Audience expansion and discovery: how to get ahead

One of the reasons we love paid search is because it performs, but its intent-driven nature means it’s not the channel to build scale. The way to do that is get in front of relevant audiences and generate demand for your product/service. This is where channels such as paid social come into play, and one of the best channels to really hone in on targeting various audiences is Facebook.

The most obvious ways to get in front of relevant audiences on Facebook are:

  • Lookalikes – leveraging CRM lists to create audiences that look similar to your customers. Get more advanced by segmenting your customer list into groups of identifiable characteristics (e.g. high lifetime value, high average order value) and target lookalikes of those groups
  • Use demographic data and interests of your prime customer base, and target people based on what you already know.

If you’re a semi-sophisticated marketer, you’ve already targeted the most obvious audiences. So what’s next? How do you continue to scale and find more audiences? In this article, we discuss some of the ways you can move forward with finding additional, relevant audiences to test to help push performance and scale.

Poach from competitors

You should absolutely be testing and targeting audiences that like your competitors. They are highly relevant, and as a bonus, you may be able to steal market share from your rivals. For good insights, go into interest targeting on Facebook, input your competitor names, and dig in.

Use Audience Insights tools from Facebook and Google

Advertisers can always use more personas, so it’s helpful to figure out characteristics of relevant audiences that may help you recognize new folks to target.

In Facebook’s Audience Insights tool, input your top competitors/brands and take a look at the audience make-up. For example, if you’re a cosmetics store/brand, you could put in audiences that have interest in Sephora and understand various traits such as demographic info and likes/interests. This can help expand on different personas to build and test in Facebook.

 

Google has a similar insights tool through which you can leverage Google’s data on your converting audiences to understand any additional traits and behaviors you may not have already known. Here is an example:

You can develop personas using the above information and craft additional audiences in Facebook to test. In the above scenario, for example, you may decide to create the audience “Female, age 25-34, Interests: Fashionista, fashion, etc.,” and target this exactly in Facebook (see below).

With the information presented to you from Google Insights on your existing customers/converters, you should be able to develop a variety of different personas, then create audiences based on those personas and test them in Facebook. For example, let’s say you’re selling machines that make single servings of popcorn. Your audience is probably full of young, single people who are huge Netflix fans or sports fans, for example. Popcorn is also gluten-free, so that gives you a huge segment to target if you haven’t already thought of it.

Get creative

It’s important to think about ways you can find new audiences without pulling the obvious levers. For example, if you know that your customers have a high household income, it’s likely you’re already targeting those incomes in Facebook and Google. But what are other ways to reach these people?

Target those who like and purchase more expensive brands. This will open doors to larger audiences (Facebook may not know their house-hold income, but since they purchase high-end products, chances are you are getting in front of relevant eyes). Another example: if you know your customers are ‘fashionistas’, then you can target those who like specific fashion bloggers (e.g. interests: Chiara Ferragni, Olivia Palermo).

You should also look at the top-converting placements in your Google Display Network (GDN) campaigns. If you’re spending a significant budget within GDN, this information can be very telling. For example, when running ads on a luxury home furniture site, we discovered that a large chunk of their converters were on celebrity gossip sites. You can take that information and craft an audience to target within Facebook.

Of course, if you have a bigger budget, you can (and should) invest in analytics software and support that pulls third-party information, and information from people visiting your site. But you can get a lot of insight for free – and should be taking advantage of that no matter how refined your paid analytics are.

Audience expansion and discovery: how to get ahead