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How Small Businesses Can Find the Right Target Audiences for Facebook Marketing

Facebook advertising is in a state of constant change. It’s hard to keep up on the ‘best’ way to use the platform, and to make matter even more confusing, there are literally hundreds of blogs out there claiming to lead you to success. What’s a small business to do?

We’ve discussed how to create ads campaigns, debated if your precious marketing dollars are best spent on Facebook, and roughly how much it costs to advertise on the social giant’s business platform. However, understanding how the platform works and the costs associated with it don’t lend much help when you’re trying to reach your business goals through campaigns. Arguably the most critical component of Facebook advertising is understanding who you’re marketing to, and how to reach them. But how?

Build User Personas

Avid readers of our blog have been beaten over the head with the concept of creating user personas for your business. We can’t stress the importance of developing them as they’re the core to all your marketing efforts – not just online campaigns.

There are three types of user personas, but we’re going to focus on the marketing persona, as it’s the most relevant. A user persona used for marketing is a semi-fictional representation of your customers based on market research and data collected about your existing customers. They are well-researched detailed profiles that include: demographics, behaviors, motivations, personal and professional insights, and goals to define marketing messaging, identify opportunities, and guide product development. The outcome of marketing personas is to attract valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.

Here’s an example of such:

Marketing Persona example

If you need help creating user personas, check out our step-by-step tutorial. It’s a lot easier than you think.

Now that you’ve got a deeper understanding for who your target audiences are, what they’re looking for, and how your service or product helps them, you can move onto the next step.

Test Different Audiences

No two audiences are the same – and they should be treated as such. Your user personas should have allowed you to identify key differences between your target customers. This could be in motivations, daily routines, challenges, and so on.

For example, let’s say you own a carpet cleaning company. What matters to a single mom raising two kids is going to be totally different than an 80-year old woman and her husband. They both need your services, but the motivations behind hiring your company are going to be completely different.

Let’s take a look at how you can create audiences for your company within the Facebook Business Manager application. If you haven’t moved your Facebook page to Business Manager, I highly recommend doing so. AdEspresso has a great step-by-step guide on how to do so.

  1. Log into your Facebook Ads Manager account
  2. Click on ‘Create Ad’ in the top right hand corner
  3. Select your marketing objective – this is your goal for campaign
  4. Define your target audience criteria

Facebook Marketing Objectives

Facebook Marketing Target Audiences

You can define things like gender, age, geographic location, interests, behaviors, or employers. Things like your purchase behaviors, online buying habits, and things you search for or interact with online – are easy to target in the Facebook ads manager. Creepy, right?

As you filter target criteria, you’ll see an estimated audience size in the right hand column. This will give you projections of how many people you can reach given the specified criteria, and budget. The sweet spot here is when it reaches ‘Defined.’ If it’s too broad, you risk spending more money without producing any meaningful results.

Remember to save your audiences for future ad campaigns! If they don’t work, you can always delete them later.

Test Different Messages, Offers, and Promotions

Yes, we all want the magic wand that allows us to find and connect with the right audiences immediately. While not impossible, if you’ve never ran Facebook ads before, you don’t have a lot of Facebook marketing data to confidently say something works or doesn’t. It’s time to start with finding what types of offers or marketing messages resonate with your target customers, and what drives them to take action.

Now that you’ve created your user personas,you’ve got a better understanding of your target customers’ needs, motivations, and challenges. It’s time to create ads that communicate the tone and personality of your brand, address a problem and present a solution, and provide value or incentive for them to take action.

For example, if you’re an auto detail shop whose primary demographic are males aged 35+ within 10 miles of your shop, maybe an offer of a free wax with every full detail job would incentivize them to come in. Test this message for a week and see what the response is. During this time, you can test things like images, videos, headlines, body text, or call-to-action buttons. This will allow you to see what message and creative is the most effective. 

Explore Custom Audiences

One of my favorite things about Facebook marketing is the ability to target the people who are a little closer to the bottom of the funnel. These are people who have visited your website, interacted with your online store, contacted you, and previously purchased from you. These people already know you, so it will be easier to convert them – and a wiser way to spend your advertising dollars.

Custom audiences also allow you target ‘lookalike audiences.’ These audiences are similar to those who have visited your website, or who like your Facebook page. Whenever I want to reach a wider audience, I’ll target my ads campaigns to those who look like my website traffic. This generally will help generate more targeted awareness, and open the conversation for future sales.

There are a couple of things to note about custom audiences: you must have the correct tracking in place on your website, and your website must have, at minimum 1,000 visits per month. If both these conditions are met, you’re ready to start exploring custom audiences for your Facebook campaigns!


Remember: finding the right target audience and message takes trial and error, and requires strategic patience. The worst thing you get out of your ads campaigns is brand awareness – so don’t be afraid to try new things!