Taking Your Audiences to the Next Level

Taking Your Audiences to the Next Level

12th July 2017

In my last article we went through how to start gathering the audience data you need to begin using audiences in your campaigns every day. This time we’ll cover off some next-level hacks, some expert tips and tricks to help you do even more. Let’s get stuck in! (If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, read the first of this duo).

Create a Family Tree

It can begin to get a little overwhelming when you start building out your audiences. You’ll start looking at different combinations of ages, genders, interests, on-site and conversion behaviours and more. It’s easy to get bogged down in detail. What we want to do is focus on the biggest, most actionable insights and use these to start building out our audiences.

Something I find helpful is to start building out a family tree, so that I can visualise/streamline the information in a way that makes sense.

Use in: Google Analytics/Facebook

This is often best done in Excel – if you include conversion and numbers as you do this, you can stop getting more granular as soon as you drill own too far (remember you need at least 1,000 matched email addresses to be able to use an audience within Adwords or other channels).

Here’s an example tree. Remember you can do whatever works for you, but in my case, I like to start by breaking out my converters vs non-converters (you could also split out your most valuable, repeat or most engaged users), then moving on to genders, age, device and interests. You can split this down however you like – maybe you want to split out by device early on.

The beauty of this is that you can pull together several of these, depending on how you want to split out your data. Maybe have one tree for men and one for women. Have separate trees for your converters and non-converters. This is just a tool to help you understand specific audiences. Remember that we’re trying to get to the point where we can write customer snippets like this:

“Women who convert are more likely to be interested in movies if they’re between 18-24, but if they’re between 25-34, they’ll be news & celebrity junkies. If they’re coming from email or Bing, they’re likely to convert better.”

Customer Personas

Once you’ve started to gather enough insights in your research phase and you’ve maybe even got a few customer snippets, this helps you to build even further on that work.

Many of you might be familiar with the Mosaic profiles to help identify audiences. These tell us demographics, key traits, interests and more of a selected audience group. With the data we have, plus a little help, we can do something similar.

Use in: all Marketing

What we want to do is humanise our audiences. We need to understand what motivates our customer. What their pain points are. How do they see themselves and the world around them? What devices do they use? How often are they online and how do they use the Internet? I also find it helps if you give them names!

One of my favourite tools to help with this is YouGov Profiles Lite. You can enter a brand, person or thing and it comes back with a TON of useful information to help round out that audience. (They have recently stripped back the amount of information you can get for free, but it’s still valuable).

If you need some help pulling a profile together, Sam Noble linked to some great templates in her talk at Search Elite. Here they are, along with a few others:

  1. Zazzle Media: Persona Template
  2. Xtensio Persona Creator
  3. HubSpot’s Persona Docs
  4. Hotjar: How to create a simple, accurate user persona in 4 steps without leaving your desk

Once you’ve pulled together as many pen portraits as are useful, stick them up around the office where everyone can see them and use them to guide you in everything you do – marketing or otherwise. When looking to trial a new feature, ask “would this improve things for Debbie?”, or use your personas as the inspiration to come up with new ideas.

Custom Affinity Audiences

In my last post, we talked about Affinity Audiences and In-Market Segments. When you apply these, you can also see an option for “Custom Affinity Audiences”. What are they?

Use in: GDN & YouTube

CAAs have been around for 2 or so years now and if you do a lot of advertising on YouTube or the Google Display Network these are really handy. You can’t use them in search, although that may change.

If you select “Create Custom Affinity Audience” at the end of the Affinity Audiences menu, you can create your own custom audience using a combination of interests and relevant websites. You can include sites relevant to the industry you’re in, or for the audience you want to attract. If you’re a luxury goods website, enter URLs for sites that sell clothing, jewellery, holidays, stationery – anything that would be bought by the people who want to buy from you. Don’t forget to target your competitors too! The use of keywords/interests can help refine the audience further.

When you roll these out in your campaigns alongside demographic targeting, they can be very powerful for brand-building and prospecting.

Facebook Preferred Page Audiences

Do you run a Facebook page for a brand? This is a hack that alters the organic targeting of your page content.

Use in: Facebook

What PPA does is make it more likely that users in that audience will see your content. It’s not a guarantee though and doesn’t preclude users not in your audience from seeing your content.

If you enable this feature, you’re also able to gain extra reporting insights on the posts that target these audiences. Think of it as a “suggestion” to Facebook – one that should help boost engagement. Simply take the data for the users you want to engage with and apply that into the audience builder. Facebook will tell you how many users will fall into this audience, so you can check whether or not you’re being too restrictive.

If you did happen to want to exclude a specific audience, there’s an “Audience Restriction” feature that will let you do just that.

Facebook Power Editor Templates

If you build out a lot of Facebook campaigns, I quite like this one as a timesaver.

Use in: Facebook

To help with my reporting and campaign set-up, I find these to be really useful. For our search we generally will have naming conventions that we follow, so why should Facebook be any different? If you come up with a way to structure campaign and ad group names, then we can do the same. I tend to follow something like:


This would give me completed ad groups like:



One of the great things about Power Editor is the use of IDs to let you include or exclude certain data points in your campaign targeting. If you want to always exclude the same things, then add them to your template. You can also specify things like, Instagram or right-hand-side targeting; devices; custom audiences you might want to include or exclude. Add these too and before you know it, you’ll have very little manual work to do every time you want to launch a new campaign.

If you pass the ad set name as one of your UTM parameters, you can also utilise GA reporting for these campaigns – rather than being reliant on Facebook’s own, not-de-duped pixel figures.

Combine with RLSAs to create and harness demand

This is becoming an increasingly popular way to look at paid search. As much as I love paid search, it’s not so good at creating demand – instead it’s really good at capturing it once it’s there. Yes, generic search can help drive brand a bit, but on its own, it’s not enough.

Use in: multichannel digital

Larry Kim talked about this at several events in 2016 and 2017 – about using RLSA to cut costs. The idea is that you can cut almost, if not all your non-RLSA spend and focus your PPC budget on your returning visitors who already know your brand and have some affinity for you.

If you use channels like Facebook and YouTube to drive cheap video views (views can be had for <£0.01) and traffic, you can increase brand affinity and grow your cookie pools for your remarketing relatively cheaply.

If you want to get really focused with your PPC spend, you can combine it with audiences that you know capture your most engaged users. Layering this with keywords and demographics gives you an ultra-laser-focused approach. I encourage you to read a bit more about Larry’s thinking on this if you find it interesting.

So there we have it! Some tips and tricks to help you do even more with audiences. Do you have any favourites of your own? Let me know in the comments!


Written By
Arianne Donoghue is the Paid Media Development Manager at Epiphany. Having started off her digital career client side over a decade ago, Arianne has worked for both agencies and brands in-house, specialising in all things paid search. She is now back agency side supporting on biddable media digital strategy. You...
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