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How to Create Custom Audiences for Your Facebook Ads

Tools and Tips

March 1, 2017

Are your Facebook ads reaching your intended audience? Do you know who your target audience is and what you want them to do when they see your ad? It’s time to get real, with those questions and more.

As diehard Facebook advertisers and Instagram posters, we’ve tested, tweaked and optimized tens of thousands of posts, and are ready to bring you our top tips on finding, identifying and targeting the right people with your Facebook ads. And a word of warning.. some of these insights are so scary good, they should be illegal. Like the kind where you take your email subscribers or contact list, and make a custom audience out of them.

So get ready, because we’ve broken it down into your hot leads (audiences who are already highly engaged with your brand or business), the warm ones (those you have expressed a marginal bit of interest or that you know will love your stuff), and the cold (those harder to reach or land, or the ones who are yet to have any idea who you are).

First things first: for those of you new to setting up Facebook audiences for brilliant targeting of your posts and ads, here is the path to get you started:
Go to your Business Manager > All Tools > Assets > Audiences… and then let’s begin.

3 important audience types that will increase your Facebook ad effectiveness:

1. HOT LEAD or ‘HIGHLY ENGAGED’: Custom Audience – Customer File shutterstock_316850861-768x512.jpg

Upload your existing database to Facebook and connect with them on Facebook. Why is this a great idea? These people have explicitly opted into your e-newsletter, which means they want to hear from you (assuming you have followed anti-spam legislation). So do them a heavy and let them hear from you on a new domain (i.e. Facebook) to remind them you’re alive,engage with you further, read your content, purchase your products and beyond. And since repeat customers are your best customers, this is a great audience to start with, particularly if you’re paying to do so.

STEPS FROM WITHIN FACEBOOK BUSINESS MANAGER: Audiences > Create Customer Audience > Customer File > Upload your database (must be .CSV file) or link directly to your MailChimp account > Choose the fields you want (Must Choose: First Name, Last Name and Email). Upload the file and watch Facebook work its magic, until voila! A new custom audience based on your contact list.

2. WARM LEAD or ‘INTERESTED’: Customer Audience – Website Traffic shutterstock_293765597-768x513.jpg

You must have a Facebook Pixel installed on your website in order to take advantage of this second, almost equally awesome custom audience type. Once you have completed this (instructions below), you are seamlessly able to create an audience comprised of the people who have visited your website – or a particular page on your website – within a recent time window of your choosing. The result is an audience that is not only aware of who you are, but may still be in the early stages of getting to know you and your offering, and thus not yet completed their purchase, signed up for whatever it is you’re offering or engaged with you on social media (i.e. liked your page, followed your Instagram feed, watched your social videos, etc.). Do yourself a favour and meet this audience where they are (Facebook), for an awesome way to stay top of mind with them and hopefully seal the deal!

STEP 1: Business Manager Settings > People and Assets > Pixels > Create a Facebook Pixel Button (insert into backend of website- may need your coder to do this) 

STEP 2: Audiences > Create Customer Audience > Website Traffic > Set Specifications

3. COLD LEAD or ‘I JUST HAVEN’T MET YOU YET’: Lookalike Audience with Customer File Database

Now it’s time to expand your reach. This audience takes characteristics from your existing database and targets similar people with ‘lookalike’ habits, interests and demographics. Brilliant, right? This audience type is indeed the most powerful tool for expanding your reach, as it essentially doubles the size of your most engaged audience.

STEP 1: Refer to audience type #1 where you upload a customer file
STEP 2: Business Manager Settings > Audiences > Create Audience > Lookalike Audience > Source, choose Custom Audience (whatever you named your database file)

Easy as pie, right? Give it a try and see how far you get, and for a step-by-step hands-on, in-person version of this tutorial and more, check out our Digital Advertising course – course number 5 in our Social Media Marketing Certificate!