Chapter 2 How to Master Your Facebook Ad Targeting Strategy

Elena Zuban / 12 min read

1.45 billion people log onto Facebook every day.

This makes Facebook ads a great, cost-effective tool when you want to promote your products to a wide range of people.

Of course, that’s still A LOT of people.

Facebook’s advanced targeting system helps you cut through the noise to find your ideal customer.

The key to Facebook marketing success can be summed up as: “Show the right message to the right people.”

By the time you’re done with this chapter, you’ll know how to:

  • Design your ads like a pro.
  • Target your ads like an expert.
  • How to set up effective A/B testing.
  • Analyze test results to be able to optimize your Facebook campaign.

Facebook Ad Campaign Goals

A powerful message does more than present a product, it’s creates a connection with your prospective customer and demonstrates how your product may help to solve their problem(s), reach their goals, and make their life happier and more comfortable.

Good ads also often evoke emotions and feelings.

For example, if you are writing an ad to market a laptop bag, it may be beneficial to point out:

  • How this bag can protect the expensive laptop
  • How comfortable it is and/or how luxurious the finish feels to the touch.

Facebook provides businesses with an opportunity to test a wide variety of targeting types to find the most cost-effective ways to drive leads and sales.

These targeting options can be broadly separated into 2 categories:

  1. Cold Traffic
  2. Retargeted Traffic

Let’s take a look at each.

1. Cold traffic.

These are people who are not aware of your product or brand and have never been to your site.

Marketing to these audiences helps you increase your brand awareness and recognition.

Facebook allows you to target people based on the following:

  • Interests and Brands – pages, events, businesses users follow (e.g. target people who like “Facebook Business page”).
  • Life events and some profile status – e.g. people who are recently engaged or have children.
  • Age and gender.
  • People at a specific location – from an entire continent down to a 1 mile radius.
  • People who speak a certain language.
  • Lookalike Audiences – Lookalike audiences are a very useful type of targeting where you can request Facebook to serve ads to people who are similar to an audience you provide.

For example, you can easily download the emails of your previous customers from your BigCommerce site and then upload them to Facebook.

bigcommerce export template


facebook create a custom audience

Then upload them to Facebook by using the “Create a Lookalike Audience” feature.

You can then use that list to create a lookalike audience of similar people in your country that you can market to.

You can learn more about Lookalike audiences, as well as a detailed explanation on how to create one here.

2. Retargeted traffic.

These are people who visited your website and/or came in contact with your brand.

This includes:

  • Website visitors, including people who visited specific pages.
  • Facebook video viewers.
  • People who engaged with any of your organic posts or ads.
  • Facebook page likes.
  • A custom list that you upload to Facebook, for example people who signed up to your newsletter.

You can show these visitors ads that remind them of products they have visited on your site.

Your ads can be generic ads referencing your various products, or they can be dynamic ads so you don’t have to created individual ads but promote all your products.

BigCommerce allows you to effectively connect your store’s inventory with Facebook so you can create dynamic campaign ads.

Audiences and Levels of Awareness

First of all, let’s talk about two secret marketing superpowers: empathy and realistic expectations.

Every time we create an ad campaign, we expect something of this campaign (sales, views, comments) and we ask the prospective customer to take a specific action.

It’s critical to set up measurable and realistic goals and expectations for your campaign and your potential customer.

This is where empathy comes into play.

Imagine being approached by a total stranger on a street and asked to invest $1,000 dollars in a new long-lasting self-charging battery for your iPhone.

This example is extreme, but it illustrates the situation very well.

Let’s pull it apart:

  • You may not have an iPhone to begin with.
  • You not be willing to break your iPhone warranty and tamper with the device to install the battery.
  • But most importantly – you don’t know the product and you don’t trust the seller enough to give them your hard-earned cash.

Thus, the success rate of this sales experiment is probably zero.

Yet businesses market to their potential customers like this all the time.

This is the standard model of advertising that television, radio and print ads use, commonly known as “spray and pray.”

Let’s look at another example.

A representative of a charity approaches you on the street and says,

“Ma’am, I see you are carrying baby formula home from a supermarket. Do you know that thousands of children in America still suffer from malnutrition? And donating just $10 this month can help a child in need today.”

Here’s how this breaks down:

  • This representative recognized who “you” are – they acknowledge your unique circumstance and see you as an individual.
  • They make the problem relatable to you.
  • They provide a solution to the problem. Crucially, a solution that is realistic, achievable and affordable for you.

This campaign will be more successful and deliver more sales or pledges than the one described above, because the right audience was targeted.

A successful Facebook campaign is designed in exactly the same way.

