The first time you went to create a Facebook ads campaign and got to the targeting section, what was your first thought? Mine was “Wow, this is incredible, you can target anyone.” And then I was immediately overwhelmed because there were so many options and I had no idea how to use them.
There an endless number of combinations you can use to target your audience. You could zero in on female B2B decision-makers who live in Colorado and like art galleries, if you want to. In theory, this is fantastic, but in reality most businesses end up getting stuck because they don’t know who to target when.
There’s plenty of great strategies out there that you can use to target specific audiences on Facebook, but not all are created equal. So, we took the time to gather advice from a number of Facebook ad experts. Here are their strategies.
1. Start with the audience you already have
It can be difficult—if not impossible—to build a relevant audience starting with Facebook’s two billion users. In many cases, it’s more effective to start with the audience you already have.
This advice was shared by all our experts. When you use custom audiences, you know who you’re targeting and what their relationship is with your business—a huge advantage. This allows you to create highly-targeted campaigns with messages geared for specific audiences.
Facebook ad expert Aaron Orendorff, founder of iconiContent, says:
“The most often overlooked targets are your existing Facebook fans—people who have liked your Page, interacted with your posts, or watched your videos. Marketers and merchants get so caught up in the euphoria of new customers they forget to go after the customers or followers they already have. By targeting people who have already shown an interest in your content or product, you take advantage of momentum.
Facebook’s custom audience dashboard makes this incredibly easy through their ‘Engagement’ setting. You can even create an overlapping audience from your Instagram engagements, where sales and conversions are notoriously low, and feature ads to that same audience on Facebook, where sales and conversions shine.”
2. Create lookalike audiences based on high-converting custom audiences
Ideally, when running campaigns with your custom audiences, you should be split testing your ads to see what really works.
Paul Fairbrother from AdEspresso says:
“On your custom audience campaigns, you should always A/B test two headlines, two ad texts and two graphics (or videos) in each campaign so that you can see what features and benefits your audience prefers. Test significantly different ad creative so that you get significantly different results—don’t just change one word. Wherever possible wait three or four days before picking the winning creative and then turn off the underperforming ones to save money and increase performance. Once you do this, you’ll have a firm understanding of what works for your custom audiences and apply this to lookalike audiences with cold audience members for better results.”
Once you’ve figured out what works for your custom audiences, you can create lookalike audiences off those custom audiences and show them similar campaigns and offers.
Jacob Baadsgaard, CEO of Disruptive Advertising, says:
“Stop assuming people are on Facebook to buy your products or services! Most businesses fail to successfully advertise to consumers on Facebook because they assume people are further along in the buying cycle than they really are. Start with the low hanging fruit by retargeting your existing site traffic on Facebook and cross-selling customers who have bought from you before by uploading them into Facebook. From there you can create lookalike audiences and test your way into additional hyper-targeted audiences that are more likely to buy.”
Logan Young, vice president of BlitzMetrics, says:
“If you have an existing business that is generating traffic and conversions, then your primary focus should be amplifying what’s already working. That means your targeting efforts should be on creating multiple custom audiences (web, email, app, page engagement, offline) and then creating lookalikes off the best of these custom audiences.
In other words, let Facebook do the work for you. Let their algorithm do the heavy lifting to figure out who will become a lead, who will buy, and who will come to your store. So the best thing you can do is feed in the cleanest signal by having your digital plumbing in place. That means your Facebook and Google pixels set up properly inside a tag manager, your email audiences segmented by value and funnel stage, and many video remarketing audiences—people who have viewed your videos at least 10 seconds.”
3. Use your momentum
There’s another big benefit to starting your overall ads strategy with custom audiences: it gives you powerful momentum. Facebook will automatically start to get a better idea of what types of users respond to your ads. Their algorithms are smart, and once you get them going, they’ll do the hard work for you.
After a few highly-targeted campaigns on custom audiences, you can run simpler campaigns with large lookalike audiences and let Facebook’s algorithm step in.
Dennis Yu, CFO of BlitzMetrics and Adweek contributor, says:
“Create fewer, simpler campaigns. Instead of multiplying out hundreds of ad sets with complex targets, find a couple winners that rely upon large lookalike audiences. If you have at least 20 conversions a week per ad set and have chosen your true business objective, Facebook’s algorithm will now do most of the heavy lifting for you.
I used to spend days creating new campaigns, meticulously crafting micro-targeted audiences I was so proud of. But now, we rely upon optimized CP—bidding by business objective—on larger audiences of just a dozen ad sets. Then there are less exclusion audiences to manage, more data per ad set for the system to optimize from, and way less work for me.
Done the way Facebook now recommends, an ad campaign for a B2C brand should take less than 30 minutes a day to manage and optimize. What will cost you time is procuring new content, teaching other team members, and preparing reports—stuff other than actually tweaking campaigns.”
Logan Young, vice president of BlitzMetrics, says:
“We see a lot of ‘sophisticated’ B2C companies go crazy creating tons of audiences, only to find a few months later that ‘their garden has weeds’—stale audiences that aren’t being used, were used just once, are no longer relevant, or weren’t producing.
Because Facebook has improved their optimization so much in the last six months, we find that having fewer audiences is a smarter strategy, as it gives Facebook more room to learn, getting to the 20 conversions per ad set per week threshold necessary to tune.”
Facebook’s custom audience feature is an incredible asset that many businesses new to B2C sales often underestimate. It’s easy to be wowed with interest and behavior targeting (both of which work in their own right), and to forget that custom and lookalike audiences can be extremely powerful targeting tools when used correctly.
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