Using Facebook Ads to Find Your Audience

Nailing down your target audience can be a tricky task. Beyond just what industry your service or product is geared to, who specifically are you trying to talk to? For some businesses, it takes months or even years to feel fully answer this question.  

To stay ahead of your competitors, you have to get creative. Ad tools provided by Facebook allow you to continuously test and refine your audience on their platform, and there’s nothing stopping you from taking what you learned here  and applying it to all your marketing campaigns. 

Today, we’re going to take a look at how you can creatively use Facebook multivariate testing to optimize your target audience — and how you can use that information to your benefit elsewhere. 

What is Multivariate Testing?

If you’re familiar with email A/B or split testing, then you already have a pretty firm grasp on the Facebook multivariate version. As with email, to successfully run a split test, you want to isolate one variable in each version of an ad so you can then monitor the performance of each.

So, for example, in an email you might test for subject lines, while in a Facebook ad the equivalent might be testing two different images in your ad. The idea is to determine out of a smaller sample audience which version of an ad leads to more clicks or engagement, and therefore which is worth building a larger campaign around. 

Facebook suggests you conduct these tests over the course of four days and can supply a budget which will facilitate statistically significant returns based off of what you’re testing for (clicks, video plays, etc.). These returns will be broken down in a “cost per result” analysis, letting you know which ad is worth rolling out.

What Can You Test For?

As you can see so far, Facebook split testing has a lot in common with email, with the added benefit of helping you find new contacts, rather than continually refining your internal list as you would with email. If used correctly, this tool can help you regularly assess and track your audience. 

Again, similar to email A/B testing, Facebook’s version allows you to test a range of design and copy elements, including: 

  • Imagery
  • Call-to-action
  • Header text

But Facebook differentiates itself by allowing you to go deeper. You can optimize your ad for conversions or link clicks; set it for automatic placements or at a spot of your choosing; or for various different target audiences. 

It’s this last detail that should really jump out at you. Let’s say you have a target market made up mostly of men, but you’re a little bit uncertain on which age group you should be going after. Facebook allows you to set up different tests targeting set ages, so one test could be for men ages 21-30, while another could be for ages 31-40. This testing also allows you to target audience locations, with one ad being run in Chicago and another in New York City, for example.

How to Refine Your Audience

While undoubtedly useful for future ads on Facebook itself, your organization can also take some lessons you learned from your testing and apply them to your entire marketing structure. By monitoring the results of your ads, you can continuously update your target audience profile and help your organization make important decisions or fine-tune your marketing efforts.

For example, let’s say your organization is ready to break into a new market in a major US city, but you’re unsure which location would be most receptive. Using the audience location testing variable outlined above, you may be able to test two cities against each other to see if there was any notable difference in reaction between the two. 

Now, clearly your organization would also need to do a lot of research before entering a new market, but this tool can fill one piece of the puzzle. Imagine being able to further refine your target audience personas with more specific age ranges, interests, whether they prefer to interact with your brand on mobile over laptop and much more. 

These audience split testing tools, combined with the wealth of other testing options, allow you to use Facebook as a, forgive the pun, testing ground for all your marketing efforts. Using these functions, you could potentially determine: 

  • What messaging best resonates with your target audience
  • Which designs or images lead to higher clicks or conversions
  • If any specific topics or forms of content perform better with your audience, including content that resonates with a “cold” audience unfamiliar with your brand
  • Locations that might be worth conducting direct mail campaigns or other traditional marketing tactics in

What you can test for and how you can apply it to your organization is really only limited to your imagination. Continuous refinement through regular testing should become your mantra. The next time you feel like your marketing is failing to connect with your audience in the ways you had hoped, consider using Facebook to see what variables are holding you back.