LAST UPDATED: 24 February 2023

How to Increase Registrations With a Facebook Remarketing Campaign

Want to take people from interested to registered? It's all about remarketing and it's all in this step-by-step guide.

How to Increase Registrations With a Facebook Remarketing Campaign

"Facebook ads": the most common answer we get in our race directors group about the best and most cost-effective channels for marketing races to new participants.

Yet, although many are using Facebook ads, far fewer use remarketing as part of their overall strategy.

If you are one of those race directors who is confused about Facebook pixels and remarketing campaigns, this is the post to help you get on top of this amazing strategy for driving people to register for your race - not read on your race, not visit your website: sign on the dotted line.

Marketing vs remarketing

So what is remarketing, anyway?

Remarketing is just a fancy term for marketing to an audience you've already marketed to. This sets it apart from the kind of marketing you do when approaching a new audience for the first time.

"Ok..." you wonder. "And why is this, like, a thing?"

Well, because when you remarket to an audience, you marketing message is different. And when you know you are talking to someone who is familiar with your brand, you stand a better chance of actually converting them to a paying customer - in your case a race participant.

A good way to think of remarketing is like going on a second or third date with someone. You already know the basics about each other and you're still going out. So remarketing is about moving the relationship on to a next level.

The importance of remarketing

There's another analogy for remarketing that professional marketers like even better than dating: funnels. They absolutely love them.

Professional marketers like the funnel analogy, because they understand that selling something is a process. First, you find people who don't know your product. Then, you introduce yourself and your product to these people. Some of these people like what you have to say and they become prospects. And some of those end up actually buying what you have to sell, becoming actual customers.

Facebook remarketing illustration of sales funnelThe mighty funnel: start at the top, buy at the bottom.

Getting someone to register for your race is, similarly, a process. First, you find a bunch of athletes who know nothing about your race. You show them some ads and introduce your race to them. Some of them visit your website and some keep coming back. This last group of people are your prospective customers. It's this group of people you want to hit with your registration campaign.

These latter stages in the marketing process are exactly what remarketing is about: taking someone from being interested to being registered. 

How does Facebook remarketing work?

For remarketing to work effectively, you need to be able to know which people have already engaged with your race. And, knowing who they are, being able to target them with a campaign that gets them to register.

Facebook makes this possible with the help of the Facebook pixel.

A Facebook pixel is a bit of code you add to your website (ideally on every page) which tracks your visitors, sends back information about your visitors to Facebook and helps Facebook match your website visitors to Facebook users. So the next time you create a Facebook ad campaign you can actually tell Facebook "show this ad only to Facebook users who have visited my website".

If you use Facebook and serf the web for products, you've almost certainly experienced Facebook remarketing based on your own website browsing. Have you noticed those creepy ads that magically appear selling you a product you just saw on another website? That is Facebook pixel tracking in action.

So to set up a remarketing campaign on Facebook you need to:

  1. Set up a pixel on your website that tracks visits and matches your visitors to Facebook users
  2. Create a special audience from those visitors
  3. Serve your register-now ads to that audience

Let's take a look at these three steps in more detail.

Adding a Facebook pixel to your website

Depending on the platform you use for your race website, installing a Facebook pixel can take anything from 20'' (literally) to perhaps a bit longer.

This is what you need to do:

  1. Create a Facebook ad account (if you haven't got one already)
  2. Create a Facebook pixel
  3. Install the pixel on your website

It's in this step 3 where your website platform comes in.

If you use any of the big website-building platforms, such as Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly etc, adding a Facebook pixel is really straightforward. You'll need to check the specific instructions in each case, but, basically, in most cases it's as simple as adding your pixel ID on your website settings somewhere. Or, in the case of Wordpress, installing a simple plugin that installs the pixel for you.

If you're not on one of these platforms and have built your website from scratch, you'll need to work with your developer to add the actual pixel code in the header of your website pages. It sounds complicated, but it really isn't. Any developer will be able to help you do that really easily.

After you've installed your pixel and you've verified it works, your website starts tracking visitors and Facebook starts building an audience from those visitors.

Unfortunately, none of this is retrospective, i.e. the pixel can't track visitors who have visited your website before its installation. It all starts from scratch the minute the pixel is installed. So the earlier you install your pixel the better.

