facebook targeting mistakes

Facebook Targeting Mistakes To Avoid

It’s VERY easy to make targeting mistakes with Facebook ads that can cost you many sales and thousands of dollars in profits.

Some of the things that people do in Facebook advertising targeting seem intuitive and look like they will work, but in reality they end up narrowing your audience (in a bad way) and make your advertising less effective. This isn’t your fault, but once you know about these common mistakes you can go about fixing them and potentially make far more profit from your ads.

Recently, we had a client who was making many of these exact mistakes and we helped them improve their targeting. They gave us permission to show you the mistakes they were making as long as we kept them anonymous, which is awesome because it lets me show you real world examples and how to fix them.

Facebook Targeting Mistakes to Avoid

We set up a duplicate of our clients campaign in our own testing account to keep their identity secret. This is a group that sells men’s sports apparel and gym related clothing.

The first thing you’ll see is that we have a warm audience and a cold audience set up. That’s a good thing. You should be handling these two audiences separately because they will respond differently to your ads. You will almost always get higher conversions from warm audiences over cold audiences.

warm audience and cold audience

Your Number One Lookalike Audience Should Be a Conversion Lookalike

This business owner is targeting lookalike audiences. Right now they are targeting a look a like audience from their website visitors.

Conversion lookalike audience

It’s fine to target website visitors as a lookalike audience if you are also using a conversion lookalike audience as well. But if you are only using ONE lookalike audience and you have conversion data then you will want to target a 1% lookalike audience based on people who have made past purchases as that audience is highly likely to convert at a higher rate.

Don’t Exclude Previous Customers

You’ll see here that this client was excluding previous customers from their lookalike audience. This is NOT a good idea.

don't exclude previous customers

Previous customers are likely to be higher value and more likely to buy from you than people who have never bought. BUT to make that happen you have to stay front of mind with your buyers and that means that you need to keep them in your audiences. Remember, people aren’t going through their life with a product they just bought and wondering what else you make. You have to show them through ads.

Don’t Get Too Specific With Your Location Targeting

The only time you should get specific with your location targeting is if you are in a business where you can ONLY serve people in a specific geographic area. That means that if you are a hairdresser or someone who installs gutters then you want to target in the area you serve, but if you ship products to an entire country then you want to target everywhere you could potentially do business.

Go broad with location targeting

Facebook has a very smart algorithm and even if MOST of your customers who buy from you are from specific cities or geographic areas, Facebook can start working out who might buy from you in other areas and these extra sales can really add up and drive your cost per customer acquisition down.

Don’t Narrow Your Age Range Too Much

Another common mistake that people make when targeting on Facebook is to narrow the age range of the target audience too much. Facebook ads almost always works better when you give it a broader audience to work with rather than a narrow audience.

Go broad with age range

When you are using a lookalike audience you should leave the age range open at 18 to 65+. If you are doing cold targeting then you can narrow it a bit more if you’d like but it’s almost never necessary.

This is one of the areas that Facebook does very well in working out on it’s own. The algorithm will determine what age range the people are who buys your products or services and then serve those people the ads. Keeping the age range broad means that you give Facebook room to figure this out.

Be Careful with Gender Targeting

This business makes clothes for men, so targeting men makes a lot of sense. It works here.

Most of the time target all genders

But if you have 10% of your customers who are women and 90% who are men or 10% men and 90% women then it’s worth it to leave gender at “all.” Facebook is excellent at distributing gender targeting appropriately for your specific offer.

Split Up Your Detailed Targeting Options and Separate Them From Lookalike Audiences

The client we were helping with this campaign was including detailed targeting options in a lookalike audience. This is something you want to avoid. You don’t want to narrow your lookalike audiences by including detailed targeting in them.

Take out detailed targeting on lookalike audiences

I do like to use detailed targeting options, but they should always be in a separate adset from lookalike audiences and you should test each detailed targeting option individually. When you put each detailed targeting option into a separate adset you’ll be able to determine which ones work and which ones don’t. This is very helpful information in getting to a fully optimized campaign and lowering your cost per conversion.

Extend the Timeframe on Your Custom Audiences

In his warm audience ad set, this client was targeting all website visitors from the last 14 days. That means he’s potentially leaving a lot of money on the table.

Extend the timeframe of your custom audiences

I would change the timeframe of this warm audience to people who have visited his website in the last 180 days – which is the maximum allowed.

Facebook will show ads to the people who have visited more recently first, and then they will show ads to other people they think might purchase or subscribe. By giving Facebook more data to work with, they can more effectively use your warm audience to bring you sales. Larger audiences are especially important since the iOS14 update limits the amount of data that Facebook can see off their platform.

More Free Facebook Ads Training

To help business owners succeed with Facebook ads I’ve created a FREE webinar training that you can register for here.

Free Facebook ads training

When you attend this webinar you’ll learn:

  • 3 different Facebook ad strategies that we use every day. These strategies have generated millions of dollars in revenue and are tried and proven to work.
  • How to customize the Facebook ads strategy to your particular business. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to Facebook ads.
  • How Facebook and Instagram have changed and how to adjust your ad strategy to what works in 2021.

Video Tutorial: Avoid These Costly Facebook Targeting Mistakes

In this video I show you the setup that one of our clients was using (with permission) and how to fix the common Facebook targeting mistakes we saw in that set up.

The Bottom Line on Targeting for Facebook Ads

The Facebook Algorithm prefers large audiences over small audiences. I’m not saying to not use any targeting, but you should avoid narrowing your audiences without good cause. The only place that we normally divide up audiences in our agency is when we are testing specific interest based targeting.

In other areas like geography, gender, age, and custom audience size it pays to go broader so that Facebook can work out who is likely to buy in your audience.