First, by targeting the right people, second by acknowledging and connecting with them and third, giving them a realistic call to action.

Pro Tip

It’s important to mention that retargeting campaigns will almost always outperform cold traffic campaigns.

The primary objective of a cold traffic campaign is to introduce your product and create trust.

Then you use a retargeting campaign to move into more “direct sales” style ads.

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Targeting: Who to Address and What to Ask

Let’s examine this idea in light of various targeting options.

Cold Traffic “Whos & Whats.”

First of all, we need to keep in mind that cold traffic audiences are not aware of your brand or product.

Furthermore, they may not even be aware that your solution to their problem exists.

This means that you should focus on clarity and descriptiveness in the ads targeting cold traffic.

Here are a few ways to create clear ad copy:

  • Create lists showcase the benefits and/or features of your product or service.
  • Make sure that the title of the ad is clear and yet short enough to fit in the mobile feed.
  • Prioritize education and awareness about your product over the “hard sell.”
  • Use banners or videos to clearly display your product.
  • Call out who the product is designed for e.g. “calling all aspiring chefs,” “as a busy mom,” etc.

Pro Tip

Take advantage of specific targeting. For example, if you are an active wear brand targeting CrossFit fans, it could be good to test ads that includes something like “CrossFit box essentials,” “perfect for your fav CrossFit WOD,” etc.

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This is probably the biggest mistake I see ecommerce sellers make with their Facebook ads. They present a 90% off coupon to a completely cold audience that doesn’t even know they need the product being promoted. Then, sellers are surprised when an ad doesn’t perform.

Warm Traffic “Whos & Whats.”

Retargeting traffic requires less education.

These audiences already know your brand and your product. What they really need is a “good excuse” to buy.

This “excuse” can be:

  • Discount codes and flash sales.
  • Featuring a specific item in your collection. ProTip: carousel ads can be great for featuring items.
  • Sharing a compelling testimonial.
  • Limited editions and last chance offers.

the mountain facebook ad example

Example from The Mountain targeting “warm traffic” visitors with a coupon code.

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Now that you know the difference between cold traffic and warm traffic, here’s how you run each campaign type.

26 Facebook Advertising Examples

Facebook stalking your competition to preview their ad examples is time consuming. That’s why we did it for you. In this guide, you’ll get access to 26 different ecommerce Facebook Advertising examples across verticals. 

We’ve also included:

  • Facebook Advertising type
  • Why the ad works
  • How to set up your own

Get the examples.

Cold Traffic Campaigns

Demographic Targeting.


You can target people in specific countries, states, cities, or even suburbs.

You can also exclude people from specific locations.

Keep in mind the size of your potential audience; the smaller the area that you pick, the fewer people you can reach which may affect your campaign performance.

facebook location targeting

Age, Language and Gender.

This is a pretty straightforward option.

Make sure that you pick a relevant age bracket. The trick here is to avoid keeping the age range too narrow because you want to allow Facebook some flexibility to find your ideal client.

For example, if your ideal client is in their 30s, set up 20- 50 years old as an age bracket.

Detailed targeting.

You can target users by demographics, interests, behavior, and other categories defined by Facebook.

Demographic targeting can be extremely useful for event-based products and services.

facebook detailed targeting

For example, a wedding florist can target all “Engaged” people in their area.

Simply click “Browse” in your Ads Manager to looks through all the available options.

facebook detailed targeting browse

Pro Tip

Feeling stuck? The Audience Insights tool can help you to come up with new targeting ideas. Click on “Custom audience” and pick any of your audiences you wish to cross-reference.

You can also pick “Interests.”

The Audience Insights tool will allow you to see the demographics of the audience you chose (if you chose your website visitors audience, you’ll see their demographics).

Click on the “Page Likes” tab, and you’ll see what Facebook pages your selected audience follows.

facebook audience insights

Use Audience Insights to see what pages people in certain interest groups like to better understand your target audience.


There’s a lot of buzz in Facebook marketing community about Lookalike (LAL) audiences. So, what is their magic?

It’s an amazing way to dynamically target good quality audiences.

The trick here is to choose the right source for your Lookalike, the two key criteria are source audience size and quality.

For example, if you have a newsletter list of 10,000 people but you only have 100 sales so far, use your newsletter list as a source for your Lookalike audience.

In situations when you have a good volume of sales data (500+ emails), the list of previous clients will be an amazing source for your Lookalike audience.

Some good sources of Lookalike audiences include:

  • Previous customers
  • Newsletter signups
  • Facebook followers
  • Frequent website visitors
  • Frequent video viewers

You can also pull data from your BigCommerce Insights reports like Best Customers and top Customer LTV Value to create Lookalike audiences with a high probability of converting.

