facebook custom audiences

Facebook Custom Audiences: The Ultimate Guide

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Many businesses only try out Facebook advertising for a while but fail because they do not fully understand how it works. In fact, only 45% of marketers believe their Facebook campaigns are effective. So, if you master the art of Facebook marketing, you will jump ahead of these rivals.

One of the very first things you should do before you launch any Facebook advertising campaign is to create Custom Audiences.

What is a Custom Audience?

According to Facebook,

a Custom Audience from a customer list is a type of audience you can create that is made up of your existing customers. You can target ads to the audience you’ve created on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.”

The important distinction here is that a Custom Audience is a contact list from your business, whether this is an email list, web account holders, or any list from outside Facebook.

Once you have uploaded this list, the Custom Audience tool will match the data with Facebook profiles. Typically, businesses should expect up to 70% of their contacts to have matching profiles on the social media platform.

As a result, Custom Audiences are one of most effective you can target.

Here’s Why You Should Use Custom Audiences

To Find Your Most Promising Customers:

Facebook advertising enables you to target the audience you want to market to. The way it works means you only pay when you get some level of engagement and the budget can be set by you. For businesses, it’s an excellent way to ensure content is only exposed to people most likely to be interested in it.

To Retarget Your Potential Customers:

The great thing about Custom Audiences is that everyone in them has had some form of interaction with your company. This allows you to target advertisements to people who have abandoned their cart, for example. By doing this, you entice people to complete their purchases with the products fresh in their minds.

Gives You the Opportunity to Cross-Sell

As you may already know, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain one. So, it makes sense to keep the ones you already have engaged. Custom Audiences are a great way of communicating with your existing customers and encouraging them to return to your store.

This presents an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell your products. For example, if a customer has already bought a laptop, you could promote some accessories to go with it.

Clearly, Custom Audiences will go a long way to boost your Facebook advertising strategy but how do you set them up? This guide will show you exactly how.

Firstly, we will take you through the process of implementing Custom Audiences yourself. Then we will finish off the post by showing you how you can use Connectio products to make your life easier and smarten up your Facebook campaign.

How to Create an Audience?

If this is your first time, you will need to create a Custom Audience. After logging into your business Facebook account, you need to find the Ads Manager. Once you’re there, you will see a “Create Audience” tab. After clicking it you will get this drop down menu:

Facebook Custom Audience 1

Click “Custom Audience,” which leads to this pop-up:

Facebook Custom Audience 2

As you can see, there are a number of different types of audiences you can add. Let’s run through a few of them to give you an idea of how they work.

What Type of Custom Audience is Best for Your Business:

Do you have your own email database? Use this:

  • Customer file: This is the standard option, where you add email addresses or other contact details from your own database. Facebook then matches your data with personal profiles. As we stated before, you can expect up to 70% of email addresses to match. It then filters out those who do not have matching profiles.

Want to target your website visitors? Use this:

  • Website traffic: This is where you allow Facebook to track visitors to your site within a set time period (up to 180 days). You can even narrow it down to a specific page – for example a particular product, and target them when they use Facebook

Do you have your own app? Use this:

  • App activity: Works in much the same way as “Website traffic” but this time with your mobile apps.

Want to chase up those networking event contacts? Use this:

  • Offline activity: Similar to the “Customer file” option but with a varied range of contact details, such as phone numbers. This is an excellent way to bring even more customers online, where you can measure and track their records.

Want to maximize engagement from previous Facebook Ads? Use this:

  • Engagement: This is the one to use if you have already done a number of Facebook or Instagram campaigns. It enables you to target those who have engaged with previous ads in one way or another. Though you can set the time-frame within the past year, the more recently they engaged with your business, the better.

Now, we’ll go through a couple of these options in detail, so you can get a good understanding of how it all works.

Customer File Audience

Facebook Custom Audience Customer File

For “Customer file,” you will have the option to either add the email addresses manually or through MailChimp:

Facebook Custom Audience 3

Once you have selected the method, you will be able to upload your list of leads. Given that Facebook only offers integration with MailChimp, you will likely pick “Add Customers From Your Own File”.

You need to prepare a file containing the email addresses you want to add to your Custom Audience. Use a CSV/Excel file or open a simple text editor and insert one value per line like this:

Unfortunately, you can’t mix the data types. So it’s either exclusively email addresses or phone numbers, etc.

Facebook Custom Audience 4

Once you have uploaded the email addresses, you will want to name your list. This is important so you can accurately track its performance and use it again if required. Keep it simple and memorable – i.e. “Laptop buyers.”

Website Traffic Audience

Facebook Website Traffic

(Author’s screenshot)

The first thing you need to do here is to create a Facebook pixel. This will enable Facebook to detect users who visit your website or selected pages. You will find this feature under the “pixel” tab in the Ads Manager. Then:

  1. Click Create a Pixel – note if you have one already, it will not appear.
  2. Enter a name for your pixel.
  3. Your Pixel tracks multiple events, depending on the page.

Once you have the pixel set up, you will be able to use it for any of the pages you want to track. If you are a little uncertain about this, either contact a developer or use a plugin – like ConnectAudience – to help you.

Depending on how specific you want the criteria to be for website visitors, you can either select all visitors within a set number of days or pick individual pages:

Facebook Website Traffic options

(Author’s screenshot)

Once you have selected all your options, you can let Facebook populate the list for you. It will track and find any users who have visited the pages within the time-frame set. In a matter of minutes, you will have a list ready to work with.

And… Here’s How You Can Automate It All

Though Facebook have made strides in making this setup process easier, it’s still time-consuming and non-experts can miss a few tricks along the way.

The other issue is that without using tools like those from Connectio, you could be wasting time and money in setting up Custom Audiences that may not actually be interested in buying your products or using your service.


At Connectio, our awesome ConnectAudience tool gives you a huge array of options for building custom audiences to your own specifications. This enables you to target specific subscriber behaviors with unerring accuracy to boost conversions and dramatically reduce ad costs.

With a just few clicks, ConnectAudience connects your subscriber list to your Facebook Ad Manager. From that point on, ConnectAudience does the rest.

It even manages and updates your custom audiences with any changes made to your lists, automatically – no more fussing with exporting subscriber lists and uploading them into your FB ad manager.

Here’s some of the things you can do with ConnectAudience:

Target an overlapping segment of subscribers who are on two or more of your lists

Super-useful if you have buyers lists for multiple products.

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Target your list to exclude previous buyers of a product

Also keeps your audiences automatically updated to weed out future buyers, so your audiences always stay highly-targeted.

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Target people who received but didn’t open a particular email(s)

Very effective way to try to get more exposures to an offer without sending more emails.

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Target people who opened your email, but didn’t click on any links

Nudge your subscriber in the right direction to increase click rates and earnings per subscriber.

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Target people who opened an email AND clicked on a link

Great way to get people re-exposed to any offer to increase conversions. And you’re always in control, even with affiliate links.

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Build audiences based on segmenting data and/or selected emails sent

Easily follow up with highly-targeted/qualified repeat buyers on good-selling promotions.

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Custom tailor ads to keep up with your follow-up sequences

Increase exposures to high-ticket offers using Facebook ads, while helping your subscribers along your email sequence to get maximum conversions.

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Create lookalike audiences for your lists

Target Facebook users not on your list but match similar preferences, demographics and interests of your subscribers. Another powerful capability that can exponentially increase your sales and profits.

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Using the Connectio suite of tools, you can maximize the potential of Custom Audiences and develop highly effective ads to target them.

Dramatically reduce costs by continually generating unique custom audiences for your brand and targeting those that will get you the best returns.

Marketers have seen incredible success using these tools. Some have even enjoyed up to 2,021% returns on their campaigns. Start using Connectio today to make the most out of Facebook and its reach of 2 billion active users.