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We know that Facebook ads attract a lot of eyeballs, and have potential to spend a hefty amount – but they don't always have the return that we were hoping for. Within the last year, Facebook has launched a number of new advertising products but with so many available options, where do you start and how do you know what works? Having tested a lot of different Facebook ad options with a variety of clients, we've found Custom Audiences (CAs) to be one of the strongest performers.

What Are Custom Audiences

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Custom Audience is a pretty simple but often underused Facebook advertising feature, which let you match your offline audience with existing Facebook users. Basically, you take an existing list of email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs (probably the hardest to acquire) which Facebook will match to existing Facebook Profiles, creating an audience of users that have previously engaged with your brand (via sales, newsletter sign ups, whitepaper downloads, contact us forms, etc).

How To Use Custom Audiences

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Encourage Conversions: Think of Facebook CAs as being comparable to Google Remarketing. If a user makes it to your site, but doesn't convert on the first visit, you can now continue to promote your brand to this user on Facebook, where the average Canadian spends 7.7 hours per month (http://www.statisticbrain.com/social-networking-statistics/). Since the user has already shown an interest in your business, they are more likely to convert into a customer and at a much higher rate than some other forms of remarketing. Another way to use CAs to convert users is to re-engage existing customers who have purchased in the past and may be looking to purchase again or buy additional products.

Increase page 'likes': What better way to build out your Facebook fan base then reaching out to users that have already shown in interest in your brand but have not yet 'liked' your Facebook Page? Create a simple page promotion or 'like us' ad and you'll be surprised by how many of your custom audience do just that. Custom audiences also tend to be more engaged with the content on your page and often comment, like or share posts.

Promote special offers: If you have a special offer or promotion that you are running (i.e. a contest or discount), use a Custom Audience to share this offer with existing and potential customers. You can also promote a specific piece of content or a specific product in the ad.

So Really, How Good Are Custom Audiences?

In a recent case study that compared Custom Audience to Regular Demographic targeting, we saw some pretty awesome results:

  • Custom Audiences had a 1,000% higher CTR
  • Custom Audiences drove 848% more page likes
  • Custom Audiences had an 89% cheaper cost/page like
  • Custom Audiences engaged with the Facebook Page more, driving 916% more 'actions'

Ready To Give It A Try? Some Things To Keep In Mind!

  • You need to have a list of email addresses, phone numbers, or FB IDs already built out – obviously!
  • Your list must be in CSV or TXT format, with one entry per line.
  • Your Custom Audience list should ideally have at least 1,000 people.
  • If your email list is small, your Facebook Custom Audience will be small, which means there's a higher chance that your audience will tire of your ads quickly. Avoid this by frequently changing up the ad copy.
  • If you're using the CA to drive new page likes, you'll want to exclude anyone that is already a current fan of your page.
  • Facebook Power Editor is helpful when creating campaigns, and you will need the Chrome browser to run Power Editor. Here's how to install Power Editor.

    Next Steps:

  • Lindsey Knapton

    Lindsey is a Google AdWords Certified specialist at SEP, working with online marketing platforms including AdWords, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. An analytical and creative thinker, she helps clients to reach their target markets effectively through paid search marketing.

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