How to select a target audience for your Facebook ads

How to select a target audience for your Facebook ads

Updated 5 October 2022

Facebook gives you a ton of options to optimise your ad campaigns. Targeting is one of the most important factors that can impact campaign performance.

Micro-targeting on Facebook

With traditional media channels, broad targeting was the norm. Facebook provides the opportunity to tailor your ads to the needs, desires, and preferences of your target audience.

Targeting options to narrow down your audience include age, location, interest and behaviour. These options can be ‘layered’ on top of each other to create hyper-precise audiences. Politicians have mastered the art of micro-targeting with highly relevant messages, taking into account the tone of voice and location for every micro audience.

This should be the dream of every marketeer and CX designer right? Indeed, being able to tailor your creative to the characteristics of a group of prospects might improve your chance of success. However, there is a lot to like about Facebook's built-in optimisation as well.

Broad targeting: let Facebook do the magic

How does broad targeting work? Simple: let Facebook do the magic and trust Zuck. If you're looking to purchase something specific, you rather use a search engine than scroll your Twitter or Instagram timeline to look for the perfect ad.

Facebook knows a lot about you as it is among the richest companies in the world in terms of data. They use their power to algorithmically determine who could be a fit for your company and for your specific campaign goal.

The latter is important to consider. While you may have a very clear understanding of your persona, it's hard to use layered targeting to target user intent. A broad audience will give Facebook the power to target an intent that meets your campaign objective. Also, Facebook’s auction-based bidding system will favour broad targeting, resulting in a significant cost reduction.

Every time your conversion goal is triggered, Facebook learns about the type of user that is likely to convert. 

This data collection process is referred to as ‘seasoning the pixel’. Facebook will create their own targeting persona to reach similar users who are likely to show interest in your company.

How to select the right targeting strategy for your business?

The truth is always somewhere in the middle. While it can be scary to cast a wide net, this approach can help you find potential customers you’d never have known existed otherwise. On the other hand, you could increase the impact of your creatives if you align your ad and offer with your targeted audience. However, many experiments show that the positive creative impact and higher conversion rate is outweighed by the lower cost per click.

We advise testing multiple targeting strategies, using the campaign budget optimisation feature, which automatically distributes the campaign budgets to the best-performing ad sets. The three-level of ad sets include:

  1. The broadest you can get. If necessary, narrow down the audience for the area where you deliver your service, but try to prevent incorporating any assumptions about your persona definition.

  2. The middle way. Narrow the target audience to a size of 1 to 3 million, using high-level targeting options such as location, demographics and popular interest categories.

  3. Your target persona. This audience is optional but recommended if you have a clear definition of your target persona. Maybe you’ve organised brainstorming sessions with your team or conducted interviews from your customer base. Feel free to ad a creative that accounts for the persona characteristics.

Test and learn

Only the data will tell. When you set up the campaign, make sure that you facilitate the collection of significant results. Select an objective that meets your business goals and assess the ad set performance accordingly. Don't bother about a low CPC if you aim for purchases.

Next, choose a budget that suits your objective. If you aim to collect leads or directly sell your product, but your expected CPL or CPA only allows for a couple of conversions, change your setup. You can either increase your budget, reduce the number of ad sets or select a more top-funnel conversion event with a higher conversion rate to achieve significant results.

When your pixel is seasoned and you collected data about the converting audience, you can try to include a lookalike audience. Also, never forget to include a remarketing audience!

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Written by

Wouter Buijze

Wouter is a natural when it comes to driving business value and strategic growth. His laid back energy and sense of humor are zeer gewaardeerd!