The amount of data Facebook has collected over the years is impressive, to say the least. And things keep getting better and more sophisticated with each passing year. So understanding how to target with Facebook ads is a huge opportunity for growing your business online.

Whether you’re a business owner, a marketer or a website owner, we are able to reach our exact target audience with Facebook ads by leveraging an amazing suite of tools and data.

Altogether, we can create completely relevant ads for specific groups of people based on their interests, online behaviors and shared demographic factors.

Understanding how to target these customers with Facebook ads is a stepping stone towards any business’ online success.

At the core of this new reality is the fact that we can communicate more directly with our customers while optimizing our ad spend in a way that ensures only the most qualified and relevant audiences are reached.

And this scenario is a win-win. 

Ethical debates on data collection aside, I’m personally much happier seeing snowboarding, travel, digital marketing and music advertisements over unrelated offers that are completely irrelevant to my passions and my work.

So let’s dive in and explore how we can use the Facebook platform to target absolutely any customer profile that we can dream up.

*This post contains affiliate links, which I may receive compensation from. This is at no cost to you and lets me keep the lights on. Read more here…

The Customer Journey: Adding Value Pays Off

Customers today require a journey. Besides cheaper, impulse purchases or seasonal flare, customers will rarely (if ever) make a purchase after the first point of contact. So if you’re sending your first ad to cold traffic, stay grounded and don’t expect sales right off the bat.

This is you introducing yourself and your brand. You’ll want to foster this relationship by re-targeting people with followup communication and ads.

You can introduce yourself in many ways. For example, lead magnets and engaging content (such as quizzes) are extremely powerful for quickly getting a customer’s contact information by providing an offer with a high perceived value in exchange for an email. 

Recommended Read: How to Create an Irresistable Offer

Basically, lead magnets and interactive ads are a great way to start a relationship and to establish yourself and your brand as a trustworthy authority.

Behind any good lead magnet is value. Adding value is a recurring theme throughout this site and it is absolutely necessary for a successful campaign.

So whether you’re running new ads to cold audiences or followup ads to existing customers, always focus on providing value and solving their problems and pains.

This is a sure way to develop, strengthen and monetize your customer relationship.

Finally, by using an existing email list (or by running a survey type of ad to potential customers), you can ask important product/service questions and gain invaluable feedback to shape your campaign around.

Following these guidelines and suggestions will boost your ad’s performance and overall success. So let’s talk more about finding and targeting your ideal audience with Facebook ads.

How To Target – Start With What You Know

Having a solid understanding of who your ideal customer is will (obviously) be the jumping off point for building a highly targeted ad. 

This can be achieved in many ways depending on your business, how established you are as a company (i.e., do you have a large, existing email list?) and your overall objectives.

This article will provide an overview of the most common ways for finding, building and targeting your ideal customers with Facebook ads.

For organization, let’s separate this article into two camps:

  • Camp 1: Those who have existing customers
    • Such as email lists, existing sales and/or website traffic
  • Camp 2: Those who do not have existing customers OR those who want to find new potential customers

The strategies for customer targeting can be slightly different depending on whether you have existing customers or not, so let’s explore these two camps separately in more detail.

CAMP 1 – I’ve Got Existing Customers

Let’s say you have existing customers and you want to target them with relevant ads. This is your warmest traffic and these people will obviously convert at a much higher rate compared to newer (cold) traffic customers.

As such, any successful business will work to continually foster this relationship and provide exclusive offers as well as engaging communications and follow-ups.

So how do we target these people with Facebook ads?

There are a few ways you can target existing customers with Facebook ads. One such way is to upload your email list into the Facebook Business Manager.

If you don’t have a Business Manager account, you can sign up for free here.

Uploading An Email List Into Facebook

First, you’ll want to navigate to the Audiences section…

Then you’ll want to create a new Custom Audience… 

(**note: this screen may look slightly different if you have existing audiences already made**)

Then select Customer List…

And proceed by using a file that doesn’t include a customer’s LTV (unless of course you have that data)…

Then go ahead and fill in the fields, scroll down and complete the upload.

However, do note that it can take Facebook up to 24 hours to finish uploading emails and creating a custom audience from this data, so you’ll have to sit tight while waiting.

Once your custom audience has finished populating (after about a day), it’ll be ready for you to integrate into your ad campaign.

Recommended Read: How to Build an Email List and A Loyal Following

Selecting your audience and actually creating your ad campaign is discussed in step 5 of this series, but if you’d like to read ahead you can check out that post here.

Another way to target with Facebook ads is by re-targeting existing customers (or people that have interacted with your business/brand) by using the Facebook pixel.

Re-targeting & Installing Your Facebook Pixel

This process is actually quite straightforward and you can access your pixel code from within your Facebook Business Manager, within the Events Manager tab.

From there you can either set up a new pixel (if it’s your first one) or select an existing pixel and choosing ‘set up’ on the page that follows.

