If you want to get in front of new audiences that have yet to fall in love with your products, go with Facebook’s core targeting.
If you want to get in front of your existing audiences from almost anywhere on the internet, and those similar to them, and encourage them to buy from you (again), you need Facebook’s Custom Audiences.
It’s Facebook advertising on steroids.
By the look of the options it gives you, it seems deceivingly basic:
But don’t be fooled.
Under the Custom Audiences section, there are two key paths you can take:
- Custom audience: creating an audience that has interacted with you
- Lookalike audience: creating a new audience based on characteristics of existing audiences
This is gold because it’s the peak of relevant advertising. These audiences have expressed their specific interests and connections with you, so you can remarket to them with up to 70% higher likelihood to convert them.
Here are just a few examples of how you can use this to advertise your online store:
- Retarget users who have abandoned their shopping cart
- Show super-specific ads to users who visited a product category
- Advertise only to people who have added their payment details to their account
In this guide, we’ll cover the entire process of getting started with these advanced Facebook targeting options through three sections:
- Facebook Pixel
- Custom Audiences
- Lookalike Audiences
Let’s get started!
The Power of the Facebook Pixel
The Facebook pixel is a piece of code you place on your store that lets you measure, optimize, and build audiences for your Facebook campaigns.
The ultimate goal of having the pixel on your website is to optimize your Facebook ads to the actual actions your audiences take when they land on your website.
To get this extra layer of information about your visitors and potential buyers, you must first install your Facebook pixel.
To do this, head over to the menu at the top bar of your Ads Manager. Under Measure & Report, click Pixels.
Once you name your pixel, you will be offered three methods of installing your pixel:
If your online store lives on a platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce, go with the first option which will take you through the setup process.
And if you don’t have a developer, click the second step that will show you how to install the code yourself, step-by-step.
After this first step, you’ll be able to add events you’d like to track:
As the prompt says, pick events that are meaningful to your online store—most of these are ecommerce-specific, so make sure to add all that apply to you!
Once you’re done, you’re ready to collect new details about the way your visitors shop after interacting with your ads—and use it to improve your ads, targeting, and more.
Custom Audience: reach people you have a relationship with
A custom audience on Facebook can be made up of people who have already purchased or interacted with you on or off Facebook.
Here are the options you have to create your custom audience:
We’ll focus on customer file, website traffic, and engagement custom audiences.
Customer file upload
The customer file upload option allows you to use a list of your customers or email subscribers to advertise to.
Facebook will attempt to match as much of your uploaded data as possible with Facebook user data. However, you’ll never get a 100% match rate.
This is simply because people use different emails for different things. A percentage of your email list won’t use the same address to get your promotional emails as they did to sign up to Facebook.
If your email list does use different emails, then Facebook won’t be able to match them. Don’t worry though, it’s common to lose a small percentage of your list through match errors.
Once you’ve exported your list to a .csv file, you’ll need to upload it.
The list you upload can use pieces of information like email address, phone number, first and last name, postal code, city, country, date of birth and more to identify and match users.
You can download a file template to enter your data. Upload your file, name your audience, and click Next.
Follow the simple walkthrough to create your audience through all the four steps. You will be asked to confirm and/or fix the mapped data and then give Facebook a few minutes to hash and match that data.
Then, you’re ready to roll!
If you want to make the most out of this audience, try some of these ideas for your ads:
- For customers who bought from you recently: Ask for feedback and reviews
- For customers who bought from you a while ago: Suggest restocking or complementary items or product categories
- For email subscribers: Promote a subscriber-only discount or promotion if they complete a purchase in a certain timeframe
As you might notice, it’s good to have your customer and subscriber lists properly tagged and segmented.
If you can sort your lists based on how recently they subscribed or how frequently they purchase from you, you can get extra creative with your advertising goal, creative, and copy. However, that level of retargeting and audience building is far easier if you use the next option.
The website traffic option uses your Facebook pixel to target people who took specific actions on your website—otherwise called retargeting.
Retargeting gives advertisers about 164% higher chances at getting valuable click-throughs on their ads.
