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Christie McDougall

Christie McDougall

How to Find the Perfect Audience to Show your Ads to on Facebook

So you’ve got a great product, you know your sales pitch, you’ve got an idea for an ad and you know who your ideal customer is, but how do you actually find them on Facebook?

As of the third quarter of 2017, there are reportedly 2.07 billion active Facebook users*. How do you find the ones that are most relevant to you and most likely to buy your product or service? It can feel daunting to say the least, but I am here to help explain the 3 main ways to find the right audience on Facebook so you can get to them faster.

1. Custom Audiences.

A custom audience is people who have already interacted with your business on some level and this is often the best type of audience as they are warm-hot in terms of leads and the most likely to buy from you.

Engagement can happen on a variety of levels so I’ll break these down for you:

  • You can upload a customer file. This could include for example an email list or a list of customers from a database. The main criteria here is the email address, as this is matched to the email used by the person for their Facebook account (however you can also match them using their name, date of birth, gender, age, and where they live). The great thing is that by doing this you are able to send your customers an offer via email for example, and then retarget them on Facebook with the same offer to try push them over the line. One of the negatives, however, is that it is dependent on how much data or what email they give you. If they gave you their work email but use their personal one for Facebook, then Facebook may not be able to find them. Oh, and don’t fret about violating your privacy policy, once your data is uploaded it is hashed (meaning all references to individuals is stripped so your data cannot be hacked or stolen).
  • You can create a list of people who have visited your website or took specific actions on your website using your Facebook Pixel. For those who don’t know, a Facebook Pixel is a means of tracking people when they leave Facebook to view your website or landing page. You can also track what they do when they land (i.e. just browse, or perform an action like a purchase or submit their details). The brilliant thing about the Pixel, as opposed to cookies, is that you can track the same user across multiple devices. So for example, if someone clicks on your ad on their desktop to visit your website but doesn’t do anything further, however then searches your site using their mobile a few days later and makes a purchase, Facebook will be able to attribute that purchase to your ad – brilliant! Creating lists using the pixel to retarget people is a great way of catching them mid-action, i.e. if they add something to their cart but don’t complete the purchase, you can target them again with a little reminder to come back as their items are still waiting for them.
  • You can create a list of people who launched your app or game and took specific actions. This works much the same as the Pixel, except what you need installed is called an SDK. Using that SDK you can target people who just downloaded your app or people who performed a specific action or got to a specific level in a game with a highly personalised ad. You can also direct people back to your app and not just have the link open up to the ‘home’ screen of the app, but have it deep-link into a specific section or component of your app.
  • Ok, this one is a new feature which now allows you to create a list of people who interacted with your business in-store, by phone or via other offline channels. For this to work, you will need a list of your customer transactions (whether that’s appointments booked, or purchases made etc.).  The way it works, is that you create an Offline Event in your Business Manager and then upload your customer file which allows Facebook to match it against people who were shown your ad. You can then use this data to create an audience for re-targeting.
  • The final means of creating a custom list in Facebook is using engagement – that is a list of people who engaged with your content on Facebook or Instagram. This could include:
    • people who have watched a video of yours,
    • people who have opened or completed a form on your lead ad,
    • people who have opened a collection ad or Canvas,
    • people who have interacted with your Facebook Page, an ad of yours or a post of yours,
    • people who have interacted with your Instagram business profile or
    • people who have shown interest in, or interacted with an event of yours.

This is again a great way to create an audience as these people are probably already familiar with your business, product or service and are much more likely to respond.

2. Lookalike Audiences

Creating a lookalike audience is a good option if you are looking for new customers. It allows you to take a list of your most engaged or best customers (for example), and then create a list of people who are similar to your existing audience. Lookalike audiences are based on sophisticated modeling software and identify people who share similar likes, interests, or characteristics to your current audience. Audience size ranges from 1% to 10% of the total population in the countries you choose, with 1% being those who most closely match your source. Once you’ve created your lookalike audience, you can also refine it further by using targeting.

3. Targeted / Core Audiences

Ever wondered why when you’ve commented on a friend’s lovely Hawaiian holiday snaps they’ve uploaded and how you’d like to go, and then you suddenly start seeing ads for holidays to Hawaii?   Ok, this might seem a little creepy, but every time you comment, like, share, watch a video or visit a page with a Pixel installed, Facebook stores that data and the algorithm uses it to allow businesses to show you ads. Businesses are able to target people based on:

  • Their demographics (e.g. their education level, family/relationship status, life events, career and more),
  • Their location (e.g. where people live, have just arrived or are just visiting, within a 10-50 mile radius of a location like a city, region or country),
  • Their interests (e.g. consumer and lifestyle categories such as fitness, fashion or hobbies etc.),
  • Their behaviour (e.g. travel patterns, home or vehicle ownership, charitable donations, what devices they use etc.),
  • Their connections (e.g. you can target people who like your page, or the friends of people who like your page, as well as people who engage with your events or app).

When building targeted audiences, you can choose to include or exclude people from your audience based on any of these attributes. Additionally, you can save these audiences for future use, and can modify saved audiences to test and optimise your targeting.

So hopefully that has given you some insight into how to use Facebook to find your perfect audience (and not freaked you out about your own Facebook usage). If however, this still all seems a little daunting, drop us a line and we would be happy to help you out!

** Please note that at no time can you see these lists, there are no names on them and no contact information. All you have is the number of people in the list and the ability to see what percentage of your lists overlap.


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Christie McDougall
Christie McDougall

Christie is our Digital Strategy manager and looks after our playbook process. Although she is most skilled in Social Media and PPC and helped TheOnlineCo. achieved Facebook Marketing Partner status, she has a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of marketing in a digital world. She uses her talents in strategy and planning to help clients understand exactly how to grow their business online and have all their marketing efforts pulling together in a collaborative effort, thereby achieving scale and cost efficiencies.

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