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Facebook Custom Audiences

The Facebook audience you choose to target can have a huge impact on your ad cost.
When analyzing the 2016 Q3 Facebook ads statistics, AdEspresso found that there could be more than a 1000% difference in the cost-per-click, depending on the audience you’re targeting.
For example, there’s a huge difference between the most expensive and low-cost countries. When combined with differences in age, gender, interests, income, etc. the results from targeting specific audiences vary tremendously.

2016 Q3 CPC Facebook Ad Cost countries 1 1024x874

Facebook audiences affect your ads’ CPC – image source

But there’s more to this story.
As we went beyond the basic interest-based targeting in our company Scoro (the company I work for), we saw a huge decrease in cost-per-conversion.
By using Facebook Custom Audiences, we were able to retarget our website visitors, blog readers, and many other audience groups that were already warmed up to our brand.
Setting up custom Facebook audiences was probably the highest-ROI hours I’ve spent in the past six months.
The average CTR of retargeting ads is 10x higher than that of regular display ads.
At Scoro, we ran a campaign  targeting people living in the UK who are interested in project management (using a Facebook Saved Audience), and another campaign that targeted people who had already visited our project-related landing pages.
The retargeting  campaign resulted in 6 times more conversions at the same ad budget. For us, a €3 lead price is a bargain.
If you’re not using Facebook Custom Audiences yet, there’s such a huge Facebook advertising potential just waiting to be untapped.
And with the help of this guide, you’re all set to set up high-conversion retargeting campaigns, starting today.

What’s a Facebook Custom Audience?

If you’re still new to Facebook advertising, you might be overwhelmed with all the different audience options welcoming you in the Ads Manager.

Facebook audiences

You can choose between Custom, Lookalike, and Saved audiences

Ah, that’s easy, there are just three of them…
Or are there?
As you click on the “Custom Audience”, a new window with further options will pop up.
Custom Audience options Facebook

All those Custom Audience options…

Now which one of these options should you pick?
They all seem like a good idea for increasing your conversion rates and lowering CPCs…
ohh ohh ohh pick me pick me

After reading this article, you’ll know which one to pick 😉 – image source

Without some pre-existent knowledge, Facebook Custom Audiences can be quite overwhelming.
Let’s start from scratch and paint a clear picture of the Facebook audience targeting options.
There are three main types of Facebook audiences:

  • Saved Audience
  • Lookalike Audience
  • Custom Audience

A Saved Audience is what most people use when creating Facebook campaigns: These are the audiences that you can define by choosing people’s location, age, gender, used devices, income level, interests, etc.
They’re great for starting out, but your ads are likely to reach many uninterested people.

Saved audience

There are 35,000 people in Greenland?!

A Lookalike Audience helps you to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your existing customers or website visitors. Lookalike audiences are created based on page visits, Facebook Pixels or Custom Audiences. Hooh… That’s pretty meta, right?
We’ll get back to these later in the article and show how Lookalike Audiences can help you get more conversions at a lower price.
Lookalike audiences

You can target 1%-10% of the population who most closely match your original audience

Think of a Lookalike Audience as a clone of your current retargeting audience, but where you’re targeting people who haven’t heard about you before. These people potentially exhibit the same demographics or browsing behaviors as your original audience.
A Custom Audience is based on the data available from the Facebook Pixel on your website/landing page or other sources of customer data you have, e.g. email lists.
These audiences are compiled of the very people engaging with your website or brand… which turns targeting them into a high-ROI potential.

Why does Facebook Custom Audience targeting work so well?

Remember the beginning of the article where I mentioned that using Facebook Custom Audiences amassed us a fortune?
And when you were thinking “YES PLEASE”…
Well, I must confess that using Facebook Custom Audiences didn’t make me a millionaire. But retargeting definitely helped us to get new leads for an incredibly low cost.
In our case, retargeting our website visitors with Facebook Custom Audience targeting got us conversions for over 500% lower costs, compared to our other Facebook campaigns.
AdEspresso ran a 10-day Facebook ad campaign targeting Custom Audiences made of past 30-day website visitors.
As soon as someone visited AdEspresso’s website, they entered the campaign, and began seeing ads for various eBooks. The goal of the campaign?
To get people’s contact information in exchange for the eBook and enter them into a lead nurturing cycle.

