How to improve your Facebook ads targeting

16 min readMay 26, 2023


Image credit: Facebook Ads Manager app

With over 2.98 billion active users, Facebook has become the go-to platform for businesses to reach out to their target customers. However, the effectiveness of Facebook ads depends on how accurate the targeting is . It’s important to create ads that are tailored to the target audience, and to use the right targeting tools to reach the right people. If the targeting is too broad, it may not be effective in reaching the desired audience. In this article, we will discuss how to improve your Facebook ads targeting to get the most out of your advertising campaigns.

Importance of Targeting in Facebook Ads

Targeting is crucial in Facebook advertising because it allows businesses to reach out to their ideal customers. By targeting users based on their interests, behaviors, demographics, and location, businesses can ensure that their ads are seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in their products or services. Targeting also helps businesses to save money by avoiding showing ads to people who are unlikely to be interested in their products.That’s why it’s essential to understand who your target audience is and how to reach them through Facebook ads.

Effective targeting can help you:

  • Reach the right people: By targeting specific demographics, interests, behaviors, and locations, you can ensure that your ads are seen by the people most likely to be interested in your product or service.
  • Improve ad performance: When your ads are shown to the right people, they’re more likely to take action, such as clicking through to your website or making a purchase.
  • Save money: Targeting can help you avoid showing your ads to people who are unlikely to be interested. This can save you money by reducing wasted ad spend.

Understanding Facebook Ad Targeting Options

Facebook offers a wide range of targeting options to help you reach your ideal audience. These options include:

Location Targeting

Location targeting allows you to target people based on their location. You can target people based on their country, state, city, or even zip code. This option is particularly useful for local businesses that want to target customers in their area.

Demographic Targeting

With demographic targeting, you can target people based on their age, gender, education level, and more. This option is particularly useful if you have a product or service that is tailored to a specific demographic.

Interest Targeting

Interest targeting allows you to target people based on their interests. Facebook tracks users’ interests based on their activity on the platform, including the pages they like and the posts they engage with. This option is particularly useful if you have a product or service that appeals to a specific interest group.

Behaviour Targeting

Behaviour targeting lets you target people based on their behaviour. Facebook tracks users’ behaviour based on their activity on the platform, including the ads they click on and the pages they visit. This option is particularly useful if you have a product or service that appeals to a specific behaviour group

How to Use Keywords for Targeting

Keywords are another effective way to target your ideal customers on Facebook. By using keywords relevant to your business, you can ensure that your ads are seen by users who are searching for products or services related to your business.

Using keywords in your Facebook ads allows you to target users with high intent to purchase or engage with your offerings. By aligning your ads with their search queries, you can capture their attention at the right moment. This will increase the likelihood of them clicking on your ad and taking further action.

To effectively utilize keywords on Facebook, it’s important to conduct thorough research to identify the most relevant and impactful terms for your business. Consider the specific products, services, or solutions you offer, as well as the language and phrases your target audience commonly uses when searching for similar offerings. By understanding your audience’s search behaviour, you can optimize your ads with the right keywords to maximize their visibility and reach.

As a result you are able to ensure that your ad is seen by the most relevant customers out there. Here are some tips for using keywords for targeting:

Research Relevant Keywords

To effectively use keywords for targeting, you need to research relevant keywords that your ideal customers are using to search for products or services related to your business. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find relevant keywords. These tools allow you to find the most popular keywords and phrases related to your business and target them in your content. This will help you to reach customers who are already looking for products or services like yours and increase your visibility in search engine rankings.

Use Broad and Exact Match Keywords

Using both broad match and exact match keywords can be an effective strategy for targeting your ads

Broad match keywords allow your ads to be shown to users searching for terms related to your chosen keywords, even if the specific search query doesn’t match your keyword exactly. This type of targeting provides a wider reach and can help you capture a larger audience. However, broad match keywords may also display your ads for less relevant or unrelated searches, which can result in lower conversion rates.

For example, if your broad match keyword is “running shoes,” your ad may appear for searches such as “best running shoes,” “buy sports shoes,” or “running gear.” It provides flexibility in reaching a broader range of potential customers.

Exact Match Keywords ensure that your ads are displayed only when users search for the exact keyword or a close variant. This targeting option offers high precision and can be particularly useful when you want to capture highly specific search queries directly related to your product or service.

For instance, if your exact match keyword is “[running shoes],” your ad will only be triggered when users search for that specific term, such as “running shoes” or “shoes for running.” It allows you to directly target users who are explicitly looking for what you offer.

By using both broad match and exact match keywords in your campaigns, you can strike a balance between reaching a larger audience and targeting specific search queries. Broad match keywords help expand your reach, while exact match keywords ensure your ads appear for precisely relevant searches.

