10 powerful ways to target your audience with ads


The beauty of running Facebook and Instagram ads is that there are tons of ways to get your product or service in front of the most interested people. But how do you find them among the billions of users?

User Persona

I’ve produced a free guide about the importance of knowing your audience to create copy that converts. Thinking about your user personas and using the FB insight tools can give you great ideas of what custom ad audiences will work for you, too. If you haven’t spent much time thinking about your ideal customer, this should be your first step. Have a read of this guide here to get some tips.

So, now you know who you are talking to, where they live, how old they are and when they are online. You may have made some guesses about where they shop, what their income is, what other interests they have. Facebook has all this information and more to help you, so now it’s time to have some fun creating audiences and seeing which ones are most receptive to your message.

There are 3 main audience types in ads manager:

Saved audience This is where you would select your interest-based audiences.
Custom audience An audience made out of website visitors or purchasers for example.
Lookalike audience. Lookalike audience based on your custom audiences. This can be segregated into the top 1%, top 1 – 2% – 2-3% (up to 10%)

Even if that sounds straightforward enough, it can still be overwhelming knowing where to start, so I’ve created some ideas for you. And if by the end you’re still confused, or decide you want to delve even deeper, I’ll tell you how at the bottom of the post.

Facebook Ads Targeting


10 Kick-ass audiences to test

1. Interest-based audience (broad)

Try going broad with your interest-based audiences by choosing something like Gardening or Wellness. These are broad but will have potentially huge reach. You could add this to an audience in a specific area, or go UK-wide if appropriate for your business.

2. Interest-based audience (niche)

Go niche by narrowing down your broad interest category even more. For example, your garden-loving audience might also be fans of Kew Gardens, follow BBC Gardeners World, have a plant subscription service or follow gardening blogs. Many page likes or groups they belong to on FB may be used to target them, knowing that they are firmly in your target audience.

3. Interest-based audience (events)

While using life events such as births and marriages are an obvious choice for some companies who work within these areas (the baby industry or cake makers for example), a little creative targeting using milestones can benefit a range of businesses. Selling plants or sofas? Seek out those who have recently moved. Jewellery business? Try those who got married a year ago and are facing an anniversary. Running a spa? Get your ads in front of those with an upcoming birthday.

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4. Custom: Website traffic from last 30 days

You need to have a Facebook Pixel (a piece of unique code) installed on your website for this. Once there, it can track the activity on your site and enable you to go directly to anyone who has visited your website in the past 30 days for example. You can target anyone who has browsed as well as those who may have filled a shopping cart but not checked out using Standard Events. This is your chance to offer an extra incentive to persuade them to become a customer, perhaps by offering a discount or free postage. This little nudge could be just what they need to commit to purchase.


5. Custom: those who have engaged with an ad but didn’t buy or sign up.

Knowing they have already displayed an interest in your business is helpful. However, they need a little more persuading, so this can be a way of approaching them with relevant offers. Maybe they would like to trial your product with samples or perhaps there was another product on the site they might respond to better.

6. Custom: Facebook/Instagram page interactions

Whether you’ve heard of the term ‘social proof’ or not, you’ve more than likely been affected by it – most people take more notice of posts and ads on social media that already have lots of likes and comments. On a subconscious level, people are more likely to interact with something that’s already doing well. It can help them feel that they are getting in on a trend or boosts confidence in a purchase because other people seem to like the product too. Using your own warm audience of people who have interacted with your FB or IG page already, you can encourage likes and engagement on an ad. Then you retarget the ad to a cold audience, who will be more receptive because of all the lovely engagement, therefore using social proof to boost your conversion rate.

7. Custom: Video views

Video is king on FB! Why not run a video teaser ad and then retarget those who have watched it (and are considered a warm audience) with another ad or a longer video for the same product or service to really get the message through.

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Lookalike audiences:

Once you have decent custom audiences in place, the next step is to try lookalike audiences. This means you can expand beyond your reach with audiences that look like your own targets.

8. Use your GDPR compliant email list of your top purchasers and create a lookalike of them. Same interests but in different geographical locations. The Facebook algorithm will find people who are most similar.

9. Create a lookalike of those who engaged with an ad. Again FB will find people similar to those who have previously engaged. (This worked very well for me with a company looking to recruit staff.)

10. Create a lookalike of website visitors to run more traffic to your site. Simple but potentially hugely effective.

Bonus tip: exclusions.

While most ads focus on including people, sometimes you need to exclude certain audiences to be truly effective. Targeting new customers with an offer is a prime example. To get fresh eyes on your website, you want to run an ad to a cold audience. Exclude that custom audience of website visitors that you have created. Then you won’t waste money on showing your ad to existing customers or subscribers. You can serve them your carefully crafted retargeting ads instead.


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