5 Key Ways to Take Advantage of Facebook Custom Audiences

Blog | 06 Dec, 2016

Written by Laura Mittelmann and Blaire Kinsey 

Ad targeting can seem a bit overwhelming at times with the vast amount of possibilities to target your customers.

Custom audiences are an essential tool for Facebook advertising campaigns. They allow you to target users who are most important to you.  As you continue to target new and returning customers, you need to fully take advantage of custom audience targeting throughout the entire journey.

For example, if you are advertising for a women’s wear company, your main goal may be customer retention. You as an advertiser need to understand the whole journey, from the point of awareness, all the way down to someone becoming a brand loyalist. Through the use of custom audiences, we have the capability to reach users at each point of the sales funnel.

Keep in mind your goals. Each audience will help you reach different objectives, however using all of these audiences together can drive your overall business goals.

1. Expanding your reach through lookalike audiences

With custom audiences, you can reach people that you already know through customer files or website information, but what if you wanted to expand your reach to find users that have similar qualities? Lookalike audiences allow you to reach new customers who have similar traits and interests to your existing audiences. For example, you can reach people who resemble those that have visited your site, connected to your Facebook page, used your mobile app, or made a conversion.

For an advertiser whose main objective is to increase sales, creating lookalikes based off of existing customers could help reach an audience more likely to convert. Specifically, customer files will allow you to build an audience from email addresses and/or phone numbers of users who have taken a particular action such as a sale, registration, lead, etc. This can help target those who may not be familiar with your product, but who may be interested based on their similarity to your audience.

2. Getting users back who have visited your site

URL based custom audiences allow you to reach people who have visited your site but may not have completed a particular action. For instance, if your point of conversion is for users to register for your new spin class, you can create a custom audience of users who have been to your site, but did not yet sign up for a class.

This custom audience is crucial, as they are further down the funnel, and have indicated intent by visiting the site. This audience should not drop off just because they did not make the action you hoped they would, but instead, retarget them with ads that encourage them to reconsider, provide additional information, or promote an offer. Facebook custom audiences allow you to retarget with advanced options such as frequency of visit to the site, device visited on, and the amount of time spent on your site, to allow you to remarket to specific audiences and push people further through their customer journey.

3. Remarket to users engaging with your ads

While website custom audiences allow you to reach users who have previously been to your site, engagement audiences allow you to reach users who may have interacted with your ads on Facebook but have not yet been to the site. The video, lead ad, and canvas engagement audiences can be used to target these audiences with a follow-up message to encourage an action or provide additional information.

For an advertiser using a video or canvas ad format as a higher funnel tactic such as brand awareness, the goal may be that users will watch your video or engage with your canvas. But how do you capitalise on those who did engage with your ads? Engagement custom audiences allow advertisers to target audiences based on engagement metrics such as how much of the ad was viewed, and capture those who may have higher intent.

4. Reach users who have already taken an action

Event based audiences can be used to remarket or nurture users who have taken an action but maybe not yet made a final conversion.. Event audiences are captured by the Facebook pixel based on actions taken on your site.

For an e-commerce advertiser, add to cart, initiate check out, and purchase events can help you reach customers with high intent and encourage a purchase, or even remarket purchasers in an effort to cross-sell, up-sell, or encourage brand loyalty. For a lead generation advertiser, different stages of an application process can be made events and targeted in order to encourage application completion or enrolment.

5. Trim the fat with audience exclusions

Up to this point, we’ve discussed ways to use custom audiences to target people you want to reach, but what about using custom audiences to make sure you are not targeting people you don’t want to reach? All of these Facebook custom audience options allow you to exclude users along the stages of the funnel who you know are not interested in your offering, have taken an action further down the funnel, or who you do not want to target because your budget could be better spent elsewhere.

Using custom audiences as exclusions can help to target people only in the current stage they are in. For example, you may have a campaign targeting a lookalike audience that includes someone who has already been to your site. By excluding site visitors from your lookalike campaign, you can ensure you are only targeting site visitors with remarketing campaigns rather than wasting spend by reaching these users with more generic prospecting targeting and messaging. This process can be followed throughout the user journey to reduce wasted spend by excluding lower funnel audiences from higher funnel tactics.


By taking advantage of Facebook’s custom audience options, you can reach users who matter most to you throughout their entire journey. From building lookalike audiences based on an existing audience, to remarketing site visitors, ad engagers, and those taking particular actions on your site, we can create campaigns to target Facebook users based on their customer journey with relevant messaging and landing pages. By adding exclusions throughout our campaigns, we can reduce spend on audiences who are unlikely to convert or who have already taken an action. With advanced options to include, exclude or combine these audience types, Facebook custom audiences allow you to reach the right users, in the right places, at the right time.

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