Online advertising has many benefits, but you can only experience them if you know how to run a campaign properly. It’s important to know how to manage your budget, but even more important to know how to target your ads so you can get the biggest return on your investment. Facebook, in particular, has many targeting capabilities to take advantage of. In this post, we’ll cover ten important tips to help you target your Facebook ads for optimum results.
If you aren’t using the Pixel, you are throwing money away. Even the most liberal of estimates suggests that less than 2% of people end up converting upon the first exposure to an ad, and if you’re just starting out, you’re likely to see an even lower percentage.
The Facebook Pixel is a snippet of code that gets placed on your website and lets you know what actions your website visitors (who have arrived there from your ad) are taking. You can then segment these visitors based on their behaviors and retarget them separately, catering the content more specifically to each group.
You can use Pixel data to create several types of Custom Audiences, but we’ll first start with the basics.
The first Custom Audiences you should build are those based on your buyers’ journey—the stages your audience moves through to become customers. At the first stage, they recognize there is a problem that needs to be solved. At the second stage, they are considering the different options they have for solving that problem. At the third stage, they are deciding which purchase they should make to solve the problem.
To create a Facebook Custom Audience using this approach, separate the most important pages on your website into three groups:
You can then build three Custom Audiences to whom you can serve the right ads at the right time. For example, you might show your hot audience your special offer of the week, while you might show your cold audience a branding or process video that encourages them to ask more questions about your service.
With your Custom Audiences in place, you’ll have a base from which to start building Lookalike Audiences. As Facebook Ads expert Rick Mulready points out, Lookalike Audiences are more lukewarm than super cold. For small business owners who are having a difficult time reaching the masses or generating new leads, creating a Lookalike Audience from a Custom Audience list or an existing customer list is a great way to reach new people who have attributes in common with people you already know convert on your ads.
Once you’ve begun driving traffic to your website and building Custom Audiences, it’s time to formulate offers to cater to these visitors based on their activity on your website. As we stated above, one way to start this is to make offers to your three core Custom Audiences based on the pages they viewed when they visited your website.
There’s a lot more to web activity targeting than just pages viewed, however. One thing to consider, if you have a reasonably capable developer or even some programming chops of your own, is to target based on Custom Pixel Events. A Custom Event might be something like who clicked on a button, who added an item to their cart, or who viewed more pictures of an item.
With some creative thinking, you can come up with actions that indicate a person is ready to become a customer, and with the right Custom Events, you can target the people who take those actions.
Another way to target your Facebook ads is based on how much time users spent viewing your video advertisements. (Not running video ads? It’s time to start. Video is quickly becoming the superior way to advertise on the internet, and it’s already the preferred way for most people to consume information.)
The good news is, it’s easy to get started with video, even if you only use your smartphone for shooting. With your video message running, you’ll be able to retarget an audience based on how much of the video they watched, gearing longer form or sales-oriented videos to your more engaged viewers, while serving more informational or branding-based content to viewers who disengaged but might still be in your target audience.
Spinning off that Facebook video ad strategy, let’s say you’re averse to advertising with video but still want to reach an audience based on their level of engagement with your advertisements. The good news is, you can retarget based engagement with any kind of ad, including simple Facebook image ads.
Use the same strategy as you would apply to the video advertisements: Start with top-of-funnel content geared toward general audiences with generalized offers. If a viewer engages, add them to an audience defined by people who clicked on the ad. Serve those people more specific messaging, moving them closer to making a purchase. Just remember to exclude them from the generalized audiences if they’ve engaged by excluding your more specific audiences from your ad targeting! This way, you’re always guiding them closer to your conversion goals.
This strategy is best used by small business owners who have a large potential audience, who want to reach new customers, and who aren’t operating with a budget that’s tight to the dollar. In the past couple of years, Facebook’s targeting has made it easier to optimize for the specific metrics you’re trying to focus on. If you set up your conversion tracking properly—by selecting a wide audience with general messaging and a specific offer allows—you can sit back and let the algorithm do some work for you.
You’ll probably have to spend a little bit of budget while the targeting optimizations settle out on the right audience, but once this has completed, you’ll have an audience with a wide variety of data points yet one thing in common: interest in your business based on their conversions. This can prove superior to other selective forms of targeting and audience-building because the least amount of bias is involved, and you have the potential to reach people and break into groups where you otherwise may not have.
Another way to concentrate a highly optimized audience from broad targeting is to pick overly broad targeting options but use a specific message to act as a sieve—through which people who identify with the message will push where others will not.
So what does this look like? Let’s pretend you’re a flower shop promoting a special offer this fall where you’ll knock off 40% for wedding arrangements. You know you could use people who are newly engaged, but what if you’re missing people who maybe haven’t updated their engagement status publicly yet? Furthermore, would men be as useful for targeting as women? This is your first time running ads, you’re not sure of a lot of variables, and you don’t want to be overly specific and potentially overlook an audience.
You’d pick 18 to 50-year-old people, men and women, within 60 miles of your business. The kicker, though, is that you cater your message to newlywed audiences, opening with “Calling all brides- and grooms-to-be! If your wedding is this fall, we need to talk!”
For your imagery, you choose a happy wedding couple, arms in the air, with a beautiful bouquet set between them. Set your optimization to conversions, only pay per click, and let the algorithm do its work. In this way, your ad will be shown to a large number of people, increasing brand awareness.
However, only the people who are most interested—hopefully, those getting married this fall—are really encouraged to click. You’re achieving two goals at once, and without being overly narrow you’re building a Custom Audience from all kinds of demographics. This kind of an audience is ideal for building a Lookalike Audience, as the most significant data they all have in common is engagement with your ads.
Find other Facebook pages related to your service or offering. Here you will find communities which have self-selected to be your ideal audience. Even more importantly, this allows you to identify language and terms these people use to describe the problems they are experiencing. Speaking to your audience in terms they understand is the best way to write ad copy that generates action.
Frequency caps are a setting you can configure to limit the number of times an ad can be shown during a specified time frame. They have the unfortunate reputation for being both one of the most boring terms in digital advertising, as well as one of the most overlooked, but that is a mistake you do not want to make. Even the highest quality ad content, with the best offer, shown to the most interested audience, will suffer in performance metrics if it is shown too often, too fast.
Experiment with different frequency caps, and consider your offer and the size of your audience, but as a rule of thumb, try not to show the same ad more than twice a week. Experiment with different frequency caps to identify your sweet spot, but make sure you have some set. Otherwise, you run the risk of exhausting an audience and ruining your brand reputation.
There are many more tips and tricks for successfully advertising on Facebook, and no one strategy is going to be all you’ll need to run successful, long-term campaigns. Hopefully these tips have at least started your gears turning!