Lead Ads experiment results 768x202

Look at all of those new leads coming in… – image source

As you can see, the average cost-per-lead was around $4. To be exact, the average cost-per-lead across all their Facebook retargeting  ads was $3.48.
You too can use Custom Audiences and get leads at a lower cost.
To understand why Facebook Custom Audiences work like a fairy grandmother had just whipped her magic wand, you’ve got to understand the difference between cold and warm traffic.

❄️  vs. ?  audience in Facebook advertising

There’s research indicating that 98% of B2B website visitors don’t convert nor sign up for any offers.
Which leads us to the question: Why aren’t your website visitors or ad audience converting to paying customers?
KlientBoost wrote a great in-depth article on this topic but I’ll keep it short and get to the point quickly.
Basically, with Facebook advertising, you have multiple audiences with different conversion intent and interest-level in your product/offer.
The cold audience are the people who have never heard of your brand before.
As you take good care of them and nurture them with high-quality content and other perks, their ice-cold hearts start to gradually melt down…
Ok, let’s not get too dramatic here.
But you get the idea: the more your nurture a cold audience and familiarize them with your brand, the warmer they’ll get.
And that’s when the right advertising channels and ad messages come to play.
You need to match the conversion intent and advertising channels to target potential customers at the right moment.

ppc 600x338

There’s a right time for each advertising channel – image source

As you can see, social media advertising’s somewhere in between the two extremes: people indifferent of your product vs. diehard fans.
Your Facebook ad messages need to match the temperature of the audience.
If you’re asking a cold lead to buy your product… Why would they do that? (Unless you offer an irresistible discount, which will sooner or later bankrupt you.)
ppc expert 600x338

Not all your offers are ??? – image source

In the Facebook advertising land, ice cubes are usually the people you’re targeting with a Saved Audience (the one composed of interests, demographics, etc) – they’re likely to never have heard of you before.
Asking those people to pay for your product is not a very effective way of acquiring leads or clients. You’ll waste a ton of money.
And that’s why a lot of new advertisers get burned with PPC advertising. They think a single CTA/offer will work regardless of the audience (or at least they’re hoping so).
By using Facebook Custom Audiences, you’ll be able to reach the audience on the warmer side of the scale.
These people have visited your website or engaged with your branded content, and have a high potential to sign up for an offer or buy your product.
Which makes them a lot more likely to click on your ad and complete the conversion on the landing page.
The reason we saw a huge increase in our ad campaigns’ conversion rate was that we started targeting warm audiences instead of cold ones.
We had previously relied on Facebook Saved Audiences to deliver our ads to potential buyers. But switching to smaller, yet super targeted Custom Audiences, made all the difference.
There are multiple types of Facebook Custom Audiences, and it’s up to you to find the most suitable ones for reaching your goals.
Here are all the types of Custom Audiences that you can select based on your advertising goals.

Types of Facebook Custom Audiences

There are four different options to create a Custom Audience:

  1. Customer file
  2. Website traffic (specific website visitors, converters, non-converters)
  3. App activity
  4. Engagement on Facebook

Let’s have a closer look at each of them.
P.S. If you’re already familiar with Custom Audience types, scroll further to see eight golden retargeting ideas. You don’t want to miss these!

