How to Target Your Facebook Ads So That You Don’t Leak Money

Does this sound familiar?

You took a swing at Facebook advertising, hoping that it would help you increase your customer base and profits. You tweaked the copy of your ads, used different images, played with the calls-to-action (CTA’s), and so on. But, for some reason, you don’t see any significant return on your investment.

It feels like you are practically throwing money at Facebook with nothing to show for it.

The good news is that there is a way out of this conundrum, but you need to understand where you are going wrong and what you should do differently. Because there are other people getting a significant ROI from Facebook ads, and you could be too.

Below are five tips on how you should target your Facebook ads that will turn them from flops into thriving profit-drivers.

Let’s dive in.

1. Create Custom Audiences

Facebook advertising works on a pretty straightforward logic. If you don’t want to waste money, then target a very specific group of people before launching your ads. Sure, you may feel tempted to fish in a vast pond, thinking that’s how you increase your chances of reaching out to potential customers. But, in reality, that’s just a surefire way to lose money.

Think about it this way: if you target your ad to males, age 20-50, sure more people will see your sponsored posts, but how many of them are interested in the product you are promoting?

Segment your prospects by creating a variety of highly targeted custom audiences. Facebook allows you to create custom audiences based on a number of variables, such as a customer file, website traffic, app activity, offline activity, and engagement:

Target Facebook Ads - image 1

With each of these custom audience options you can get even MORE targeted. For example, you can create an audience of people who have visited a specific page on your website and then run ads only to that group of people:

Target Facebook Ads - image 2

Make sure you adapt your ads to each custom audience segment so that the ad copy, CTA and image are all aligned with the problems you solve for this group of people.

2. Run very specific audience segment split tests

Beyond creating simple custom audiences, you can also learn more about your prospects by split testing audience segments within these custom audiences.

Let’s imagine that your company sells organic, plant-based hand cream. You choose to target ads to a group of people that have visited the page on your website specifically associated to plant-based hand cream. This tells you that this audience has at least some interest in this product.

However, in most cases this group won’t necessarily all convert into customers. So there are some things you can do to figure out which audience segment is more likely to buy your products. For example, your custom audience may include people aged 18-65+, but you can segment them based on age groups such as 18-25, 25-35, 35-45 etc. By running the same set of ads to each of these age groups individually, you may determine that one or two age groups within your greater audience are more likely to convert into customers. This then allows you to focus in on this age group with your campaigns moving forward and reduce the cost per acquisition.

Doing this is fairly simple from the Facebook ads manager. All you do is replicate the “Ad Sets” within your campaign and choose to target a different age group:

Target Facebook Ads - image 3

You can use a similar process of elimination to test other demographic variables such as geography, sex and so on, but for better results you should only test one element at a time.

Bonus tip: Use images which will resonate with each audience segment. For example, if your value proposition is targeted towards couples, use photos of couples in your ads. If you are targeting women aged 35-45, use a photo of a woman from that age bracket as your image. The more aligned your ad imagery and copy is to your target audience, the more it will resonate.

3. Focus on targeted locations

Like I said before, making the world your oyster is not very effective when it comes to online marketing.

Think about it this way: if you run a pizzeria in Melbourne, would it make sense to advertise it to people in Sydney? Most likely not, because the chances of someone jumping on a 2-hour plane ride just to taste your pizza are pretty slim.

As a rule of thumb, if you run a locally based business, make sure to target prospects that are within a 10-20 miles radius around your location.

Target Facebook Ads - image 4

One effective way to find and reach people around your business is to use local awareness ads. This feature allows you to access the recent location function and target prospects that are the closest to your business.

4. Tap into Audience Insights to understand your prospects

Who are the people that visit your page? Why do they like it? How can you best target your ads so that you improve your chances of getting a reaction?

These are crucial questions you need to ask yourself before launching an ad campaign on Facebook. If you don’t know what makes your audience tick, it will be difficult to persuade them to click on your ads.

Fortunately, Audience Insights has the answer to most of these questions. From demographics data like gender, education, jobs, and relationship statuses, to information about their lifestyle, online behavior, passions, and so on, Audience Insights is a goldmine for any marketer.

For example, below is some of the basic demographic information for all Facebook users:

Target Facebook Ads - image 5

5. Separate Mobile and Desktop Campaigns

The smartphone is now the most popular way of browsing the internet. So you need to keep pace if you want to remain relevant in this mobile-first world.

One of the most important rules you should follow if you want to create effective Facebook ads is to ensure that you don’t use the same design for both your mobile and desktop campaigns.

And, here’s why:

  • Different Audiences: People who use the mobile app may not use it on a desktop and vice versa. As of late 2016, there were more than 1 billion mobile-only users, so you need to decide where you want to invest and target. Although there is an option to optimize your desktop ad for mobile view, don’t leave it to chance.
  • Image Optimization: Use the image size guide to figure out the size and shape of your ad. It tells you how your ad will look on the desktop and mobile app and what you need to adjust.

You may think your ad looks great on a desktop, but if it is getting shown to predominantly mobile users and they can’t see half of the image, or any of the text, then you are wasting money.


Spending money on Facebook ads is a little too easy and sometimes deceptive. You may not think it’s such a big deal, but $100 here and there will add up to significant amounts over time.

Making sure that your ads reach the right audiences, and that those who click on them can use the information provided, will spare you many headaches (and accounting nightmares). To this end, you need to segment correctly and design separate ads for each group, not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Facebook itself has a wide range of tools to support you in developing the best campaign and increasing your conversion rate. After all, your business is what brings them profit.


By Nital Shah is the CEO and Founder of Octos Digital Marketing Agency

Connect with Nital on LinkedIn.

Everyone Linked