October 3, 2018 Ana Cristina

Getting Smart with Targeting on Facebook Ads, For Beginners

Facebook Ads for Beginners

Two billion people visit Facebook every month. That’s a lot of people. With Facebook’s fantastic audience selection tools, you’re able to target those people who matter the most to your business goals.

Whether you’re a local gym that wants new customers or an online clothing store looking for people to buy your products, you need to understand the different targeting options Facebook Ads has for you to reach the right audience for your business.  

There are three basic audience types that can be used to target customers:

  1. Core Audiences: reach people based on their demographics, location, interests and behaviours.
  2. Custom Audiences: people you already know, like customers, website visitors, or mobile app users.
  3. Lookalike Audiences: people who are similar to the people you already know and could be interested in your business as well.


Simple, right?

After identifying your prospective customers by these targeting options, it’s also essential to understand which strategies apply best to each of them. We have created a targeting strategy which divides these audiences into two segments:

Let’s take a look at each segment.

Facebook Ads for Beginners

Cold Audience

A cold audience has never interacted with your business before, either on your website or Facebook Page. To reach these new people, you can use core audiences or lookalikes.

A core audience  is identified by their:

  • Demographics: traits like age, gender, relationship status, education, workplace, job titles and others.
  • Location: where the individuals reside- are they in an area where you want to do business?
  • Interests: what they’re into- hobbies, entertainment, preferred brands, and more.
  • Behaviour: their purchase behaviours, device usage and other trackable activities.

There are tons of options to choose from to target your ideal audience.


The second type of audience for cold targeting are lookalikes, audiences built from custom user lists that you tell Facebook to use as its basis for finding similar people..

Lookalikes have always been a great way to start when you need to reach a broader audience and don’t have a big database of your own yet. However, since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has decided to break their relationships with the third party data vendors that made lookalikes more specific, and in the last couple of months lookalike data has lost much of its predictive power. Although we still recommend taking advantage of the feature, use it with caution and don’t rely on it- it’s also worth mentioning that Facebook has stated they intend to address this situation.

A lookalike audience automatically excludes the custom audience it’s based on (remember, these are specific people you already know) so the lookalikes are completely cold, which means they have never engaged or interacted with your brand before.

Facebook Ads for Beginners

When targeting a cold audience, the recommended size is 800,000+  but, it’s typical for this to be lower when doing hyper-targeted campaigns, like in a specific city or niche industry- these campaigns could have less than 100,000 people.

Warm/Hot Audience

The second segment includes warm audiences- people who have already interacted or engaged with your website or Facebook page in some capacity. Warm audiences have previously visited the site, liked the page, or watched a video, for example. Hot audiences are people who are closer to converting (buying); for example, they visited the prices page on your website.

These consumers should be targeted using a custom audience.

A custom audience is a list created by Facebook based on the people who have already a relationship with your business- website visitors, video viewers, leads, present customers, and more. Click here to learn the five different ways to create a custom audience. The purpose of creating a custom audience is to retarget and reconnect with these people to speed up the sales process.

Facebook Ads for Beginners

To create custom audiences, it’s important to first install the Facebook Pixel which is a piece of code that tracks the behaviour of visitors to the site and Facebook ads.

The size of warm audiences could be between 20,000 and 100,000 depending on the size of your business, and this usually includes people that engaged with your ads, video viewers and other content. Hot audiences are probably less than 20,000 people.  

Facebook Ads for Beginners

Now that you’ve learned the types of audiences and when to use each one of them, it’s time to learn some targeting tricks to rock your Facebook Ads campaigns.

We’re going to use an example business- a wedding planner trying to generate leads. In the following graphic, you’ll see a funnel explaining how they’ve planned their campaigns based on the stage of the funnel your audience is in and whether they are cold, warm, or hot:

In the top of the funnel, you could separate the interest groups from the lookalikes into different ad sets or campaigns to test and understand what works best. In the middle and bottom of the funnel examples, you can exclude audiences captured in other campaigns to avoid spamming the same person with ads from another stage of the funnel.

Facebook Ads for Beginners

When you are building your audience, it’s vital to pay attention to the correlation between Budget and Reach to obtain the results you are looking for. These take the form of daily estimated reach and daily estimated results, information that appears when you’re creating or editing an ad set.

Also, remember that you can’t target a new audience that has never heard of you with the same ad you’re using to get repeat business from people who have already bought your product; you must create a different image and ad copy for each campaign. Your message should always be tailored for the stage of the funnel it represents. Click here to learn more of the common mistakes you should avoid when advertising on Facebook.

Does all this seem difficult? It takes a lot of practice and trial and error to nail a successful ad campaign- not to mention learning how to create great content. If you’d like to consult a team of skilled and passionate experts to learn how to build your brand better- or you’d like us to be your marketing department- please, say hello. We’d love to talk to you about how to bring your brand to Facebook- and beyond!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *