Want to target high-value audiences with your Instagram ads? Looking for new ideas?
In this article, you’ll discover eight valuable Instagram ad audiences and find out how to leverage them in your campaigns.
Why You Need to Know Your Audience’s Awareness Level
The first step toward improving your Instagram ads targeting is knowing your audience’s awareness level. Are they hearing about your brand for the first time? Or are they already loyal customers?
Your target audience should fit into one of these groups:
Top of the funnel (TOFU): These prospects have a low level of awareness and may not have engaged much with your brand’s content yet. They might even be entering your conversion funnel for the first time. Demographic-, interest-, and behavior-based targeting often works best for TOFU prospects, especially when you pair this audience with one of Instagram’s Awareness ad objectives.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU): These Instagram users already know about your brand but need a bit more information about your services before considering a purchase. They’ve already interacted with your brand, perhaps by watching a video, saving a post, or clicking through to your website. With remarketing audiences and Consideration ad objectives, you can successfully retarget these prospects.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): These customers typically have purchase intent and are ready to book a service. They just need a gentle nudge from your ad campaign. Users who have already completed high-intent actions—such as filling out a lead form—are great candidates for this type of audience, especially with a Conversion objective.
Once you know how to target each group effectively, you can build a successful Instagram ads funnel. From here, you’ll continually add new people to your TOFU audiences and guide prospects toward high-value conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
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Now that you’ve got an idea of how various awareness levels fit into your Instagram ads funnel, let’s look at how you can build eight high-value audiences for your service-based business. Start by navigating to Facebook Ads Manager and creating a new ad campaign with Instagram placements. Then follow the steps below to build the optimal audience for your ad set.
#1: Saved Audience
When you first start advertising to TOFU prospects on Instagram, you might not have much data to work with. Naturally, these prospects are new to your brand, so they haven’t visited your website, watched your videos, or sent your Instagram page a direct message (DM) yet.
Instead, your brand’s buyer persona is a great place to start. You can use these attributes to create a saved audience, which can target these types of parameters:
Saved audiences can also target a long list of interests, behaviors, professional associations, and other factors. For example, your business-to-business (B2B) company could target small business owners or employees of a particular organization. Likewise, your business-to-consumer (B2C) company could target homeowners or residents in your service area.
While you can use saved audiences with any Instagram ad objective, they’re a great fit for Reach campaigns. By pairing this audience with this ad objective, you can connect with as many TOFU customers as possible. As you guide them through your Instagram funnel, you can transform them into even more valuable audiences.
#2: Instagram Account-Based Custom Audience
Your Instagram account can be an excellent source of audience data, no matter what part of the funnel you want to target. Although BOFU audiences typically provide the most immediate value, targeting the other groups allows you to build value over time.
Here are a few ways you can remarket to each awareness level:
- TOFU: Target anyone who has visited your Instagram account’s profile. These users have already heard of your brand but they don’t know enough yet to consider your business seriously. With a brand awareness campaign, you can introduce your business and your services to these prospects.
- MOFU: Target users who have engaged with one of your Instagram posts or ads. These users have already liked, commented on, or shared your company’s content, indicating that they’re already thinking about your business. With a consideration ad, you can help them take the next step.
- BOFU: Target followers who have messaged your Instagram account or saved one of your posts or ads. These prospects have purchase intent, and a conversion-focused ad can guide them toward that final step, such as booking a demo or purchasing a service.
#3: Video-Based Custom Audience
Have you been posting compelling video content on Instagram? Retargeting users who have engaged with your videos can be a smart way to drive consideration. Because Instagram’s video-based targeting options are so extensive, you can get pretty granular when designing this type of audience.
For a TOFU audience, retarget users with lower-level engagement, such as those who watched at least 3 seconds or at least 25% of your video. Consider using this ad set audience with a Traffic ad objective that drives users to an informational blog post.
For a MOFU audience, retarget users with higher-level engagement such as those who completed your video or watched at least 50%. If you pair this audience with a Traffic ad objective, you can drive users to a higher-intent section of your website. For example, you could link your ad to a page that compares your brand to its closest competitor.
#4: Website Visitor-Based Custom Audience
If your website receives a fair amount of traffic, you can use those analytics to your advantage. You could advertise to all website visitors but targeting a specific audience group of website visitors is likely to offer more value.
Here are two easy ways to leverage your website data via Instagram ads:
- If your company offers a range of services, target people who have visited the service page for one specific offering. Then develop ad creatives that appeal to those visitors. For example, you could use a Video Views ad objective to share more information about the service.
- Has your team published blog posts for prospects with niche needs? Retarget those visitors with more relevant content to inform their purchasing decision. You can even refine by frequency to ensure your ads reach higher-intent users who have visited certain web pages multiple times.
#5: Website Events-Based Custom Audience
With Instagram ads, you can also build audiences based on website events. First, go through the Facebook pixel event setup process so you can start tracking key actions on your site.
Then choose the event that best defines the type of remarketing audience you want to create. For example, you can target users who completed your lead event with a Conversions ad objective. Because this is a BOFU audience, these prospects are closer to conversion and may provide tons of value to your business.