It’s important to regularly review and refine your keyword list based on performance data from your ad campaigns. This iterative process allows you to optimize targeting and improve advertising effectiveness.

Remember to continually monitor and adjust your keyword targeting strategy to align with your business goals. This will enable you to adapt to changes in customer behavior and market trends.

Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are keywords that you don’t want your ads to be shown for.

Negative keywords are specific terms or phrases that you don’t want your ads to be shown for.

When a user’s search query includes negative keywords, your ads will not be displayed. This allows you to filter out irrelevant or undesirable traffic, saving your ad budget and improving campaign efficiency.

Negative keywords play a crucial role in refining your ad targeting and ensuring your ads reach the most relevant audience. When you add negative keywords, you specify certain terms or phrases that you don’t want your ads to show for. By doing so, you can prevent your ads from appearing in search results that are not relevant to your business or that attract the wrong audience.

For example, let’s say you sell high-end luxury products and want to avoid attracting customers looking for cheaper alternatives. In this case, you can add negative keywords like “cheap,” “affordable,” “discount,” or “budget” to your campaigns. By doing so, your ads won’t be displayed to users searching for terms that indicate a preference for lower-priced items. This helps you refine your targeting and ensure that your ads are shown to users who are more likely to be interested in your high-end products or services.

Negative keywords help you optimize your ad spend by filtering out irrelevant traffic. By excluding searches that are not relevant to your offerings, you can allocate your budget more effectively. You can also focus on searches that are more likely to lead to valuable conversions. This improves the cost efficiency of your campaigns and helps you get the most out of your advertising budget.

It enhances your ads’ relevance. By preventing them from appearing in irrelevant searches, you can deliver more tailored and targeted messaging to users who are genuinely interested in your high-end offerings. This results in improved click-through rates (CTRs) and higher conversion rates. Additionally, maintaining a high level of relevance through negative keywords can contribute to a better Quality Score. This can positively impact your ad rankings and reduce your cost per click (CPC).

Implementing negative keywords requires regular monitoring and analysis of your ad campaign data. By reviewing search term reports or utilizing keyword research tools, you can identify search terms that trigger irrelevant clicks or impressions. These terms can then be added as negative keywords to ensure your ads are not displayed for such searches.

By utilizing negative keywords effectively and continuously monitoring and refining your list of negative keywords, you can optimize your ad campaigns. This will enable you to reach the most relevant audience for your high-end products or services.

Advanced Targeting Strategies for Facebook Ads

In addition to the basic targeting options, Facebook also offers several advanced targeting strategies that businesses can use to reach their ideal customers. These strategies include:

Lookalike Audiences

A Lookalike Audience is a custom advertising audience that can be used to reach people similar to your current customers. It uses the data from your current customers, such as their age, gender, location, interests, and other demographic data, to create a custom audience of people who have similar characteristics. This gives you the ability to target your ads to a highly relevant and qualified audience. You can pair Lookalike Audiences with other ad targeting parameters, such as age and gender or interests and behaviours.

With Lookalike Audiences, you can expand your reach beyond your existing customer base and target people who are more likely to engage with your content. These audiences are carefully selected based on their similarities to your top customers, increasing the chances that they will be interested in your ads.

One of the key benefits of Lookalike Audiences is the ability to test multiple audiences simultaneously without creating separate campaigns. This saves you time and resources while allowing you to discover the most effective audience for your ads.

By utilizing Lookalike Audiences, you can tap into the potential of reaching new people who have a high likelihood of being interested in your products or services. It’s a cost-effective way to maximize your ad spend and improve campaign performance.

In summary, Lookalike Audiences offer an opportunity to target a relevant and engaged audience that shares characteristics with your current customers. It’s a strategic approach to expand your reach, increase engagement, and drive better results for your advertising efforts.

Custom Audience

Custom Audience is a highly targeted group of individuals with an existing relationship with your business. These audiences can be created based on various sources, such as customer lists, website visitors, mobile app users, and engagement with your content on Facebook or Instagram.

For example, you can create a custom audience of users who have visited your website or engaged with your Facebook page

Customer lists are created by providing identifiers, such as email addresses or phone numbers, of individuals who have shown interest in your business. Facebook matches these identifiers to its user database, allowing you to target ads specifically to this audience.

Custom Audiences from website visitors are created by installing the Facebook Pixel on your website. The Pixel tracks user behavior on your site and matches it to their Facebook profiles. This enables you to create audiences based on specific actions, such as all website visitors or people who have viewed a particular product page.

For mobile app users, you can create Custom Audiences by registering your app and implementing the Facebook SDK. This allows you to target individuals who have downloaded your app, made in-app purchases, or reached specific milestones within your app.

