text: Facebook ads advanced targeting

Facebook Ads, Advanced Targeting and Audience Selection 2021

facebook advanced ad targeting pin

Targeting the right audience is key to your success in running Facebook ads. 

How do you choose the right audience for your Facebook ads?

You need to look through the right demographics, interests, or target people who have visited your website or interacted with you on Facebook or Instagram.

There are some really creative ways that you can set up your audiences and I will show you some strategies in this post. For the example that we will go through together, my campaign objective will be to drive traffic to my website.

Make sure you have a Facebook pixel set up. If you don’t have one set up (or don’t know how to figure out if you have one installed), my tutorial covers that entire process. Only then can you actually track how many people are visiting the page and show additional ads to them in the future.

Now, let’s go over the process of setting up the audiences step-by-step.

What’s Your Marketing Objective?

First you need to create a campaign. When you are creating the campaign you’re given a number of choices for your marketing objective including:

Facebook Ads Marketing Objective
  • Brand Awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App Installs
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions
  • Catalog Sales
  • Store Traffic

Most small businesses will want to go for conversions, lead generation, or messages. Focusing on brand awareness only can be a fast way to burn though all of your money.

Every campaign you run should have a clear objective that leads toward sales.

Choosing the Right Audience that Gets Results: the Basics

#1 Location 

By default, your audience will be the entire United States. So it’s 230 million people. If you’re a local business, the first thing you’re going to want to change is the location.

select audience location

For me, I mainly serve businesses and Denver. Although I do have some services that can be national, I’m going to start with Denver, Colorado, because it’s even better if I can meet with people in person. Under locations, you’re choices are

  • Everyone in this location
  • People who live in this location
  • People Recently in this Location
  • People traveling in this location

I generally like people who live in the location. If someone is traveling through, their less likely to be a repeat buyer. You’ll then want to set your radius for how far out your ad will be shown. If you’re a physical shop, you’ll likely want to choose a shorter distance like 10 miles. For someone who can travel a bit more, like a photographer or realtor, I recommend 20-30 miles. Choosing 20 miles moves it down to 2.2 million people in this area.

select audience size

#2 Choosing the Right Age

Select the age based on your product/service. For some options (traffic, video views, brand awareness) you have the option to select between ages 13-65+. For others, such as lead generation and messages you’ll have the choice of ages 18-65+. For most businesses, it makes the most sense to target adults, but for schools, drivers ed training, etc, it can make sense to test an audience age of under 18. It’s valuable to look at your existing customers and see the age of your current customers. Those who are 18-25 typically don’t have as much money to spend if you are selling high ticket items.

#3 Gender

You can select men, women, or both as your audience. If your product is primarily geared toward men or women it often makes sense to target men or women and not both. You can always look at your customer base and see if there is a big difference in men vs women.

So if you want to know an audience of men or an audience of women performs better, you can run a test keeping everything the same and showing one to men, and one to women.

#4 Language

You’ll choose which language you want your target audience to speak. Typically you will choose the same language that your ad was created in. If a good percentage of your audience speaks Spanish, this is often something worth testing. People who speak English and Spanish will often mostly see ads in English, so your ad can stand out by appealing toward a Spanish speaking audience.

How to Choose the Right Detailed Targeting:

This is really where ads get powerful.

You can target Demographics, Interest, and Behaviors. Demographics are thing like education level, income level, their jobs, if they’re parents, , etc. Please note that choosing a demographic will narrow it down to people that it knows have these demographics. For example, if you choose married, you’re ad will only be shown to people who have listed that they are married (which will be a smaller number than the total number of married people).

Detailed targeting, demographics, interests, and behaviors

You need to ask yourself if people with these demographics or interests are significantly more likely to engage with your ad or click on your link?

Interest targetting is described as “Reach specific audiences by looking at their interests, activities, the pages they have liked, and closely related topics.” So, if someone likes pages like Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle they’ll likely show up under people who are interested in self-help.

Behaviors are based around the actions that people take, such as Facebook Page Admins, Anniversaries, engaged shoppers, etc.

I recommend looking through each section. It can be difficult to test what’s working if you select many at the same time. That’s why I typically select 1 or 2 specific detailed targeting metrics.

How to Add a Connection Type

Facebook Pages add a connection type

Connections are people who like your page, or friends of people who liked the page. You also have the option to exclude people who like the page if you only want to reach new users with your ads. Often, you’ll want to exclude people who like your page if you’re doing lead capture or trying to reach new audiences. If you are making an offer or a sale, it’s often a great idea to include people that like your page.

