3 Highly Effective Facebook Audience Targeting Strategies

Thursday, July 28, 2016 Matt Vollmer 1 Comments



In the U.S., we spend an average of 50-60 minutes daily on Facebook. That’s a lot of time, and oftentimes we’re in a state-of-mind to be influenced by effective and relevant marketing.

As Facebook users, we can probably recall the last few Sponsored Ads and Posts that absolutely resonated with us. As Facebook marketers, however, it can sometimes be challenging to build the perfect audiences that will be positively influenced by our ads and content. With so many targeting capabilities available to us, we can sometimes experience paralysis through analysis.

If we take it back to the basics, however, and build upon fundamentals, we can efficiently target audiences in a way that drives a positive response without breaking the bank. Here are a few audiences we can explore to jumpstart our Facebook marketing strategies.

1. Retargeting Website Visitors

A staple of most Facebook marketing strategies is retargeting users who visited our websites, because it works! In an era when we’re paying a premium in paid search and site optimizations to attract qualified visitors, we need to put as many strategies in place to re-engage those mid-to-high funnel visitors who don’t convert during their first visit.

This tactic is highly effective for emerging retailers and established retailers alike. And, not only is retargeting website visitors effective, it’s also incredibly easy. Simply install your Facebook Pixel on all pages of your website and allow Facebook at least a week to build your audience of website visitors. You’ve now unlocked the opportunity to reach a very specific audience with many types of Facebook ads. If you’ve already taken this step, but it has been a while since you’ve looked at your Facebook Pixel code, we recommend making sure you’re using the most current version. A few older Facebook tracking features will be discontinued this Fall.


While you are likely familiar with this audience type, here are a few key things to consider:
  • Regardless of how much traffic your site receives, this audience is limited in size.
    Set your lifetime or weekly budgets too high and you may exhaust this audience rather quickly. Watch Relevance Score, Conversion Rate and Frequency to ensure you’re not over-delivering your ads to this audience.
  • Think through your visitors’ journey before retargeting all website visitors.
    We’ve all seen ads for products or services we already purchased. Even the best technologies and processes won’t stop this from happening in every scenario; however, we can definitely limit those experiences. For example, if you’re running a Facebook Lead Ad to acquire email addresses of anonymous visitors, then don’t forget to exclude your current subscriber list when building your Custom Audience.
  • Reach this audience with dynamic content.
    The dawn of Dynamic Ads, formerly Dynamic Product Ads, showed us how easy it was to be highly relevant to visitors who abandoned their shopping cart or product page. With Dynamic Ads, you can retarget users with the last product they viewed as well as additional recommendations driven by Facebook. This ad type does require additional website integrations and a product catalog, so it’s not as plug-and-play as regular retargeting, but the payoffs are worth it. Shameless plug #1: We’re working on some cool products and features to make these additional website integrations a breeze for Listrak customers. More to come in the future.

2. Cart/Browse Abandoners and Past Purchasers Not on Your Marketing List

Second to website retargeting, this is one of the lowest hanging fruits for us to grab. Our goal here is to use our first-party lists to move identified users to an opted-in status or drive a purchase. This group comprises visitors who expressed a very high level of purchase intent by adding items to their cart or abandoning without subscribing. This group also comprises purchasers who may not have subscribed at the time of purchase. Reaching this audience with a small offer on Facebook is a great way to re-engage them and convert them into purchasers and/or subscribers. This tactic nicely complements your existing Shopping Cart Abandonment and Browse Abandonment email campaigns.

Some retailers we’ve tested Facebook Lead Ads with have seen costs as low as $.40 per acquisition. This is a small price to pay for such a valuable subscriber’s consent. Now we can reach these subscribers within our ad channels as well as our most efficient channel, email.