You’ll then be directed to copy and paste the code into your head tracking code area within the back office of your website host.

Or, if your host platform is already integrated with Facebook, you can simply follow the steps provided by Facebook (you’ll see if your site is listed when setting up your pixel code; for example, Shopify integrates smoothly).

However, a full tutorial for pixel integration and set-up is beyond the scope of this article. But worry not! This topic is explored in full detail in step 4 of this series in this post!

OK, now let’s move on to the next section: Finding new customers.

Camp 2 – I’m Finding New Customers

Every business and company, small or large, will need to continually find new customers. So grasping how to target them with Facebook ads is essential.

If you’re a new business, then this obstacle is obviously your primary objective. With Facebook ads however, anyone can find their ideal customers easily and predictably.

However, many people fall short on targeting their key market accurately. Understanding your target demographic requires a level of research, objectivity and testing.

If you’re looking for new customers, but not sure where to start, then think about the questions below and build out an ideal customer avatar:

  • What challenges, pains and problems are the facing?
  • What are their goals and what are their values?
  • How do they currently solve their problems?
  • Where do they get their information from?
  • What are their interests, age(s) and other demographics

Write this information down on paper or in a spreadsheet for quick reference and to keep yourself on track. Keep it updated and current as you move forward.

Recommended Read: Check out this post from the Digital Marketer for a free downloadable customer avatar sheet!

Writing down and determining this customer avatar information is not only helpful for audience building and for determining how to target with Facebook ads, but it’s also extremely useful when it comes time to writing your headlines and text copy.

Writing effective ad copy and headlines is another topic in itself, but if you’d like more information right now, you can skip ahead and check out this post!

You can also navigate to the Audience Insight tab in your Business Manager and plug in relevant interests to get profile details about your target market. I talk about this feature more at the end of this post.

How To Build An Audience In Facebook

Once you get your Business Manager set up, we can now create your defined audience(s) using your customer information. To do this, follow the steps below.

Go to the drop-down menu in the top left of the screen and click on the link labeled “Audiences

  1. Click on the ‘Create Audience’ drop-down and select the appropriate option
    1. For new traffic – choose ‘Saved Audience
    2. If you’re using an email list, FB fans, current customers – then choose ‘Custom Audience
      1. Remember, if you want to use website traffic, then you’ll need to have your Facebook Pixel already setup (you can read more about installing the pixel here); but if you have your pixel setup, you can choose ‘Custom Audience’, then select ‘Website Traffic’



  2. If you have a large email list or collection of customer data (1,000 people +), then you can create a Lookalike Audience.
    1. This means Facebook will analyze your customer data and find other people who share similar traits and are also likely to buy your product/service
    2. This is a super powerful tool if you have a large list of people or enough data, so remember this for down the road!
  3. Go through and fill in everything appropriately (using the interests/information you’ve already thought about from above)
    1. Try to keep your audience size/reach above 500,000 or between 1,000,000-3,000,000 people if you’re targeting a national area or a large locale
      1. Among other factors, Facebook charges you more money the smaller your audience is, so this is the ideal and trying to get as close as possible to these numbers is a good habit
      2. Of course, don’t stress if you’re a local business or if you’re targeting is in a small town or a hyper-specific niche/region.

        Be sure to pay attention to the audience size and also double check that you choose the appropriate targeting (Interest versus Employer).



      3. To further refine your targeting and control your audience size, use:
        1. The Suggestions box (to increase your audience size & reach)
        2. The Narrow Audience option (to make your audience smaller or more specific)
        3. The Exclude People option (for example, I want to target people that like dogs, but exclude people that like traveling)



  4. Then hit Create Audience and repeat this process to make more saved audiences (you can edit these details at any time, but this will effect any live campaigns)
    1. Having multiple audiences/combinations to test is very useful and will let you find the most interested buyers.
    2. We can test different audiences/combinations and scale only the most profitable ones
      1. Make as many as you like – I often do 10+, depending on how many I want to test (which will increase the ad spend though, so be careful) – but just choose a nice variety

Building successful audiences is something that you’ll get better with as you run more ads. You’ll be adjusting details, targeting and your budget in real time and continually optimizing.

Also, the more you run successful ads, the more data that the Facebook algorithm will be collecting, in turn supporting more optimized targeting.

Audience building is something I do everyday and it is extremely useful to test different types of audiences that may be interested in your offer.

The next step in this series will cover offers. So as a segue, I’d like to spend some time and briefly talk about the power of an engaging and interactive methodology.

Surveys & Engaging, Interactive Ads

Do you wish you knew exactly what your customers were thinking, what problems they were facing and why they buy your (or your competitor’s) product?

Well, you can quickly find answers to these questions and more. And the solution is pretty straightforward: just ask them!

People love to give feedback. Within the first portion of this post, I briefly mentioned surveys and topics related to creating more engaging content. So let’s expand on these elements a little more!

