We all agree: Facebook Custom Audiences are one of – if not the most –essential tools for successful Facebook advertising campaigns.
There’s been a lot of changes to custom audiences since Facebook rolled them out in 2013, that’s why we created this 2019 update of our guide!
In this post, we will go through everything you need to know about Custom Audiences – from the setup to advanced implementation, to tactics.
Warning: it’s packed with tips, tutorials, and tactics, after reading this guide, you’ll have everything you need to know! But we won’t stop there!
Keep on reading and discover what we have in store for you!
If you’re short on time or want this information offline, download the fully updated edition of our free ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences.
The Ultimate Guide to Custom Audiences – 2019 EditionLearn to Create Laser Focused Ads that Convert (and it’s FREE!) Download Now!
Here’s the table of contents:
- How To Create a Facebook Custom Audience
- Types of Custom Audiences
- How To Create a Customer List Custom Audience
- How To Create a Website Custom Audience
- How To Create an App Activity Custom Audience
- How To Create an Engagement Custom Audience
- Using a Lookalike Audience
- Targeting Facebook Ads to Custom Audiences
- 3 Ways To Boost Your Campaigns with Custom Audiences
- Organizing Your Custom Audiences
- Custom Audiences Rules & Legality
If you’re new to this, make sure you read from the beginning! If you have any questions about a section, leave a comment!
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After you finish reading this guide and download your free eBook, you’ll probably want to check first-hand how all of this knowledge can be used in real life to boost your ROI and reduce your ad spend.
We created this FREE webinar just for you!
In this one-hour class, Paul Fairbrother, AdEspresso’s Head of Education, will show you all the ins and outs of campaign targeting. You’ll learn how to effectively use all kinds of audiences so you can avoid wasted ad spend and too high CPA’s!
It’s free, just click here on on the picture above to reserve your seat and/or get your own copy of the recording of the webinar.
How to Create a Facebook Custom Audience
To create your first Custom Audience, go to the Business Manager menu in the top lefthand corner and select “Audiences” from the Assets section:
From there, select the “Create Audience” blue button:
A dropdown menu will ask you which audience type you would like to create, select “Custom Audience”:
You’ll then be presented with 10 different options for the audience source:
There are many types of custom audiences, and Facebook is increasing them every day.
- Customer List (a.k.a. Standard) Custom Audiences
A list of emails, phone numbers, or Facebook User IDs that Facebook will match them with it’s users. Facebook will usually match between 60-70% of the contacts on your list. Uploading this list usually has to be done manually, unless you use a Custom Audience Sync tool.
- Website Custom Audiences
Instead of users’ email addresses or phone numbers, you can insert a Facebook Pixel tracking code on your website and target your Facebook Advertising to all users that have visited a specific page on your website during a set time period (up to 180 days)!
- App Activity Custom Audiences
You can create audiences based on what actions people take when they use your app or game. If your business has an app associated with it, you need to be utilizing custom audiences on Facebook.
- Offline Activity
Conversions that happen offline, such as in a store, can be logged and then listed on a spreadsheet which is then uploaded to Facebook.
- Facebook Sources – Engagement Custom Audiences
You can create audiences of those who engage with your posts, videos, events and forms on Facebook and Instagram. The duration of these audience types is up to 365 days (apart from for lead forms which is 90 days), although the more recent is often better.
We’ll go through how to create each one of these audiences one-by-one, and then follow up with some tactics on how you can utilize them.
Let’s select the “Customer File” option. This is where you can upload your leads – or potential customers.
You’ll have two options to sync your customer lists:
- Manually upload your audience in a .txt or .csv file.
- Synchronization with your Email CRM to your Facebook Ads Account
1 – Manual Upload
You’ll be presented with three options:
The first two options require a .csv or .txt file, and if you have an eCommerce store often you can export an extra column for the customer lifetime value data. The third option obviously requires a MailChimp account to sync with.
There are up to 15 identifiers you can include in the upload such as name, city, and age along with the email address:
The more information you can include, the more accurate the matching will be by Facebook.
2 – Syncing with Your Email CRM
With a Custom Audience Sync tool, you can make sure the leads that you acquire in your email list are automatically synced to your custom audiences (or vice versa, with Facebook’s extremely powerful Lead Ads).
With AdEspresso’s Data Sync feature, you’ll never have to do a “manual upload” again! We have constantly updated custom audiences based on your email or customer lists! For more info, check out our Facebook data sync feature here or sign up for a Free Trial (it’s included!).
What do you do if you don’t have a big enough database of emails to create your own Custom Audiences?
You guessed it: Website Custom Audiences! This feature doesn’t require you to have any data about the users you want to target. All you have to do is wait for a user to visit your website. Thanks to a special tracking code – the Facebook Pixel – Facebook will recognize users and automatically add them to an Audience, making them ready to be re-targeted with advertising.
Discover everything you need to know about pixel setup and installation in our guide here.
Website Custom Audience Options
The default is “all website visitors” but clicking on the dropdown menu gives a range of options:
- People who visited specific web pages: this allows you to filter based on URLs, either including or excluding certain keywords or the entire URL string.
- Visitors by time spent: select the top 5%, 10% or 25% of website visitors based on time spent on site
- From your events: pick a pixel event to build an audience from. For instance, use the purchase event to build a list of recent customers.
Advanced options can then be chosen to further refine the audiences:
- Frequency: how many times a website visitor performs an action, such as visiting a page or purchasing.
