Improving ROI on Facebook and Instagram Advertising

Improving ROI on Facebook and Instagram Advertising

Hands down the best way to improve your Facebook and Instagram Advertising results is to get the targeting right. Facebook/Insta advertisers usually start out with behaviour and interests targeting combined with geography. This is what I would call a “general top of the funnel” audience. But we need to get beyond these general audiences to build out an advertising funnel and get a better return on investment. The Facebook Ad Platform offers many ways to do this and more are being added all of the time. I’m going to run through some of the choices you have to build your Facebook/Insta advertising funnel using Custom Audiences.

 Customer file audiences

This is an audience that you create by uploading a CSV file of your customers to the Facebook ad platform or by integrating with a list in Mailchimp.  Facebook matches the identifiers you upload with the data it has of Facebook/Insta users to create the audience. You have up to 15 data points that you can match and obviously the more identifiers you have the better the match rate will be. Match rate can be as low as 30% or as high as 70%.

The advantage of this audience is that they already know you – they have purchased or interacted with you in some way previously. So some of the advertising strategies for this audience include upsell and cross-sell and loyalty offers. The downside to this audience is that its static – it can’t update unless you manually upload another list. The other downside is the match rate and the fact that you don’t know if these people are at all active in Facebook or Instagram.

Website traffic

Under this simple heading there are many different audiences you can create. Which you choose to create depends on what you are trying to achieve but also on the volume of traffic to your site. The general ‘catch-all’ audience here is “all website visitors” but you can also choose visitors to specific pages, visitors to specific pages and not others, and visitors who take specific actions on your site, such as download something, reading a page to the end, make a purchase and others.

The advantages of these audiences is that you can be very specific about who to include and who to exclude. For example, you can set up an audience of people who viewed your landing page or product pages and exclude people who viewed your purchase confirmation page – giving you an audience of people who are interested enough in your offer but have not yet converted. This is just one example among many uses for website custom audiences.  Another benefit is that these audiences update dynamically. You set the time frame for the audience between 1 and 180 days and people who don’t visit or take the action you define within the time period automatically fall out of the audience. You don’t need to do any updating and because it’s dynamic, your audience is always relevant.


One of the biggest advantages of an engagement audience is that you know these people are active in Facebook or Instagram because that is where they have engaged with your business. There are many options to choose from here also, including people who have engaged with:

  • one of your videos on your Facebook page or in their Facebook or Instagram feed,
  • a lead form from one of your lead ads
  • your Facebook page by liking the page, or liking, commenting or sharing a post
  • your Instagram profile
  • a Facebook events post

Like website custom audiences, you can choose to make an audience of people who take a single action or people who take multiple actions. You can safely assume that people who take multiple actions over a short time period are an audience that is closer to the bottom of your funnel, while single action people over a longer time period are higher in your funnel. Durations for engagement audiences are up to 365 days with the exception of lead form engagement which is 90 days.  For the best ROI, your advertising message should suit the where the audience is at in their buying journey.

Offline Activity

For businesses where the purchase or conversion happens offline such as in-store, on the phone, at an event and so on, offline activity audiences are very useful. The way to create an audience based on offline activity is to upload a file of people who converted (offline) and Facebook matches those people with people who have seen or interacted with your ads in either Facebook or Instagram. The data matching process is the same as for Customer File Audiences and the look-back window Facebook has is 28 days.  The advantage of this audience is that you know they have converted and you know that they interacted with your business in Facebook or Instagram. This is an ideal audience for upsell, cross-sell, loyalty and similar strategies but also an ideal data set from which to create a lookalike audience.

The right targeting is the key to increasing the ROI on your Facebook and Instagram advertising. Moving beyond the general behaviours/interest + geography, experiment and test different audiences to build your advertising funnel. For your long running campaigns choose a shorter time period for your custom audiences so as not to bore your audience and waste your ads budget, for shorter running campaigns you can choose a longer time period.  I find old-school mapping a funnel out on paper a handy exercise, you might find that helpful too.

Let me know in the feedback how you get on.

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