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Facebook Custom Audiences: Why They Matter And How To Use Them

Facebook Custom Audiences: Why They Matter And How To Use Them

For both big brands and small businesses, Facebook is an advertising goldmine. With access to all of the 2.2 billion users currently active on the platform, there are few marketing tools that can pack a punch quite as impressive as this social network.

Last year, for the first time, the number of Facebook advertisers passed the five million mark, proving just how widespread this marketing stream has become. This growth has been exponential, ramping up around 50 per cent since 2015. In response to this massive uptake, Facebook chiefs have implemented a number of improvements to the service, one of which is the new Facebook Custom Audiences feature.

If you’re yet to discover the huge benefits of advertising via Facebook Custom Audiences, let’s get to know this tool a bit better, and discover how your business could be using it to stimulate your own rapid growth. Here’s what you need to know.

What are Facebook Custom Audiences?

The Custom Audiences feature is a new and very exciting upgrade to the traditional advertising interface we all know and love. This tool allows you to segment your marketing efforts, pinpointing more precisely than ever before those people who will engage most readily with your messages. Using your own data on your customers, you can link up with their Facebook profiles via email addresses and telephone numbers, helping you to market to your existing customers via precision targeted ads.

And that’s not all this clever bit of software can do either. Using various tools courtesy of Facebook, you can track who has visited your website and target ads at them. You can create audiences based on who uses your app. You can advertise at people who have visited your Facebook page. And, most excitingly, you can create a ‘lookalike audience’; people who have similar traits and activity patterns as your most successful customer segment, creating a much bigger Custom Audience of fresh new faces for your marketing efforts.

How to get started with Custom Audiences

Creating a customer list is easy, and there is plenty of help out there on the Facebook Business pages. In a nutshell, this is a three-step process:

  1. Add your customers: Choose to either upload a file or copy and paste your customer data. It should be either email addresses or phone numbers, not a mixture. You can also use data synchronising tools to automatically add customers to your audience list.
  2. Check your data: Facebook will automatically read the data you have entered and flag up any data it doesn’t understand. This may be because it has been entered incorrectly or because the format isn’t right. You can edit the data here before uploading it.
  3. Upload and create: Once you’re happy with your list, you can upload it to Facebook. A large file of data may take some time to be hashed by the software, but once complete, you’re ready to start using Custom Audiences.

From here, you’re ready to create your first ad using Custom Audiences. Using this list of customers will allow you to target those people you’ve done business with before, reengaging them and working to secure their business again. However, now that Facebook knows something about your customers, you can also create a lookalike audience which will open the door to thousands of new prospects who may be interested in your brand.

As well as this, you can use pixel tracking to create custom audiences of people who have visited your website, or app tools to target those who have downloaded or interacted with your app. Excitingly, the newest addition to the Custom Audiences feature is the addition of Engagement Audiences; a segmentation tool which focusses on those who have interacted with your Facebook page.

Using the Engagement tools, you can create a custom audience based on who has watched your video on Facebook or Instagram, of who have opened or partly filled in a lead form on your page, those who have liked or commented on your posts and much more. There is a rumble at Facebook HQ about using geolocation functions to track customers physical movements in the real world too, allowing businesses with sticks and bricks stores to target those who have visited recently.

Tips and tricks to get the most from Facebook Custom Audiences

Hopefully you’re as excited as we are about this new direction for Facebook advertising. Finally, there’s no excuse for spending huge amounts to get a miniscule return, as we can be more confident than ever that our ad impressions are being delivered to the right people.

If you’re new to segmentation, targeted advertising might seem a little daunting, despite Facebook making it super easy. Don’t panic, because this really is a piece of cake. Here are some top tips for using Custom Audiences to get the maximum return:

  • Focus on your existing customers: It may be tempting to dive right in and start expanding your reach with lookalike audiences, but its important to begin at the beginning and reengage with your key audience. Work on things like:
    • Getting more page likes from previous customers
    • Showing old customers new products
    • Reminding ex customers that you’re still there

Ensuring you reach those who know you already first will help you get some quick wins with your Facebook marketing.

  • Reach users who no longer read your emails: If you’ve got an email list, make use of it in your custom audience work. Even if some of those users haven’t opened an email in years, it’s worth checking if they’re on Facebook and reaching out to them on this platform too. Maybe they blocked your emails when they no longer needed your service, but now is a good time to approach them again. All data is useful data!


  • Discover customer failure points: Use custom audiences to discover where the sales funnel is failing. Target marketing at customers who have abandoned carts in your store, or who have started to fill in a lead form but never submitted it. Ask for feedback with your ads or direct them to other ways to continue their buying journey. Learn from your mistakes and make your customer journey more refined.


  • Work to trim the fat: Custom audiences not only allow you to target those people you most want to reach, they also allow you to exclude those you know you don’t want to reach. This can make your marketing budget stretch a whole lot further, allowing you to exclude, for instance, customers who have already visited your website from generic prospecting-type marketing. Every engagement has a cost, so make sure every penny you spend is worthwhile.


  • Learn how to create powerful new audiences: We’ve already mentioned the exciting prospect of lookalike audiences, but there are other audience types you can create too. For example, the household audience allows you to target people who live in the same household as your customers. You can also target new people based on gender, location, interests and more. Read up on these and start figuring out how they can work with your marketing strategy to create powerful, targeted campaigns.


Facebook Custom Audience is an awesome addition to what was already a highly influential marketing channel, showing just how serious this platform is about giving back to its users. Through custom audiences, we can make our marketing budget stretch further and create more impact for every penny spent. Have a play with custom audiences today and start to see just how great this could be for your marketing efforts in the future.


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Vanessa Simms
Vanessa writes on a range of subjects for the Search South blog, but has a strong focus on her core interest area of Google AdWords management best practices.