Custom Audiences. What are they, how do you create them and why you should be using them for your next ad campaign. Today you’ll learn how to identify custom audiences and lookalike audiences and how you can target these two groups to gain maximum exposure on Facebook. Let’s get started with what custom audiences and lookalike audiences are.

What Is A Custom Audience?

A custom audience in Facebook is composed of a group of people who have interacted with your business either on Facebook, other online platforms or even offline. Targeting such a group usually results in higher conversions for businesses because these are people who are already familiar with your brand. They’re not total strangers to your business. These people are what we call a ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ audience. The typical audience you create at the Ad Set level (we’ll refer to this as the default targeting system) can be targeted using their location, age, gender, languages, interests, connections, and more. While this default targeting system is very comprehensive by itself, the Custom Audience feature allows advertisers to reach people you can’t target with the normal settings you find in the Audience tab in Ads Manager.

The 5 Types Of Custom Audiences You Can Create On Facebook

Here’s a screenshot of the different types of custom audiences you can target with your Facebook ads:

Facebook custom audiences panel

1. Customer File

One way to get the information of your customers on Facebook is by using your subscription member mailing list. You can upload your list to Facebook, and it will look for your subscribers’ Facebook accounts. You can also directly import from the popular email platform, MailChimp.  

If you don’t have a mailing list, but you have a customer file of your subscribers which include any of the following details – email address, phone number, name, date of birth, gender, age, Facebook user ID, city, zip code, and more – then Facebook can also use these to look up your customers’ Facebook accounts and add them to your custom audience.

2. Website Traffic

To create an audience from people who have visited and took specific actions on your website, you need to have the Facebook pixel installed on your site. Installing the pixel is simple and the important information you’ll gain access to is worth it. That said, keep in mind that to get usable data you will need to wait for at least 30 days so that Facebook can get a more accurate read and create a bigger audience size for your custom audience.

3. App Activity 

If you have an app or game linked to your account, you can create a custom audience of people who have launched or taken other specific actions on your app or game.

4. Offline Activity

You can target people who have interacted with your business in-store, by telephone, or via other offline means.

5. Engagement 

The engagement option allows you to target people who have engaged with your content on either Instagram or Facebook. This includes people who have watched your videos, opened or completed one or more of your lead forms, opened your collection or canvas ad(s) and interacted with your events.

In any of the custom audience options above, Facebook guarantees that the process is secure and that your customers’ details will be kept private. This means that you won’t be able to see the individual profiles of your custom audience.

What Is A Lookalike Audience?

A lookalike audience is an audience that has similar characteristics to another existing audience. Facebook has an active user base of over 2 billion people that log onto the platform each month. Their algorithm is so advanced it can detect and scope out people who are similar to your first group.

The social media platform will look for patterns and characteristics that your first group has in common and create a second group of very similar users who most probably have not interacted with your business before.

You can create a lookalike audience based on a customer list, a custom audience, your Facebook conversion pixel, or people who like your page. For example, if you have a custom audience of 20-25-year-old single females based in the United States who like travel, you can create a lookalike of that audience by targeting the same demographic of women in another part of the world such as Canada, the United Kingdom or wherever else you want.

Here’s a screenshot of the information you’d need to create a lookalike audience:

The good news is that Facebook does the hard work for you. All you have to do is select the audience source, the new location, the number of lookalike audiences you want to create and select the audience size. After that, Facebook gets to work and soon enough you’ll have your lookalike audience!

How To Use Custom And Lookalike Audiences To Get More Conversions

There are quite a number of different strategies you can employ to get more conversions for your business. However, the fastest way you can possibly get more sales and leads is by using a combination of custom and lookalike audiences.

As I mentioned earlier in this guide, custom audiences are people who are already familiar with your brand. They may already like and trust you, and thus would be more willing to sign up or buy your products and services.

Here are a few techniques to try and get more conversions for your business:

1. Get In Touch With Old Customers

If your business is new on Facebook and you want to establish yourself online and build a following by having people who know your business like your Facebook page, you can try setting up a campaign that targets everyone who’s ever done business with you. You can upload your mailing list, subscriber or customer database and Facebook will then match their info with their Facebook profiles.   

Once you have your custom audience set up, you can then start an Engagement Campaign and have your existing customers like your page. Tip: make sure your advert clearly identifies who you are so that they can recognize you.

