Why Retargeting Isn’t the End All to Facebook Ads (And How to Get Cold Traffic That Is)

If you go on almost any social media marketing or Facebook Ads blog, you’ll see a long list of posts focused on retargeting—how important it is, methods to retarget successfully, and how to make sales with it.

This is all great, but these posts, unfortunately, are forgetting one thing: retargeting isn’t the only part of Facebook Ads that matters.

Retargeting seems to be the current buzzword in social media marketing; it can help boost sales and keep people around, sure, but in general (and like any buzzword), it’s way overhyped. It can help your business, but without cold traffic, it’s not sustainable.

In this post, we’re going to talk about why you need cold traffic to supplement retargeting, and how to determine who to target for best success.

Why Retargeting Isn’t All You Need

Retargeting at its core is displaying offers only to people who have connected with your content before, whether it’s a video on Facebook or a post on your website. This is great, and it does normally help get high conversion rates. The problem is, that retargeting is only appealing to the list you currently have, and that’s it.

Retargeting needs a steady stream of fresh traffic to be worthwhile; this usually means lots of organic search traffic or a massive large list. The majority of small and medium businesses don’t have this.

If this sounds like you, then your marketing efforts need to be focused on getting that new traffic to your site and new names to your lists. This is how your business will grow—and it’ll give you a bigger list to retarget in the future.

[Editor’s Note: It’s still worth setting up custom audiences even before you have traffic with our 100% free Facebook Pixel plug-in]

Targeting Cold Traffic With Facebook Ads

Targeting new users and getting cold traffic from Facebook Ads is definitely going to be more challenging than running retargeting campaigns where users are already interested in your brand or products.

Knowing how to find the right people to target and knowing some best practices on getting increases in cold traffic will help your campaigns be successful.

Finding the Right People to Target

Finding the right people to connect with is the most difficult part of cold targeting on Facebook Ads. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools and strategies you can use to determine what your targeting criteria on your Facebook Ads campaigns should be.

These include:

You can also use audience insights to see which sections of your target audience you may not be connected with on Facebook; you may be missing a certain age group, gender, or interest group. You can create campaigns specifically geared towards these missing users (both in targeting and in the creative aspects of the ad) in order to hopefully connect with more of these users.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you sell running shoes. You can research Nike (which would be one of your biggest competitors), but you can also search for “Nike’s competitors” on Google. You could also Google “Nike vs.” and let Google suggest top competitors’ names.

Once you find a list of competitors, you can search for their Facebook Pages, and plug them into your Audience Insights or target them directly in the Interests section of your Facebook Ad Manager.

Get better results with Facebook’s grid search

Facebook’s grid search has made it much easier to find and research audiences to target. But often the search yields results that aren’t very useful.

Let’s imagine you’re performing research to target entrepreneurs. Lewis Howes is popular in entrepreneurial circles, and we want to find more influencers like him to target.

Here’s a move we use at Growth Ninja to get better results.

First, go to and paste the URL of the of the person’s page (in this case Lewis Howes’ Facebook page).

The Find My FB ID website will spit out a unique series of number, the pages’ Facebook ID.

Copy the Facebook ID and plug that number into the following URL:

So the end result should look like:

Here’s where we see: Melanie Duncan, Frank Kern, Ryan Deiss and more audiences we can target as Interests in the Ad Manager.

Using this method will have a dramatic impact on the speed and quality of your research.

Targeting Tips for Getting Cold Traffic from Facebook Ads

Once you’ve determined what targeting criteria you’ll use to get new cold traffic from Facebook Ads, you’re almost ready to run your campaign. Before you do, though, there are a few more strategies and tips to keep in mind when targeting cold traffic, including:

I only recommend using lookalike audiences that with a source of 1,000 or more results (conversions, clicks, video views, etc.)

Strategies For Making “First Contact” With Cold Traffic

You can’t pitch cold traffic in the same way you would with retargeting people who have visited your site before or are already part of your email list.

Remember that you need to add value first; these people don’t know you or trust you yet, it will be difficult getting them to share their contact information right away even if you have a great offer. Here’re a couple of ideas for how to add value up front.

Facebook recently added a new feature that allows you to create custom audiences from video viewers. This is an excellent source of retargeting traffic. You can choose to target people who have seen your video, or even segment down to anyone who watched the full video.

Final Thoughts

Getting cold traffic to your site getting them started on the digital sales funnel can increase your client base and profit line. The most difficult part of targeting cold traffic is knowing who to target for your best success on Facebook Ads, but with the right tools (and the tips from this post), you’ve got everything you need to connect with new, relevant users and to continue to grow your business.

What do you think? How do you get the best success from cold traffic on Facebook Ads?

Vincent Nguyen is the founder of Growth Ninja, a company that provides full-service Facebook Ads management and uses a completely performance-based pay-per-lead pricing model.