Engagement Custom Audiences are based on interactions with your content on Facebook or Instagram. This includes watching a video, following your page, clicking on an ad, or responding to an event. These audiences can be set to refresh at specific intervals to ensure you’re targeting individuals who have recently engaged with your content.

While Apple’s iOS 14.5 update limited data sharing and impacted targeting with Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), Facebook Custom Audiences still provide valuable targeting options. Facebook recommends using broader audiences or targeting expansion to overcome the update limitations.

Facebook Custom Audiences offer various ways to reach and engage with your ideal customers based on their interactions, interests, and characteristics. It’s a powerful tool for precise ad targeting and maximizing the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.


Retargeting allows businesses to target users or visitors who have already shown interest in your products or services and encourage them to take action. For example, you can create a retargeting campaign to show ads to users who have visited your website but didn’t make a purchase..

Clinique US implemented Custom Audiences to show dynamic ads to people who previously engaged with the brand. By targeting individuals who already showed interest in their products, Clinique aimed to increase conversion rates and drive repeat purchases. Additionally, they created a lookalike audience that shared characteristics with past product purchasers and repeat customers. This expanded their reach to new potential customers with similar preferences.

Clinique US’s retargeting campaign produced impressive results. The combined use of people- and product-focused ads led to a 5.2 point lift in action intent, indicating a significant increase in customer engagement and consideration.

When running an ad campaign to boost app engagement, it is unnecessary to show the ad to individuals who have not yet downloaded your app. To address this, you can create a custom audience based on website visitors or a customer list. This enables you to promote your Facebook Page exclusively to a highly targeted group of individuals who have already expressed interest in your business. To ensure optimal utilization of your ad spend and avoid reaching existing Facebook fans, it is important to exclude people who have already liked your page.

By employing retargeting techniques in your advertising strategy, you can deliver tailored and relevant content to your desired audience segments. This approach not only increases the chances of driving app engagement but also enhances your overall marketing performance. These strategies enable companies to optimize their advertising efforts and achieve higher conversion rates and return on investment.

Tips for Creating Effective Ad Copy

Creating effective ad copy is essential to the success of your Facebook advertising campaigns. Here are some tips for creating effective ad copy:

Keep it Simple

Your ad copy should be simple and easy to understand. Avoid using complex language or technical terms that your target audience may not understand.

Highlight Benefits

Your ad copy should highlight the benefits of your products or services. Instead of focusing on features, focus on how your products or services can help your customers.

Use a Strong Call to Action

Your ad copy should include a strong call to action that encourages users to take action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

Measuring the Success of Your Facebook Ads Targeting

To ensure that your Facebook ads targeting is effective, you need to measure the success of your advertising campaigns. Here are some metrics that you can use to measure the success of your Facebook ads targeting:

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-Through Rate (CTR) is an important metric that measures the number of clicks your ads receive compared to the number of impressions. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks an ad receives by the number of impressions it generates. Then, it is multiplied by 100 to express it as a percentage.

CTR provides valuable insights into how well your ads resonate with your target audience and motivates them to take action. A high CTR indicates that a significant portion of users who view your ad are compelled to click on it, demonstrating engagement and interest.

A low CTR may suggest that your ad is not effectively capturing your target audience’s attention or interest. It could indicate a need for adjustments in ad design, messaging, targeting, or placement to better align with audience preferences and expectations.

CTR is particularly useful for evaluating ad performance across different platforms, campaigns, or ad variations. By comparing CTRs, you can identify which ads are performing well and driving higher engagement. This will enable you to optimize your advertising strategy accordingly.

However, CTR should not be viewed in isolation. While a high CTR indicates strong engagement, it does not necessarily guarantee conversions or business outcomes. Other metrics, such as conversion rate and return on investment (ROI), should be considered alongside CTR to obtain a comprehensive understanding of a campaign’s performance.

CTR is a fundamental metric in digital advertising that measures the percentage of users who click on your ads relative to the number of impressions. It offers insights into the effectiveness of your ads at capturing audience attention and driving engagement, aiding in campaign optimization and audience targeting.

Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate measures the percentage of people who take the desired action after clicking on your ad. This action can vary depending on your campaign objectives, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a form.

Conversion rates offer insights into segmentation effectiveness. By analyzing conversion rates, you can assess how well your marketing campaigns are performing when targeting specific user segments. This is based on various categories like location, interests, demographics, or behavior.

When you track conversion rates for different segments, you can identify which segments are generating higher conversion rates and which ones may require further optimization. This information helps you understand the preferences and behaviors of specific customer groups, enabling you to create more tailored and effective marketing campaigns.