Creating a Facebook Custom Audience from customer file

This type of Facebook Custom Audience is based on your existing customer files, e.g. lists of email accounts, phone numbers or app IDs.
You already know that the people subscribed to your email newsletters are interested in your content and offers. So, why not nudge them to become a paying customer.
To create a Facebook Custom Audience, follow these steps:
1. Go to Facebook Business Manager, and find Audiences (if you don’t have Business Manager yet, then I highly recommend you upgrade your account).
Facebook audiences 1
Here’s where you find all your Facebook audiences
2. From the dropdown menu, select “Custom Audience”

Facebook create a custom audience

Select “Custom Audiences”

3. Select the “Customer File” option
Customer file

Select “Customer File”

4. Choose whether you’d like to add a customer file or import contacts from MailChimp.
Add customer file

Import your customer data to create a new Custom Audience

5. Now, you’re presented with all the possible options for creating a Facebook Custom Audience from a customer file.
There are 15 different identifiers to choose from, the most frequently used ones being:

  1. Email
  2. Phone number
  3. Mobile advertiser ID


Create custom audience from customer file

There are 15 identifiers that can be used

6. Upload a customer file
Choose whether you want to upload your customer file as a file (.txt or .csv) or copy and paste it.
If you choose to upload, click “Upload File” and select the customer file from your computer. If you choose to copy and paste, do it in the “Paste your content here” field.
7. Give your audience a name and description to find it later.
For a complete step-by-step technical guide on creating Facebook audiences from a customer file, see this article by Facebook.
In case you need to clean up your customer data before importing it, here’s Facebook’s guide to help you.

Creating Facebook Custom Audiences from past website traffic

Want to target people who have previously visited your website? If so, this Custom Audience is the one to use.
To create audiences based on your website traffic, you first need to install Facebook Pixel. You also need the Pixel for tracking conversions, so there’s a good chance you’ve got it set up already.
How to set up the basic Facebook Pixel code:

  1. Go to the Pixels page in Ads Manager
  2. Click Actions > View Code

Each ad account gets only one Pixel code. Use the Pixel code on every page of your website (or websites).

facebook website custom audiences 7

Here’s what Facebook Pixel code looks like – image source

3. Copy the code and paste it between the <head> tags on each web page, or in your website template to install it on your entire website – you can also use Google Tag Manager
If you want to track specific conversions such as purchases or lead conversions, you also need to add conversion tracking code.
Facebook Upgraded Pixel Structure

Add the conversion tracking code inside the base Pixel code – image source

You can track nine different custom events with Facebook Pixel:
Facebook Pixel events

Don’t forget to set up the custom conversion tracking

For an in-depth guide on installing Facebook Pixel to your website, view this: Facebook’s Pixel implementation guidelines.
After you’ve set up the Facebook Pixel, you can use it to track your ad campaigns’ results and create new Custom Audiences for retargeting.

How to create a Custom Audience based on website traffic

1. Go to Facebook Business Manager and choose Audiences
2. Click” Create Audience” in the top left corner
3. Select “Custom Audience”
(Scroll up to see the visual directions for points 1-3.)
4. Select the “Website Traffic” option from the list

Custom audience from website traffic

Create a Custom Audience based on website traffic

5. Select the parameters.
You can choose between multiple options:

  1. Target everyone who visited your domain
  2. Target people who visited specific web pages
  3. Target people who visited specific web pages but not others
  4. Target people who haven’t visited your website for a certain amount of time
  5. Other custom combinations


Facebook custom audience parameters

Thank you Facebook for being so straightforward

In the Custom Combinations window, you can include and exclude specific web pages.
Custom combinations

For highly specific retargeting campaigns, use the Custom Combination option

6. Give your Custom Audience a name and click on the “Create Audience” button.
Facebook Custom Audiences based on website traffic are a true treasure chest full of retargeting opportunities. Keep reading to see various use cases and for creating high-ROI ad campaigns.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to exclude audiences for razor-sharp audience targeting.

