In 2022, it’s not a matter of if you plan to use social advertising—it’s a matter of how. Platforms like Facebook are no longer simply a place of social connection. These platforms have evolved into modern marketplaces—important sales channels essential to any ecommerce business.
One of the biggest advantages when it comes to Facebook ads are the ad targeting options. You can drill down into just about any kind of target audience you want to, allowing you to get super specific with campaigns.
Facebook has three main types of targeting options: Core Audiences, Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences. Below, we offer explanations and Facebook ad targeting ideas for each.
Table of contents
Start Facebook ad targeting with your Core Audiences
Facebook Core Audiences is where you start with your first Facebook ads. Your Core Audiences are essentially that: the core, or base, segment to use as your first set of benchmarks.This is the foundation upon which you’ll build the rest of your Facebook ad strategies and audiences.
If you already have a Facebook business page and audience, you’ll find this information via your Audience Insights. These insights will tell you the following about your Core Audiences:
Facebook offers location-based audience targeting. This is especially helpful if you know where your audience is located or you want to target a specific geographic audience. Additionally, you can choose to target cities versus small towns or select a central point around which to draw a radius, as well as other options.
Tip 1: Weather-based targeting
You can tap into weather-based targeting based on users’ locations. For example, an apparel brand might choose to run ads promoting warm coats to an audience located in areas that hit a specific temperature threshold. Though weather-based targeting isn’t a native feature within Facebook, you can use a third-party tool like WeatherAds to accomplish this Facebook ad targeting idea.
Tip 2: Location-based targeting for fulfillment options
Shoppers’ buying habits have changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And retailers had to respond to both those shifts and the ever-changing restrictions on business operations. As a result, more retailers have offered click-and-collect options, and online-only brands are taking a similar route by offering in-person pickup and even delivery to local customers. Offering free and flexible fulfillment options can give you a competitive edge. You might target an audience located within X miles of your warehouse with in-person pickup options or spread the word about your new local delivery service.
Demographics refer to basic descriptions about your audience, including things like occupation and income, education level, family and marital status, race, and ethnicity. This can clue you in to key insights to inform your ad targeting and strategies.
Tip 3: Target people who have recently gotten engaged
One idea to leverage demographics data is targeting people who have recently been engaged. You can bet that many of these people will likely soon be planning their wedding, so you may look to advertise things like jewelry, accessories, party favors, invitations, and similar items. Plus, you can retarget them in the future with ads for honeymoon travelers and new homeowners, for example. Use creative and messaging that taps into your audience’s current lives.
Tip 4: Target people with upcoming anniversaries
Facebook also provides relationship data, including relationship status and date. So you can target users with upcoming anniversaries. This is a great tactic for jewelry brands and restaurants, for example, as well as travel agents, hotels, and other travel-related businesses who may host a couple for an anniversary trip.
Facebook has a ton of data about its users’ interests, which is key information to inform your ad targeting. Interests covers a wide range of things, including sports, even specific sports teams or athletes; music, including favorite bands, artists, or even songs; and pretty much any hobby you can think of.
Tip 5: Introduce a new product concept to people who have a related interest
If you have a brand new product to introduce to the world, you can use interest-based Facebook ad targeting to put it in front of people who have related interests. Maybe you have a new type of dog toy, in which case you’d use interests involving dogs.
Footwear brand Rothy’s ran a Facebook ad campaign in which it targeted people with an interest in both shoes and sustainability. The washable shoes are made with sustainable materials, so this interest-based targeting was a natural fit. It also threw in other targeting parameters, including demographics such as gender and age. The brand boosted sales by 72%.
Behavior-based Facebook ad targeting options include things like recent purchases, device usage, Facebook roles and activity, and even small business owners, among many others.
Tip 6: Target based on recent purchase behavior
When you focus on recent purchase behavior, you have the added benefit of knowing your audience is willing to make online transactions. Choose subcategories relevant to your industry, brand, and products—and don’t be afraid to get specific. This is a great way to boost customer acquisition.
