Custom audience starter guide

Starter Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences

This week, we brought in Sarah Hoffman, Senior Manager of the Social Media team at BigWing to share best practices for building custom audiences to use in Facebook advertising. Here are the four types of Facebook custom audiences and some do’s and dont’s to help you make the most of your ad dollars.


Email Audience

Have an email list? Then you have your first custom audience! You’ll need at least 20 emails to get started. Facebook will do the work of matching emails with accounts with about a 50-60% success rate.

  • Try
    • Segmenting your lists into categories and running campaigns specific to those groups of people.
    • Including a special offer with your advertisement to help incentivize users to click on the ad.
  • Don’t
    • Forget to manually update your list every so often by adding new names or taking off old ones.
    • Overlap your email lists if you have multiple custom email audiences.


Website Audience

Want to connect with your website visitors on Facebook? This process is slightly more involved but very doable. It involves installing the Facebook Pixel code on your website so you may want to reach out to your trusty web expert for help. Once you do this though, the advertising possibilities are (nearly) endless.

  • Try
    • Refreshing your audience every 30 days to ensure accurate targeting.
    • Include a bold and simple call to action in your ad so your audience knows what you want them to do.
    • Drive to helpful, interesting, or entertaining content instead of a product or conversion point to help grow affinity for your brand.
  • Don’t
    • Target the wrong customers with the wrong message. Use custom audiences to separate potential customers from existing customers, and craft specific messages for each.
    • Forget to check if the Pixel tool is working. Use the Facebook Pixel Helper to quickly and easily confirm that it’s working on your site.


Engagement Audience

Go deeper with your existing Facebook fans by creating custom audiences among those who have already engaged with your content. Custom engagement audiences are helpful for identifying your most loyal fans, and potentially turning them into advocates or customers of your brand.

  • Try
    • Engaging with fans who have watched a high percentage of your video content. Their high engagement means they may potentially be more likely to complete a call to action you give them in an ad.
    • Using lead forms to collect emails via paid ads. This allows you to grow your email list by collecting emails directly on Facebook from your fans.
  • Don’t
    • Bid too low. Make sure you’re increasing your bids to get a more valuable audience.
    • Boost a post from your page. It may be tempting to click that button on your page, but always be sure to use the Facebook Ads Manager to get more advanced targeting options.


Lookalike Audience

Lookalike audiences are exactly what the sound like. Facebook takes your existing custom audiences and identifies common qualities of the people in them. They then find other people who are similar to your existing audience members. These are helpful for reaching new audiences that aren’t as familiar with your brand. Be sure to apply the best practices of the previous audiences to these as well.


So there you have it. You’re now ready to go forth into the world of Facebook advertising with the knowledge and power of custom audiences. The next time your team is gearing up for a big campaign, be sure to incorporate these best practices to maximize your reach on Facebook.

For more from Sarah on Facebook custom audiences, here’s her full presentation.

Want more learn more marketing best practices and stay up-to-date with the latest trends? Come to Web Communications Marketing and New Media’s monthly Integrated Marketing Meetings! Email Stephen Eppling at for more information.

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