Probably, the most important part of Facebook advertising is the audience targeting, wouldn’t you agree?
This is why audience research is key for a successful Facebook ad campaign.
When clients ask me to check their targeting, the most common issue I see is that they are targeting a very broad audience. This means that their ads may be showing to people who may have very little interest to the business’ specific offer.
I’ve had clients in the health and fitness niche who target the interest “Health & Fitness”. It’s a very broad interest because under health & fitness are a variety of other “sub-interests” such as diet, medicine, exercise, mixed martial arts, running, etc. So if you are a gym offering a high intensity workout program and you target this broad interest, there are still a lot of people who won’t be interested in your offer.
The key is specificity.
What interests are your specific audience interested in? What interests appeal to only them and not others.
For that gym example we used, we can target interests such as “crossfit” or “HIIT”. People interested in these are more likely interested in a high intensity workout program as opposed to people who are generally interested in health and fitness.
Just to drive home that point on specificity, here are a few more examples.
If you are running ads for a restaurant, instead of targeting “Food & Drink”, target similar restaurants.
Selling mobile phones? Instead of targeting “Electronics”, target old mobile phone models.
If you are selling children’s clothes, instead of targeting “Parents”, target parenting blogs.
The first step really is to make sure you know who your customers are.
Once you do that, ask yourself some (or even all) of the following questions to help you with your audience targeting.
1) Who are the authority figures/brands in your space/niche/industry?
Which people do they follow? Who do they listen to?
I’ve had clients whose business aims to help other business owners and entrepreneurs. To target these people, we target key influencers in that space such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Branson, and the like.
These people have a following of people with a particular profile. These groups of people happen to be our targeted audience so it makes sense to use these authority figures as interests.
Who are the authority figures in your space?
2) What are their jobs?
Which companies do they work for? What are their job titles? What industry are they in?
Facebook allows advertisers to target people based on their jobs.
One client of mine had products for artists. One of our more successful campaigns was an ad set where we targeted different art jobs. Some of what we targeted were artist, sculptor, painter, graphic designer, and many more.
Does this apply to your business? What jobs do a majority of your audience hold?
3) What do they read? (books, newspapers, magazines, blogs)
I’m a believer that businesses exist to solve problems.
Your audience has a problem that your business can solve. But they also turn to reading to solve their problems. What are they reading?
Another client of mine had me run ads to bring people to their seminar about changing your life. His audience was made of people who were seeking to development their own lives. We reached out to these people by targeting books such as 7 Habits and The Secret.
People now also read blogs and online magazines so make sure to research these as well.
4) What websites do they visit?
This is almost the same concept as the previous point.
To illustrate how this works, let’s go back to the example with the artists. We had a specific campaign where we were targeting artists who needed help selling their art. We sought them out by targeting crowdfunding sites such as Patreon and GoFundMe.
What websites do your audience visit to get help with their problem?
5) What tools do they use?
For the same artist campaign, we also found success in targeting brands and stores which offer art supplies. It made sense to target them because only actual artists would be interested in art supply shops.
I want to make it clear that the interests you are targeting may not be related to your actual business.
I had a successful campaign once when I had an ad offering marketing services to business owners. One ad set I had targeted accounting software. My product had nothing to do with accounting and finance. But because my target audience was using tools like FreshBooks, targeting it made sense.
The important factor is knowing who your audience is.
6) What clubs and associations do they belong in?
Clubs and associations have members who have characteristics which are very defined.
This is helpful to advertisers if their audience has a certain group they belong in.
I’ve seen this succeed in campaigns targeting professionals because these people are usually really a part of an established group.
7) Who are your competitors?
Who are the other brands in your space that offer the same products or services as yours?
If you find people who like your competitors, chances are they might be interested in yours too.
It may seem simple but you also have to consider how likely that audience is to try your business instead of a competitor’s.
For example, a bar can target bars it’s competing with and their audience can easily be interested in yours too.
It may be more difficult for businesses where purchases are infrequent like buying property.
Bonus: Where are they in their lives right now?
When introducing Facebook advertising to people, I always use the example of a wedding supplier. Facebook allows you to target people who are engaged. You can even segregate them into the time since they’ve been engaged.
Facebook allows advertisers to target based on Life Events. So make the most of this by asking yourself where your audience is at in their lives.
I had a client who wanted people to attend his webinar on how to inspect a home before buying it. During the planning, we identified that homebuyers in that area tended to be newlyweds up to married for 2 years. So we targeted them and found success in that campaign.
These questions are guidelines to help advertisers target their audience on Facebook. At the end of the day, the data will still tell you what the most effective way to target your audience is.
So our main recommendation is to test out multiple interests separately and find the best performing ones.
There are other questions you may answer to help you find your audiences. These ones are what help me.
What other questions do you use to find your audience? I’d love to hear them.