Market Trends

Written by Laura Sol September 24, 2018

Keys to Black Friday (part 1): Start early building the right audience

Back to articles

The big holiday shopping season is coming around quickly. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still major events on the retail calendar each year, with over 90% of US retail sales still taking place in brick and mortar stores. And with holiday promotions starting earlier each year, and competition for ad space at an all-time high, marketers need to be ahead of the game to see results.

What does this time of year mean for retailers?

reachy-shoppingA few statistics to give you an idea of the importance:

  • With US$6.59 billion spent, Cyber Monday 2017 was officially the largest online sales day in history. That’s over $1 billion more spent online than on Cyber Monday 2016!
  • Smartphones played a bigger role than ever last year, with revenue driven by the devices hitting an all time high of US$1.59 billion.
  • The whole of Thanksgiving week was a record-setting one in terms of online sales. November 23-26 saw total online sales hit US$13.03 billion, a 14.4% increase YoY.

So what do retail businesses need to do to ensure they get the very best from their social ad campaigns around this time?

There are multiple steps, but one of the major keys is starting early by building the right audiences.

We covered Black Friday in a recent edition of our weekly Facebook Live! Watch the full replay above.

What different types of audiences can you create on Facebook?

One of the biggest advantages of Facebook over other advertising platforms is the advanced targeting options.

With over 2.2 billion active monthly users, you might be tempted to target a campaign at all Facebook users in an attempt to reach the biggest number of potential customers possible. But it’s proven that this strategy doesn’t work. The reason? Targeting the masses in an attempt to “find the hidden gems” doesn’t pay off – your Relevance Score will suffer as Facebook identifies your ads as irrelevant to a large part of your target audience. Your ROI will drop and you won’t see the success you were hoping for.

That’s why you need to narrow your Facebook audience as much as possible. You already know who’s interested in what you have to sell and who your current customers are. So use Facebook’s granular targeting options to find the right audience for your products.

There are a few different types of audiences to choose from. Thinking about it in terms of the marketing funnel, here are some of the most effective:


AudienceSaved Audiences: Facebook offers a variety of targeting options, from demographic and location-based options, to interests and Custom Audiences. As a Facebook advertiser, you’re able to refine and tune these filters until you have defined the perfect target audiences for your campaigns.

Lookalike Audiences: Lookalike Audiences allow you to target people who are similar to your existing target audiences. Once you have created a Custom Audience on Facebook, you can use it as the base for a Lookalike Audience. This is a great way to prospect for new customers. Lookalike Audiences can range from 1-20% of the total population of the country you’re targeting, with 1% being the closest match to your seed audience.

Value-Based Lookalike Audiences: Value-Based Lookalike Audiences are a great option to find new customers with the help of your CRM data. In this option, you share the demographics of your high-spending customers with Facebook, so the algorithm can find similar people who are also likely to purchase from your store.

Targeting  Expansion: Targeting Expansion uses Facebook’s internal data to target your ads to interests that you may not have otherwise considered. Targeting Expansion gives Facebook the option to expand your target audience by adjusting your interest-based targeting, in order to reach more people who may lead to better and/or cheaper results.


The most effective way to reach people who have previously shown interest in your business, as well your existing customers, is by creating a Custom Audience either using the Facebook Pixel or SDK, or your CRM data.

Website Custom Audiences: Custom Audiences created from your website data are a powerful way to reach existing customers and those who have previously shown some interest in your business. The Facebook Pixel and SDK gather information about your website visitors and app users, to build audiences to whom you can then deliver ads on Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network. Without the Pixel you can’t effectively track or optimize for conversion, and you’re unable to retarget audiences such as:

  • People who visited a specific page or category on your site
  • People who visited your website during the past X days
  • People who visited your site X times during the holidays season
  • People who took specific actions on your website – for example, people who added a product to the cart but didn’t complete a purchase.

Custom Audiences from Lists: From a list of your customers, Facebook allows you to create a Custom Audience. With this audience set up, you can deliver ads on Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network. You can upload a customer list as either a CSV or TXT file, which is then hashed locally on your browser and sent to Facebook. Here’s a list of best practices for building custom audiences on Facebook:

  • Separate first and last names in individual columns.
  • Always include the country code and country data as their own column in the list. Since Facebook is a global platform, these fields help to narrow down the search for matches.
  • Facebook accepts multiple formats for date of birth, phone numbers and zip codes, but always double check your data before uploading.
  • The more data columns you have in the list, the more likely it is that Facebook will find matches.

Subscribe to our Blog

Receive a summary of our new articles once a week