Creating a Facebook Custom Audience based on app activity

If you have an iOS or Android app, you can target people based on the actions they take in your app.
Here’s how to setup a Custom Audience based on app activity:
1. Register your app and set up app events to reach specific users.
The event can be one of 14 predefined events such as “added to cart” in a commerce app or “level achieved” in a game. Or if you wish, you can also set up your own custom events.
2. Go to Facebook Business Manager and choose Audiences
3. Click” Create Audience” in the top left corner
4. Select “Custom Audience”
5. Select “App Activity” from the list of targeting options.

target based on app activity

Use “App Activity” to retarget based on in-app actions

6. Name your audience and select the app you want to create a Custom Audience from. Make sure you have the ad account rights to the app you want to use.
App activity targeting

Here’s where it all begins…

7. Define actions: target people who have taken specific actions in your app by choosing between the events you have previously set up.
8. Choose the timeframe you’d like to retarget.
For example, you can choose a purchase event you’re measuring and specify “In The Last 30 days” to reach people who have completed a purchase event in the past 30 days.
Here’s the official guide by Facebook for creating Custom Audiences based on app activity.

Creating a Facebook Custom Audience based on engagement on Facebook

An Engagement Custom Audience is made up of people who have engaged with your content on Facebook.
“Engagement” refers to specific actions, like spending time viewing your videos or opening your lead form or Canvas ad.
To create a Facebook Custom Audience based on engagement, follow these steps:
1. Go to Facebook Business Manager and choose Audiences
2. Click” Create Audience” in the top left corner
3. Select “Custom Audience”
4. Click on the option “Engagement on Facebook”

target based on fb engagement

This is where to good stuff is

5. Select which type of Facebook engagement you’d like to retarget in your ad campaigns
Right now there are three available engagement types:

  1. Video: 3-second video views, 10-second video views, 30-second video views, video watches at 25%, video watches at 50%, video watches at 75%, video watches at 95%, video watches at 100%
  2. Lead ads: opened form, opened form but didn’t submit (otherwise known as a “drop-off”), opened and submitted form
  3. Canvas ads: opened, opened and clicked on link


Engagement type

You may first need to post some videos, etc. 😉

We’ll get to specific retargeting opportunities in the next section of this article where you’ll get lots of new ideas to take your Facebook ad campaigns to a whole new level.

Eight ideas for advanced retargeting with Facebook Custom Audiences

Now that you’re familiar with four types of Facebook Custom Audiences and how to create them, it’s time to dive into best practices.
Up next, you’ll find eight expert level Custom Audiences, perfect for high-ROI Facebook retargeting campaigns.

1. Retarget all past website visitors

If you could create a single Facebook Custom Audience for retargeting with Facebook ads, this would be it.
Retargeting all the people who have visited your website is a fairly vague group of people with different intents and expectations, but it’s a great place to start.
Retarget all your website visitors with a Facebook offer that reminds them of your brand. This offer shouldn’t be too different from the core value proposition on your homepage or landing page.
For example, Plotly’s home page reads: “Visualize Data, Together” and it continues by explaining that Plotly’s a data intelligence platform.

Plotly example

Here’s Plotly’s home page

Their Facebook ad repeats the same message in different words, seizing the opportunity to re-deliver their unique value proposition (UVP).
Plotly ad example

P.S. Plotly’s a great free tool for generating graphs

However, retargeting all your website visitors is a great basis for A/B testing several value propositions to see what appeals the most to your potential buyers.
Just don’t float too far away from the initial offer on your website.
How to create a Facebook retargeting audience of people who visited your website:
To create a Custom Audience of all people visiting your site, go to the Audience Manager, select “Custom Audience” and click on “Website Traffic” (scroll up for a step-by-step visual guide).
You can retarget people who visited your website in the time frame of past 1-180 days.
It’s up to you to decide which time period to use. We like to keep our retargeting campaigns in the frame of 30 or 60 days since the last visit – so that our audience won’t get tired of seeing our ads and the offer’s still relevant to them.
Visited website in past 55 days

Don’t forget to set up the Facebook Pixel first

Remember that people who have been to your website/landing page only once might not be warmed up to your offers yet.
Consider offering a free course or eBook instead of asking them to make a purchase right away. Look at this Facebook retargeting campaign as a way of building brand awareness and trust, by still focusing on the direct response conversion.
Here’s an example of Unbounce’s Facebook ad promoting an eBook. The reason I saw this ad was because I visited their website in the past (or a specific landing page, can’t tell for sure).
Unbounce remarketing ad

Share eBooks to get people to join your email marketing cycle

Best practices for retargeting all past website visitors with Facebook ads:

  • Use a shorter time frame (30-60 days) to keep your offer relevant
  • Don’t ask for a huge commitment from people who have only been to your site once
  • Keep your UVP message close to the one on your home page
  • Offer value instead of asking people to buy (share eBooks, guides, etc.)


