So you’re starting to get a grip on Facebook advertising? Perhaps you’ve seen some new customers arrive on your website from social media to explore your products and services?

However they’re not converting as frequently as you’d like, and you start to suspect your ad campaigns aren’t reaching the right target audience. Fear not! Today we’re diving into how you can structure your social ad targeting to reach the right people with the right messaging.

How can you classify your ad groups and audiences? How can you optimise your Facebook ads targeting options? We can broadly categorise different intents and behaviours which lead a user to fall into the purview of your campaign, and overall objectives.

The three key types I’d recommend focusing on are: 

  1. Interest based.
  2. Remarketing based. 
  3. Lookalike based. 

Let’s take a deeper look at what these audiences each have to offer.

Interest Based Audiences

Interest based audiences (sometimes called “core audiences” by Facebook) are perhaps the most dynamic of the three, and likely the one you have the most experience with when experimenting yourself. 

By taking full advantage of Facebook’s rich pool of user information, Interest Based Targeting allows you to define a custom audience based on a wide range of options, including gender, age, location, liked pages, life events, as well as being able to exclude users based on other conditions.

Remarketing Based Audiences

You might be familiar with remarketing audiences from Google Ads (often called “custom audiences” by Facebook), and in principle they work very similarly.

Conditions such as time spent or actions taken on-site, or even channel used, feature amongst countless other triggers which allow you to categorise users into pools for future ads. While sometimes it’s quite useful to be broad with these audiences, such as pooling all users who visit your home page for example, quite often the most utility is found in narrow parameters, for example, all users who spend more than 30 seconds viewing a specific product page.  

Remarketing is great for improving retention, but if new acquisition is the main focus on a marketing strategy, then lookalikes and interest-based audiences might be the way to go.

Lookalike Based Audiences

Lookalike audiences take full advantage of Facebook’s machine-learning algorithms and cohort analysis to identify users who look like your current audiences.

This is determined from a range of factors, including behaviours, demographics, geography and much more. By creating a lookalike audience, you open up broad new groups of users, who in theory have a greater chance of converting; completing a goal or making a purchase. 

How can I use them?

As with most platforms, remarketing audiences prove to be extremely useful. It doesn’t require too much imagination to understand how it can be lucrative to show highly focused ads to users who have recently made it to your checkout, or added an item to the basket without finalising an order.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this is enabled by the Facebook Pixel, a web tracker not dissimilar to a Google Analytics Tag. On most websites, the Pixel is easily installed in just a few minutes and has minimal-to-no effect on user experience. 

With the Pixel installed, not only can you create simple remarketing audiences, but you can track views of products in your inventory to create product remarketing ads - ads where particular products are shown to users who’ve shown interest in them, as they browse Facebook or Instagram. 

Interest based targeting has a wide range of uses, many of which are novel and not possible on other ad platforms. For example, by targeting users who like a competitor’s page, you can attempt to increase your own market share at their expense. Perhaps you’ve struggled to market a product on Google Ads because it’s only applicable for a very small segment of the general public? Use interest based targeting to narrow your scope and only ever show your ads to people who meet a very specific criteria. 

Conversely, interest based targeting is also fantastic for reaching large segments of users. For example, all women between a certain age range, in a certain country, or all the people in the world who are interested in a certain international product. Scalability, with a high degree of precision makes interest-based targeting attractive. 

Lookalike audiences are best used to increase reach, while maintaining a decent likelihood that new users will convert, engage with your brand or otherwise have a positive disposition to your products or services. 

For example, perhaps you’ve ran a successful campaign for a new store launch, encouraging users to RSVP to your events through a boosted post. The event was a huge success and thousands of people attend after seeing your boosted post. 

A few months later, you’re opening another store on the opposite side of town and you want to encourage even more people to attend. However you’re not sure where to look beyond your previous audiences. This would be the perfect time to use lookalike audiences - letting Facebook determine who’s most likely to RSVP based on previous users and their behaviour.

Bring it together

With all this in mind, how might you organise your Facebook campaigns for maximum effect? 

Since budgets can be managed at the campaign level, a great place to start is with a single campaign, oriented around one objective, with 3 distinct ad groups, each of which uses one of the aforementioned target methods. 

By configuring a campaign in this way, you allow Facebook to freely spend between the Ad-groups, depending on potential and actualised success, rather than tying Facebook down to any particular method - a strategy which could require heavy micromanagement to run properly.

In summary

  • Lookalike audiences are great for increasing reach, while maintaining positive conversion/engagement likelihood.
  • Interest-based audiences are a highly scalable, highly configurable way to reach many kinds of audiences and should be carefully setup and monitored for performance and impact.
  • Remarketing audiences allow you to maximise the impact of your spend by reconnecting with users who have already demonstrated a likelihood of conversion or engagement. 
  • All three are applicable, depending on the goals and objectives of your campaigns.

Now you’re up-to-speed with targeting and audiences, learn more about Facebook ad formats.