There are many tools out there for creating surveys, and if you’re interested, a great starting point is signing up for a free account at surveyplanet

It’s a no frills software that allows for unlimited surveys under their free account.

Although there is a paid pro plan (which allows you to use images, custom themes and export your results), the free membership offers a variety of useful tools. These include:

  • Unlimited surveys
  • Unlimited survey questions
  • Unlimited survey responses

This is a great way to implement engaging material which you can customize based on your audience(s). However, there are a lot more strategies for creating engaging posts beyond surveys.

Some ideas include quizzes, calculators, polls and assessments. And all of these types of ads are extremely interactive and lead to a highly engaged audience!

They will result in higher conversions (because they’re more engaging), increase your organic reach (since they’re shared and engaged with more) and lower your ad and site bounce rate (because people are actively participating and receiving real value.

This makes capturing emails, generating leads and starting a customer relationship significantly more effective. This is how you can beat out your competition this year and gain an edge.

So, if you’d like to solve your conversion problems while capitalizing on organic reach and engagement, you can easily employ an interactive strategy and boost your ad performance.

If you’d like more information on interactive content creation, one of my top recommendations is Outgrow.

Outgrow is an amazing, new interactive social platform that allows marketers and businesses to create engaging quizzes, calculator-type ads, giveaways, chat-bots and surveys (just to name a few of the benefits).

One of the most exciting things about using Outgrow is its ability to significantly amplify your ad’s conversions, organic growth, engagement and ROI.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Outgrow can improve your business’ marketing efforts and sales, check out this video!

Regardless of the tool you use, by providing an interactive quiz, calculator or post, you’ll be getting information on highly qualified customers while also providing an engaging experience that prospects will enjoy and remember.

Using a survey will provide you with information related to your customer’s pain points, why they bought or buy your products and services and who they feel your top competitors are.

You can also reward your customers with some type of free offer or lead magnet for participating in the survey!

Basically, surveys are a fantastic way to either boost engagement or start a relationship. You’ll be gaining instrumental insights into your customer’s wants, needs, problems and intentions.

Helpful Tools & Resources

Before finishing up, I’d like to offer some useful tools that will improve your overall ad performance while saving you time and energy.

There are countless tools at our disposal. However, below are just a couple resources to draw upon as you begin researching your audiences and how to target them with Facebook ads.

Facebook’s Audience Insights (Free)

Inside of your Facebook Business Manager, under the main menu, you’ll find a tab for Audience Insights.

Here, you are able to input general interests that your target market shares (much like creating an audience) and Facebook will give you additional insights related to that market.

Some insights include pages liked, demographic data, additional interests and topics frequently followed by these people. Altogether, this information can be a fantastic way to start and compliment your research efforts.

Still, there can be some limitations. So using a truly robust tool can amplify your ads by gaining a greater understanding of your target market.

ConnectExplore by ConnectIO (Free Trial)

Taking the guesswork out of finding the exact customers who are ready and actually interested in what you have to offer just got a whole lot easier.

Along with Outgrow and Audience Insights, there is new social media tool that can drastically improve your results with Facebook ads.

If you value automation, saving time while ensuring you’re ads and campaigns are fully optimized and only engaging with and re-targeting the most relevant leads and customers, then the next software has you covered.

The software is called ConnectIO and comes with a suite of impressive tools, all designed to make your ads perform better while making your life easier.

One specific tool within the software package – relevant for our article today – is ConnectExplore. Earlier in this article, I briefly talked about the suggestions box feature within Facebook’s Business Manager.

This of course can be an amazing tool when you’re first building out your ads.

However, it doesn’t include all audience recommendations and data. So if you’re looking for an additional competitive edge and a way to access even more robust data on your target market, then ConnectExplore has you covered.

It’s an innovative new tool that allows marketers and businesses to find “hidden” interests that Facebook does not currently show or provide within the Business Manager. 

The software helps automate campaigns, optimize ads and find hyper-targeted customers that your Facebook Business Manager misses.

If you’re looking for a unique edge, then this could be your unfair advantage to beating out your competition and creating high performing ads with highly accurate and specifically targeted customers.

Also, if you sign up through my link, you’ll get a 30 DAY totally FREE TRIAL to test out the software.

Never Stop Testing

Of course, there are many tools, software services and strategies useful for learning how to target with Facebook ads.

And the audiences you’ll be reaching can expand in a variety of interesting directions, giving your business a diverse range of new opportunities and profit potential.

So never stop exploring, researching and analyzing your target customer and the available data on your target audience.

This article has been a brief introduction to the process of audience research and I hope that you’ve gained valuable insight and ideas for moving forward.

As you look through this site, these topics will be continually covered and explored in more detail. They’re foundation elements that are equally important and worth exploring as a way for enhancing your online business strategy.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a comment below and let me know if you’re using other methods to reach your customers through Facebook!

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