Facebook Exclusion Marketing Guide on AdSet & Audience Targeting

Unlike other major advertising platforms which are primarily based on CPC such as Google ads, Facebook does not give you a variety of options to tweak your campaign at the granular level to lower your CPA. However, there are still different platform functionalities and features that you can utilize towards optimizing your campaigns and overall cost per lead or cost per conversion.

Exclusion Marketing to Reduce Facebook CPL

Before we jump right away into exclusion marketing to lower Facebook CPL, you need to know how facebook algorithm works. There are a number of different campaigns out that you can use for your Facebook ads. And by selecting a campaign type, you are selecting an objective for your campaign. This is very important because Facebook will optimize your campaign for that objective. For example, if you
create a traffic campaign, then Facebook will try to generate as much traffic as possible for you.

Facebook Campaign Objectives

Working of Facebook Campaign

Their targeting algorithms will automatically try to find people within your target audience that is most likely to click on your ad based on the campaign objective. This fantastic feature of Facebook advertising makes Facebook Ad campaigns a lot more effective. One of the biggest factors in determining whether someone is likely to click on your ad or not is whether they have already clicked on it previously.

People that have already clicked on your ad are obviously interested in what you’re advertising, so they are highly likely to click on it again. Facebook’s targeting algorithms know this and they will often show your ad to people that have clicked on it in the last few days. On the whole, this is a good thing, because not everyone will convert into a lead or sale the first time they click on your ad and come through to your website.

After that first click, a lot of people will take some time to think about what you’re offering or just become distracted and simply forget about it. You don’t want to miss out on easy leads and sales, so advertising to these people is important. But of course, a lot of the people that have clicked on your Facebook ad will have converted into a lead or sale. And continuing to advertise to those people is a waste of money.

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Exclusion Marketing

You need to distinguish between those people that have clicked and converted into a lead or sale and those people that have clicked and not converted. Once you do that, you can then exclude people that have already converted from your Facebook Ad campaigns. This is called Exclusion Marketing.

Exclusion Marketing on Facebook

For example, from the above interest-based AdSet, I have tried excluding all the audience which I consider a lead. For example, web site converted audience, as well as, App converted the audience. You should also note that, if your sales funnel is longer and you are pushing the leads down the funnel through other marketing efforts such as email marketing or retargeting, you should exclude those audiences as well in the appropriate campaign or Ad Sets to reduce wasting of budget.

Ad Set Structuring to exclude the audience

If Google ads are more about the keywords and bidding, Facebook and Instagram are more about the audience. Like we try to avoid the spillover of the targeted keywords within Google ads, I prefer to use a similar strategy in avoiding the spillover the targeted audience using exclusion marketing. Exclusion marketing in a single sentence ensures that there is no internal competition within the AdSets over the same audience. Otherwise, multiple campaigns bid against each other over the same audience.

To make the above strategy successful, there needs to be a campaign structure which ensures audience exclusion. And, below is the AdSet structure within a campaign:

  • Interests-based/ brand awareness/ top of funnel campaign
  • Remarketing & Lookalike campaign

ToFu AdSet targeting audience exclusion

For your top of the funnel campaign i.e. brand awareness campaign, exclude all the remarketing audience. It should look something like this:

ToFu AdSet targeting audience exclusion

The above screenshot is also not perfect but this is just for the reference purpose. Custom audience types that you should exclude for a top of funnel campaign are in the following categories

Excluding website visitors

  • Exclude all website visitors
  • Exclude all landing page visitors (Sometimes landing pages are on different domains)
  • Exclude all thank-you page visitors/ conversion page visitors (Sometimes conversion pages are on different domains)

Excluding Customers

  • Upload a list of converters/ leads from other platforms and exclude them as well
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Excluding video viewers

  • Exclude the audience who have watched any video on Facebook or Instagram

Excluding app users

  • Exclude the audience which has interacted in any form with the app such as app download, app uninstalls, etc.