- Dynamic date: allows you to target visitors who have visited within a certain time period.
- Devices: Android, iOS, desktop, and all mobile devices can be included or excluded.
- Aggregated value: this includes various options but is most commonly used to filter by the amount spent, for example to only include those that spent $100 or more:
The combinations are bordering on endless, so don’t get too lost with it all! We recommend keeping it simple to start, and experimenting with just the frequency first!
With mobile accounting for over 90% of Facebook ads served, it only makes sense that creating audiences based on app activity is one of the leading forms of custom audiences.
For example, you can target people who previously used your app, but have not come back to your app within the last month. Target them with a discount coupon and voila!
There’s a wide range of actions you can currently target, but the most popular are:
- Anyone who opened the app
- Top 5%, 10% or 25% most active users
- Top 5%, 10% or 25% by purchase amount
- Users by segment, with the segment being created in Facebook Analytics
These six types of engagement custom audiences really open up the doors for new businesses or those that are too small to have built up email lists or large volumes of website traffic.
Let’s look at each option in more detail:
Select one or more videos, the time window to include and then the percentage or time watched.
Select the Instagram profile and then choose from the various engagement options available.
Either choose a specific lead form or the account as a whole, then anyone who opened the form, or specifically those that did or didn’t submit it.
Select a specific event or the account as a whole then choose from a wide range of options, including ticket sales if you have connected Eventbrite.
this was previously called Canvas, and just like for events or leads you can choose a specific post or the whole account. Then, choose those who opened or clicked on the Experience.
this is similar to Instagram, choose the relevant business page and then pick from the range of engagement options.
While custom audiences are great for re-engaging people who already had an interaction with you, lookalike audiences allow you to target new users that don’t know you yet, but are very likely to become your customers.
Choose a suitable custom audience as a source, for example, current customers if the aim is to get more purchasers, or current leads if you wish to get more signups.
For more advice, check out our complete guide to Facebook lookalike audiences.
Targeting audiences is extremely simple.
Start with opening Facebook Ads Manager and creating a new adset within a campaign. Scroll down to the Audiences section:
Just start typing the name of the Custom Audience you want to target and select it from the autocomplete list.
If you want, you can select more than one Custom Audience to increase your reach.
Once you’ve selected an audience, you’ll notice that hovering your mouse cursor over it will cause two icons to appear.
The X deletes your audience and clicking the down arrow gives you the option to exclude the audience.
Now that you know how to create all different types of audiences, it’s time to switch from tutorials to tactics.
How you segment your lists really depends on what kind of business you are running. Let me give you a few examples and then it’s down to you to test and experiment.
1) Guide People Through Your Sales Funnel
An AdEspresso subscription is only going to appeal to a subset of digital marketers and only a small fraction of the general population. So, we boost more general blog posts to cold traffic and can then build a 5 day audience of website visitors and advertise a free trial to them. As they’re already aware of AdEspresso, the conversion rate is much higher than promoting trials to cold traffic. Current and previous customers are excluded from these campaigns using login data based on the pixel being installed on the AdEspresso login page and also custom audiences based on email lists of current and churned customers, updated using Data Sync.
2) Turn Video Views Into Sales
A video is often the best way of introducing your brand to new prospects, but it’s also very difficult to get across a brand awareness message and a sales call to action at the same time. By building a video view custom audience, it’s possible to create a very simple two-step sales funnel.
For example, Hootsuite promotes videos with case studies, such as this one featuring Accor Hotels:
The Facebook viewers that watched the video can then be targeted with a free trial offer.
3) Upsell to existing customers
It’s easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you than to a total stranger. Yet, it’s surprising how often brands think the sales funnel stops once the first purchase is made. Often, they’ll exclude their current customer custom audience from ad campaigns instead of thinking how they can leverage this audience.
Here’s an example of how upselling should be done, with this subscription box offering monthly subscribers a strong incentive to upgrade to a yearly plan.
Within the Audiences section in Business Manager, you’ll see a lefthand column, allowing you to search for an audience or view recent ones, active ones and those shared to and from the account.
Taking things to the next level, within AdEspresso’s Asset Manager you can create folders to separate the audiences, for example relating to a certain promotion or by the name of the person that created them.
This is especially useful for agencies to keep track of all their audiences across multiple ad accounts.
Finally, let’s quickly review some bureaucracy. I encourage you to read the full Facebook Custom Audience Terms of Service.
But since I can guess most of you won’t, here’s a very quick summary of the TWO things you MUST know if you don’t want to have your account suspended.
#1) You can only create custom audiences with data you have received permission to use.
#2) You can’t keep people in your custom audiences that have requested to Opt Out of your other customer lists (i.e. your email lists).
So if someone unsubscribes from your newsletter you should remove him or her from your custom audience as well.
In short: keep your custom audiences always updated!
Wrapping it Up
Facebook Ads Custom audiences are a very powerful tool to increase your sales at a very competitive price.
With well over 2 billion users on Facebook and over a billion on Instagram, it’s important to know how to target just the right people so that you maximize your results and avoid wasted ad spend.
As always, our suggestion to get the most out of your marketing budget is to always split test your Facebook Ads … with AdEspresso of course!
But having some Pro tips from one of the best facebook Ads experts can be the cherry on top of your ROAS cake! Click the image below to get the whole cake (and eat it too) 😉 😎
I’m sure you can find many other creative ways to get the most out of Facebook Custom Audiences, please share your ideas in the comments!
And don’t forget to get your copy of our updated free ebook: