In the United States, we spend 50 minutes on average each day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. That’s a lot of time, and we’re often in a state of mind to be influenced by effective and relevant marketing.

As Facebook users, we can probably recall the last few sponsored ads and posts that resonated with us. As Facebook marketers, however, it can be challenging to build the ideal audiences that will be positively influenced by our ads and content. With so many targeting capabilities available to us, we can sometimes experience paralysis through analysis.

If we take it back to the basics, however, and build upon fundamentals, we can efficiently target audiences in a way that drives a positive response without breaking the bank. Here are a few audiences we can explore to jump start our Facebook marketing strategies.

Retargeting website visitors
A staple of most Facebook marketing strategies is retargeting users who visited our websites. The technique is a staple for a simple reason: It works! In an era when we pay a premium in paid search and site optimizations to attract qualified visitors, we need to put as many strategies in place to re-engage visitors who don’t convert during their first visit.

This tactic is highly effective for emerging retailers and established retailers alike. It’s also incredibly easy. Simply install the Facebook pixel on every page of your website and give Facebook at least a week to build your audience of website visitors. You’ve now unlocked the opportunity to reach a very specific audience with many types of Facebook ads.

If you’ve already taken this step, but it has been a while since you’ve look at your Facebook pixel code, make sure you’re using the most current version. Facebook discontinued a few older tracking features this fall.

While you are likely familiar with this audience type, here are a few key things for e-retailers to consider:

Regardless of how much traffic your site receives, this audience is limited in size.Set your lifetime or weekly budgets too high and you may exhaust this audience rather quickly. Watch your relevance score, conversion rate and frequency metrics to ensure you’re not over-delivering your ads to this audience.

Think through your visitors’ journeys before retargeting all website visitors.
We’ve all seen ads for products or services we already purchased. Even the best technologies and processes won’t stop this from happening in every scenario. However, we can limit those experiences. For example, if you’re running a Facebook lead ad to acquire email addresses of anonymous visitors, then don’t forget to exclude your current subscriber list when building your Custom Audience.

Reach this audience with dynamic content.

The dawn of dynamic ads—which used to be called dynamic product ads—demonstrated how easy it was to be highly relevant to visitors who abandoned their shopping cart or product page. With dynamic ads, you can retarget users with the last product they viewed on your site and additional recommendations driven by Facebook data. This ad type does require additional website integrations and a product catalog, so it’s not as plug-and-play as regular retargeting, but the payoffs are worth it.

One of the lowest hanging fruits for e-retail marketers to pick is to get consumers who’ve expressed a very high level of purchase intent, such as by adding products to a cart but then abandoning it, to opt in to the marketing list. This group also comprises purchasers who may not have subscribed at the time of purchase. Reaching this audience with a small offer on Facebook is a great way to reengage them and convert them into purchasers and/or subscribers. Some retailers we’ve tested Facebook lead ads with have seen costs as low as 40 cents per acquisition. This is a small price to pay for a valuable subscriber’s consent.

Here are three tips to remember when targeting this audience:

Babysit your high budget campaigns.
While it may be tempting to throw a large budget at this audience, don’t forget it is limited in size. Be timely and relevant with this audience, but don’t overdeliver. If you do wish to run this campaign with a hefty budget, be prepared to watch its performance and hit the kill switch when the audience shows indications of exhaustion.

Update your Custom Audiences.
This is possibly the biggest time suck for marketers. Add and remove contacts from your Custom Audience as frequently as possible. Think about how often you’re acquiring email addresses of reachable cart abandoners, browse abandoners and purchasers. No one enjoys manual processes, but this will ensure that you’re being relevant to the right people.

Use detailed targeting based on purchase behaviors and life events.This is one of the best kept secrets in Facebook’s Ads Manager. Most of us know that we can target audiences by interests, job titles and employers, but did you know that the behaviors category is based on propensity to purchase from any given product category? This is an excellent way to narrow a broad audience, for example a lookalike audience based on your best repeat purchasers.

The other best kept secret is targeting by life events. You’ve most likely seen life events show up in your news feed when friends’ relationship status changes or when their employment changes. As Facebook users, we see these events as an opportunity to share a quick “congrats,” but as marketers we should do our best to leverage these events. A real-world example of this is when I began seeing mobile ads that focused on my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary. While I didn’t purchase from this advertiser, it wasn’t due to lack of ad relevancy. It was an effective series of ads that I’ve remembered.

A further detail to keep in mind when you use detailed targeting is to include and exclude audiences. Years ago, one of the biggest gripes from Facebook marketers was that we couldn’t exclude audiences. Now we can! Don’t overlook this easy-to-use feature because it will enable you to really dial in to who you’re targeting. When targeting interests and behaviors it’s easy to end up with a bloated audience, sometimes in the hundreds of millions. Exclude some obvious or not-so-obvious audiences from this larger audience to positively affect your result rates and return on investment.

Our imagination is our only limit when it comes to targeting audiences on Facebook. These three audience targeting tactics have proven to be successful for many Facebook advertisers, but there are countless more available and Facebook continues to develop more.

Previously published in the October issue of Internet Retailer
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