Core vs. Non-Core Audiences
There are two primary types of audiences for every account – core audiences that tend to work well on an evergreen basis, and non-core audiences which should be tested into overtime. If a non-core audience performs well for an extended period, it can be converted into a core audience.
When first launching a Facebook account, it’s a best practice to start with audiences that are likely to become core audiences. Although we have some best practices which give you guidance as to where to start, there’s usually still some testing that’s required to nail down your core audiences.
We recommend first launching with 1-2 lookalike audiences. After we get a good idea of spend pacing, we can begin adding more LALs, interest-based, and broad audiences to the mix. When building a prospecting audience, it's important to exclude retargeting audiences before launching because:
- We want to ensure we're only targeting new users for prospecting campaigns. If we are acquiring users that are in our retargeting/remarketing segments, it inflates actual performance in these prospecting campaigns and can be harmful to our business long-term.
- It's common to set different targets for new vs. returning customers because each audience is at a different stage in the marketing funnel. People that have engaged with your brand before are more likely to purchase and therefore should cost less to acquire.
- It allows you to cleanly target people who have never interacted with your brand before, which allows brands to be more targeted with messaging.
The first step in building out prospecting audiences is to establish a solid LAL. These audiences tend to perform best because they are people who look like those who have purchased from you in the past. For LAL audiences, you will typically have the most success with 0-1% LALs, although broader LALs can also work well. We recommend testing with 0-1% LALs and broadening if you continue to see success.
The following are seed lists we can use to build LALs to test.
- Past purchasers
- Past purchasers with a customer value over $X
- Most valuable purchasers by revenue
- Repeat purchasers
- Purchasers within set lookback windows (e.g. 90 days, 180 days)
- Add to carts
- Website visitors
- Page engagers
- Email list (if applicable)
- Value-based using our pixel
- Value-based using our product catalog
- Emails with LTV
- For highly seasonal businesses, you want to use a shorter lookback window.
- If using a pixel-based list, you don’t need to update it. For LALs built off uploaded lists, you should refresh the lists at least once per quarter.
- To assess performance of an audience, we need to spend at least 3-5x tCPA within 7 days. If we don't meet those spend requirements with the seven days, we can be confident that our audience won't perform at this time.
- We typically run audiences for 1-2 weeks before determining if they’re performing well or not, depending on total spend level.
When first launching a marketing program, business likely won’t have historical evidence for what types of interest audiences might work. We suggest moving a little slower here until you have your core LAL audiences working well. When compiling a list of interests to test into, think about who purchases your product and other interests that purchasers have in common. Typically the best interest-based categories are competitor or share of wallet brands.
Broad audiences sacrifice targeting control for filling the retargeting funnel at a low cost. By broadening an audience, your CPMs will decrease. The conversions driven by broad audiences help inform and improve the performance of LAL audiences, without needing to know the customer. Testing into these audiences can work well if you’re interested in exploring who might be interested in your product to help inform future audiences. These audiences should only be tested if 1) we have excess budget and 2) have developed a winning creative strategy.
Retargeting audiences work best when leveraging a Facebook pixel which is installed on every page of your site. However, lists can also be uploaded for retargeting purposes. Retargeting audiences to start with:
- Website visitors + Add to carts
- 1- or 2-day ATC (for DPAs only)
- 0-14 day site visitors (by default these will include ATCs)
- 15-30 day site visitors
As we mentioned before, non-core audiences are the path toward honing in on your core audiences. If you have a new digital marketing program, we suggest starting with core, learning what works and what doesn’t, then using those learnings to help determine non-core audiences to test into. We tend to break non-core audiences into conceptual themes which we test. Once you find non-core audiences that work well for a sustained period, you can move them over to your core audience group.
General Audience Best Practice
As a general best practice, when creating prospecting audiences, it's important to:
- Audience Exclusions: Exclude retargeting AND remarketing audiences from prospecting audiences:
- Retargeted audiences tend to have different behavior and thus different CVR, CPM and CTR (all the KPIs that back into CPA)
- We can be more certain we’re reaching people who truly have not interacted with your brand before. Cleaner data, and opportunity to segment strategy by ret/pros
- Exclusion structure:
- Prospecting: excludes retargeting and remarketing segments
- Retargeting: targets retargeting segments; excludes remarketing segments
- Remarketing: targets only a particular remarketing segment (i.e. 60-day past purchasers)