2. Retarget people who visited specific landing pages

Not all landing page visitors convert on their first visit.
You’re likely to pay a high price for the people who come to your landing pages via pay-per-click ads. Not retargeting them with additional offers could be a tremendous waste of lost opportunity.
There’s also a good chance to catch your website visitor’s attention by setting up retargeting campaigns.
According to eMarketer, nearly three out of five U.S. online buyers say they notice ads for products they’ve previously looked up on other sites.


Retargeting ads get noticed

Retargeting people who have visited specific landing pages is beneficial for several reasons:

  1. They’re familiar with your brand
  2. They’re interested in a particular product or use case
  3. You can promote landing page-specific offers relevant to a small audience

For example, our SaaS product at Scoro, has a popular use case: project management software.
We have created several landing pages related to project management that get both organic and paid traffic.
We set up a Facebook ads campaign that targeted a Custom Audience of people that had visited some of our project management related landing pages in the past 60 days.
The retargeting ads in this campaign were specifically about project management as we knew that people were interested.

project management retargeting campaign

Simple yet effective

While the audience was fairly small (about 2K people), it brought us 12 leads in 20 days.
When multiplied by the number of retargeting campaigns we’re running on Facebook, that’s a pretty amazing lead generation machine.
reetargeting campaign results

Click to lead conversion rate: 70%

Here’s another example from Intercom.
Their product has multiple target groups from support teams to marketing teams.
The ad you see below is specifically targeted at marketing teams and could serve as a retargeting ad for people who have visited their landing page focusing on email marketing.
Intercom ad example

Always hit the target ?

When retargeting to Facebook Custom Audiences that have visited specific landing pages, be more specific with your offer.
Show an easy-to-see benefit and be clear about the next step you’d like people to take, e.g. by using the “Sign Up” call-to-action button in your ads.
Tip: While the general rule is to keep your ad frequency below 3-5 points, you can exceed it with retargeting  ads.
We’ve even run Facebook retargeting ad campaigns with ad frequency over 10 points, and have seen a continuous flow of results.
Ad fatigue example

Sometimes, crazy ad frequency makes sense

As you look at graph about the retargeting campaign’s CTR and CPC results, you’ll see that the cost-per-click only increased at the very end of the campaign, when the ad frequency got over 15 points.
cpc of remarketing campaign

The CPC only spiked at the very end of campaign

Keep a regular checkup of your retargeting campaigns to identify the moment when people get tired of your ads and stop engaging with them. Then it’s time to hit the “Pause” button or try new ad visuals to fight ad fatigue.

How to create a Facebook Custom Audience for retargeting landing page visitors:

Go the the Facebook Audience Manager and add a new Custom Audience based on website traffic.
Select the option to target people who have visited specific web pages.

retargeting landing page visitors

Add multiple URLs to target the visitors of several pages

But what about the people who visited your landing pages and converted? 
You wouldn’t want to show them any more ads with the same offer, right? (There’s another retargeting campaign for converters that we’ll get to later in this article).
To exclude people who have already made a purchase or taken other actions on your landing page, use the Custom Combination option.

