How to Create a Powerful Facebook Ad Targeting Strategy


Over 1.785 billion people log in to Facebook daily. So, before you think of advertising your business elsewhere, think about how much exposure you can get by advertising with the world’s largest social network.

And Facebook is no slouch when it comes to developing features that make advertising more practical and straightforward — all while helping you target your customers better.

It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that the giant social network has made some significant changes to its ad system in the past few years.

What used to be a convoluted system of ad targeting options is now a lot simpler. You can create your ads and let Facebook do the heavy lifting in terms of targeting your audience. 

In this article, we’ll try to look at how you can use Facebook’s new ad platform to run cheaper ads and gain maximum conversions.

So, Why Are Your Facebook Ads Not Converting?

Facebook advertising doesn’t work like traditional advertising. When you advertise on TV or print, your audience will be attracted to the advert just because it happens to be in a magazine or newspaper they’re reading.

But on Facebook, your audience only sees the ad because it’s right in front of the content they’re viewing. They see it as an interruption and not something that they would want to spend time on.

That is why one of the best ways to sell with Facebook ads is by using audiences whose interests you have already established.

As a business owner, you have direct access and control over this information. You know what your customers like and what they don’t like. In other words, it’s easy for you to gather relevant data about them using Facebook’s ad targeting features before you can go ahead and advertise to them.

So, if your ads aren’t bringing in any sales, it could be because of one of the following reasons:

  • You’re targeting the wrong people: It’s simple enough. If you’re trying to sell, say, a dog toy to someone, but your ad keeps showing up in front of people who have ‘Liked’ horses on Facebook, then you’re wasting your time and money. The same goes for targeting the wrong location-based audience.
  • You’re marketing to the wrong interests: Interests don’t always equal buying habits. Let’s say you have a dog toy business. Instead of targeting people who like dogs on Facebook, target those who have “liked” pet stores.
  • Your ads lack a solid visual appeal: Facebook allows you to use rich media for some of its ad formats. And by not taking advantage of this feature, you are leaving a lot of sales on the table.
  • Facebook has yet to understand your ideal audience: Facebook’s algorithm has grown fairly accurate at targeting users with ads based on their interests. But sometimes, it takes time for Facebook to figure out which audience makes the best fit for your business.

#1 Facebook Ad Strategy for an Online Store

If your business sells products over the Internet, then it makes sense to market on Facebook because that’s where 70% of people spend their time online — most specifically, Facebook.

A classic example of an online store brand using Facebook ads to find new customers and engage existing ones is Asos. 

Asos is one of the world’s most popular online fashion stores. The company offers free, fast delivery throughout the UK and to so many other countries worldwide.

And with 10 million Facebook fans, it’s easy for Asos to create highly targeted ads based on users’ interests.

There are more case studies out there to prove Facebook ads can deliver high returns on investments. Here are a few:

  • Mixit, a leading global online retailer, grew its sales by 60% using Facebook ads.
  • Neiman Marcus did the same over the holidays, with an overall campaign ROI of 3200%.
  • The University of Illinois used Facebook ads to attract new first-year students and increase its admissions by 25%.
  • In Italy, We-Makeup, a makeup company, used Facebook ads to deliver a 28-point lift in its purchases and a 7.9-point lift in brand awareness within six months.

Mix this with the fact that it’s now possible to create highly targeted audiences using advanced targeting options, and you can see why Facebook ads are one of the best ways to promote e-commerce brands.

So, What’s the best Facebook Ad Strategy for an Online Store?

First, you have to determine your desired result. Do you want to generate more sales? Or do you want to build your reach and engagement with specific audiences?

  • To increase your online store traffic, you want to set up your campaign with traffic as the objective.
  • If it’s to increase your revenue, then you want to choose the Conversions option.
  • And lastly, if it’s to increase brand awareness, you should consider setting it up with Brand Awareness as the desired Campaign Objective.

Replace Static Image Ads with Catalogue Ads

Another Facebook Ad Strategy for an Online Store is replacing Static Image Ads with catalog Ads.

