Don’t Create Another Facebook Audience Until You Try This

Read any article on running a Facebook ad campaign and you’ll be told to split test your ads. Big deal. But I want you to quit worrying about testing this headline or that image for the moment and try something completely new – compare Facebook audiences against each other.

As I discussed in this post, it doesn’t matter how good your Facebook ads are if they aren’t shown to the right people. And with the myriad ways in which Facebook let’s you create a target audience, you should spend just as much time exploring new targeting options as you do on the ads themselves.

Here’s How To Compare Facebook Audiences

Fortunately, Facebook let’s you test multiple audiences against each other to see which performs best. It’s actually pretty simple, and I’m surprised more marketers don’t spend time on it. Here’s how to do it (the right way)…

Facebook let's you test multiple audiences against each other. Here's how. Click To Tweet

First, create a handful of Facebook audiences that best approximate the people you’re trying to target. Experiment with different approaches, such as Likes/Interests, Behaviors, Demographics, Website Activity, or Lookalike Audiences. If all this sounds new to you, here’s a guide on creating different types of Facebook audiences.

Next, use Facebook’s “Show Audiences Overlap” feature to see how similar each of these audiences is. You’ll find it on the Audiences page in Ads Manager by clicking the Actions button near the top of the screen.

Select each of the audiences you’ve just constructed and open the Show Audiences Overlap window. You should see something like the below:

Facebook audiences overlap
Ideally, you should see little to no overlap between your audiences. Anything more than 25%: proceed with caution.

Make sure to select each of your audiences in that box in the top right. You’ll want to compare each audiences against all the others before proceeding.

You’ve structured things the right way if there is little to no overlap among all of your test audiences. If that’s the case, then you can safely run all of your ads to each of these audiences simultaneously. Just create a single Campaign with an Ad Set for each audience, and you can easily compare the results.

How Much Is Too Much?

If there’s too much overlap (say more than 25%), then proceed with caution. You’ll be bidding against yourself when you run your campaign. That will cause your ads to be unnecessarily expensive or cause them to stop running entirely. Worse, you won’t get a true gauge on how those audiences perform.

If you see that more than one of your audiences is performing well, no problem! That just means you have even more people to target. And since Facebook consistently offers new ways to target people, make audience split testing a regular practice.

Target Just The Right People With Facebook Custom Audiences

If you don’t show your Facebook ads to the right people, then it doesn’t matter how good they are. That’s why creating the right Facebook audience is one of the most effective things you can do to get better results. In this post, I’ll show you how, using Facebook custom audiences.

Creating the right Facebook audience is one of the most effective things you can do to get better… Click To Tweet

The Facebook custom audiences tool is broken down into three types: Saved Audience (beginner), Custom Audience (intermediate), and Lookalike (hard core). For premium Star Wars-themed protective laptop covers for MacBook users. Not that I can imagine anyone not wanting one…

Saved Audience: Start Here

Start a new Saved Audience and you’ll soon find that Facebook’s Detailed Targetinsection has literally thousands of choices. Where do you start? Here’s the answer you don’t want to hear: you just have to dig through them and see which ones could apply. Here’s what I found for our Star Wars laptop covers:

  • Target people who use a Mac by selecting Behaviors -> Digital Activities -> Operating System Used -> Primary Mac OS X.
  • Constrain your audience to Star Wars fans by selecting Interests -> Additional Interests > Star Wars. There are dozens of similar choices, but since this is described as “People who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to Star Wars” it should be a pretty safe bet.
  • Since these are premium covers, make sure your ads are only shown to people with an income greater than $50,000 by excluding Demographics -> Financial -> Income -> $30,000 – $40,000 and $40,000 – $50,000.
  • Since people who travel frequently are more likely to need a laptop case, add one further constraint: Behaviors -> Travel -> Business travelers.

If this audience is constrained to people older than 22 who live in the United States, you get 170,000 people. That’s a perfect audience size for custom Facebook audiences: large enough yield plenty of responses, but still targeted to potential customers only.

Facebook custom audiences saved
You don’t need The Force to target people when you have this many options.

Custom Audience: Now You Can Retarget

Now that you’ve got traffic coming to your website and are selling Jar Jar Binks Rey-themed laptop covers for $95, it’s time to step things up.

If you were wise, you would have installed the Facebook tracking pixel on your website before you began sending visitors there. Doing so will allow you to build Facebook custom audiences based on people who’ve taken action on your site. For example, you could set up an audience of people who viewed Star Wars-product pages on your site but did not complete a purchase. Perfect for retargeting with a follow-up ad.

You can even upload email and phone numbers of your existing customers to create a Saved Audience. When your Star Wars: Episode VIII- themed items hit the market, you’ll have a list of known buyers ready to market to.

Facebook custom audiences screenshot
The custom audience feature is “impressive…. most impressive.”

Lookalike Audience: Mysterious But Effective

Facebook custom audiences truly reach Death Star-like power with the Lookalike Audience option. How does it work? Using a “seed list” of Facebook users you’ve specified, Facebook can create a larger group of similar people. I’ve never found a good explanation of how Facebook builds its Lookalike Audiences, I just know that they work.

The Lookalike Audience option is especially handy when your audience can’t be easily defined with Facebook’s pre-determined options in the Saved Audience tool. Here’s how to build one:

  • Select a data source. Choose a Custom Audience you’ve already created, a conversion pixel you’ve configured, or the followers of your Facebook page.
  • Select the country you want to target people in. Yes, Antarctica is an option.
  • Choose the size of the audience you want to create. It will be presented as a percentage of all Facebook users in that country, so a 1% audience for the United States will be about 2 million people.
Facebook custom audiences lookalike
To test multiple sizes, select “Show Advanced Options” and Facebook will create up to six Lookalike Audiences.

Mind Blown: You Can Mix All Three Audiences Together

That’s right – to create insanely accurate Facebook custom audiences, you can actually combine all three types. Here’s how you could create an über-list of people who might buy a Star Wars-themed laptop cover:

  1. First create a Custom Audience of all people who’ve purchased any laptop cover from you. You could do this by uploading a list of customer contacts or by using the Website Traffic option to target people who’ve bought one.
  2. Use that Custom Audience to create a new Lookalike Audience. If based on the United States, this would give you a list of 2 million people who would be likely to buy a laptop cover.
  3. Finally, create a Saved Audience that uses this Lookalike Audience as its source (just select it next to the Custom Audiences option). Further narrow your targeting by adding the OS X, Star Wars, income, and business travel constraints you added with your very first Saved Audience. Chances are your new audience will be a bit smaller, but perfectly targeted.
To create insanely accurate Facebook targeting, you can combine multiple audiences together. Click To Tweet

To take things a step further, you can even split test audiences against each other – a topic I cover in this post.

What Else Do You Need To Know About Facebook Custom Audiences?

Building custom Facebook audiences requires thoughtfulness and the patience to test out new ideas. If you have other tips on building a great Facebook audience, please share them in the comments!