One way to lure in potential customers by purchase-based behavioral targeting is to offer an incentive. You might consider offering a discount like the Facebook ad example below from Partake Foods. A free sample or free gift with purchase are also great value-adds to push users toward conversion.
Connections-based Facebook ad targeting is when you hone in on people who have some sort of direct or indirect relationship with your Facebook page, app, or event. This means they or someone they’re Facebook friends with may have liked your page or one of your posts, engaged with your app, RSVPed to one of your events, or even liked or commented on one of your events.
Tip 7: Use Facebook dynamic ads to automatically optimize performance
Target connections of users who have engaged with your ads in the past. Use the same ad creative but allow Facebook automated dynamic ads to optimize the copy, imagery, and offer for the best results. That’s exactly what tech brand Lenovo did in the first part of its two-part Facebook ad campaign to drive brand awareness and customer acquisition. It helped the brand accomplish a nine times increase in return on ad spend.
Note that this can work for all audiences, not just Core Audiences.
Refine Facebook ad targeting through Custom Audiences
Once you’re comfortable with your Core Audiences, it’s time to move on to Facebook Custom Audiences. These segments are people who are already aware of your brand to some extent. Maybe they’ve heard of your products or engaged with your Facebook page before, for example.
There are three main sources of data for your Custom Audiences:
- Contact lists
- Site visitors
- App users
You can upload or connect your existing contact lists to Facebook that will then build target audiences based on those profiles.
Tip 8: Nurture first-time shoppers
Consider uploading a list of your first-time customers to Facebook and running a customer retention campaign to encourage their second purchase. Your creative may welcome customers to your brand, introduce them to your product guarantee, or provide content to make the most of their purchase. You can also encourage future purchases based on other customer data.
Think about not only what first-time customers typically buy next but also when they tend to do it—if it’s six months after their initial purchase, for example, you’ll want to make sure your ads are targeting people within that time frame.
TIP: Don’t forget to brush up on data privacy laws and regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and any other governing rules in your area.
Facebook can also target people who have visited your ecommerce website or specific pages on your website. You might see this Facebook ad targeting option referred to as “website custom audiences.” You can also drill down into site behavior such as page depth, time on site, which pages they bounce from, and more.
Tip 9: Set up your Meta Pixel
Before you even think about creating and running your campaign, you’ll want to install the Meta Pixel on your website. The Meta Pixel tracks user behavior on your site, giving you not only data to use for your Facebook ad strategy but also specific audience segments you can then target in the future.
Tip 10: Create an abandoned cart ad
The average shopping cart abandonment rate sits just shy of 70%. And as many as a quarter of shoppers will abandon a cart to purchase a product from a competitor. Abandoned carts are lost opportunities that hurt especially bad—they already did all the work to get the product in their cart, so what prevented them from completing the final step? Recovering those carts may prove an easier feat than attracting a first-time buyer because the person already knows your brand, has interest in your products, and just needs a little nudge.
Organic skin care brand Arugot used Facebook dynamic ads and targeting to promote products to site visitors who had abandoned their carts. It customized product recommendations based on users’ carts and ended up nearly tripling sales.
In some cases, you might offer a discount code or free gift. In others, a simple reminder of what they’re missing out on will suffice. You can test ad creative and use Facebook’s automated optimization options to find out what works best.
Tip 11: Set up sequential retargeting
Sequential retargeting through Facebook ads is when you target your audience with a series of ads depending on their site behavior. This is an effective type of Facebook ad because it acknowledges the stage people are at in their buying journey. For example, a product page visitor is far more likely to be ready to make a purchase than someone who only visited your homepage.
100% PURE used sequential retargeting to serve visitors who bounced from its home page three different ads over the course of three days. Each ad introduced something new about the brand.
If you have a Facebook app, you can target people who have engaged with it and taken specific actions within your app. These users already have some sort of familiarity with your brand, so it’s mostly a matter of sealing the deal.
Tip 12: Integrate your Facebook app with Shopify
You can connect your Facebook page, shop, and app to Shopify with a seamless integration. This integration allows you to use your online store as your central command center for everything related to both your online store and Facebook.
When you sell on Facebook with Shopify, your inventory and product catalog automatically sync from Shopify to your Facebook app and properties. This allows you to sync the data as well as quickly and easily create ads.
Start selling your products on Facebook
Shopify comes with powerful tools that help you list, promote and sell products on Facebook and Instagram. Create product collections, showcase your brand and products, and make sales on Facebook and Instagram from one place.Start selling on Facebook
Expand your reach with Lookalike Audiences
Facebook Lookalike Audiences are segments of people who share similar characteristics with your existing audiences. Lookalike Audiences are a great ad targeting option to expand your reach to new potential customers. Because they share commonalities with your Core and Custom Audiences, you already have an idea of what will work and what won’t work—so it’s simply a matter of repurposing and optimizing as needed.
Use your existing ad creative
It’s generally recommended to use your existing ads for your Lookalike Audience campaigns. This is a great starting point because it’s low effort, since you already have the creative as well as the insights to show you which creative and targeting combinations work best.
Tip 13: Start by using your best ads
While all of your Facebook ads could be potential contenders for Lookalike Audience campaigns, you may want to start with your top-performing ads and audiences. Focusing on these areas will give you quick wins (or insights) to help build and refine your Facebook ad targeting strategy.
Analyzing the performance of your marketing should always be a priority. Not only does this help optimize ad spend, but it can also teach you things about your customers and products that you can apply to other areas of the business.
Tip 14: Check average revenue per conversion/lifetime value of each audience
Facebook recommends analyzing your ad performance and specifically taking a look at average revenue per conversion and the lifetime value of each audience. When you have high-value audiences, you’ll likely want to focus on creating Lookalike Audiences based on them. Plus, you can drill down deeper into your targeting options as well as create more campaigns for these segments.
Optimize your bids for each audience
Over time, you’ll learn a lot about your audiences and have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. As with any digital marketing initiative, you want to analyze your results and tweak ads for better performance. You can do this manually or let Facebook do it for you. You can use a combination of Facebook ad targeting options mentioned above to get super specific and create small but very targeted audiences.
Tip 15: Use a combination of Facebook ad targeting options
While you might be inclined to pursue one targeting route, you’ll find the most success with a layered targeting approach. In other words, a combination of targeting options will yield the most detailed and effective audiences. For example, rather than just focusing on people located in New York City, you might target people in New York City who earn a certain income and also have an interest in travel. Each targeting strategy has a time and place, depending on your goals.
Start advertising on Facebook with Shopify today
Commerce is constantly changing, and social media platforms like Facebook have become modern marketplaces—more than just a place to connect, but a place to do business. One of the reasons these modern marketplaces are so successful as sales channels is because buyers are already there. When you put your brand on Facebook, you meet buyers where they’re at.
Using a single central “mission control” makes it easier to stay on top of multichannel sales, as well as promote your products on all these different channels and platforms. And while you can certainly rely on Facebook for everything, it’s always best to own your own ecommerce site and all the benefits that come with it—no seller restrictions, changing algorithms, or disjointed customer relationships.
When you advertise and sell on Facebook with Shopify, you can manage everything from one powerful place.
Ready to create your business? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Facebook ad targeting FAQ
What is targeting in Facebook Ads?
On Facebook, targeting describes the process of sending specific ads to precise target audiences, grouped by factors like age, location, gender, job title and much more.
What are the 3 types of targeting on Facebook?
Facebook has three main types of targeting options:
- Core Audiences
- Custom Audiences
- Lookalike Audiences
What is the best way to target Facebook Ads?
- Weather-based targeting
- Location-based targeting for fulfillment options
- Target people who have recently gotten engaged
- Target people with upcoming anniversaries
- Introduce a new product concept to people who have a related interest
- Target based on recent purchase behavior
- Use Facebook dynamic ads to automatically optimize performance
- Nurture first-time shoppers
- Set up your Meta Pixel
- Create an abandoned cart ad
- Set up sequential retargeting
- Integrate your Facebook app with Shopify