Exclude all the people who have visited your post-conversion page, e.g. the purchase confirmation or thank you page.

exclude converters

Don’t forget to exclude these people

After creating the audience, give Facebook a few hours to collect data and then proceed with the campaign setup.
Best practices for retargeting landing page visitors with Facebook ads:

  • Make your offer specific to particular landing pages
  • Have an arsenal of different offers you want to test
  • Be clear about what you want the prospect to do
  • Let your ad frequency reach higher than usual (up to 15 points)
  • Keep your eye on the results to know when it’s time for a pause/change
  • Don’t forget to exclude the people who already converted


3. Retarget your blog readers for higher engagement

Here’s a story of how you lose your potential fans and blog readers:

  1. People Google a question about a specific problem that you know how to solve.
  2. They find one of your blog articles and read it through.
  3. They click their browser’s “close tab” button and never return to your blog… Ever again.


We all lose newsletter conversions – image source:(

Naturally, you’d like to avoid this kind of grim storyline and turn all blog visitors into BFFs (Best Fans Forever). And by masterfully retargeting your blog readers, you can.
Some might ask: Why should I pay for content distribution on Facebook if I can simply publish a post and just reach my followers?
According to a Social@Ogilvy analysis of more than 100 brand pages, the organic reach of Facebook posts was between 2% and 6% in February 2014.
In 2016, after Facebook announced in July that they’re making the News Feed more friend and family-centric, your organic reach is likely to be even lower.
Organic Reach Chart

You might only reach 2% of your Facebook followers organically – image source

If you want your blog readers to find your shared articles and content on Facebook, you need to use paid promotion (by boosting posts and promoting your blog content with ads).
The easiest way to retarget your blog readers is by creating a large Custom Audience of all the people who visit your blog’s domain.
When boosting a Facebook post to a cold interest-based audience, the cost-per-clicks were up to 120% higher compared to promoting a similar post to our blog readers (This data is based on multiple campaigns with variations in content and ad copy, but it shows a strong trend in favor of Custom Audiences).
Scoro blog remarketing

Promote your blog posts for greater reach

If your blog covers several wider topics (e.g. HubSpot has two separate blogs for marketers and salespeople), you can create different Facebook Custom Audiences of people interested in various blog topics.
For example, if 30% of your blog content is about cats in space, create a Facebook Custom Audience of blog readers who have read the articles covering the cats in space.

Blog readers are like stars, don’t let them go dim & forget about your blog- image source

Using retargeting to promote your blog posts across Facebook contributes to higher click-through rates as the audience is already interested in the topic.
Tip: If you’ve published an article with a high potential of gaining traction or performing well in terms of SEO, use Facebook as an A/B testing tool for finding the perfect headline. This can help your post do even better organically as you can improve your CTR.
AB test variation 1
AB test variation 2

Use Facebook ads to A/B test article headlines


How to set up a Custom Audience of your blog visitors:

Go the the Facebook Audience Manager and add a new Custom Audience based on website traffic.
Select the option to target people who have visited specific web pages.
If you want to target all the people who’ve visited your blog in the past, you can target the URLs that contain your blog’s domain.

custom audience blog visitors

The simplest formula for targeting blog readers

For retargeting people who’ve visited specific blog articles, insert all the article links. Don’t forget to exclude people who have already read the article you’re currently promoting.
retarget specific blog pages

Insert multiple URLs to target specific blog post URLs

After you’ve set up the Custom Audience, leave Facebook to gather data and start brainstorming on the best ad design and copywriting.
Here’s a guide on 47 Facebook ad tips for creating irresistible ad copy and designing ad visuals that can lead to greater performance.

Best practices for retargeting blog visitors with Facebook Custom Audiences:

  • Keep your blog readers engaged by promoting great content on Facebook
  • Use Facebook boosted posts or create new ad campaigns to amplify your blog’s reach
  • Create multiple audiences of people interested in particular topics
  • Use Facebook as an A/B testing tool for finding perfect headlines
  • Don’t forget to exclude the people who have already read/downloaded your promoted content

But here’s the most important part: once people have clicked through and consume your blog post, you can then create a new retargeting audience based around how many seconds they’ve been on the blog post.
This is called ”time on site” retargeting.
If a visitor who came from Facebook spends 30+ seconds on your blog post, then you should consider giving them the next offer that increases “the ask” of what you’re wanting them to do.
This could be a new offer of an eBook that requires them to give you their email address.

