Struggling to effectively target new audiences with your Facebook ads? Looking for a step-by-step process that will help you discover quality prospects?
In this article, you’ll learn how to find high-performing audiences of people who may become your future customers.
Cold Audience Targeting Has Changed
The rollout of iOS14 has undeniably impacted audience targeting on Facebook and Instagram. Many cold traffic audiences based on interests and behaviors have definitely taken a hit and are no longer performing as well as they used to.
The good news is that by thinking creatively about your ideal customer persona and using what Facebook is still able to track, you can target cold audiences with success. How? Millions of consumers are using Facebook and Instagram every day and their on-platform activity is still being tracked via the pages they like, the content they engage with and comment on, what they post about, etc. All of these activities inform Facebook’s understanding of each person’s interests, demographics, and the types of products and services they’re interested in.
And with some testing, you can determine which cold traffic audiences will yield big results. Let’s get started.
#1: List Complementary Interests That Relate to Your Product or Service
First, you need to be very clear about what you know right now.
Start by identifying the industry you’re in.
Detail attributes for the typical consumer who buys the product or service you’re marketing. What is their gender? Age? Do they live in a hyper-local area such as a town or neighborhood, or do in a larger area such as a province, state, or country?
Next, list the primary, commonly shared interest of your target customer. For example, if you sell lip gloss, that interest might be beauty products.
The following example features possible audiences for a clothing company that sells patterned belts primarily featuring college sports teams (the primary interest), but also sells stylish belts that appeal to people who enjoy horses, frequent country clubs, etc. The company’s target customer skews female and ranges from 28 to 60 years of age.
#2: Create 4 Cold Audiences Based on Broad Interests
To get started, open Facebook Business Manager and navigate to the Audiences tab. Click on the Create Audience button and select Saved Audience.
In the Locations section, select People Living in This Location. When you enter the location, your instinct may lead you to dial in this location as narrowly as possible, but you’re looking for a broad audience here so think wider.
If you’re a hyper-local business in a small town, rather than using a 10 mile radius, try a 25 mile radius. If you’re a regional business, rather than focusing on a few specific states, try the entire United States. College sports teams have fans nationwide, so opening the targeting to the United States is a good approach.
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Next, define the gender and age range of your core audience and the interests you’re targeting. Keep your Detailed Targeting narrow so you’ll know immediately who is in an audience if it’s performing well.
The first audience will be made of women between the ages of 28 and 40, and based on their interest in college basketball and college football.
Name your audience so it’s easy to recognize—for example, Females 28-40 College Sports—and hit Create Saved Audience. Now you’re ready to create your second saved audience.
From the Audiences tab, click the box next to that first audience and select Edit to bring up your first audience. From inside that audience, change the age range to 41 to 65 and click on Save as New. Then you can name this new audience to reflect the age range—Females 41-65 College Sports—and hit Save.
Next, edit the original 28-40 audience and change the interest to Golf. Click Save as New and update the audience name—Females 28-40 Golf.
Finally, edit the original 41-65 audience and change the interest to Golf. Click Save as New and update the audience name—Females 41-65 Golf.
Now you have four cold-traffic saved audiences.
#3: Create 4 Cold Audiences Based on Your Customers
The next step is to create a custom audience made up of your paying customers.
You can export a CSV customer contact file from your computer, CRM, or email marketing system. Keep in mind, the more identifiers you provide to Facebook, the higher the likelihood Facebook will be able to match your customer to a Facebook or Instagram profile. Basic identifiers are email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses. You may include a Customer Value column in your customer list but it’s not necessary.
From the Audiences tab, click on the Create Audience button, choose Custom Audience from the dropdown menu, and select Customer List. Upload your customer file and click Next.
On the next screen, click the correct option button to tell Facebook whether you have a customer value column in your customer list.
Now you can upload your customer list. Name the audience (Customer List) and click Next. Follow Facebook’s prompts to be sure everything is mapped correctly. When you’re satisfied, click Import and Create.
When your customer list is uploaded and ready, you’ll see a confirmation pop-up with next steps.
Click on the Create a Lookalike Audience button.
When the Create a Lookalike Audience window opens, fill in the audience location you want to target—for example, United States.
Because Facebook has first-party data on the people in your customer list, they can find other people who are similar to your customers. You can then tell Facebook how close of a match you want your lookalike audience to be.
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A 1% lookalike will give you people who are most similar to the people on your customer list and a 10% lookalike will give you people who are least similar to your customers.
Select 0%-1%, name your audience (Lookalike US 1% – Customer List), and click on the Create Audience button.
You now have one qualified cold-traffic lookalike audience built of people who are very similar to your current customers. Let’s build three more.
From the Audiences tab, click Create Audience, select Customer List as the source, and move through the same steps until you reach the Select Audience Size section. Rather than a 0%-1% match, create a lookalike with a 0%-2% match and save it as Lookalike US 2% – Customer List.
