If you’ve ever set up a Facebook Ads campaign, then you know the targeting options can be very overwhelming;  There’s a seemingly infinite number of options and combinations to choose from.

And if you don’t have a clear plan of attack before logging in to create your campaigns, then you’ll likely feel stuck and frustrated about what to do.  For me, that’s a lot like walking into a large department store without a defined list of stores I’m going to and what I’m going to purchase.  I’m not a “shopper” like my wife, so if I don’t have a list, then I feel lost and I might as well just go home.  There are just too many stores and too many products for me to review and determine if they are a good fit for me.

As I already mentioned, the key to preventing overwhelm is to have a plan of attack before you log in to Facebook Ads.  Armed with your plan, you can then just make a beeline to the targeting options you need and get out before you get distracted.  Similar to how I shop!

But how do you know what targeting options to use?

In this article, I’m going to walk through a case study where we tested 5 different types of targeting options.  I’ll reveal the results and you’ll then be able to apply the lessons learned to your next campaign.

Client Background

First, I’ll give you a little background on our client’s business.  They were not yet advertising, but they did have an established e-commerce business with consistent sales each month from organic traffic.

They came to us to launch their first ad campaigns with both Google Ads and Facebook Ads.  In this article, I’m going to focus on the Facebook campaigns and more specifically the targeting we tested.

We launched with 5 different campaigns and spread the $1,000 budget across those campaigns evenly at first.

The Targeting Options We Tested

After our initial research, we decided to launch with 5 campaigns using different targeting options, which I’ll explain in more detail later.

  1. Demographic + Retargeting
  2. Demographic + Interests
  3. Demographic + Behaviors
  4. Demographic + Competitors
  5. Demographic + Buyer Lookalikes

This is by no means an exhaustive list of Facebook Ads targeting options and I’m not suggesting these are the 5 best for every business.  These are simply the 5 we tested based on what we thought would perform the best for our client and I’m going to share the results in a minute once I explain each one.

1. Demographic + Retargeting

Since our client was getting organic traffic and sales, retargeting was an obvious first choice.  With retargeting ads, we are able to target Facebook users that had already been to our client’s website but hadn’t yet made a purchase.

Clearly, someone who had already visited the website is more likely to buy than someone who hasn’t heard of our client’s company.

2. Demographic + Interests

Our client sells women’s clothing that appeals to younger women.  Therefore, it was important to layer gender and age group targeting to ensure we weren’t showing our ads to men or older women who aren’t likely to make a purchase.

But gender and age alone aren’t enough.  We also added Interest targeting to find the women interested in the types of clothing our client sells.  Interest targeting is determined when Facebook users:

  • share on their timelines
  • use Apps
  • click on ads
  • “like” pages
  • even activity off of Facebook like booking travel plans

3. Demographic + Behaviors

Next, we also wanted to test behavioral targeting on Facebook.  Of course, we used gender, age group, income level, and other demographic targeting options like before, but for this campaign, we layered on behavioral targeting like “online buyers” and “women’s fashion & apparel buyers”.

One of Facebook Ads’ secret weapons is the purchase behavior data they compile from sources like:

  • Loyalty cards
  • MasterCard
  • Acxiom
  • Public record info
  • Survey data
  • and many other sources

As you can image, using this purchase behavior data can be a very effective way to get your ads in front of actual buyers vs. lookie-loos.

4. Demographic + Competitors

The 4th option was to target people interested in competitor brands.  This is self-explanatory so I don’t think I need to go into detail about why this is an effective tactic.

5. Demographic + Buyer Lookalikes

Last but not least, we created a buyer lookalike audience.  In Facebook, you’re allowed to upload a list and then Facebook will match the list to actual users.  In other words, if you have a list of customers, then Facebook would determine how many of those customers have Facebook accounts.  For some businesses, it makes sense to then display ads to existing customers to encourage repeat purchases, upsells, and cross-sells.

In our case, we uploaded a customer list in order to create a lookalike audience.  Facebook analyzed our client’s customers and then found more Facebook users that were similar to our client’s customers.  This instantly gave us a broader reach to expand the campaign.

The Results

Here are the results after the first month of testing:

Overall, our client spent $1,029 to generate $23,564 from 235 sales.

As you probably guessed, the best performing targeting option by far was the remarketing campaign.  From the $276 ad spend, our client generated 200 sales for a whopping $19,893.  Not too shabby!

The Interest targeting option was 2nd best with an ad spend of $228 to generate $2,438 from 20 sales.  The Competitor targeting was OK…

But what was surprising to me was that the Lookalike and Behavioral targeting options performed the worst.  That doesn’t mean those targeting options are bad; it just means they need more work to ensure we’re getting in front of the right audience.

As I mentioned earlier, this list is not meant to be the definitive guide to targeting with Facebook Ads.  My goal here was to give you a glimpse into the potential of Facebook Ads targeting and show you a real-world example of how we helped one of our clients launch their campaigns.  Like with all advertising, success comes from proper planning as well as consistent improvement month after month to dial in your campaigns.

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