Let’s say you have 10,000 followers. When you post something on Facebook, not everyone’s going to see it, it’s going to be shown to a small group of people. If a lot of people like comment and share, it will be shown to more but not everyone who likes your page is going to see that. So if you have a really important question, or have a really important deal, I recommend you post that regularly so it gets in front of as many people as possible without spending money.

You can also boost your post and show it to people who like your page. That way you can make sure that it gets in front of every single person that liked your page.

A lot of people are familiar with all of this demographic information. But what’s really powerful is to target based on people’s interaction with your Facebook, your Instagram, or your website, plus all the demographic information.

How Do You Create a Powerful Custom Audience

Custom audiences are powerful. You can show content to people who’ve visited your website or specific pages of your website. You can choose a timeframe of between 30 days and 180 days.

Similarly, you can target based on people who took specific actions on your website. 

You can also do custom audiences based on your Instagram. Anyone who engaged with your business, anyone who visited the business profile, people who sent a message, people who saved any post, or anything like that.

You can also target people who watched the first 10 seconds of your video.

Once you generate traffic to your website, you need to start using custom audiences. Retargeting people who are familiar with your brand leads to a 400% increase in ad response.

How to Properly Set Up Lookalike Audiences

You can find lookalike audiences under “select custom audience”. Lookalike audiences are powerful. Typically, this is if you have a Facebook Pixel, and you have it set up with an event. 

You can create an event and keep track of everyone who has visited that exact page. You then create a lookalike audience based on everyone who’s been to that page.

A lookalike audience looks at all the data of your audience and creates an audience that is very similar to that. So, it’s using Facebook’s advanced algorithms to find patterns rather than having you manually choose age range, interests, etc.

create a lookalike audience

You can also create a lookalike audience from people who like your page. You can find other people who are similar to those who like your page. You can create an audience based on that. This is especially good if you don’t have a whole lot of website visitors. But if you do have a lot of people who like your page, the only thing to be aware of is if it’s mostly your friends and family who like your page, the lookalike audience is going to be a little bit bogus because their demographics and interests are not going to line up with your potential customers and clients.

Choose your lookalike source and location. You can then create a single lookalike audience as well as what percentage of the audience it will match. You can choose between 1% and 10%. So, if you choose 1%, it will pick the 1% of people that most closely match your audience. If you choose 10%, it will choose the 10% in that location that most closely resembles your lookalike source. If possible, I recommend keeping it to a lower percentage, since that will be a much stronger match.

What’s the Best Audience Size for Facebook Ads?

You can actually get results audiences of a variety of sizes.

If you want to do a large campaign with scale, you want one of your audiences to be in the millions.

For local campaigns $200-$1000 budget, you’re probably going to want to get as specific as possible and just select an audience size of 25,000 to 350,000. It’s worthwhile getting in front of audiences multiple times, and with an audience, this size people will see your ads more than once.

When thinking about audience sizes it is important o consider relevancy. You want a high percentage of people to click on your ad, like, comment or share it. You’re going to pay a lot more if people aren’t really responding to it. If your audience is not well-calibrated you’re also going to pay a lot of money to get in front of people who are not relevant to your business. You need a high percentage of people to click on your ads and engage with them. This will mean you will pay less per click or impression. It also means that it will be relevant to more of the people you are paying to get in front of.
It is important to find the sweet spot.

Conclusion: You Now Understand Every Audience, so It’s Time to Test!

The best way to figure out the perfect audience is to test several audiences.

Generally, I recommend having a number of different audiences and ads to test. Let the data tell you what works best. Do photos or videos do better? Does long text or short ads perform better? When you are testing the audience only change one variable at a time. If you change the text, and the ad, and the audience, there will be too many variables to consider. You want to keep everything besides the audience the same so you can tell which audience performs better. Here are a few things it’s worth testing

  • Audiences created using location, age, gender, or language.
  • Several detailed targeting, particularly based off interests (since pages people like can often be a more powerful indicator than demographics)
  • Several custom audience, particularly those from your webpage or Facebook or Instagram page (if they have a lot of engagement and likes)
  • A lookalike audience once you gain an audience that’s very targeted buyers.

Save every audience you create so you can use it again in the future. I’d recommend putting at least $35 behind an audience before you can test if it’s working properly.

Leave a comment below: What audience are you going to target next? What additional information can I provide that will be the most helpful for you?

What’s next?

This free course I created will take you through the entire planning, copywriting, video and photo ad creation, setup, and campaign launch on Facebook.

Another way to get more business from Facebook is to customize the orders of your sections. People will see your most valuable content first and you’ll be able to drive more sales. Check out my article on setting up your Facebook Business Sections the right way.

Want the ultimate guide to social media marketing. You can find over 100 tips right here.

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