In a nutshell, catalog Ads allow you to upload multiple products in one ad. Facebook even allows you to add pictures and videos of the product so users can get an idea of what they’re buying before clicking on it.

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The advantage is that these ads have higher click-through rates than static image ads for the reasons mentioned above.

Run Retargeting Campaigns

When setting up a Facebook ad campaign to increase brand awareness or direct more leads to your online store, it would be best to run retargeting ads, as well. These ads target users who have been to your website but haven’t converted yet.

More Suggestions for Facebook Ad Strategies for an Online Store

  • Showcase Your Products in the Ad

Using an image of the product and a couple of lines is enough to get users interested in buying it.

  • Run Regular discount campaigns

No one wants to buy an item that’s too expensive. So, offer discounts on items from your online store to entice new users.

  • Use emotional ads

People often don’t know what they are looking for until you show it to them. For example, if you want people to buy a chocolate-covered marshmallow, then perhaps it would be best to show them an image of a camper in the desert.

Create ads that will make them laugh or cry — anything to get their emotions going.

  • Experiment with Different Ad formats

There are several different ad formats available when creating Facebook ads. So, try them all out and see which ones offer the best results for your online store.

For example, with carousels, you can show multiple images and even add video snippets.

  • Keep Your Ad Set Targeting Broad

Keep your ad set targeting broad to allow Facebook to optimize your campaign based on the data they have collected through Facebook Pixels.

  • Use Negative Keyword Lists

Negative keyword lists limit the number of irrelevant clicks you’ll get from users who won’t convert on your website or purchase anything in your online store.

#2 Facebook Ad Strategy for a Local Business

Local businesses have their own unique Facebook Ad Strategy that helps them reach specific audiences in a particular location.

When running ads for your local business, you’ll first want to create an ad set with the following:

  • Location Targeting (where the targeting happens): This should cover all of your services and products.
  • Language Targeting: For a local business, you can create ads in multiple languages. This way, you’ll be able to reach even more users who are interested in your products and services.
  • Device Targeting: Set your ad display for both desktops and mobiles so that you can reach the maximum number of users.

When you create your ad, remember to include the following:

  • Photos of your products: Photos and images can attract users’ attention when scrolling through their news feed.
  • Descriptive text with benefits for your product: You don’t want users to read “Buy this item at our website” or “Visit our site to know more about this item.”
  • Text and link that describes your business: Your Facebook ad should give users a better idea of your business and what it’s all about. 

How To Create Facebook Ads for a Local Business

Step 1: Determine Your Desired Result

Again, you have to begin by determining your desired results. 

Note that we’ll be doing everything on Facebook Ad Manager. All you need to do is visit the page and click on “Create Ad.”

You have three marketing objectives to choose from:

  • Awareness: You want users to get to know your brand.
  • Consideration: You want more people to think about buying from you.
  • Conversion: You want people to take the action of buying from you (i.e., sending them a lead magnet).
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Step 2: Create Your Ad Set Targeting

After creating an ad, Facebook automatically sets “Geographic, Demographics & Interests” for your ad. By default, it covers the location you are in and people from your target demographic.

In most cases, there is nothing wrong with leaving these settings as they are. But if you want to narrow down or broaden your campaign, follow steps 3-5 below:

Step 3: Click on “Advanced Options”

Scroll down and look for “Targeting.” Here, you will see the following options:

  • Location – This option allows you to target people in your locality (e.g., city or country).
  • Language – This is where you can exclude languages that are irrelevant or target a specific language.
  • Connections – With this, you can set up the relationship between your Facebook Page and your ad. You can either choose “People connected to your page” or “People with social connections similar to your fans.”
  • Demographic – If you want to target a specific audience, you can select the age range, gender, and education level.
  • Interests – You can use topics that Facebook ads support or exclude certain interest groups from seeing your ad.

You’d have set up your targeting options. Now it’s time to write your ad copy.

Step 4: Write Your Ad Copy

Creating a great Facebook Ad requires a fitting copy. Remember to include a strong headline and compelling image.

