Targeting is one of the biggest factors that influence the success of any marketing & advertising. Failing to advertise to the wrong people leads to an absolute waste of the marketing spend, as wrong people will just have no interest in what you’re offering.

When it comes to Facebook Ads, targeting is one of nine key success factors — and easily one of the biggest. But Facebooks ability to target precise groups of people with their Ads is the reason why it’s easily the best PPC option out there, and arguably one of the best marketing tools full stop in the 21st-century.

I get queries all of the time from businesses and entrepreneurs screaming for help with their Facebook Ads — they’re spending hundreds of dollars, and are getting very little return back (if any!). Nine times out of ten this is because they’ve not set accurate targeting of their ads. They’re just advertising to a very broad audience, 99% of whom would never be interested in what they have to offer.

That’s why I thought it’s important to identify the different ways advertisers on FB can target their ads more precisely. This can literally transform a campaign that has been failing and hemeraging money for a month into being a profitable piece of advertising in a matter of days.

Let’s dive in.

Demographics/Interests

This is by far the most well known of the targeting options on Facebook. It allows the advertiser to set certain demographics — location, gender, age. Most clients I work with do at least set a location demographic — whether that’s an entire country, a state or a town/city. But that’s all they do.

That is still far too broad. Imagine trying to sell a wedding dress to males aged 21 — not going to happen! So location, gender AND age need to be considered.

But this targeting can go even further. Facebook holds huge amounts of data on it’s users activities and interests. So much so that advertisers can search through thousands of different interests people have — from certain hobbies, to public figures, preferences and so on. It even includes (albeit to a limited extent) other data — such as homeowners, or landlords. Job titles, industries and other work related data can also be targeted too.

Lists

Next up it’s possible to advertise to precise lists of people. Businesses that have an email list of 1,000+ can start advertising precisely to those people — providing their email is linked to their Facebook. Ideally a list size should be several thousand to ensure it runs smoothly.

This is by the way an amazing tool. The best people to advertise to are those who already know of or who have already bought from the business before. And with this tool advertisers can do exactly that!

And it goes even further than that. Other lists of people can be built via the Facebook pixel which should be placed on the advertisers website. That means visitors to the website, from Facebook and all other sources, can then be advertised too. This is called re-targeting, and is an outstanding strategy in itself. By running ads just to this group, a business can get these people to come back to their website and finish an order or take another action.

Lookalikes

Lookalike targeting is a combination of the other two. When uploading a list of contacts and emails, an advertiser has the choice to create a lookalike list. What this does is analyses the demographics and interests of everybody on the list. It then allows the advertiser to run ads to other people on Facebook with identical or similar demographics and interests.

Who makes the best new customers? Those who have lots in common with current and past customers! That’s what makes the Lookalike so valuable. And it doesn’t just have to be customers. If you have data of people who have taken another action such as watching a webinar. Run ads to people who have lots in common with those watchers, and get even more viewers!

Bonus: Friends of Friends

I wanted to include this little bonus which is a further targeting option — not as big or as complex as the others, but still very good. Remember how the best people to advertise to are people who have lots in common with other customers?

Well this function allows an advertiser to run ads to the Facebook friends of a those who like or follow the advertiser on Facebook. Again, people who like/follow are among the best audience to target — so being able to advertise to people just like them is amazing.

To sum up, advertisers on Facebook must use one or more of these targeting options to ensure they don’t burn their advertising money on advertising to the wrong people. An ideal audience size would be around 100,000 — no more. It’s also important to not be so precise with the targeting that there are only a few thousand to target. This will mean the adverts will be shown more frequently to the same people, which will annoy them.

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