Increase Lead Traffic: 6 Hidden Facebook Ad Targeting Gems

May 30, 2015

5.27 - SMB Blog

Businesses that use Facebook Ads might be surprised at how little use they are making of their available targeting capability.

Facebook ad targeting can be somewhat deceptive. They feature “interest-based” targeting, with which they can hone in on a discrete audience based on that audience’s pre-expressed preferences. If you sell baby shampoo, chances are you can type “baby shampoo” into the Interest Targeting section of Facebook ads and find an existing audience there.

It feels incredibly satisfying to search the Facebook Ads interface and find the demographics and interests that fit your product. It makes you feel like you’ve done all that needs to be done.

But how do you KNOW you’re really hitting the audience you want (and need)? How do you know you’re targeting the audience that truly matches you best?

Let’s take a look at the Facebook targeting tools that can really help us maximize our targeting.

1) Audience Insights

Facebook released its Audience Insights only about a year ago, but it changed the Facebook advertising game. Audience Insights gives you deep insights on your custom audiences (audiences that you build from your followership, from you web traffic, from your email lists or from a combination of demographics, interests and behaviors).

It parses information about your fans based on factors like demographics, other pages they like, location, when they’re on Facebook, and even purchasing behavior. No individual user data is public; it’s all an anonymous aggregation. Facebook partners with third parties like Acxiom, Epsilon, and Datalogix for more data richness.

You might want to be proactively monitoring this information for changes, and using it to execute your targeting strategies. As soon as you build up an audience to which you’d like to market, you should analyze that audience using the insights tool to make sure it actually reaches the audience you want.


After looking through your Facebook Audience Insights, you’re going to want to target based on the data you find. Here are some advanced Facebook targeting strategies and when you may want to use each one.

2) Advanced Location Targeting

Many marketers know that Facebook Ads offers location targeting, but did you know that you can get it as specific as a street address? Did you know that you can target people who live in a radius, as opposed to people who may have just visited the area?

A recent article by Jon Loomer walks through several different ways to use location targeting to it’s fullest potential. Industries engaged with tourists can target by people travelling to certain locations. You can even exclude certain markets if you have reason to believe your advertising efforts would be wasted (like one that has underperformed in advertising efforts in the past). Targeting an area where people live can be as specifically defined as a specific set of city blocks, which is perfect for local businesses.

3) Custom Audiences From Email Lists

Custom Audiences are a great chance to market to people you already know are interested in your product. While email newsletters can be a great way to reach people, they’re not without their faults. With open and click-through rates continuing to decline as people experience email fatigue, an alternative to the traditional use of the email address may be a welcome change. Here’s the basic process:

  • Take your email list file (easily exported from services like Mailchimp or Constant Contact) and upload it to Facebook. Twitter recently released a similar feature.
  • On Facebook, you upload the list of email addresses to your page, and Facebook will match these emails to actual Facebook users.

    • Here’s where our clients usually ask if this is a breach of their privacy policy. Because you’re using the list for you own purpose, on your own page, you’re within your rights for using the email addresses.

  • When using ad targeting, you select the Custom Audience you just made and can create ads to re-engage users that have already expressed an interest!


4) Retargeting (Using Custom Audiences From Web Pixels)

To put it simply, retargeting is remarketing to people who’ve visited your website, but haven’t made a purchase (or some other conversion factor like signing up for an email newsletter). You’ll notice this happening in your own life when shopping on an website and finding that product following you around on other websites, tempting you to click on it and complete your purchase. Most sales don’t happen the first time a person is exposed to your brand, it’s during the retargeting! We’ll explore this topic in more detail in a future post. Here’s the step-by-step:

  • Place an audience pixel in the tags of your website (it has to be present on all pages, similar to Google Analytics).
  • In the “Audiences” section of the Facebook Ad Manager, click on the “Create Audience” button, and select an audience based on web traffic.
  • Select the option for targeting “people who visit a specific web page,” and enter your site’s domain name (e.g. into the field.
  • Give this audience a name, and once you have enough members, it will be available in the targeting section of your ad sets.

5) Lookalike Audience

A slightly different approach to targeting customers is based on the ones you already have. When you tell Facebook that you want to make a lookalike audience based on one of your custom audiences (e.g. mailing list, purchasers, existing fans), it creates a similar audience based on all their demographic and behavioral data points.

If you’re finding success with the group that already likes your page, it stands to reason that you’ll find the easiest conversions with similar potential fans. And creating a lookalike audience based on your current web leads (i.e. visitors to your conversion thank-you page) is a terrific targeting technique.

6) Friends Of Fans Audience

Similar to a Lookalike audience is the “Friends of Friends” targeting option. With “Friends of Friends” you’re reaching out to friends of your fans who will have some similarities (like in a Lookalike) audience, but also some notable differences. It’s worth noting that a Lookalike Audience will likely be a better source of targeting, because friends may share some interests, but not all. The idea of promoting to friends of your fans works better when encouraging fans to share first-time promotional codes (Uber being a great example of this).

On a final note, be careful of over-specific targeting (or not specific enough!) Jay Baer of Convince and Convert gives a couple examples of companies that didn’t quite get it right.

Are there any strategies that have worked well for you that I missed? Let us know in the comments!

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