There are several ways you can create audiences from your website traffic, and that is by including:
- All website visitors
- People who visited specific web pages
- People who spent a certain amount of time on your website
You can further refine these audiences by adding:
- Recency, up to 180 most recent days
- Frequency, or how many times someone should visit your website to be included or excluded
- Device they used to visit your website (again, for inclusion or exclusion)
You can also layer rules, which means your custom audience might be all the users that visited your checkout page in the recent month at least twice.
Remember earlier when I showed you that you can select events like adding to cart, wishlist, and more while setting up your Facebook pixel? This is where you get to use those events.
Get specific and creative with your audience groups here. Place yourself in their shoes. If you were the person that visited an online store 5 times in the last month, but haven’t bought anything, what kind of Facebook ad would make you take action?
Here are some ideas for you:
- Show short product demos to users who visited a certain product category multiple times
- Show reminders of abandoned carts to users who never completed their purchase
- Remind users of their shopping wishlist
- Show them the exact products they looked at using dynamic ads
Your visitors’ actions speak a lot—make sure to use that in your advertising and retarget the right people.
If you want to read a little more on the advanced methods of retargeting in this way, I’d highly recommend this piece on sequential retargeting from Shoelace’s CEO, Reza.
Engagement custom audiences allow you to reach people who have shown you love on Facebook’s platform.
We’re fans of this one because it makes the most out of the audiences that haven’t left the platform to interact with you. You know we love a fuss-free, simple shopping experience on Facebook (it’s what jumper is made for!), and this form of targeting helps you do exactly that.
Here’s a full list of interactions you can use to build your audience using this method:
These are all quite self-explanatory and have walkthroughs that are easy to follow.
My favorite ones to use from an ecommerce perspective are definitely the top three options.
The reason is that you can use these to dissect your audience based on their familiarity with your brand, your content, and your products. This can be sorted into awareness, consideration, and conversion, meaning they all vary in how ready they are to purchase from you right now.
Here’s how you can use this to sort your audience into the three stages:
- Those that watched your video for 3 seconds and opened your Canvas ads are likely in the awareness stage
- Those that watched 25% to 50% of your video or opened your lead form without submitting are likely in the consideration stage
- Those that watched 75% to 95% of your video, submitted your lead form, or clicked the links in your Canvas ads are likely in the decision stage
These obviously aren’t hard rules, but I can tell you that if I watched 95% of a product video, it’s likely that I’m seriously thinking of buying that specific product!
Take some time to map out the information your potential customers need in each stage of their purchase journey.
It is always more complex for higher-priced items and purchases that are driven by research, so make sure you’re going deep enough for each of your product categories.
The second best thing about Facebook ads is that you can test all these audiences, play around with variations of ads you show them, and measure the results so that you can iterate.
The first best thing, though, is that you can replicate audiences that have brought you success.
Lookalike audiences are exactly what they say they are: you define the audience that’s valuable to you, and Facebook does its best to find people similar to them so that you can amplify your results with new people in your audience.
The process is simple:
- Select your audience, such as a whole Facebook Page audience, or an audience you created earlier that has brought you great results with Facebook ads
- Enter the location you want Facebook to look for new audience in
- Choose your audience size using the slider on the range from 1% to 10% of the population of the countries you chose; 1% is the closest match to your audience
When it comes to selecting your audience size, it’s best to test multiple ones. For example, you could have one that’s 1%, one 3%, and one 5% to see how you can increase your reach and find the sweet spot.
And that’s it!
This is a great method to use when:
- You want to expand your audience in a country based on your best existing customers in that country
- You want to break into a new market and you want to target people similar to your customers in a country you successfully sell to
It might take up to 24 hours for your audience to be created. Once it is, get started with what you know has worked well with the original audience, and as always, iterate as you start getting data from it.
It’s your turn
You now know the power that lies in knowing your ideal customer and using Facebook’s advanced targeting to find them, interact with them, and sell to them.
The reality is, none of us want to be sold when we hop on Facebook—but we all like to buy. And if what we see is relevant and based on what we already searched for, it’s an easy decision.
Make sure that this experience is enjoyable for your potential customers, and you’ll be flying!