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There's no doubt that social media has changed the face of the marketing world in recent years. Social media has evolved from being a digital storytelling platform that connects people to a powerhouse marketing tool. Thanks to this growing medium, marketers have access to more customers than ever before. Amid the tons of social media platforms out there, Facebook Ads still reign supreme when it comes to social media advertising (a whopping 94% of social media marketers are users!). However, to be successful with Facebook Ads, it's essential to target correctly and create experiences tailored to your audience through Facebook Custom Audiences.
Let's go over why Facebook Custom Audiences is necessary, the four common types, and some tips and best practices.
According to Facebook, a Custom Audience “is a type of audience you can create made up of your existing contacts. You can target ads to the audience you've created on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.” Using Facebook Custom Audiences, “you can reach out to audience segments that are most likely to engage with your brand and become a part of your customer base.”
In short, Custom Audiences allow you to reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. It’s a valuable tool because you don’t have to guess who sees your ads. By targeting an audience that’s already “warm,” the chances of your ads performing well are exponentially higher.
The ability to target hyper-granular audiences is especially important because unlike Google AdWords, Facebook Ads doesn't offer keyword targeting — the intent to buy is a lot more nebulous. It's tricker for brands to become "discoverable" on Facebook as a result. For brands starting out on the platform, it makes sense to go after the audiences they've already interacted with on other channels, in other words, capture the lowest hanging fruit.
By tapping into known audiences, parsing them down to segment blocks, and creating ad experiences tailored to them specifically, brands have a better chance at driving revenue and spinning the marketing flywheel.
The four main types of Custom Audiences are:
Facebook Audiences lets you set the parameters along which you can target your audience. The more parameters set, the better you’ll sieve out audience segments that are less likely to respond to your ad campaigns. Remember segmentation helps with personalization, which in turn creates better experiences and happier customers. Here are some best practices to keep in mind and take note of:
Start with basic demographics. As a starting point of your strategy, set the basic demographic parameters — such as location, gender, and age range — to target your audience.
Focus on audience interests. You can’t rely on these basic demographic parameters alone. Use Custom Audiences to target Facebook visitors based on interests and behaviors as well. Note a smaller audience segment helps with better targeting through Facebook audiences — increase the level of specificity by selecting behavior patterns, trends, and interests.
Target people who are similar to your best customers. Create Lookalike Audiences by using your CRM database, website visitors, and mobile app customers to find potential customers.
Look at your cross-device conversions. Enable the cross-device view in the Facebook Ads reporting dashboard to view your cross-device conversions. This is to make sure that you're reaching the right people on the right devices. For instance, if your customers convert more on mobile, then you can build a Custom Audience and reach them with a strong call-to-action (CTA) through their mobile phones.
Exclude people who already purchased a particular product. Be sure to keep a record of your customers and the items they bought, so you can avoid targeting them with ads showcasing products that they already have.
Keep your cookie window open for extended periods of time. Facebook Custom Audience sets the window for ad targeting at 30 days by default. Be mindful of the customer journey — consumers go through many stages before making a purchase, especially new customers who are just getting to know your brand. With the process being so long, you can set the number of days for targeting at anywhere between 60 - 90 days.
Facebook Custom Audiences are undoubtedly useful for your Facebook Ad strategy, but that doesn’t mean you should always default to using them. If you overuse Custom Audiences, you’re in danger of excluding a vast audience of potential customers. For example, general brand awareness ads might not benefit from Custom Audiences but may benefit from location targeting instead.
Originally published on December 23rd, 2019, last updated on September 16th, 2022.