Facebook ad agencies typically focus on producing engaging and innovative ad creatives. And it is right and proper for them to focus on doing their job. But as the client, you need to take the strategic decisions around the right channel mix, audience targeting, and campaign spend.
When new or prospective clients tell me that Facebook advertising “isn’t working” for them, I usually find that the problem lies in their audience targeting. Effectively targeting the right audience can mean all the difference between a profitable campaign, and a loss-making campaign.
Audience targeting crucial to successful Facebook ads
Advertising legend David Ogilvy advised that “If you are selling a remedy for bladder weakness, display the words BLADDER WEAKNESS in your headline; they catch the eye of everyone who suffers from this inconvenience. If you want mothers to read your advertisement, display MOTHERS in your headline. And so on.”
This is certainly good advice especially in mass media and other channels where the ability for specific audience targeting is limited. In these cases, ads had to rely on strong headlines and images to call out to their target audience and capture their attention.
With Facebook’s ability to target the right audience however, things are slightly different. It sounds almost obvious to say it now… It doesn’t matter how good your ads are if you are targeting the wrong people. Try selling headphones to someone who doesn’t listen to music. It’s foolishly difficult.
Don’t get me wrong – your ad copy, images, and videos ARE important. However, from my experience, targeting the right audience is the biggest contributor to successful and profitable Facebook campaigns. Think about it – the difference in results between a mediocre and good ad is likely to be much smaller than the difference between targeting the right and wrong audience.
My advice: given limited time and resources, focus on audience targeting. This can mean the difference between
How to effectively conduct audience targeting
Before deciding on audiences, you need to first define your business or campaign objective. A brand awareness campaign is by definition broader, whilst a retargeting campaign narrower.
Once you have an idea of your campaign objective, you can start defining your target audience.
Without going into too much detail, there are three broad ways to do this in Facebook:
- Core audiences
Facebook allows you to define an audience using the following options:
- Location (countries, cities, and landmarks – including specifying whether they are living or travelling through the area)
- Demographics (age, gender, education, relationship status, job title, etc.)
- Interests (based on a user’s interactions with pages – not just their ‘likes’)
- Behaviour (broad options available – such as whether someone is a page admin, to whether they are frequent travellers, to their mobile device usage)
- Connections (users connected to your Facebook page or event)
- Custom audiences
Customer audiences are built from customer data that you already hold, allowing you to reach out to them again.
- Site visitors (find out how)
- Customer lists (Facebook will find accounts that match your supplied list of customer data such as phone numbers or email addresses)
- App users (install the Facebook SDK in your app to do this)
- Lookalike audiences
- Facebook can use its algorithms to produce an audience for your ads who are most similar to a defined group of people – for example your best customers. This helps you to increase your chances of reaching new people who will be interested in your products.