4. Retarget new and past converters

Most marketers stop marketing as soon as someone becomes a paying client or makes a purchase.
Guess they haven’t heard the saying “a buyer, is a buyer, is a buyer”.
According to research by Adobe, in the US, 41% of overall revenue comes from repeat customers.
The average revenue per visit for repeat purchasers in the US is 497% higher compared to regular shoppers.

adobe shopper revenue

Repeat purchasers are 5x more valuable than normal – image source

There’s a huge untapped potential in retargeting to your existing customers. By setting up the right Facebook Custom Audiences and developing a retargeting strategy, you can significantly boost your sales numbers.

Post-conversion retargeting idea 1: Cross sell and upsell

You don’t need to be an eCommerce brand to use Facebook ads for upselling or cross selling.
If you’re able to track the conversions on your home page, there’s always a potential for attracting further sales with Facebook ads.
Set up a Custom Audience of the people who have visited your thank-you page and use this audience in a retargeting campaign for upselling.
For example, if someone buys coffee beans from you, upsell with an irresistible kettle offer.

Amazon facebook ad

Like this offer

Or if you’ve just sold someone a suitcase, they might also be interested in buying other travel products or gadgets.
Target facebook ad

You can upsell on anything

If you got people to download your top of funnel eBook, then next upsell ad opportunity may be your webinar (to drive them further down the funnel).

Post-conversion retargeting idea 2: Educate your audience

If you’re selling a fairly complex product (for example, software) or would like to educate your audience about your brand and product lineup, Facebook Custom Audiences can help.
After someone has signed up for your product, promote helpful guides on getting started with it.
For example, Litmus has put together a guide to email optimization and troubleshooting that helps their users to succeed when using the new tool.

Litmus Facebook ad example

Get users to read your product guides

Tip: Pair your retargeting Facebook campaigns with an email onboarding program to deliver the guides to people when they most need it. That’s if you care about retention 🙂
evernote onboarding 2

Cross-promote on email and Facebook – image source


How to set up a Facebook Custom Audience of converters and customers:

Depending on the type of your business (SaaS, eCommerce, agency, etc.), the way you track website conversions can be quite different.
The easiest way to set up a Custom Audience of converters is by using a thank you page.
Go to the Facebook Audience Manager and add a new Custom Audience based on website traffic.
Select the option to target people who have visited specific web pages.
Target people who have visited your confirmation/conversion/thank you page.

custom audience of converters

Often, your conversion page is your thank you page

You can also set up custom conversions to track exact events that people take on your website.
We won’t get into the specific in this guide as it’s quite an advanced tactic relevant to particular use cases. You can find Facebook’s guide to custom conversions here.
After you go to the Audiences page in the Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll see the new Custom Audience in the list alongside others.
Often, you’ll see the blurb “Audience too small”. Wait for a couple of hours for Facebook to collect the data and check again.
list too small

Give Facebook at least 2 hours to create your new audiences

Best practices for post-conversion retargeting with Facebook Custom Audiences:

  • Use retargeting ads for upselling, cross selling and educating your buyers
  • Promote related items to the one the person already converted on
  • Offer to buy more for a discounted price
  • Promote guides to help people get started with your product
  • Combine Facebook ads with other marketing channels for greater impact


5. Retarget your newsletter subscribers

There are very few brands left on Earth who wouldn’t use email marketing to some extent. After all, you need to get important messages over to your customers somehow.
You’ve got two types of newsletter subscribers: active readers engaging with your emails and inactive users that haven’t opened a single email for several months.
If you’ve got lots of inactive subscribers, here’s good news:
MailChimp’s analysis of 60 million e-commerce purchases and 40 million email addresses from retailers showed that 1 inactive subscriber is worth 32% of an active subscriber.
Even if your inactive email subscribers don’t engage with your brand on such a high scale as active fans, they’re still 26% more likely to make a follow-up purchase than non-subscribers.

