Powerful Facebook Ad Targeting Options for Business

10 Powerful Ways You Can Target Prospects Using Facebook Advertising

When it comes to being a Facebook user, you are not the customer, you are the product.

Facebook has more information about its users than most people realize.  They know where you live, where you visit, what you like and not like, what websites you visit and even your purchase behaviors.  How do they know all of this?  They use several sources for their data, as well as data from partner companies to create a pretty specific profile for each Facebook user.

How Facebook gets their data:

  • From your Facebook account. Every Like, Share, Interaction and Page visit you make
  • From your phone. Your location data, your search habits, the apps you use and your contacts
  • The websites you visit through their tracking cookies (logged in or not as most people suspect)
  • 3rd party data partners like Datalogix and Axciom

While this may not be great for Facebook users, it's a bonanza of opportunity if you are a Facebook advertiser.  I don't know of another ad platform that offers such specific targeting options as Facebook does.  This pinpoint targeting allows advertisers to get the most bang for their buck without having to waste ad spend on people who will never buy their product or service.

Ad Types and Options

Facebook lets you create a variety of different ad types.  You can create text ads, image-based ads and even video to target your potential customers.  You can also run variations of your ads simultaneously so you can test which ones are performing the best.  This is known as A/B testing or split testing.

You also have a choice of running ads directly in a user's timeline (if you have a Fan Page), on the right side of the page (traditional ad), via mobile users and now even on Instagram.

There are dozens of different ways to target users on Facebook, such as demographic, interest and behavioral targeting, all which can be mixed and matched to create laser targeting options. The clearer you are as to who your ideal customer is, the more effective your targeting will be.  Below are 10 powerful ways you can target potential customers using Facebook Ads.

Facebook Remarketing

Remarketing is when you track people who have visited your website (or specific pages) and continue to advertise to them after they have left your website. It is a low-cost and effective way to advertise to people who may still be deciding if they want to purchase from you or are in the process of comparison shopping.

Facebook will give you a tracking code to place on your website so you can advertise to your Facebook visitors when they are on Facebook for a period of time that you determine.

You can learn more about Facebook Remarketing here.

Target Your Existing Customers With Your Own In-House List

If you have an existing database of customers or potential customers, you can upload this list to Facebook and they will match your data (email address, phone number, address) against their own database and identify which the people on your list that have a Facebook account.  They will then create a list so you can serve ads to them.  And here you thought they kept asking for your phone number for security reasons.

Using a list like this is great for reaching new or potential customers with current sales and promotions.  Even if you email these customers with your own email marketing campaign, most email open rates site between 20-40%, Facebook ads will help you reach more of your list and in a more interactive way.

You can upload your customer list using the Custom Audiences feature.  You can learn more about Custom Audiences here.

Create a List of Clones Based on Your Existing Customers

There is where you can get some real mileage out of the customer list you upload to Facebook.  Since Facebook knows so much about its users, you can have Facebook use your existing customer list to create what's called a “Lookalike Audience”.  It's basically a list of new Facebook users who closely match the demographics, interests and behaviors of your current customers.

You have the option of creating smaller lists that closely match your customer list or create a larger list that is not as closely matched.  Or you can do both, which I would recommend.  Wth this new list you now have a very targeted list of potential customers and Facebook did all of the work for you.

You can learn more about Lookalike Audiences here.

Target People by Demographics

When you start building your Facebook ad and begin selecting your targeting options, one of your targeting options will be by Demographics.  As you can below, you have a number of options when it comes to targeting by demographics, and each option opens up more specific choices for targeting.  Homeowners, people who are divorced, ethnicity (or at least affinity) and age are just a sampling of how you can narrow down your targeting through demographics.

You can even target people via timely Life Events, such as birthdays, anniversaries.  Powerful stuff if your business hinges on these types of timely events.

Facebooks Ads Demographic Targteting Options

Target Users by Interests

Every time you Like a new page, share an interesting post or comment on a friend's update, you are being placed into interest baskets that Facebook will use for targeting.  Need to target fitness buffs?  Check.  Women who love wine?  Check.  People who like hobby trains?  Check.  There are loads of options when it comes to interest targeting, you can even target people who like specific fan pages that you think might make a good customer.

Facebook Ads targeting by interests

Target Users by Behaviors

Targeting by behavior lets you reach people who have exhibited certain behaviors that your business would find useful.  If you are a non-profit, you can target people who have made charitable donations in the past.  If you sell high-end retail products, you can target people who have made high-end retail purchases in the past.

How does Facebook know all of this about you?  Mostly through 3rd party data partners like Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon.  They also pull some of these behaviors from your mobile phone and web browsing activity, which are all merged to create detailed behavior patterns for each of its users.  Scary?  Check.

Facebook Ads targeting by behaviors

Create Ads for Instagram

Facebook recently launched Instagram advertising through its Facebook Ad platform, which lets you create Sponsored Posts inside Instagram using the same targeting methods as would use for Facebook Ads.  The cool thing about this option is that you do not need to be an Instagram user (you don't even need an Instagram account) in order to run ads on Instagram.

Instagram is a great platform for businesses that have visual appeal and can create visually appealing images.  It's also great for reaching a younger demographic as well as women, who are in the majority on this platform.

The Instagram advertising option is active by default in the ad builder as well as the Power Editor, so you will need to uncheck it as an option if you do not want to use it.

Facebook ads Instagram

Target Visitors To Your City

If you are a business that caters to vacationers or visitors for conventions or business, you have the option to create ads for people who are currently in your area but live more than 125 miles away.  If your business relies on tourism, like site seeing tours, clubs, restaurants, etc, then this could be a great targeting option for you.  You can also narrow down your targeting using various demographic, interest and behavior targeting options found inside Facebook.

Facebook Ads People Travelling To Location


Target People in Close Proximity of Your Business With Ads

If you are a location-based business, you can target walk by traffic with Facebook Ads.  Facebook will use people's mobile devices to know who is in proximity of your business.  Using the demographic, interest and behavior targeting options, you can serve ads to people who are close to your store location who are likely to be interested in what you are selling.  Great for businesses with locations with high walking traffic, tourist areas and shopping malls.

Facebook Ads Reach People Near Your Business

Send Out Limited Time Offers To Fans, Their Friends or People You Target

Facebooks Ads lets you create timely promotions via their “Get people to claim your offer” goal when you first start setting up your ad.  You can use all of the targeting options available in Facebook as well as choose the time frame for your promotion as well as how many offers you want to be claimed before you shut off your promotion.

Facebook Ad Offer Claims

The possibilities are endless

As you can see, the possibilities are endless when it comes to how you can create and target ads using Facebook.  The great thing is that you can mix and match all of these options above to create powerful and targeted ad campaigns that can make sales and create new customers for your business.

The following two tabs change content below.


CEO at 3Bug Media
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.