#6: Lead Form-Based Custom Audience
If your team has already run an Instagram ad with the Lead Form objective, you can extract even more value from the data. Create an Instagram ads audience with users who engaged with your lead form ad in some way.
Here are two targeted ways to connect with these Instagram users:
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- Retarget people who opened but didn’t submit the lead form. By using a Consideration objective like Messages, you can start conversations with these prospects. For example, you can encourage them to ask questions, invite them to sign up for a trial, or help them overcome any purchasing objections.
- Remarket to people who submitted your lead form. Sure, there’s a good chance you’ve already reached out to them via phone or email using the contact information they provided. By retargeting them with a Conversions ad—or even a Store Traffic ad if your business has a physical location—you can keep your brand top of mind and guide these prospects toward a purchase.
If your lead form custom audience is large enough, it might make sense to get even more specific. You can layer on additional targeting or exclude low-awareness audiences to maximize value and spend your Instagram advertising budget as wisely as possible.
#7: Customer List-Based Custom Audience
Does your service-based business have an email list or subscribers who have opted to receive marketing from your company? After securely uploading your list to Facebook Ads Manager, you can target Instagram users who match your customer profiles.
You can certainly upload your entire customer list to use with more general brand awareness campaigns. However, you can get much more value from your list if you take the time to segment your customers first.
Try these ideas:
- Highly engaged subscribers: Target subscribers who regularly read and click through your emails with Messages ads that prompt them to connect with your team.
- Frequent buyers: Use Conversions ads to retarget customers who regularly book appointments or who have ongoing service agreements with your business, especially if they’re due for another purchase.
- High-value customers: Design targeted Conversions ads to upsell customers who have already spent above a certain threshold and keep your service-based business top of mind.
#8: Lookalike Audiences
Advertising to saved and custom audiences offers plenty of high-value opportunities. After all, the targeting parameters let you find people who match your buyer persona or retarget users who already know your business. But what if you want to reach more prospects with your Instagram ads?
Enter lookalike audiences, which can include users similar to any of your custom audiences. First, select the existing custom audience you want to emulate—or create a new one that reflects the group you want to target.
Then choose how similar you want to make the new group of users to your existing custom audience. The smaller the percentage, the smaller and more similar your audience is to the original. Can’t decide which size is best? You can always create multiple lookalike audiences of varying sizes and see which works best.
There’s nothing stopping you from adding multiple types of lookalike audiences to your ad set either. In fact, advertising to more than one lookalike audience can be a great way to reach even more prospects who are similar to your existing customers. For example, you can target users similar to your Instagram and Facebook followers in the same ad set.
One of the biggest perks of lookalike audiences is that you can build them with value-based custom audiences. You can set up value-based events in your Facebook pixel and then use BOFU events like Lead to seed valuable lookalike audiences.
With Instagram ads targeting, you can also target custom and lookalike audiences simultaneously. While this is a great idea in theory, it’s important to ensure your ads speak to the right awareness level. When combining custom and lookalike audiences in a single ad set, take care to use TOFU and MOFU ad objectives—and save the Conversion ads for higher-intent customers.
How to Narrow Your Instagram Ads Audience
When you want to increase brand awareness and add more prospects to your funnel, expanding your audience is smart. But when you need more granular targeting or want to remarket to a more specific audience, narrowing your audience can improve your return on investment (ROI).
Exclude Users From Instagram Ads Audiences
First, take steps to exclude any users you don’t want your ad set to target. For example, say you’re planning a brand awareness campaign and you want to reach the maximum number of new users who have never interacted with your brand before. Why spend your ad budget on existing customers?
You can easily avoid targeting users who have already engaged with your account. Just click Exclude and locate one or more custom audiences you don’t want to reach.
Narrow Your Audience Targeting
Alternatively, add more targeting rules to zero in on the exact users who match your desired audience. After creating a custom, lookalike, or saved audience, you can select demographic-, behavior-, or interest-based targeting. You can also use basic logic rules to ensure your target audience meets several dependent parameters—rather than just one of a long list of characteristics.
Gather Data From Instagram Ads Reports
Unsure how to optimize your audience? Once you start running your Instagram ad, check the campaign report breakdown for insights. In many cases, you can identify top-performing groups that deliver tons of value.
For example, say you find that a specific demographic profile or users with a certain device are already driving cost-effective results. By adding these targeting parameters to your ad set, you can further optimize your results.
When you want to narrow or expand Instagram ads targeting after launching a campaign, think twice about modifying an active audience. In most cases, it’s best to duplicate the active ad set and pause the original one. Then you can modify the audience and publish the new ad set. This way, you won’t lose or compromise the original analytics.
At the same time, you can more accurately analyze the revised audience and optimize to get the best possible value from your Instagram ads.
If you’re struggling to target high-value audiences with Instagram ads, stop recycling the same old ad sets and start designing a more effective funnel. Improving your ad targeting starts with knowing your audience’s awareness level. Then you can use these eight valuable Instagram ads audiences to reach people at every level of your funnel.