How to research your audience for Facebook ads
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Facebook Advertising Strategy for Small Businesses

Facebook ads only work if you have a good understanding of who your customers are. This is because you need to use Facebook’s targeting parameters to reach the right set of people.

Characteristics of your customer

To understand your audience, think about who your ideal customer is. Where do they live, how old are they, what are their other interests? Here’s a list of some of the most important characteristics of your ideal customer. Some of them won’t be relevant, some of them will — what’s important is that you can describe your customers in terms of these attributes (or have reason to believe they don’t matter in your case):

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education status
  • Relationship status
  • Income level
  • Interests
  • Location
  • Whether they are likely to make online purchases
  • What problem do they have your service or product solves
  • When they need your service or product (is it seasonal?)
  • Why would they use your product or service rather than a competitor’s?

Open a new word document and write down a description of each of these customer characteristics. Then review them — do they paint a complete picture of a person? Can you imagine your ideal customer based on these attributes? If so, move on to the next step.

How to find your customers

Once you have sketched your ideal customer, it’s time to figure out how to actually target them. Fortunately Facebook makes this relatively straightforward. We’re not going to get into the details of the clicks you need to make to do that — for that, check out our dedicated course on Audience Research (sign up at the bottom of this post).

Instead let’s focus on strategy.

If you have an existing customer list of emails or phone numbers, you’re going to upload those to Facebook as a Custom Audience (we have a guide to custom audiences available for free here). You’ll then generate a Lookalike audience from that list of people. And suddenly you’ve got a large list of people who are like your existing customers — doesn’t get much better than that.

If you don’t have an existing customer list, you’ll need to pay to drive some traffic to your website. Use some basic targeting based on your customer profile to send people to your site. Include a retargeting pixel on your website (again, use the custom audiences guide linked to above to set this up) and create a Lookalike audience based on this retargeting list.

In both cases, we’re using the algorithm that Facebook has spent millions of dollars developing to find the right people for your business — people who are actually interested in your ads.

Refine your targeting

These lookalike audiences are going to be the base of your future ad targeting. You can now refine them even further by interests, income, age, etc.

The best way to do this is to look at the people who are converting from your ads. What do they have in common? Maybe they are mostly young, or they are all in one city, or they are high-income. Whatever the case may be, you can use that information to allocate a greater ad spend to the best-converting audience.

Now that you have a large-ish target audience, in the next lesson we’ll dig into how to turn those people, who are strangers at this point, into leads and eventually customers.

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