Facebook is by and large the best platform when it comes to running targeted paid ad campaigns. With endless targeting possibilities offered by the social platform, businesses can target their audiences with a dozen different ad formats as well as targeting parameters.

But mastering Facebook ads targeting can take a while, and a lot of A/B testing before you actually start getting results. If you target too broad, chances are that your marketing message gets lost in the crowd and if you too narrow, you risk not reaching out to the right people.

So how should you target?

Here are a few powerful ad targeting strategies that you should start using right away:

1. Dig into the recent purchase behavior of your target audience

Facebook partnered with the top data brokers in the industry in early 2013, changing the way ad analysts viewed the potential of the platform. One of its partners, Acxiom, stated that their database alone consisted of information from 500 million active consumers worldwide – with an average of 1,500 data points under each individual.

Today, Facebook tracks every little activity that a user makes – searches, life events, recent purchases and a lot more. And this data gives advertisers a chance to target their audience based on their purchasing behaviors; all they need to ensure is that it is relevant to their business.

behavior targeting

Purchasing behavior is sub categorised into buyer profiles, clothing, food and drink, health and beauty, travel and a lot more. And within each subcategory, Facebook allows you to define the type of behavior for your ideal customer. For example, if I am run a restaurant, I could look under the ‘food and drink’ subcategory for someone who places online orders frequently.

2. Include life events in your targeting

Today, marketing is all about being relevant. The broadcasted sales pitches no longer appeal to the consumer market – be it B2B or B2C. To deliver your marketing message to the right set of people, you need to club purchasing behavior (point no.1) with life events.

life events

Most people update their profiles with life events such as engagement, marriage, moving into a new home or welcoming a new member in the house. Making use of life events gives you the opportunity to target people at specific intervals of time after or during the change.

For example, if you run a ‘movers and packers’ business, the life events that you could target would be someone who has just bought a new house, just shifted to a new city, etc.

3. Create your own custom audience on Facebook

Facebook custom audience is an advanced targeting feature offered by the platform to enable advertisers to connect Facebook with their existing contact base. This allows you to target the consumer section that has already interacted with your brand previously and helps you reinforce your value proposition.

custom audience

Retargeting your existing consumers on Facebook also gives you the chance to increase the lifetime customer value, order frequency, order value and brand loyalty. This not just keeps you in the loop of your consumers, but also increases the efficacy of your ad campaigns and decreases the number of wasted clicks by excluding your existing customer base.

You can further streamline your custom audience based on their online purchasing habits, life events, job titles, net worth, marital status, interests, locations, etc. The more you’re able to define your ideal customer, the better is your campaign performance.

4. Reach out to a lookalike audience

Once you have your custom audience in place or a number of Facebook fans, you can mirror them to expand your reach. Lookalike audience allows you to expand your ad campaign’s reach by targeting people with specific profiles that match your existing audience.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have a custom audience, you can use a tracking pixel to create a website custom audience to mirror, and create lookalikes.

lookalike audience

But before you replicate your audience and start expanding, remember to segment them based on various key points and measure your campaign’s effectiveness in each of the segments using tools like Adalyz. Based on your results, you can replicate the audience segment to make it larger or smaller based on how specific you want the campaign to be.

By using lookalike audience and optimizing your campaign for reach, Facebook displays your ads to about 10% of users in your target country who are similar to your target audience.

5. Go granular with layered targeting options

The best thing about running ads on Facebook, is the ability to layer your targeting options – making your audience more and more specific. You can create combinations of behaviors, demographics and geolocation data to reduce your potential target audience to almost an individual. Layering also gives you the ability to match your ad campaigns to suit the smaller section of the audience, increasing your relevancy score.

A post in AdWeek spoke about how layered targeting or hypertargeting by a college student almost made his roommate feel he was being cyberstalker. Read the entire post here.

For example, if you run a parlor, you could target women who have recently got engaged (life event) and layer it with an age range and location.

The idea is to be able to understand the market needs, intent and likely response of the target audience.

Over to you

Before you start trying out the above mentioned Facebook targeting strategies for your ad campaigns, create personas of your ideal customers. Define aspects such as who they are, what they do, where they live, their goals, what they need and the challenges they are facing.

Depending on who you’re trying to reach out to, you can use any one of the above strategies or test each of them out one by one to see how they perform in your market segment. But remember to test and measure results closely before making any changes in your ad campaigns or target audience.

What’s the one strategy or hack you use to reach out to the right set of people on Facebook? Feel free to contribute to this post by dropping a comment in the box below!