Yes, it’s true. And yes, it’s repeatable. I know most case studies selectively showcase the best results and hide the failures that happened along the way. In this case, I’ll walk through each step of the campaign to show how you can replicate the same results for your own campaigns. Surprisingly, my “failures” were 30%+ conversion rates because Facebook’s detailed (overlap) targeting is that powerful.
So What is Audience Overlap Targeting?
I’ve heard people call it flex, overlap, “AND-OR” and narrow targeting. Facebook calls it Detailed Targeting and provides a nice little image to show you how it works:
Quick side note: AdStage had audience overlap targeting before Facebook did.
For example, if we target ‘Digital marketing’ as an interest in the US, our reach would be 1.9 million. For most businesses this audience is way too broad.
If we narrow the audience with Detailed Targeting to include ‘Digital marketing’ AND ‘Small business’ demographic, (an audience of 12 million), our reach decreases to 150,000 people. Now we are only targeting small business owners in the US who are interested in Digital Marketing. Powerful right?
Detailed targeting offers the ability to apply the ‘OR’ operator to help advertisers and consumers experience only the most relevant content. Continuing with our example, we can widen our audience reach to 540,000 just by adding ‘Home office’ as a demographic condition.
When you create your Facebook ad set, it will look like this:
Refining Your Audience Reach: Start Broad
Another powerful way to use this feature is to target a broad audience and narrow it with well-known industry experts that have a blog or course related to that topic. That way you know your audience is someone who is not only interested in the topic, but also someone who is engaged and willing to take action. That’s exactly what I did and I’ll show you how.
In this case I’m targeting people interested in learning AdWords. I used a few different industry experts to overlay on top of the AdWords interest:
Ryan Deiss, CEO of Digital Marketer, and his team teach pretty much everything related to digital marketing, including AdWords. As you can see, that audience converts at 60%!
Amy Porterfield is an influential figure in the social media marketing space and a co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies. This suggests that she has a low interest in learning AdWords. The metrics agree, but still has a 35% conversion rate.
Frank Kern is another well-known name in digital marketing and judging by my report I may need to adjust my audience parameters before resuming the campaign.
Lastly, the Lookalike audience segment based on traffic to my website with an AdWords overlay is producing 66% conversion rate.
Keep in mind, this is all cold traffic.
More recently I experimented with another audience that got zero clicks after reaching 275 people:
I’m surprised this ad set didn’t perform as expected since Smart Passive Income has a highly engaged audience. You can’t be emotional in advertising. Just because you think something will work doesn’t mean it always will. Data doesn’t lie.
Here’s what the targeting for the Ryan Deiss ad set looks like:
My campaign goal is to generate leads, so the first step is to optimize for these lead conversions.
Next, I exclude previous leads, to avoid showing existing customers ads promoting a free trial:
I excluded previous email opt-ins a few different ways:
- Uploaded email list
- Lead conversion goal (based on Facebook pixel)
- Email Opt-In & Email Confirmed are from the old Facebook conversion tracking
These lists should contain the same people, but it’s always possible people submit multiple email addresses. I always like to cover my bases and exclude all 3 just to be safe.
For location, I’m targeting the US and Canada:
I could easily expand this to other English speaking countries, if I need a greater reach.
Originally I didn’t narrow age or gender. After running this ad set for about a week, I noticed middle-aged men converted much better, so I narrowed the audience targeting according to my new findings:
Finally, the detailed targeting section:
Wrapping It Up
Ad placement is another area to keep an eye on as the data rolls in. Initially, I like to target both the mobile and desktop news feed. If one device is performing significantly better, I will update the lower performing ad set to match the winning campaign’s target audience.
You may have noticed that I targeted one industry expert per ad set. This allows me to know exactly which audience is working. If you target multiple interests, demographics or behaviors together, you won’t be able to determine which variable is working.
I recommend you do the same when setting up flex targeting (or any type of targeting for that matter). You will be able to quickly pause the audiences that don’t perform well and continue to iterate on the audiences yielding results.
To get you started, here are few detailed targeting combinations for various industries:
- Fly fishing AND Orvis (people who want to learn fly fishing or who want products related to fly fishing)
- Yoga AND Social anxiety (targeting people interested in Yoga to help with anxiety)
- Solar energy AND diy (do it yourself solar energy? I think that’s a thing)
- Warrior Dash AND Trail running (make a 530,000 reach audience out of two 3 Million+ audiences)
- Fine art AND Income > $500,000 (make sure they’re able to buy)
Have fun finding new ways to target your potential audience. Facebook will update the potential reach on the fly as you add new audiences. A rule of thumb, try to keep the number between 50,000 and 500,000 and remember relevance is the most important part of advertising online.
If people aren’t interested, it won’t matter how compelling your ad copy is because it’s still not getting clicks.
Have you had great results from detailed targeting? Do you have questions on how to get started? Let me know in the comments!