Setting up Custom Audiences

Once your pixel is up and you've been tracking visitors for some time, you're ready to create a custom advertising audience.

First, go your Audiences page in your ad account and choose to create a Custom Audience from the "Create Audience" dropdown menu.

Facebook remarketing create custom audience screen
On the follow-up screen, choose "Website traffic".

Facebook remarketing choose custom audience screen

On the next and final screen, you'll need to name your audience and choose how far in the past you want to include website visitors from. Facebook only keeps tracking records for 180 days, so choose that - unless you have some strong and clear reasons why you wouldn't.

Facebook remarketing custom audience setup screen

That's it - your custom audience is now set up and ready to use on your next ad campaign.

Other custom audiences

Before we wrap up the discussion on custom audiences, it's worth noting that website traffic audiences are not the only custom audiences you can create - as evidenced on the audience selection screen above.

There's two more types of custom audiences you can create that may be helpful for marketing purposes:

  1. Customer file audiences. This is at the top of the custom audience menu and allows you to create advertising audiences from actual emails you have on file. If you have large mailing lists of past participants or newletter subscribers and have permission to target them, this is the way to do it. You can simply upload a .txt file of email addresses and Facebook will work on matching those emails to Facebook users you can later target.
  2. Engagement audiences. This is at the bottom of the custom audience menu. Similarly to audiences created through website traffic, this option creates an audience of Facebook users from people who have engaged with your Facebook page and content, rather than with your website. If you have a strong Facebook following, this is also a worthwhile consideration for future remarketing campaigns.

Launching a registrations remarketing campaign

Technically, the main difference between a registrations campaign against a custom audience and any other campaign is the choice of audience: with a registrations remarketing campaign you want to choose the website custom audience you created at the audience selection stage (when you set up your ad set).

However, because your objective with a registrations remarketing campaign is registrations, there are a few more things you'd want to pay attention to.

Your campaign objective

One of the great benefits of having installed a Facebook pixel on your website is that now Facebook can know what users do on your website once they click your ad. This can be a complete game-changer for the way you approach ads in two important ways.

Firstly, because Facebook can actually know that a click has resulted in an actual website visit, i.e. the user who clicked didn't drop off waiting for the page to load, you can actually optimise your campaigns for "Landing Page Views" instead of simply "Link clicks" when setting up your ad set.

Facebook remarketing landing page views optimisation screen

Optimizing for Landing Page Views will make sure Facebook shows your ad to people more likely to see the click through (more important for slower-loading websites) and gives you a tool to allow you to put a bid cap on landing views rather than clicks.

Secondly, making the most of your pixel, you can switch your campaigns from Traffic campaigns (where the objective is to send people to a webpage) to Conversion campaigns (where the objective is to get people to take specific action on the webpage when they get there).

We won't go any deeper into Conversion campaigns at this stage - that will have to wait for another post. But, if you feel adventurous, there are plenty of great resources available on the subject online.

You ad copy

Since the people seeing your remarketing ad are people who are familiar with your race already, your message should go straight for the kill.

Ideally, you want your ad copy to encourage people to register or consider registering soon. So your wording should reflect this with calls to action like "Register now", "Don't miss the chance to register" etc.

If you're running the campaign around the time of an upcoming registration price rise (e.g. towards the end of your early-bird registration period), also mention that in your ad copy.

Your destination URL

Where should people clicking on your ad go? You have two options here - each with pros and cons.

One option is taking people to your own website's registration page. You probably have one of these, even if you take registrations on your registration provider's website.

If you do choose to send people to your website's registration page, keep in mind that may be asking them to take another click from there to the actual registration page to register. The more clicks they have to take, the easier it is for them to lose interest or get confused.

The other option is to take people directly to your registration provider's page. That's a bit of risky tactic. It will work well for people who are really keen to register, but may alienate some who are almost there and may want some additional info before they do so.

Of the two, we recommend the former. But it's really your call.

Your ad's Call-to-Action button

Similarly to the discussion on destination URLs, you have two choices for your ad's call-to-action button: either the common "Learn more" button or the more straight-talking "Sign up" button.

To be honest, you can't do much harm or good with either choice. Our vote would again be for the more gentle "Learn more" option. But, if you are driving people straight to a registration form, it may make sense to go with a "Sign up" button.

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