It’s important to note here that Page Likes are mainly a vanity metric nowadays. Organic engagement from page fans and followers are shockingly low, however, having a ‘warm’ audience liking your page is beneficial for two reasons:

  • The numbers look good on your page (again, vanity metric), and
  • It translates to lower conversion costs.

Facebook experts agree that it seems to be a common trend to have lower conversion costs when targeting a page’s fans. Yes, you still need to pay Facebook to reach all your fans but it’s not going to be expensive (results may vary from page to page so please take this advice with caution). The reason this strategy usually leads to lower conversion costs is that ‘warm’ page fans are more likely to click through or engage with your ads since they already know and trust you.

Once you’ve reached a satisfactory number of Page Likes, you can then create a second advert offering them an enticing deal – something like a loyalty discount for returning customers. People love discounts so this approach is sure to be successful among your audiences, especially if they’ve had a good experience with your business in the past, chances are they’ll be more likely to take you up on your offer.

When you see good results on this initial campaign, you can then create a lookalike audience and target even more people with the same characteristics as your original custom audience!

Take note this strategy is just one of many. You can even forego the Page Likes campaign and just go straight to targeting your custom audience with the loyalty offer. It’s really all up to you – and your budget!

2. Offer New Products or Upgrades To Existing Customers

Customer segmentation plays a huge role when using the strategy of offering new products or upgrades to existing customers. Simply put, if you sell several products, you’d need to create one list for each product. Yes, it’s going to take a lot of work upfront, however, when it’s time to create those ads, your job will be much easier.

Here’s an example:

Let’s pretend you are a beauty company that sells natural cosmetics and skincare products and you currently offer 10 products (products A to J). For each product you sell, you keep a list of all the customers who bought each product. After a few months, you release an updated product which is a variation of Product A, for example, a natural moisturizer that is now tinted. It’s not an entirely new product because it’s still a moisturizer, but it has significant upgrades compared to the original, non-tinted moisturizer.

If you’re selling the tinted moisturizer at $100, you can set up a Facebook ad campaign targeting those who bought the original moisturizer and offer the tinted version at a discount i.e. the tinted moisturizer is 50% off. You then set up a separate ad targeting those who did not buy the non-tinted moisturizer but bought products B to J and offer the tinted moisturizer at the original price of $100 (or maybe give them a small discount for being an existing customer).

The key takeaway here is that the more specific your audience, the more you can create ads that speak directly to them and address their pain points. Lumping everyone into the same group will not only lead to fewer people engaging with your ad but will also lead to higher conversion costs. The more targeted your audience, the more engaged they would be, and the lower your conversion costs.

To get even more conversions, create a lookalike audience for each of your custom audiences. This means that if you have 10 Custom Audiences based on each product (Products A to J), then you can create 10 Lookalike Audiences. This strategy is especially useful if your products are geared towards different markets or different industries.

3. Target Subscribers Who Never Read Your Emails

Let’s be honest – you’ve likely sent an email to your subscribers that did not get the open rates you had hoped for. Trust me, you’re not alone! Nowadays we get a lot of emails every day and the truth is many of us don’t open them all – myself included. So how can you make sure you get your brand in front of subscriber who don’t open the emails you send them?  By using Facebook Ads of course. You can upload your mailing list and create an ad targeted specifically to your subscribers.

To ensure they engage with your ad, offer them something enticing or maybe just let them know about your new blog post and how it can be of value to them. You just need to be creative to get your brand in front of them so they’ll remember you when they need your products or services.

Things To Keep In Mind Before Creating Custom Audiences

Before you create any custom audience, please make keep the following two things in mind:

  1. You have permission from your customers or mailing list to use their data. This means you can’t create a custom audience using data you’ve bought from a third-party, especially companies selling fake information. Doing so goes against the premise of custom audiences which is people who have interacted with your business before. If you do this, you can get into a lot of trouble with Facebook, and possibly get your account banned.
  2. The people in your custom audience have not opted out or unsubscribed from your mailing list. If people opted out of your list, it means they don’t want to receive any more communication from you. They don’t want to receive your emails, your newsletters, and they don’t want to look at your Facebook Ads.  

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned all there is about creating custom targeted audiences, I hope you take this information and apply it to your marketing strategy to help grow your business. If you’d like to learn more or think you can benefit from some help, reach out here to book some time and connect.