4 Ways to Effectively Target Holiday Shoppers with Facebook Ads

Ensuring your ad is reaching your desired audience this holiday season requires these four tactics.

The first day of fall rolls around, and before we know it, it's the start of another much-anticipated holiday season. With increased traffic to websites, social networks, and online stores, the holidays are the perfect time for marketers to engage with their audience and turn visitors into customers.

To boost engagement with current and potential customers, marketers need to focus on targeting. Targeting the correct audience is the key to any successful marketing campaign. Without it, businesses are merely broadcasting their messages to anyone and everyone who comes across it. This is particularly true during the holidays, when brands are most actively trying to sell their products and services.

Facebook, which is constantly improving its ads offering, is one surefire way to reach and engage with customers. In fact, Facebook ads alone drove twice as many purchases during the 2014 holiday season than other ad types throughout the remainder of the year.

But how do you ensure your ad is reaching your desired audience this holiday season?

Set your bullseye

Before creating any type of holiday ad campaign, you must home in on whom exactly you are trying to reach via Facebook. Is it a new consumer base? Previous customers who've shopped before? Do they use Facebook to research products or services? Each of these audiences will have different qualities and require different approaches. Know who buys from you and what their online shopping habits are, as well as how they behave on Facebook. If your desired top-seller this holiday season is a luxury car, targeting the head of the household is certainly more rational than his teenage son-even if he does post frequently about cars.

Zoom in, but not too far

With Facebook ads, you can customize your own audience by narrowing down location, demographics, interests, education, and even behaviors. This only becomes problematic if you specify too much. Doing so might filter out many people who could be interested in your offering.

Instead of narrowing it down too much and missing out on potential customers, play around with the potential number of impressions your ad would get prior to submitting it. See if any changes affect your impressions, either closer to or further from your intended goal. For example, if you're advertising the release of a new holiday-themed nail polish, instead of choosing 'nail polish' as the interest, think about choosing 'makeup' or 'cosmetics.' You'll expand your reach, while still staying within your targeted audience.

Get creative

Regardless of what you are designing, your customer should always be top of mind. When it comes to Facebook ads, there are four aspects to consider: ad creative, ad headline, description, and link. Take the audience you so carefully curated in the previous step and design an ad that will appeal to their interests and capture their attention. The final design should reflect your target audience in its entirety. Targeting a first-time car buyer? A catchy headline with exciting visuals of the car will be more likely to attract a younger demographic than an ad showing a family with a description of the safety benefits.

Test it out!

Create and implement a variety of messages throughout the entire ad process. Don't just rely on a single message in the description, headline, or even the design-try out different things so you can see what works best and appeals most to your audience.

When testing your ads out, pay attention to the different ways Facebook allows you to organize your campaign, ad set, and ads. With an ad set, you can define your budget, bids, targets, and placement for a variety of different ads. You can either use the same ad set for every ad you run, or personalize it, giving each of your ads the opportunity to shine.

Even if you have zero experience working with Facebook ads, it can be quick and easy to get started. Using an ad manager tool lets you create and manage ads with a simple step-by-step process, and provides metrics to help you determine which ones worked the best.

Play around and see which ad styles and copy work best with your holiday shoppers this season. Studies show brands should start their ads as early as October in order to maximize their ad spend before the peak holiday shopping time on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Use the tips above to perfect your Facebook ad tactics, and you'll find a strategy that works not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year.