Exclude Facebook & Instagram Page users

  • Exclude the audience which has liked our page

Exclude events audience

  • Exclude audience which has subscribed to any of our events

We are excluding all the audiences which have in any form interacted with our brand on social media. If you need to see all the custom audience exclusion sources, you see it while creating a custom audience. Here is the screenshot for you. You can see all the external and Facebook sources in the list below:

Custom Audience Sources on Facebook for audience exclusion

Remarketing AdSet targeting audience exclusion

After the top of the funnel campaign, it will mostly be a consideration-based campaign or conversion-based campaign. I am going to give you an idea on what to exclude for remarketing AdSets within a campaign. This part also becomes tricky though. In the remarketing AdSet, you want to include all the audiences who have interacted with your brand at least once through sources described in the last screenshot. However, the tricky part is excluding the custom audience.

Excluding website visitors – Converters

  • Exclude all thank-you page visitors/ conversion page visitors (Sometimes conversion pages are on different domains) because you do not want to remarket to them again except in some cases such as mostly in E-commerce.

Excluding website visitors – In the funnel

Sometimes, there will be multiple steps in the funnel. For example, for the education sector campaign on Facebook, the funnel might look like

  • General Sign up
  • Course Registration
  • Transfer general details
  • Transfer education details
  • Payment

In the above case, it might be confusing when it comes to custom audience exclusion. Should you exclude the students who have made the payment or should you exclude the ones who have generally signed up? Well, it depends on your marketing strategy. If you are following different marketing tactics to push down the targeted students who have completed the first level of conversion in the funnel i.e. general sign up, then you should exclude them otherwise, continue targeting. That’s when the concept of marketing qualified leads (MQL) to sales qualified leads (SQL) comes into the picture.

Excluding Customers

  • Upload a list of converters/ leads from other platforms and exclude them as well because you do not want to remarket to them again except in some cases such as mostly in E-commerce.
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Excluding video viewers

  • Exclude the audience who have not watched your video more than certain percentage such as 25%. Though you can include such an audience in the consideration based campaigns.

Excluding app users

  • Excluding all the app downloaders except the app uninstallers

Last but not the least exclude Facebook & Instagram Page users as well as excluding events audience should be as per your discretion.

Advanced Facebook Exclusion/ Inclusion Methods

In the advanced Facebook exclusion methods, the concept remains the same. Instead of just page visitors, you start excluding/ including the audience based on micro-conversion signals. How do you track those micro-conversions? I prefer to use the Google tag manager to track micro conversions. Here is an example of tracking users who performed a micro-conversion on the website. In the case below, it’s the audience who added their payment info.

Facebook Custom Events through GTM

Now, if you are running a specific campaign to push those users down the funnel, you will only include these audiences at the AdSet level and exclude the rest of the audience. Here are some examples of micro conversions for different industries that would give you more idea on micro-conversion tracking and how to use them in retargeting.

Audience Exclusion Impact on Campaign CPA: Example

Performance with Audience Exclusion

Here is a screenshot of the performance of an Ad Set with proper audience excluded at the Ad Set level.

AdSet performance With audience exclusion

AdSet performance With audience exclusion

  • The CPA was almost consistent after a week of starting the AdSet
  • Cost per result was $11.80 with 171 leads for the month of May

Performance without Audience Exclusion

Then, we decided that we will remove all the audience and observe the performance. Why did we do so? The idea was that since Facebook ads platform has learned about the campaign in three weeks, can Facebook produce the same result without the audience exclusion and here is the result:

AdSet performance Without Audience exclusion

AdSet performance Without Audience exclusion

  • We kept the Ad Set paused for two weeks.
  • Removed all the excluded audiences and turned on the Ad Set.
  • There was some fluctuation at the beginning when we started the AdSet for the first 2-3 days.
  • Then, the cost per lead continuously kept going up.
  • The overall CPL increased by almost 60% in just two weeks after starting the Ad Set from $11.80 t0 $18.91

Overall, exclusion marketing on any platform can save you a lot of costs. Be it audience exclusion or keyword exclusion (Negative keywords) etc. Let me know your thoughts on other forms of exclusion marketing.

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