How To Create a Lookalike Audience:
  • Prepare a list of people you wish to use for the lookalike.
  • Go to the Hamburger menu in the top right corner.
  • Go to Assets > Audiences.
  • Click Create a Lookalike Audience button.
  • Select your source (the list of people you prepared).
  • Select your location(s).
  • Select your audience size.
  • Click Create Audience button.

facebook creating key lookalike audiences

Did you know that you can also create Lookalike from your audience phone numbers as well as emails?

Advanced Tip

Facebook now allows you to feed the Lifetime Value of the customer into its system, so you can create a better targeted Lookalike audience. This means that the people who spend more on your website will be given a priority when generating the Lookalike.


You can narrow down your audience by overlaying your targeting to find a precise audience match.

For instance:

  • For a wedding florist, you can pick females only, who are engaged AND who follow a number of wedding magazines.
  • For a children fashion clothes brand a good test may be to target all mothers who ALSO follow major online retailers or frequently shop online.

facebook potential audiences

Warm Traffic Campaigns

Now let’s look at the retargeting campaigns.

Retargeting campaigns are the heavy lifters of your account. They tend to bring the most results at the cheapest cost per conversion.

These campaigns target people who are already familiar with your brand and/or offer and need just a little extra incentive to commit.

An example of the incentive could be an inspiring testimonial, discount or limited time offer.

Here are some retargeting audience ideas

  • Most frequent visitors (e.g. 25% of people who visited your website).
  • People who visited specific pages.
  • People who viewed your page’s videos on Facebook.
  • People who engaged with any of your posts and ads.
  • People who signed up to your newsletter, downloaded your free ebook or completed any other conversion goal.
  • A custom list uploaded from your BigCommerce store (e.g. customers, newsletter subscribers etc.).

Pro Tip

Set up a cart abandonment campaign in Facebook to target people who visited your

shopping cart page. We recommend offering them a small discount to convince them to complete the purchase.

NLA abandon cart facebook ad example

Example of an from Nine Line Apparel targeting visitors who abandoned cart.

To maximize your ROI on ads, it’s important to test various types of offers and creative on your remarketing campaigns.

Test video ads (testimonials, product tours, message from the owner/founder), carousel ads (showing the range of products available or showing features), ads with discounts, and more.

You already know that this audience is pre-qualified and has certain knowledge of your product/service.

Knowing what trigger makes them commit and make the purchase is ultimately what will make your campaign a success.

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Showing ads to the right people is an important factor in Facebook advertising success.

But selecting the right audience is challenging. An easy way to get around this issue is to upload your customer list and then build a ‘Lookalike’ audience, where the Facebook algorithm will pick people similar to your current customers.

Tracking and Measuring Results

First of all, you need to set up your Facebook pixel on your BigCommerce website by following these instructions.

facebook bigcommerce pixel

Copy your Facebook Pixel ID to the Facebook Pixel Tab in the BigCommerce Control Panel.

When you have BigCommerce and Facebook connected, your store will automatically start tracking purchases and add-to-carts.

If you would like to run newsletter sign up campaigns, offer free guides, or track any other kinds of conversions, you need to set up custom conversion events.

You can do this by going to Custom Conversions and specifying the confirmation URL that is after the lead submission page.

facebook custom conversion

Testing and Optimization.

We covered all the fundamental aspects of campaign targeting. Now it’s time to look at structuring the campaigns.

When setting up your campaigns, separate them by the message and purpose.

For example, if you offer a discount code for abandon carts,those ads should be in their own separate campaign.

Also split your retargeting and cold traffic, and adjust the ad design and content to address the audience’s needs.

ray ban facebook ad example

Example of Ray-Ban generating awareness around a new store opening.

giant teddy facebook ad example

Giant Teddy remarketing to visitors who abandoned cart.

It’s better to be more descriptive for cold traffic audience and focus on introducing the product, as opposed to remarketing, which can be more direct sales oriented.

Cold Traffic Campaign Structure.

Set up a few campaigns to test a variety of target audiences.

You can optimize your campaigns by testing the following campaign elements:

  • Conversion event. The action you want your visitor to take.
  • Optimization for ad delivery. Choose how you want ads to be delivered such as optimized for clicks, conversions, or daily unique reach.
  • Conversion window. 1-day or 7-day conversion window post-click or view.

Start by isolating each audience into separate ad sets and use the same ads for each of those ad sets.

This way you can see which audiences perform better for your offer, as well as adjust a spend to prioritize more successful audiences.

Once you know you best performing audiences, you can test various types of ads or copy.