Repeat this process to create a 0%-3% lookalike audience and a 0%-4% lookalike audience.
You now have four qualified cold-traffic lookalike audiences built of people who are very similar to your current customers.
#4: Create 4 Cold Audiences Based on Warm Prospects
Now you’ll build a custom audience of people who aren’t customers but have demonstrated an interest in the products or services you sell, so you can build a qualified lookalike audience from it.
You can build this list from people who scheduled calls but didn’t purchase, abandoned a cart on your eCommerce site, visited your website, or engaged with your Facebook page. For our belt company example, we’ll build a website custom audience.
Open the Audiences tab, click on Custom Audience, and select Website as the source. In the next pop-up, make sure you’ve chosen the correct pixel. Under the Events section, select Visitors by Time Spent. You’re looking for the people who spent the most time on the website, so keep this small—for example, 5%.
Under the Retention section, choose the maximum of 180 days. This means your audience will be built from people who visited your website in the last 180 days.
Name your audience (Top 5% Web Traffic) and click on the Create Audience button.
Now select Create a Lookalike Audience.
When the Create a Lookalike Audience window opens, fill in the audience location you want to target (United States). Select 1%, name your audience (Lookalike US 1% – Top 5% Web Traffic), and click on the Create Audience button.
You now have a qualified cold-traffic lookalike audience of people who are very similar to your website visitors. Next, you’re going to build—you guessed it—three more.
From the Audiences tab, click Create Audience, select Website as the source, and follow the same steps until you reach the Select Audience Size section. Rather than a 0%-1% match, create a lookalike with a 0%-2% match and save it as Lookalike US 2% – Top 5% Web Traffic.
Repeat this process to create a 0%-3% lookalike web traffic audience and a 0%-4% lookalike web traffic audience.
You now have four qualified cold-traffic lookalike audiences built of people who are very similar to your current customers.
#5: Create 2 Super Lookalike Audiences
Now, you’re going to combine all four of your customer lookalike audiences into one single audience.
From the Audiences tab, click on Create Audience and select Saved Audience. Name this audience Super Lookalike Customer List.
Now click into the Custom Audiences section and then click on the Lookalike Audience tab that appears.
Select all four of the lookalike audiences that are based on your customer list:
- Lookalike US 1% – Customer List
- Lookalike US 2% – Customer List
- Lookalike US 3% – Customer List
- Lookalike US 4% – Customer List
Choose People Living in the United States as your target, leave Age and Gender at the defaults, and click on the Create Audience button to save the audience.
Repeat this process to combine the following audiences into a Super Lookalike Web Traffic audience.
- Lookalike US 1% – Top 5% Web Traffic
- Lookalike US 2% – Top 5% Web Traffic
- Lookalike US 3% – Top 5% Web Traffic
- Lookalike US 4% – Top 5% Web Traffic
You now have two super lookalike audiences.
#6: Test Your Cold Audiences With a CBO Campaign
To determine which of your eight cold audiences are most valuable, you’ll need to test them against each other using Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO):
- Females 28-40 College Sports
- Females 41-65 College Sports
- Females 28–40 Golf
- Females 41-65 Golf
- 1% lookalike from your customer list
- 1% lookalike from your website traffic (or other source)
- Super lookalike for your customer list
- Super lookalike for your website traffic (or other source)
From the Campaigns tab in Ads Manager, click on the +Create button and select a Conversions objective. Name your campaign and make certain Campaign Budget Optimization is enabled.
You’ll be testing eight different audiences so you want your campaign budget to be as high as possible to ensure that every audience gets enough potential budget to succeed. A good starting point is $500 per day.
Next, create a new ad set, name your ad set after the first audience you’ll be using, and select your pixel and the event that you’re optimizing for—for example, Females 28-40 Golf.
Under the Budget and Schedule section, click on Show More Options, then Edit, and click the checkbox next to Ad Set Spend Limits. Set the Daily Minimum to $25.
Now, you can select your first audience. Click on the Use Saved Audience drop-down menu and select Females 28-40 Golf. Click on the Publish button.
Next, find the first Females 28-40 Golf ad set on the Ad Sets tab and click on Duplicate. Change the name of this ad set to reflect a new audience you’re adding (Females 41-65 Golf), scroll to the Audience section, and select that audience from the drop-down menu.
Repeat this process until you have an ad set for each of your audiences.
Let the campaign run for 5 to 7 days and you’ll easily see which audiences outperform the others. These high performers will become the basis for your new cold traffic targeting strategy.
Get More Advice on Facebook Ads
- Choose the right Facebook campaign objective to achieve your goal.
- Write Facebook ads that reduce the barrier to purchase.
- Spot, diagnose, and remedy ad fatigue on Facebook.
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