How To Use Facebook Custom Audiences to Improve your Marketing Strategy

How to use Facebook custom audiences to improve your marketing strategy, maximize your marketing budget, and connect with future customers.

It is truly incredible what you can do with Facebook ads these days. The platform has come a LONG way over the past several years, and now it is easier than ever for small business owners and bloggers to leverage Facebook ads to grow their business (even on a small budget).

There is so much to learn when it comes to Facebook ads...from strategy, to technology, to tracking their really starts to ad up! It can all become super overwhelming quickly, especially if you have never used Facebook ads before.

Now, I don’t know about you...but in addition to having limited time to learn a new technology like Facebook ads, I also don’t have an enormous marketing budget for my business. I am always reluctant to invest in paid marketing unless I can be sure it is going to produce results.

Honestly, that was one of the reasons I started using Facebook ads in the first place -- because it was dead-simple to track your return on investment (ROI), and I could very clearly see whether or not my marketing investment was resulting in sales. Unlike some other marketing options out there, this made using Facebook ads to market my business a no-brainer.

Even if you have a tiny marketing budget, you can be successful using Facebook ads to market and grow your business. When I was starting out, I sometimes spent as little as $10 per week on ads. One of the cool things about Facebook ads, is that once you find a strategy that works for your is easy to scale. So, if you play around at a lower budget price point and find something that works, then you can start investing more and more money into your ad strategy as you become comfortable that you are getting a positive ROI.

Like I said, there is a TON to learn when it comes to Facebook ads. Most small business owners who I have worked with in the past will dip their toes into the world of Facebook ads using the “Boost Post” or “Promote Event” button, which you may already be familiar with. This button gets a bad rap, because often people start using it before they have thought through their ad strategy, and properly set up the back-end tech to track ROI for their Facebook ads.

Today, I’m going to be talking about how you can maximize your marketing budget with Facebook ads by using custom audiences. This will help you rest assured that you are NOT wasting money, and give you plenty of control over the results you're seeing with Facebook ads and flexibility to experiment as you grow!

What is a custom audience?

When you are working with Facebook ads, there are three main components I recommend you think through BEFORE running your ads:

  1. Audience
  2. Outcome
  3. Creative

#1 on that list is audience!

Quite simply, your audience basically means the people who will be “served” your ad. These are the folks on Facebook who will see your ad in their feed.

Simple enough, right?

Ideally, you want to make sure you are only spending money to show your ad to people who fit your ideal customer persona. If you aren’t careful, it is very easy to show your ad to lots of people who are not your ideal customer. This ends up wasting your valuable marketing dollars VERY quickly, and you can burn through your entire budget without seeing results.

This is one reason why the “boost post” button gets a bad rap. If you don’t take the time to set up custom audiences, Facebook basically guesses who they should show your ad to.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to my budget ... I don't want to waste it on guessing!

You have a lot of flexibility in Facebook’s platform to create different audiences, depending on what you want to advertise.

As your marketing strategy matures and you get more advanced with your Facebook ad and sales funnel strategies, you will see that you can really get into some fancy stuff with Facebook ads. Targeting warm vs. cold traffic, retargeting website visitors who didn’t make a purchase, retargeting past customers with related product offers, etc.

It’s pretty impressive when you consider everything you can possibly do with Facebook ads!

I’m don't want to get ahead of myself here, or overwhelm you if you’re new to Facebook ads. This should give you a basic overview of what a custom audience is in Facebook.

Let’s move along!

What can you use custom audiences for?

As I already mentioned, you can do some pretty nifty stuff with Facebook audiences when it comes to marketing & sales funnel strategy.

But getting back to basics, I want to cover three basic options for custom audiences that you can use right away to benefit your business:

Option 1 - Gain insight into your existing audience

By creating a custom audience in Facebook’s ads manager tool, you can get insight into a ton of useful information about people who visit your website, “Like” your Facebook page, buy your products, attend your events, etc.

Facebook has a powerful audience insights tool that lets you view demographic information, online activity, even detailed lifestyle information that can help you pinpoint who exactly your followers and customers are.

Option 2 - Run Facebook ads to “warm” traffic

One thing that you will quickly learn if you run Facebook ads regularly, is that it can be expensive to advertise to “cold” traffic. Cold traffic basically means people who (until they see your ad) have NO idea who you are, and what your business is.

It costs a lot more to get cold traffic to convert into a customer, than it does to convert warm traffic.

Warm traffic means people who already know about your business, maybe already “Like” you on Facebook, might have visited your website, or perhaps have even purchased from you in the past.

Running Facebook ads to “warm” traffic will almost always yield better results (in terms of higher conversions / more sales), for cheaper.

Option 3 - Creating “Lookalike” audiences to reach new people

I love that Facebook includes an option to create “lookalike” audiences. Basically this means that after you create a custom audience in Facebook, you can use Facebook’s tools to create a bigger audience that is similar to your custom audience.

So for example, if you have an email list of 1,000 subscribers that you load into Facebook, you can tell Facebook to create a “lookalike” audience that is similar to your existing email subscribers. Presumably, this lookalike audience will also be interested in your products or services, since they are so similar to your existing subscribers/customers/fans.

