How to Use Facebook’s Custom Audiences to Boost Your Social Marketing Efforts

The key to any successful ad strategy is targeting. It’s simple, if you don’t target the people you won’t be generating conversions.

In the same vein, you want to make the most out of your ad spend, and remarketing through Facebook Custom Audiences provides you with a means to achieve both of these goals, by utilizing data collated from previous customer engagement, and using it to focus on converting warm and cold leads into revenue.

By targeting middle-of-the-funnel and lower-funnel results, you can shift them to the top of the funnel, vastly increasing your chances of sales and improving your audience structure.

In this post, we’ll look at exactly what custom audiences are, how you can create them, and how you can utilize them to best effect.

What are Custom Audiences?

Custom Audiences enable you to use data from your existing business database or Facebook-linked interactions to reach people that have shown some level of interest in your company. You can then target these users across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

By combining your data with Facebook’s insights, you can retarget people in a privacy-safe way to further encourage purchases, enabling you to convert cold and warm leads into a source of revenue.  You can also combine Custom Audiences with other targeting options such as location, demographics, interests and behaviors, and even use them to create lookalike audiences which can make your targeting even more powerful.

How to Create a Custom Audience

To get started with a custom audience, you first need to identify which audience source you wish to work with: 

Each option has its own, specific purpose:

1. Remarket to customers that form part of your customer database

Your customer database consists of contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers of customers collated from sales and mailing lists. By creating a Custom Audience from the people that have already interacted with your business, you can create customized ads for different customers depending on where they are in the sales funnel. This can be an effective way of generating sales from cold and warm leads.

You can import a customer file for targeted delivery of ads and to measure the incremental value you receive from Facebook.

Top tip: Separate out actual customers and other people that may be on your email list. Buyers are very different from normal subscribers and by uploading different lists you will be able to get a better return.

To import a data file, you must first prepare the data in a CSV or TXT format, with each field separated into columns. Facebook provides generic headers to improve auto-detection of data types, as well as guidance on data preparation. Try to include as many data types as possible to improve the quality of your custom audience, and always include country codes for phone numbers and countries for each customer.

To begin the import, open Ads Manager. Select “Audiences”, “Create Audience”, “Custom Audience”. Choose to create the audience from a “Customer File”. 

You can add customers by choosing your own file, copy and pasting a link, or using MailChimp (for this example, we’ve uploaded a CSV). 

Once you’ve uploaded your file, map the identifiers you want to use for your custom audience. If the file includes identifiers that you don’t want to use, you have the option to select “Do not load” from the drop-down next to each one.

Remember that you will produce a higher quality audience if you include more metrics.  

2. Remarket to customers that have visited your website

This type of remarketing is one that likely everyone is familiar with. When a customer visits your site, they’re tagged with a digital ‘cookie’, which you can use to target them with Facebook ads. This requires the use of the Facebook Pixel (you can learn more about pixels here). Facebook Pixel data collated from traffic can be an extremely effective way of remarketing, giving you a high degree of control over who sees your ads. That leads to higher quality audiences and higher conversion rates. 

By installing a Facebook Pixel on your website, you can track who has visited within a set period of time (e.g. 30 days) and apply filters to enable you to target a specific group of people.

For example, if you’re a technology retailer who wants to target people interested in headphones, you could set up an audience that consists of people that have visited pages with the keyword “headphones” in the URL.

To remarket from website traffic, open Ads Manager. Select “Audiences”, “Create Audience”, “Custom Audience”. Choose to create the audience from a “Website Traffic”. 

Once the parameter window opens, select “Custom combination” from the website traffic dropdown, and then select “Event”. 

Next, select the event that you want to create the audience from. For example, you could select “View content”, “Purchases” or “Lead conversions” – it all depends on which events you’ve recorded with your Pixel and wish to monitor.

Enter the time parameter for how long people will stay as part of your audience after they’ve completed the specified event, and make sure the “Include past website traffic” box is selected. Name your audience and click “Create audience”.

Top Tip: Test out different timeframes. For example, you could show people a message for the first three days, then after three days show them a different ad/message.

3. Remarket to customers that have engaged with your app

Remarketing to customers who have engaged with your app works similar to remarketing from website traffic. However, instead of using a Pixel to record data, you need to use Facebook’s software development kit (SDK).

By using this method to record actions within your app – such as Add to Wish List or Achieved Level – you can reward users to drive in-app purchases. It also enables you to target people that have downloaded your app but don’t engage with it as much as you would like.

To remarket from app activity, register your app, install your SDK and set up your events.

Next, open Ads Manager. Select “Audiences”, “Create Audience”, “Custom Audience”. Choose to create the audience from “App activity”. 

Select the apps you would like to create a Custom Audience from, and then click “Create”.

Top Tip: Once you’ve created your Custom Audience, Add-to-Cart ads for people who have added something to their basket in your app, and upselling to people who have already made a purchase, usually work pretty well as a retargeting method to customers engaged with your app.

4. Remarket to customers that have engaged with your Facebook and Instagram content

This feature enables you to create an audience from people that have engaged with your social media account within the last year.

You can create audiences of people that have carried out specified events on your page e.g. engaged with your page, visited your page, clicked a call-to-action or engaged with your posts, plus many more.

Next, open Ads Manager. Select “Audiences”, “Create Audience”, “Custom Audience”. Choose to create the audience from “Engagement”. 

The next step is to choose which type of engagement you want to create your custom audience from. There are quite a few options to choose from, so we there will always be something to suit your requirements.  

Top Tip: If you have a real following (you didn’t buy fake fans) this will likely be a great audience. Always start with Facebook and Instagram pages when first testing on Facebook

So there you have it, the foundations to your ultimate Facebook remarketing strategy. Hopefully these tips get you thinking about how you can use this powerful ad option in your own social approach. 

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