Target Customers with Facebook’s Custom Audiences

We’re always talking about how to best reach and connect with  your target audience. So much stress is placed on making your Facebook pages and landing pages strong enough to convert first time visitors into long time clients. We are putting huge emphasis on finding new members for our audience, expanding our reach, and continuing to grow.

This is obviously an important task. That’s why there is so much focus put around it.

But what about the audience that you already have? The people who have already signed up for newsletters, subscribed to your blog, or are long term clients: what about them?

You definitely don’t want them falling into the distance. You want to keep the momentum going.

Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool helps you to target the people who are already interested in your business, and may have even made purchases from you in the past. With Custom Audiences, the goal isn’t to target new members of your target audience, it is to get people you are already familiar with to your page. You are further cultivating and strengthening those relationships.

With Facebook Custom Audiences, you get to target individuals who you are already connected with, including those who have just visited your site (see Custom Audience from a Website below). You upload a file with your clients names and phone numbers, or names and emails. It is a relatively unique feature that has no true rival in any other platform as of yet.

You have 100% complete control of who you target individually instead of targeting a random group within a specific demographic theoretically, which is sometimes the case when you’re taking a stab with a broader targeting system (even a really great one like Facebook’s ad system).

For an overview of Facebook’s Custom Audience tool in video form, you can watch our video discussing Custom Audiences here on our youtube channel.

How to Make a Custom Audience

First, figure out who it is that you want to target. This can be clients that are on your e-mail list or have subscribed to your blog, clients that have purchased from you in the past, or even clients who purchased a particular item in the past. If you want to target those who have only visited your website, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Regardless of who you choose, you should try to have at least 1000 users in your custom audience in order to ensure meaningful reach. In this case, the more people in your audience, the better the potential of the ad may be. You want more than a couple dozen users.

After you have decided who you want to target in your custom audience, create a .CSV (this is very important) excel document, which contains the users names, as well as phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook user ideas, or mobile advertiser IDs depending on what works best for you and is most relevant.

When it comes to the formatting of the file, there needs to be a single column of data with no heading.


You can create custom audiences in two ways: through the ads manager or through power editor.

If it is your first time creating a Custom Audience, you will need to do so via the ads manager.

In order to do this you:

  • Make sure your .CSV excel document (and list of clients) is exactly how you want them (with single columns and no headings).

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  • Go to Ads Manager, and then go to Audiences. Once there, you will select “custom audiences.”

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  • You then chose what type of audience to create. For this type of Custom Audience, we’re going to select Data File Custom Audience.

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  • Enter in the name of the audience, a description, what data type you’ll be uploading (ie, the clients e-mails, phone numbers, etc), and the file. Press “Create Audience,” and voila! Sometimes it takes a bit of time to upload (up to half an hour), but it’s an easy process when it comes to navigation and uploading.

 Uploading Facebook's Custom Audience

If you are creating your custom audience via power editor, it’s a similar process.

  • Create that same .CSV excel file.
  • Go to Power Editor and click download, which will download your most recent data from the ad system from the accounts you want.
  • Select “Audiences” on the navigation bar
  • Just like above, fill in the information and select “Create.”

After you have created your custom audience, you then always have the option to target them with your Facebook Ads, singling them out with specific campaigns designed just for them.

You can create up to a maximum of 10,000 Custom Audiences depending on where you’re getting the sources from, and up to 500 from data files. That’s a whole lot of potential for gropus to be made.

Don’t feel pressured or limited if you’re unsure of an ad being good for groups or subgroups. Just divide them up all over again, and you’re free to edit and revise custom audiences you’ve already created if you find they need a bit of tweaking after reviewing the statistics in Audience Insights.

Why and When You Should Use a Custom Audience

Custom Audiences are best used to deliver highly targeted messages to a very specific group of people.

With Custom Audiences, you can target people who you have a prior relationship and rapport with, whether that’s on Facebook or off of it. You’re are targeting relevant users in an organic way.

In past posts, we’ve talked about why targeting the wrong people with a great ad is just as useless as targeting them with a bad one. Custom Audience takes finding the right audience one step further.

You aren’t just targeting a group of people who are believed to be in your target audience. You’re targeting actual specific individuals that you know– or greatly suspect– would be perfect for your product, your Facebook page, and the ad campaign that you are going to present to them.

Using Custom Audiences is about better connecting with those you are already at least slightly connected with. This is a relevant audience who is already familiar with you.

These are people who you already know are likely you’re ideal audience: they are already interested in you, your business, or your product in some way. Singling them out directly with highly targeted ads just for them could be enough motivation to get them to take action on whatever your call to action (CTA) is.

Facebook’s Custom Audiences From Your Website

Custom Audiences From Your Website allows you to connect with people who have visited your site or blog outside of Facebook. You then deliver a highly targeted message to them via good ole’ Facebook Ads to get them on Facebook as well.

This allows you to remarket to those who have already visited your website and are therefore likely interested in your company or product.

It also gives you the option to exclude groups of people who have already taken action on your message. You will instead be targeting only specific users who have not yet converted on your message, to whom the ad would be most relevant and therefore most profitable.

You could deliver highly targeted messages, for a few examples, to those who:

  • Added something to a shopping cart but haven’t yet made purchases
  • Seemed to idly browse, looking at a few specific products but didn’t purchase
  • Were looking at information on warranties or returns
  • Were looking into loyalty programs or member discounts.
  • Added items to a wishlist

Website Custom Audiences installs what is essentially a tracker on your site or blog, linking it to Facebook to see who was on your site and what they did there. By enabling a Custom Audience through your website, Facebook will automatically upload the users who visited your site to a unique audience you can target further.

So how do you create a Website Custom Audiences, which takes Custom Audiences one step further?

  1. Go to Facebook Ads Manager, and again, select Audiences on the left navigation bar. Click on Custom Audience.
  2. Click on Custom Audiences From Your Website. How to Set Up Facebook's Custom Audience
  3. After agreeing to terms of service, you’ll end up at a lightbox asking for the Audience Name and their visited URLs. You can put in pages, keywords, or URLs where the pixel will be executed on your site.Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 2.05.31 PM
  4. You can provide negative “doesn’t contain” criteria.
  5. You can select how long you want people to remain in this Custom Audience (it becomes automated, though available for editing later). You can keep this window open between 1 to 180 days. Above, I’ve selected 32 days as an easy to spot example.
  6. After doing this, click on the View Custom Audience pixel link. The result can be seen in the picture above. It’s this part of the equation: Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 2.04.24 PM
  7. Copy and paste the entire and complete javascript into the HTML of every page of your website you want tracked. If you do not do this, there is no audience that will be developed, and it will look something like this:Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 2.06.04 PM

With your Custom Audience of a Website already developed, and once the ads are running successfully with large ROIs, you can use them to create Lookalike Audiences, or an audience with the same demographic and interests criteria that your current Custom Audience has.

For any questions about Custom Audiences from a Website, you can take a look at the official FAQ on Facebook, which answers both general and specific questions about the feature.

Don’t Forget About Audience Insights

Audience Insights is a relatively new—but unbelievably incredible— tool that Facebook has brought to the table, allowing you to know anything and everything about a hypothetical audience.

This is true for traditional audiences targeted through the ad system as well as custom audiences. You can read our post discussing Audience Insights here.

Using Audience Insights, you can evaluate how best to continue to reach your desired audience. Using Audience Insights can give you new ideas to target your audience in new, unique ways that improve upon your campaign instead of letting it fall stagnant.