This is a neat feature that you’ll get to play around and experiment with if you use Facebook custom audiences!

Now, before you dive in and start creating a custom audience in Facebook, there is one step you should take the time to complete first...

Install the Facebook pixel on your website.

PS -- For all the screenshots I included in this tutorial, I used a test ad account. However, I still redacted some identifying information such as account numbers, names, etc. Just letting you know!

This is really quick and easy (I promise!).

Before you install the Facebook pixel, you will need to sign up for a Facebook Business Manager account. You must have a Facebook business page set up before you get a Business Manager account.

Visit to get that rolling.

Once you are logged into your Facebook Business Manager account, you may have to create a new ad account for your business if there isn't already one listed. Create an ad account, then click into it to load the ads manager.

^^These steps are about 10 times harder than installing the pixel! If you made it this far, you're almost done!

Once you have the ads manager loaded, click the hamburger menu in the upper left-hand corner of your screen, and choose Pixels from the dropdown menu.

How to install the Facebook Pixel on your blog or website

Create a new pixel if there isn't already one listed on this page.

Once you have a pixel created, click into it. Then, click the "Set Up" button near the upper right-hand side of your browser window:

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.24.26 PM.png

Facebook has built-in integrations for a bunch of different websites and checkout platforms. You can use their built-in integrations if there is one available for the platform you use, or you can manually install the code yourself on your site. Up to you!

How to install the Facebook Pixel on your blog or website

If you're manually installing the code, choose the second option. You're going to need to install this code in the header of your website.

Copy the pixel from the next page under "Step 2":

How to install the Facebook pixel on your blog or website

Now, go to your website and find where to insert header code.

In Squarespace, you'll follow these steps:

  1. Click "Settings" in the left-hand menu
  2. Select "Advanced" under the Website section
  3. Click "Code Injection"
  4. Paste the pixel code in the header section on this page
  5. That's it! There is no "save" button in Squarespace 

In Wordpress, I recommend using the plugin called "Insert Headers and Footers" to make it easy to install the pixel code on your site. Install this plugin, then:

  1. Under Settings, click Insert Headers & Footers
  2. Paste the pixel code in the Scripts section, under the Headers box
  3. Click Save

If you're on a different platform and aren't sure how to install the Pixel -- Google is your best friend! There are tons of tutorials out there that show you how to install the pixel if you need additional help. OR just ask in the comments and I'll try my best to assist you, if I can!

Now, to check if the install was successful ... go back to the pixel page in Facebook ads manager, and look under step 3 to test your pixel traffic. Sometimes, it takes a while for Facebook and your website to start communicating and the connection to be complete. 

[insert instructions for installing FB pixel]

How to install the Facebook pixel on your blog or website

...aaaaaaand, you're done! 

Now, you’re ready to create a custom audience in Facebook.

There are two main methods I will go over here for creating a Facebook custom audience:

  1. Creating a custom audience based off your website visitors (using the Facebook pixel you just installed!)

  2. Creating a custom audience based off your email subscribers, past customers, or other list of person data

To create a custom Facebook audience of past visitors to your website, you'll again have to go into the Facebook ads manager.

Click the hamburger menu in the upper-left hand corner, then click All Tools at the bottom of the dropdown, then choose Audiences:

How to create a Facebook custom audience in Facebook ads manager

Click the blue "Create Audience" button near the center of the page, then choose Custom Audience from the dropdown that appears:

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

Next, choose Website Traffic (the second option) from the list of options:

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.29.03 PM.png

The pixel you just created will show on the next screen. To start, select the settings for All Website Visitors for the past 30 days. Give your audience a memorable name, then click the Create Audience button.

That's it! You're done.

Your custom audience may take up to 72 hours to fully populate and appear in the Audiences list.

To create a custom Facebook audience based off your email subscribers, past customers, or other list of personal data, the process is very similar.

Instead of selecting Website Traffic on this screen, choose the first option -- Customer File:

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

Next, choose the first option -- Add customers from your own file or copy and paste data:

(Facebook has an integration with Mailchimp ... so if you want to sync your email list and you use Mailchimp as your email marketing platform, choose that option and follow the steps. Otherwise, choose the first option.)

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

On the next page, upload your CSV file that includes your customer information. Then, click Next to finalize: 

(The more information you can include, the better. But most likely -- you will only have the email address, and possibly the first and last name. Just upload what you have!)

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

Pretty simple, right?!

If you follow these steps, you are well on your way to creating a profitable Facebook ads strategy that works for your business. Now that you have your pixel installed and have created a custom audience, there is so much you can do with Facebook ads.

Hopefully this post got you excited to use Facebook ads to market your blog or business online! Again, there is SO much to learn and experiment with when it comes to using Facebook ads. I have been using ads for almost 2 years to help grow my business and sell products online (and offline), and still feel like I am learning something new every week. Don't get overwhelmed by all the information there is to learn. Take it one step at a time, and you will be on your way to growing your business with Facebook ads!

As always, let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the information I shared today. Thanks so much for reading!

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