These are three tips to remember when targeting this audience:
  • Babysit your high budget campaigns.
    While it may be tempting to throw a large budget at this audience, don’t forget it is also limited in size. Be timely and relevant with this audience, but don’t over-deliver. If you do wish to run this campaign with a hefty budget, be prepared to watch its performance and hit the kill switch when the audience shows indications of exhaustion. Again, watch your Frequency and Negative Feedback signals within Facebook Ads Manager. Alternatively, set a more conservative budget and allow the campaign to run for a longer period with a lower daily reachable rate.
  • Always update your Custom Audiences.
    This is possibly the biggest time suck for us marketers. Do your best to add and remove contacts from your Custom Audience as frequently as possible. Think about how often you’re acquiring email addresses of reachable cart abandoners, browse abandoners and purchasers. No one enjoys manual processes, but this will ensure that you’re being relevant to the right people. Shameless plug #2: We’ve got your back. We know this process is a pain and we’re developing ways of automating these updates so that you can strike this from your morning to-do list.
  • Are you a Listrak customer? Here’s an easy way to build these lists.
    Did you know that you can easily see which contacts are on your Automated Campaign lists but are not on your Master Marketing list? For example, go to your Shopping Cart Abandonment list, then navigate to Contacts > View… > Subscribed Contacts. From here you can add a list filter using the System Field “List Subscription Status”.

3. Detailed Targeting Based on Purchase Behaviors and Life Events

This is one of the best kept secrets in Facebook’s Ads Manager. While Facebook power-advertisers likely already leverage this targeting feature, this capability might be a surprise to novice advertisers. For good reason, too, because this less-obvious feature can be easily overlooked during the Ad Set creation process. Most of us know that we can target audiences by Interests, Job Titles and Employers but did you know that the Behaviors category is based on propensity to purchase from any given product category? This is an excellent way to narrow down a very broad audience, for example a lookalike audience based on your best repeat purchasers.

The other best kept secret of Detailed Targeting is Life Events. You’ve most likely seen Life Events show up in your news feed when friends’ relationship status changes or when their employment changes. Normally, as Facebook users, we see these Life Events as an opportunity to share a quick “congrats”, but when we put on our Facebook marketer hat, we should do our best to leverage these Life Events in a way that benefits our audience.


A real-world example of this is when I began seeing highly targeted mobile ads that focused on my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary (whew, thanks for the reminder). While I didn’t purchase from this advertiser, it wasn’t due to lack of ad relevancy. It was an effective series of ads that I’ve remembered for years.

Here are two ideas to keep in mind when you use Facebook’s Detailed Targeting:
  • Include and Exclude audiences.
    Years ago, one of the biggest gripes from Facebook marketers was that we couldn’t exclude audiences. Now we can! Don’t overlook this easy-to-use feature because it will enable you to really dial in who you’re targeting. When targeting Interests and Behaviors it’s very easy to end up with a bloated audience, sometimes nearing the hundreds of millions. Exclude some obvious or not-so-obvious audiences from this larger audience to positively affect your Result Rates and CPM.
  • Remember to look for your competition in Detailed Targeting.
    Many brands and retailers have enough influence on Facebook to have their own Interests category. Including (or excluding) audiences who have interest in these large brands and retailers is a handy way to help us break through the noise on Facebook. Depending on how creative we get with our ads, we really have the opportunity to make a big brand impression on these audiences.
The key takeaway here is that our imagination is our only limit when it comes to targeting audiences on Facebook. These are three common audience targeting tactics that have proven to be successful for many Facebook advertisers, but there are countless more.

As always, test these ideas and your own to see if they work for you. Keep a close eye on Relevance Score of ads on the ad-level. After an ad reaches 500 impressions, it will be assigned a Relevance Score that is based on positive and negative signals from the Facebook community. This is often an early indicator of how effective your audience/ad combination will be. More on that another day.

If you found this helpful or have other ideas to share, let us know.

by Matt Vollmer, Listrak Product Manager. Reach out and say hi to Matt on LinkedIn.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, very useful info here! :)

    ReplyDelete