Facebook Targeting Mistakes You Must Avoid

facebook targeting mistakes
Facebook Targeting Mistakes

It’s VERY easy to make targeting mistakes with Facebook ads that can cost you a ton of sales and thousands of dollars in profits.

Some of the things that people do in Facebook advertising targeting seem intuitive and look like they will work, but in reality they end up narrowing your audience (in a bad way) and make your ads less effective. This isn’t your fault, but once you know about the common mistakes you can go about fixing them and potentially make far more profit from your advertising.

Recently, I had a client who was making many of these exact mistakes and we helped them improve their targeting. They gave us permission to show you the mistakes they were making as long as we kept them anonymous, which is awesome because it lets me show you real world examples and how to fix them.

Facebook Targeting Mistakes to Avoid

We set up a duplicate of our clients campaign in our own testing account to keep their identity secret. This is a group that sells men’s sports apparel and gym related clothing.

The first thing you’ll see is that we have a warm audience and a cold audience set up. That’s a good thing. You should advertising to these two audiences separately because they will respond differently to your ads. You will most likley always get higher & cheaper conversions from warm audiences over cold audiences.

Your #1 Lookalike Audience Should Be a Conversion Lookalike

This business is targeting lookalike audiences. Right now they are targeting a look a like audience from their website visitors.

It’s ok to target website visitors as a lookalike audience if you are also using a conversion lookalike audience as well. But if you are only using ONE lookalike audience and you have conversion data then you will want to target a 1% lookalike audience based on customers who have made past purchases as that audience is highly likely to convert at a higher rate.

Don’t Exclude Previous Customers

You’ll see here that this client was excluding previous customers from their lookalike audience. This is NOT a good idea.

Previous customers are likely to be higher value and more likely to buy from you than people who have never bought. BUT to make that happen you have to stay front of mind with your buyers and that means that you need to keep them in your audiences. Remember, people aren’t going through their life with a product they just bought and wondering what else you make. You have to show them other products through ads.

Don’t Be Too Specific With Your Location Targeting

The only time you should get specific with your location targeting is if you are in a business where you can ONLY serve people in a specific geographic area. That means that if you are a hairdresser or someone who installs gutters then you want to target in the area you serve, but if you ship products to an entire country then you want to target everywhere you could potentially do business.


Facebooks algorithm is very smart and even if MOST of your customers who buy from you are from specific cities or geographic areas, Facebook can start working out who is more likely buy from you in other areas and these extra sales can really add up and drive your cost per customer acquisition down.

Don’t Down Narrow Your Age Range Too Much

Another common mistake that people make when targeting on Facebook is to narrow the age range of the target audience too much. Facebook ads almost always works better when you give it a broader audience to work with rather than a narrow audience.

When you are using a lookalike audience you should leave the age range open at 18 to 65+. If you are doing cold targeting then you can narrow it a bit more if you’d like but it’s almost never necessary.

This is one of the areas that Facebook does very well in working out on it’s own. The algorithm will determine what age range the people are more likely to buy your products or services and then put serve your ads to those people. Keeping the age range broad means that you give Facebook more room to figure this out.

Be Careful with Gender Targeting

This business makes clothes for men, so targeting men makes a lot of sense. It works here.

But if 10% of your customers are women and 90% are men or 10% men and 90% women then it’s worth it to leave gender at “all.” Facebook algorithm is smart enough to distribute the ads to the correct genders for your specific offer.

Split Up Your Detailed Targeting Options and Separate Them From Lookalike Audiences

The client we were helping with this campaign was including detailed targeting options in a lookalike audience. This is something you want to absolutely avoid. You don’t want to narrow your lookalike audiences by including detailed targeting in them.

I do like to use detailed targeting options, but they should always be in a separate adset from lookalike audiences and you should test each detailed targeting option individually. When you put each detailed targeting option into a separate adset you’ll be able to determine which ones work and which ones don’t. This is very helpful information in getting to a fully optimized campaign and lowering your cost per conversion.

Extend the Timeframe on Your Custom Audiences

In his warm audience ad set, this client was targeting all website visitors from the last 14 days. That means he’s potentially leaving a lot of money on the table.

I would change the timeframe of this warm audience to people who have visited his website in the last 180 days – which is the maximum allowed.

Facebook will show ads to the people who have visited more recently first, and then they will show ads to other people they think might purchase or become a lead. By giving Facebook more data to work with, they can more effectively target your warm audience to bring in sales. Larger audiences are especially important since the iOS14 update limits the amount of data that Facebook can see off their platform.

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