Test ad copy either in separate ad sets (similar to audience tests) or in separate campaigns. This helps you to see any possible correlation between the audiences and ad types.

How much should you spend on ad tests?

A good rule of thumb for testing is to spend 2-3 times the target cost per conversion, per ad set.

For example, if you are expecting a conversion cost of $10 per event, spend at least $20-30 per ad set before making your first optimizations (or switching off underperforming ad sets) to make sure you gather enough performance data.

Remarketing Traffic Campaign Structure.

Your retargeting audience campaign structure can be very similar to your cold traffic campaign.

This setup will help you learn the best type of remarketing audience for your product and will also help you test various creatives

Prevent your retargeting campaign from burning out by changing and updating ads, and using burn pixels remarketing cookies.

Quite often, the new retargeting campaign performs amazingly well after launch, but it slowly dies down with time.

The main reason for it is something called cold “frequency.”

This is the number of times any individual in your selected audience has seen the ad. The higher the frequency, the less changes of a person to take action.

To keep your offer fresh and campaign performing well, rotate the ads and mix up different types of creatives.

You can do this by switching various ads on and off inside the ad sets, or by running multiple campaigns with different creatives.

facebook ad sets

You can check your frequency by clicking “Performance” in your campaign view.

facebook ad frequency

What do you do if your campaign does not spend its entire daily budget?

Try changing optimization settings (from conversion to clicks) or try setting up a higher manual bid instead of an automatic one.

Bonus Ideas for Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

Testing is the key to discovering what resonates with your specific audience. Below are some additional strategies to test with your audience to improve your sales and revenue.

Digital products selling tips & ideas.

  • Focus on list building. Offer free guides or other lead magnets to collect prospects’ emails, especially for cold traffic. This way you can nurture your leads via email as well as Facebook ads, which may be a more cost-effective way of selling this type of product.
  • Focus most of your direct sales on retargeting audiences.
  • Test selling via online training and webinars.
  • Test bundle offers and selling multiple products at once. This will help you increase cost per sale.
  • Test coupon codes for retargeting audiences. These discounts don’t have to be massive. Remember the discount is not just the value offer but also acts as a psychological trigger.
  • Retarget previous customers. We all want recurring business, which makes these people your best audience, as they already know how great your products are. BigCommerce’s customer insights reports identifies these top customers – and more – so you can re-engaging them with new offers and exciting items.

Brick and mortar selling tips & ideas.

  • Test awareness campaigns, targeting people in your local area. You want your brand to be easily recognizable and top of mind. This will boost the number of walk-ins and help your physical store thrive.
  • Offer online coupons that are redeemable in your physical store. These coupons can be synced with your inventory, using a service like Square POS, to keep your online and offline sales up-to-date.
  • Promote events and in-store specials. This can be a great campaign to promote in your local community, as well as a way to re-engage your retargeting traffic and previous customers.
  • Make sure the look and feel of your ads is consistent with the atmosphere in your store. This will ensure your brand is easily recognizable and will create an instant connection in your prospect’s mind.

Congratulations! Now you are officially a Facebook targeting expert.

We covered a lot of information in this chapter, including:

  • Various types of audiences
  • What messages to select
  • How to run your tests
  • How to maximize the results in your campaigns.

To sum up, if you want to implement some things straight away, we recommend you start with a remarketing campaign.

It will give your bottom line an immediate boost and will excite you about Facebook ads even more!

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The best Facebook Ads – for an advertiser at least – are based on how much they know about their users: from preferences to behaviors and all the very detailed context added to each of those. This means that identifying and reaching one’s potential target audience is relatively easy.

Next up, we’ll talk about how much all of this costs, and how to maximize your Facebook ads budget.

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Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest thought leadership content delivered right to your inbox — from blogs and resource articles, to podcast episodes, webinars and more.

Table of Contents

IntroThe Complete Guide to Advertising on Facebook: Strategies That Convert [in 2021]
Chapter 1 The Basics of Facebook Ad Campaigns
Chapter 2 How to Master Your Facebook Ad Targeting Strategy
Chapter 3 How Much It Really Costs to Advertise on Facebook
Chapter 4 The 8 Best Facebook Advertising Tools and Services for Ecommerce Brands


Elena Zuban

Elena Zuban

Elena is a social media advertising mastermind. She manages social media advertising spends of up to experienced managing $350,000+/mo. She specializes in white-glove solutions covering a broad spectrum of work from campaign strategy through funnel design to ad campaign optimization. Her creative work has been profiled in various publications including BBC, SBS, Herald Sun, MX and Anthill.

View all posts by Elena Zuban

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