing that the person watching was already engaged in Brian’s ideas. He then used indicators of interest to refine the remarketing strategy and deliver content to match their engagement with the course itself.

“Video viewers were directed to an ‘I’m interested’ signup page, which was then used to build custom audiences for bottom-of-funnel ad retargeting. We tracked users who continued to stay engaged but didn’t convert, and served them with time-sensitive direct response ads when the time was right. These creatives made absolute sense in the context of their journey — including what they’d seen and done already.”

A sample of Brian Johnsons Optimize FB ads

The results of their Facebook retargeting campaign were off the charts. “When targeting Optimize’s ‘Lifetime Members,’ we saw an astonishing 94x ROAS for that part of the campaign. The average across all members and subscribers was still an impressive 30x ROAS.”

This Facebook ad retargeting strategy got results because the offer was appropriate given coaches' existing level of knowledge and engagement with Brian Johnson.

Collaboration Between Creative Teams

According to Mitch, remarketing becomes most effective with close collaboration between different teams — such as between content creators and Facebook marketers. Even if the team is already creating articles and videos that tap into pain points, they might not be focusing on the end goal of remarketing.

“You shouldn’t just be promoting any random articles from your blog. Building custom audiences with pain-point focused content should be part of a mindful and intentional remarketing strategy. Content must be planned and created with the express purpose of generating engagement on Facebook or Instagram — with the ultimate goal to power future remarketing efforts.”

Mitch says that aiming for social media reach will impact how the content is structured. For example, a Buffer study showed that mobile users on Facebook and Instagram tend to prefer vertical videos. The content team needs to bear this type of information in mind when creating video content for Facebook.

Content titles are another variable factor if remarketing becomes the objective. Facebook has cracked down on clickbait, but catchy titles still prosper in the increasingly competitive Facebook News Feed. If your content team has been focused on keywords for SEO to build up website traffic, writing for Facebook audiences would be a fundamental shift in their mindset and goals. It’s easier to create ads that work when the content is already built to succeed on Facebook.

Collaboration is also required when different teams are working across marketing disciplines on the same top-level campaign goals. Recently, Mitch was recently working with Hammerhead on an ad campaign for an exciting new cycling computer called Karoo. It’s tough to break into the intensely loyal cycling community, but with persistence and persuasive content, his team succeeded:

A sample of a Hammerhead Facebook ad

“We created a Facebook Lead Generation campaign to build a pre-sale email list for the Hammerhead Karoo device and opted respondents into a nurturing campaign. This sequence was eight emails spaced across eight days, starting with the brand story and moving through emphasizing different features of the device. We worked with the email team to retarget prospects using Facebook Ads on the corresponding days to reinforce the email sequence’s message. This was brilliantly effective, and altogether, we managed to achieve $2 million of pre-sales in the pipeline.”

Not only does this highlight the impact of great cross-team collaboration, but it also shows the effect of leveraging knowledge of what people have already seen. Mitch and his team understood where each person was in their sequenced journey and used this information to their advantage.

Conclusion

For businesses with higher value products and longer sales cycles, creating custom audiences within retargeting groups makes perfect sense. According to Mitch, this longer consideration phase “provides an amazing opportunity to serve middle-of-funnel content that educates, nurtures, and builds favor.”

By taking into account engagement and knowledge levels, businesses can nudge prospects down the funnel with more compelling content and highly targeted offers.

Bonus action list: Get our 2-page PDF summary of action items you can use to take your Facebook ad retargeting strategies to the next level.

Matt Goolding

About Matt Goolding

Matt Goolding is a writer and content strategist, based in the Netherlands. He writes with leaders and teams in a variety of industries. You can find him on LinkedIn or via mattgoolding.com.

Action items [PDF] on Deeper Segmenting by Targeting Pain Points, Engagement, and Knowledge

Action items [PDF] on Deeper Segmenting by Targeting Pain Points, Engagement, and Knowledge