Your Facebook targeting is one of the most important elements of your Facebook ad campaign. It determines who sees your Facebook ads. So, without accurate targeting, even the most compelling ads won’t deliver your desired results.

There are three overarching types of audience on Facebook: Cold, Warm, and Hot.

Cold audiences are new people that don’t know your business. Warm audiences encompass people who have engaged with your business on one of the Facebook-owned properties, such as Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook. Hot audiences contain people that have visited your website.

Let’s now look at how you can start getting better results from your Facebook advertising.

1. Build lookalike audiences from the highest quality source audience

We are starting with Cold audiences because they are the cornerstone of building a sustainable business. You need to attract and convert new Cold audiences of potential customers into Warm audiences. You can’t just run Facebook ads to your Warm and Hot audiences. In doing so, you eventually hit audience saturation if you are not actively converting Cold audiences into Warm audiences.

When built correctly, lookalikes are the most effective type of Cold audience. They use Facebook’s algorithm to find new people that share the same characteristics as your source audience (hence, the name Lookalike).

Facebook targeting Lookalikes Audience Creation for Facebook ads

The quality of your lookalike will depend on your source audience type and size. When building lookalikes, make sure you use the highest quality source audience, such as customer data, either as a customer file custom audience (database upload) or pixeled customers, such as Purchases or Leads.

If you don’t have a customer database or pixeled customer events, use the SAS Process outlined in this video to determine which source audience is right for your business.

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Next, make sure you have enough people in your source audience to build a high-quality lookalike. Although the minimum number of required people to build a lookalike is 100, a rule of thumb is a source audience of at least 1,000 matched people.

2. Exclude existing interests when you create new interest audiences

Sometimes, you won’t have the right source audience or source audience size to be able to effectively use lookalike audiences. In that case, the other type of cold audience that you can show ads to is interest audiences. When using this type of Facebook targeting, you need to exclude any other interests that you’ve used.

By doing that, you reduce the level of audience overlap between your interest audiences. You then decrease the likelihood of competing against yourself in the ad auction.

To exclude interests in the detailed targeting section of your Ad Set, first add your interest in the INCLUDE section. Then click on Exclude and in the field below, enter the interests of the other audiences you’ve created.

For example, let’s say we sell fitness apparel and we’ve already created an audience targeting bodybuilding as an interest. We want to test a new audience of people who like the brand Gymshark. When creating that new audience, we’ll add an exclusion as above that excludes bodybuilding. The audience size will then decrease leaving people who only like Gymshark and not also bodybuilding.

create a saved audience for your facebook ad


3. Target ads at people who have engaged with your Facebook page or Instagram profile

Let’s move onto Warm audiences. One of the most effective ways to target people who already know your business is to use the Facebook page and Instagram profile engagement custom audience. Specifically, it’s the audience that segments people based on whether they have engaged with your organic posts and/or ads. You can group the people who have actively engaged with your business and promote your core offer to them.

To create these audiences, navigate to your Audiences dashboard, and in the audience dropdown list, select Custom Audience. Next, from the array of different custom audiences choose Facebook Page.

Page Engagement CA Facebook targeting

In the creation window, select the condition, “People who engaged with any post or ad.” Then set your audience duration.

Tip: Start with a 180-day duration. The longer the duration, the larger the audience size.

However, if you have a high ad or organic engagement rate, drop that audience duration to 90, then 60 and 30 days. Repeat this process for the Instagram profile custom audience, if appropriate when you have an active Instagram profile or ad presence.

IG CA Facebook targeting

4. Remarket your website visitors with Facebook ads

Now, let’s talk about website custom audiences. They are a Facebook targeting option that allows you to group people based on their activity on your website. To build them, you need to have installed the Facebook pixel on your website. Doing so tags people and sends that data back to your ad account. (This blog post walks you through the steps for installing the Facebook pixel and relevant conversion tracking.)

Website custom audiences are the most effective type of Facebook ad targeting. However, they also are the smallest audience compared with Warm and Cold types, the most difficult to scale, and require continuous visitors to your website to remain effective.

If you are new to website custom audiences or they have failed to deliver for you, start with a 180-day all traffic audience type. This is the largest audience size, which encompasses all the traffic that has visited your website and gives Facebook enough data to optimize when using the conversion objective.

To create this audience, in the Audience dashboard click on the create button and from the dropdown select Custom audience. Then in the custom audience menu, click on website traffic.

WCA Facebook targeting

Next in the website custom audience creation window, make sure the condition “all website visitors” is selected. Then change the duration to 180 days. Name your website custom audience, then click on Create Audience.

TIP: If you have more than 30K people visiting your website per month, you can test multiple website custom audiences immediately by repeating the creation process above and building an audience for smaller time durations, such as 30, 60, 90 days alongside your 180-day audience.

5. For high-traffic websites, target a 3-day website audience

Finally, this is a more advanced Facebook targeting tip for your high traffic website business. If you are generating more than 1,000 pixeled people per day visiting your website, then target ads at a 3-day website custom audience of all traffic.

Unlike with the previous tip where you’d use the Traffic or Conversion campaign objective to target your 180-day website custom audience, it is better to use the Reach objective targeting this 3-day audience as you have a small but hyper-responsive target audience where you want to reach as many people as possible.

To create this audience, follow the same process as outlined in tip #4 but change the audience duration to 3 days. With this specific audience, set a low daily budget (such as $10 or $20 per day) if 3,000 match people are in your audience size.

WCA - 3 Day Facebook ad targeting

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When you segment your audiences into the over-arching categories first, you can better understand how your audiences work within your Facebook ad sales funnel.

If you aren’t running any website remarketing campaigns, I’d recommend that they be the first type you create. They’ll contain the low hanging fruit and will deliver the best results compared with all of your other campaigns.

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