You’re to insert direct calls to action that will get the attention of your target audience. Keep in mind that the sole purpose of Facebook Ads is to get more traffic and leads for your business.

  • Write a headline that will catch people’s attention.
  • Include a link for your target audience to visit your website or download your lead magnet easily.
  • Include a compelling image that will make users curious about your product (e.g., list the features and benefits).
  • Develop a compelling body copy that will show users how they can benefit from using your product or service. If you are selling health products, you should have something along the lines of “how this specific supplement can improve your health.”

The better your ad copy, the higher the conversion rate.

Step 5: Set Your Ad Frequency & Budget

After creating your ad copy, you have to set a daily budget and ad frequency. Below are the different options:

  • Ad Frequency – This is where you can limit your ads to only showing up once or twice a day. If you want to keep users interested in what you have to offer, consider setting it up to “Reach People More Than Once.” You, however, want to make sure you have a compelling ad copy.
  • Budget – Decide on how much money you are willing to spend on your campaign. Keep in mind that Facebook Ads are not cheap in general, but they can be an effective form of marketing, especially if done right.
  • Delivery Type – Choose between “Accelerated” or “Standard.” If you are testing the waters, you can select Standard. Select Accelerated if your campaigns have generated a lot of leads and sales.

Step 6: Create Your Ad Campaign

Upon setting all of the options mentioned above, click on “Create Campaign” (this option will only appear if your ad has to be approved by Facebook Ads Team).

The following form will appear:

If you have done everything right, your ads should get approved. In most cases, the whole process of creating a Facebook Ad from scratch and getting it live takes less than 5 minutes. And with that, congratulations – your Facebook campaign is now live!

#3 Facebook Ad Strategy for a B2B Company

B2B companies have to take a slightly different approach when running Facebook Ads. 

More on that later. For now, let’s look at some of the companies that are successfully advertising on Facebook:

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  • Slack – a messaging app for teams: Slack has been running Facebook ads for a while now and is one of the first companies to ever go “all in” on Facebook.  Facebook Ads have allowed Slack to reach a new audience more cost-effectively.

Slack grew from 1.2 million users to 4 million in about a year through Facebook Ads.  When asked about what makes the platform attractive for advertisers, Slack’s Director of Product Marketing said: “The targeting options are concrete, and you can drill down into great detail on interests and demographics.”

  • Airbnb – the global marketplace for unique places to stay: Airbnb is one of the fastest-growing companies in the world.  One of their strategies and primary source of growth has been through Facebook Ads.
  • Spotify – a music streaming service: Spotify has been running Facebook Ads since 2013.  Their ads have helped them get more traffic, downloads, and sign-ups for their service.

“Facebook is the only [platform] where you can get consumer insights based on actions versus just demographics… It makes it a lot easier to reach an audience that is looking to try something new or discover new products,” says Spotify’s Global Head of Marketing.

  • Zendesk – a support platform for companies: Zendesk has been using Facebook ads to grow its user base.  Their main goal is to get more people to use their service, and they believe Facebook’s targeting feature is key for that.

“Facebook allows us to speak directly to users based on the context of what they care about… By targeting people based on their interests and the Pages they follow, we were able to speak directly with the audience most likely to be interested in our product,” says Zendesk’s Director of Global Operations.

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  • BuzzFeed – a news and entertainment service: Buzz Feed uses Facebook Ads to increase its reach.  Their campaign focuses on getting more people to follow them on Facebook and like their fan page, which ultimately helps them with lead generation.

“Facebook has been a core part of our strategy, thanks to its ability to target specific audiences based on detailed audience data and demographic filters,” says BuzzFeed’s Director of Sales.

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  • EyeEm – a community dedicated to photography: EyeEm started with Facebook Ads in 2010, but they only recently began to see the results.  Facebook Ads allowed them to get more followers on the platform.

“The ability to target users based on the information they have shared in their profile is what makes Facebook Ads interesting for us… It helps us reach people who are more likely to be interested in our platform and perhaps less likely to encounter EyeEm organically,” says EyeEm’s Director of Marketing.