A high conversion rate indicates that your ads are not only attracting clicks but also driving meaningful interactions and conversions . By analyzing and optimizing your conversion rate, you can refine your ad targeting, messaging, and landing page experience. This will maximize the number of desired actions taken by your audience.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) measures the revenue generated by your advertising campaigns in relation to the amount spent on advertising. It provides insights into advertising effectiveness and profitability. A high ROAS indicates that your advertising campaigns generate a positive return on investment, where the revenue generated outweighs the advertising cost.

By measuring a campaign’s ROAS, you can assess how effective your strategies are in driving sales and generating revenue. Additionally, you can use this metric to adjust your overall advertising budget to ensure that you are getting the most out of your spending.

Additionally, monitoring and optimizing your ROAS can help you allocate your advertising budget more efficiently. It can also help you identify high-performing campaigns or ad sets, and make data-driven decisions to maximize your overall marketing success.

By understanding and analyzing these metrics, you can gain valuable insights into your advertising campaigns’ performance and effectiveness. This can help you make informed decisions to optimize ads, targeting, and overall marketing strategies, ultimately driving better results and achieving desired objectives.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Facebook Ad Targeting

In order to make sure that Facebook ads are as effective as possible, businesses should be aware of common mistakes that can hinder the effectiveness of their campaigns. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Defining Your Target Audience: One of the biggest mistakes is not clearly defining your target audience. Understanding your audience’s demographics, interests, behaviors, and preferences is essential for creating relevant and engaging ads that resonate with them. Take the time to research and analyze your target audience to ensure your messaging and targeting align with their needs and preferences.

2. Relying on Basic Targeting Options: Although Facebook provides basic targeting options like age, gender, and location, relying solely on these options may limit your reach and effectiveness. Explore advanced targeting strategies such as lookalike audiences and custom audiences. Lookalike audiences allow you to target people similar to your existing customers, while custom audiences let you target users who have interacted with your brand before. Utilizing these options can help you reach a more qualified and engaged audience.

3. Not Testing Your Ads: Testing is crucial for optimizing your ad campaigns. Many businesses make the mistake of not testing different ad formats, images, and ad copy to see what resonates best with their target audience. Conduct A/B testing by creating variations of your ads and measuring their performance. Test different headlines, images, calls-to-action, and ad placements to identify the most effective combinations. Continuous testing and optimization can significantly improve your ads’ performance and help you achieve better results.

4. Ignoring Ad Performance Metrics: Businesses often overlook the importance of monitoring and analyzing ad performance metrics. Metrics like click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS) provide valuable insights into your campaigns’ success. Keeping track of these metrics will help you understand which ads are performing well and which ones need improvement. Adjust your targeting, messaging, and creative elements based on the data to optimize your ads and maximize your return on investment.

5. Neglecting Mobile Optimization: With a significant number of Facebook users accessing the platform via mobile devices, neglecting mobile optimization can be a costly mistake. Ensure your ads are designed and optimized for mobile viewing, with clear and concise messaging, legible fonts, and engaging visuals. Test your ads on different mobile devices to ensure a seamless user experience and maximize mobile ad effectiveness.

By avoiding these common mistakes and implementing effective targeting strategies, testing, and optimization, you can enhance the performance and impact of your Facebook ad campaigns. This will enable you to reach your desired audience and achieving your marketing goals.

Tools and Resources for Improving Facebook Ad Targeting

There are several tools and resources that businesses can use to improve their Facebook ad targeting. Here are some tools and resources to consider:

Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook Ads Manager is a powerful tool that businesses can use to create and manage their advertising campaigns. With Ads Manager, you can create custom audiences, track your ad performance, and make adjustments to your campaigns in real-time.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that businesses can use to research relevant keywords for their advertising campaigns. With Keyword Planner, you can find relevant keywords and estimate their search volume and competition.


SEMrush is a paid tool that businesses can use to research their competitors and find relevant keywords for their advertising campaigns. With SEMrush, you can see what keywords your competitors are targeting and get ideas for your own campaigns.

Final thoughts

Facebook advertising can be a powerful tool for businesses to reach their ideal customers. However, the success of your advertising campaigns depends on how accurate your targeting is. By using the targeting options and strategies discussed in this article, you can ensure that your ads are seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. Be sure to test your ads and measure your performance to continually improve your targeting and get the most out of your advertising campaigns.

Need some extra Facebook Ad help? We’ve got you covered. There’s a lot of technical detail to building the right ad campaign. And if you need expert guidance, we are here to help you strategically maximize your ad spend. Schedule a discovery call with Atarodo. You can also follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn and our blog to learn more about how we are enabling ambitious businesses to achieve their goals through high-impact marketing.




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