Facebook Advertising Tips: How to Leverage Custom Audiences

In a previous article we discussed how to create stellar Facebook ads. But the content of your ad is just part of the puzzle. If you’re not leveraging Facebook’s ability to target specific audiences with self-identified interests related to your business or customers you’ve already made contact with, your ad dollars aren’t going as far as they could. Custom audiences are a powerful tool to use for placing your Facebook ads in front of a very specific audience. This ad targeting tool lets advertisers find their existing audiences among Facebook users and forge new audiences. Here’s how to segment and target your customers most effectively.

There are three types of custom audience that Facebook helps you create:

  1. People on your own email list,
  2. People who have visited your website (tracked with the Facebook pixel), or
  3. People who have taken a specific action in your app (if you have one).

For each of your custom audiences, you can further narrow down the ad targeting by using parameters such as interests, behaviors, location, annual salary, job title, etc. Remember how your beginning marketing strategy had you identifying your ideal customer? This is where that information and thinking comes in handy! Match your customer persona to your ad audience to start speaking directly to potential high-value customers.

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Another powerful ad targeting tool Facebook offers is lookalike audiences. This feature builds a target audience of people outside your customer base that matches your ideal customer profile. There are three existing audience sources that Facebook lets you model your lookalike audience on:

  1. A custom audience you already created,
  2. People who have visited your website (tracked with the Facebook pixel), or
  3. People who have liked your page.

Want to know how powerful lookalike audiences can be?

A great success story of a business that leveraged lookalike audiences is Little Passports. This children’s education multimedia company, which teaches kids about other countries and the 50 US states in a fun way, grew its customer base 3-fold in 6 months, with a 60% decrease in cost per acquisition using lookalike audiences. They use promoted posts with conversion tracking to optimize their ad campaigns based on website conversions.

Online health food delivery service Bestowed had similar good results in growing their customer base, with a 30% return on website traffic and a 5-fold return on ad spend investment. That went along with a 20% lower cost per click and double the conversion rate compared to their other online ad campaigns.

Pro-Tip: Save the Boost Button for Saved Audiences

The Boost button on your Facebook page is incredibly tempting. At every opportunity, Facebook invites you to click that magic button to expand your reach of an already high-performing post. Of course, it’s all relative. With organic reach being so low these days (1-6% of your fan base), an above-average post reach might mean you got 20 likes, instead of 10.

Even though Facebook loves to show page owners that Boost button at every possible opportunity, the ad algorithms actually consider it a “lightweight advertising tool.” In other words, when you click the Boost button and just promote your post to fans, or friends of fans, your promoted post will not perform as well as it could. Better to either use the Facebook Ads Manager, or at least integrate advanced features that allow you to target specific audiences.

My recommendation is to only use the Boost button when you already have saved audiences. Otherwise, if you have even a small amount of marketing knowledge, stick with the Facebook Ads Manager (or Power Editor) to boost your posts. This tool gives you far more powerful targeting, placement and bidding options, not to mention you can place multiple versions of the same boosted post to split test as well as reach different audiences.

Next up in this series from Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith: How to tell if your ads are working! Stay tuned!