When setting up a Facebook ad strategy for a B2B company, think about the different stages of a marketing funnel:  a funnel from a prospect to a customer. Next, you want to streamline your campaign flow to hit specific touchpoints throughout the funnel:

  • Awareness: Get people to at least passively recognize your brand.
  • Interest: Get people to be interested in your product and gather more information about it.
  • Decision: Get them to commit to action, whether that’s a free trial or an event registration.
  • Retention: Get customers to continue using your product and get repeat purchases.

Note that each funnel stage should be set up as a different ad campaign. Be sure to move from one funnel stage to another with every audience you target, or else your ads won’t be effective.

To do this, you want to create an audience by a specific interest that can later be targeted with a different interest in the next ad campaign. Let’s say, for example, you sell an online marketing product, and your company is getting more well-known in the industry than it used to be.  With your first ad campaign, you can target people who happen to be interested in “online marketing” or “SEO,” hoping they will become aware of your brand and become curious about it. 

Do that in your second campaign. However, this time, you to focus on increasing awareness by targeting people who use the phrase “online marketing” in their bio section.  By now, they are active users with some knowledge about online marketing and SEO, so your next campaign should focus on getting them to demo the product you offer, assuming they are interested in that.

7 Facebook Ad Strategies for a B2B Company

  • Go Slow on Cold Sales Oriented Campaign in the Early Stages of Your Campaign: Focus on getting people interested in your brand first and only asking them to purchase your product in the later stages of your campaigns. 
  • Create Unique and Targeted Ad Creative: A big mistake that B2B companies make is generating a generic ad creative.
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It would help to create a unique ad tailored to each audience you find on Facebook. It may take more time, but it will pay off in the long run.

  • Only Use Interest Audiences for Awareness Stages: Interest profiles are great because they show you a lot of information about your audience, which can help you tailor your ad creative to them. But since they aren’t specific enough, especially when all you’re doing is targeting people who use certain words in their bios, you want to use a custom audience for more precise targeting. Do this to include people who are way more interested in your product than someone who “likes” an interest or page.
  • Keep Your Bidding Strategies Simple: Don’t become too complicated as it gets harder to manage and may eventually lead to low-quality leads. Bidding on cost-per-click is the easiest way to set up a Facebook Ad Campaign.
  • Don’t Spend too Much on Being Impressive: The saying “you get what you pay for” may be true in some cases, but it is certainly not true in others.  Your competitors are using Facebook Ads, so don’t go crazy with your initial ad spend.  Try a small amount of money to find out what works and what doesn’t work for you before maxing it out and spending more than what’s needed.
  • Set Up a Remarketing Campaign:  If you are running initial awareness campaigns, you want to ensure those who didn’t become customers with your first campaign will still see your ads.  That’s why retargeting with Facebook has proven to be quite effective for many B2B companies, as it allows them to continue targeting their audience until they convert.
  • Check for Low-Quality Leads: Do this before you decide to move from an awareness campaign into a nurturing one, as some of the leads you get from running an awareness campaign are likely to be low quality. You should always check the engagement rate of your ad creatives and, if it turns out they aren’t engaging with your ad, you probably want to avoid targeting that audience in the future.

#4 Facebook Ad Strategy for a Marketplace Business

If you are an online marketplace, your Facebook Ad Strategy should be a lot different. Usually, companies that sell or offer services to other businesses use a “custom audience” group in their targeting strategy. 

A good example is Uber and Lyft. They offer products that consumers love, but their main focus is B2B drivers.  When running ads on Facebook for a business like this, you want to make sure your ad creative engages with the audience, so they feel it is targeted to them and not just random people who happen to have liked their page.

There are two sides to running these ads. Uber, for example, has to target drivers, at the same time, run another ad targeting riders.  These ads must be very different from each other.

When setting up a Facebook ad for an online marketplace, keep in mind that you’ll have to grow each of the two sides in a more balanced way — no easy task, if you ask.

You don’t want to end up with more customers and not enough suppliers, and vice versa.

With that being said, you’ll need to consider a few things before setting up your Facebook Ad Campaign:

  • Get Everyone on the Same Page: Talk to everyone in charge of advertising your business and agree on what each side should focus on when running the ads.
  • Walk Before you Run: You don’t want to implement an Ad Strategy without testing a few ads first. Before you decide which ones will work, try testing a few ads, with each targeting different things.
  • Set Budget Limits: Each side of your online marketplace campaign should have a budget limit. That’s because you may end up with different bids, and you want to make sure one side doesn’t spend more than it’s required when the other hasn’t had a chance to grow.
  • Develop a Different Ad Strategy for each Party: We talked about this before. You need to look at the Facebook Ad Platform differently for each party you are trying to attract.
  • Start Small: Try out one side and see how it goes, then try another. For example, if you have more suppliers than customers, simple logic demands that you first target customers.  If you have more customers than suppliers, you’ll need to create ads that attract suppliers first.
  • Different Ad Creatives and Messaging for each Side: Here is where you start to get creative. For example, the messaging of an ad that targets riders has to be different from one that targets drivers.
  • Use Emotions to Your Advantage: When creating adverts for your online marketplace, use powerful emotions in your ad copy. The youthful appeal works better for riders, while professional appeal will work much better for drivers.
  • Don’t Get Caught Up in Short-Term Wins: You will see fast results with your online marketplace, but pay attention because if one side suddenly gets a ton of new customers or suppliers, you might have to turn off ads for the other side and slow down growth.
  • Offer Rewards: To get either one of your target groups excited about joining your Facebook page, social media channels, and group pages, be sure to reward them after they sign up for your service. 

The reward can be anything, from a discount to a free trial. Make sure you have plenty of positive reviews for your business. Most importantly, make sure the reviews come from real people who have used your services and not friends/family members.

  • Create a Landing Page for Each Side: Don’t direct your target audience to your homepage. Instead, have a tailored landing page for each of the sides you’re targeting. 
  • Test, Test, and Test: finally, test everything you can. Try to optimize your ad campaigns to make sure they’re all running efficiently and effectively.

#5 Facebook Ad Strategy for Promoting an App

So, how do you promote a mobile app on Facebook?

The answer is simple: You create an app promo campaign.

You can also promote your mobile app via Facebook’s mobile channel and get in front of the right people at the right time on their phones.

Before we get into that, let’s look at some of the apps that were successfully promoted on Facebook:

  • Scrambled:  This app takes a word and “scrambles” it into something that’s still legible but is utter nonsense to anyone else who looks at it. It was launched in December 2013 and reached more than 150,000 daily downloads during the first month – it’s been downloaded more than 5 million times to date.
  • Pinterest: The popular social site has become a powerful app promotion platform on Facebook. Pinterest targets users searching for keywords like “how to decorate my home” and promoting its “Pinterest House Decorating Ideas” app.
  • Zoosk: The dating app is using Facebook ads to target singles searching for love. It’s running ads with messages like “Stop missing out. Download Zoosk” that link to the app download page on its website.
  • Waze:  The popular real-time traffic and navigation app was one of Facebook’s big ad successes last year, and it has found a lot of success promoting the mobile version on Facebook.

#6 Facebook Ad Strategies for Promoting a Mobile App

  • Use “App Install” as the Campaign Objective: This is the most common way to get people to download apps on Facebook.
  • Be Sure to Use an Image that Links Directly to Your App: The image in your ad needs to give users a clear idea of what they can expect from your app, and it should also link directly back to your app’s page.
  • Set a Reasonable Budget: Before you launch the app promo campaign, be sure to set up a reasonable budget so that you don’t spend all your money before you know if it’s working.
  • Test and Optimize: After launching your app promo, you should go ahead and test everything to make sure you’re reaching your target audience and getting them to download your app.
  • Use Different Images: You should use different images in your ads, especially when promoting a game. The reason is that a picture of someone playing one level of the game might not convince someone else who’s searching for other levels.

The above tips are just things to keep in mind when running app promo campaigns on Facebook. If you have any questions or comments, please share them in the comments section below!

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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