Screen Shot 2016 02 03 at 1.23.52 PM 672x492

1 inactive subscriber is worth 32% of an active subscriber – image source

There’s always a reason why active readers turn into passive ones. Maybe they’re not interested in your newsletters anymore. Maybe you send too often. Or maybe they just don’t have time to read.
By using Facebook Custom Audiences, you can set up retargeting campaigns to renew valuable customer relationships with various newsletter subscriber segments.
Resist the temptation to bombard all your newsletter subscribers with a request to buy something. Instead, share valuable advice that will bring them back to you through consistent nudging.
SumoMe FB post

Case studies are an example of low-threat content

If you use an email marketing tool, look for patterns in email opens.
Maybe there’s a particular segment that’s interested in your eBooks. Or another group of subscribers that only click on original research articles.
Use these insights to craft multiple retargeting campaigns relevant to specific user segments (create a Custom Audience of each subscriber segment).
If you’re unsure how to segment your audience by interests, you can simply differentiate them by activity levels. In this case, use an offer that’s relevant to a large set of people.

Every time someone likes your post, their friends will see it

You can also create a Facebook Custom Audience out of all your emails subscribers and add an extra layer of targeting by defining their location, age, interests, etc. when setting up the campaigns.
Tip: Retarget people who never open your emails.
In addition to newsletter readers, also address the people who never open your emails. After reading a fascinating blog post or downloading your eBook, they’re also more likely to read your next post.

How to create a Facebook Custom Audience of your newsletter subscribers:

Go to Facebook Business Manager, and find Audiences. From the dropdown menu, select “Custom Audience” and “Customer File” (go back to the first chapters of this article for step-by-step visual guide).
Choose whether you’d like to add a customer file or import contacts from MailChimp.
If you want to upload your customer file, export it from your email marketing tool and import it to Facebook as a .txt or .csv file.

Create custom audience from customer file 1

Import your customer file here

If you want to specify your Custom Audience by interests later, you can do so in the campaign setup phase.
narrow custom audiences

Combine custom audiences with interest-based targeting

Best practices for retargeting to newsletter subscribers:

  • Use this method to revive inactive relationships
  • Amplify your content’s reach across your subscriber’s personal network
  • Share relevant educational content after you’ve segmented your lists
  • Segment newsletter subscribers to create highly targeted ad campaigns
  • If you’re unable to segment email lists, narrow audiences by location, interests, etc. (when setting up the campaign on Facebook)


6. Retarget free trial and freemium users

In the business of selling products that have a free trial period?
According to Totango, you can only expect roughly 15-20% of your free trial users to actually become paying customers.

free trial conversion rate

Only 12% of website visitors become paying clients – image source

Even if you’re best in class, you’re likely to get 200 paying users out of each 1,000 free trial owners.
free trial conversions

Looks like postponing the credit card request is a win-win – image source

Retargeting to your trial users is 10x more targeted than retargeting to all website visitors. It’s an opportunity not to be wasted.
During a free trial, your goal is to get the free trial users to engage with your product and to see how it can benefit them. You want to eventually give them enough value so they want to sign up for a paid version of your product.
In other words, you need to “activate” your users to get them to actually start using the product.
The point of activation depends on your product, but it could be connecting a social media account, uploading some data, or inviting friends to join.
By creating a Custom Audience of free trial or freemium users, you can use Facebook ads to deliver different types of reminders:

  • Share facts and numbers about your product’s benefits
  • Use convincing messages to overcome people’s objections.
  • Share case studies of similar users
  • Share guides to getting started
  • Promote a free demo with one of your salespeople
  • Promote premium features included in the paid version


retargeting ad objections

Overcome the “I don’t have time to set it up” objection

Tip: In addition to free trial users, you can retarget people who had a free trial in the past, but didn’t convert.
For example, run a campaign reminding of your product 6 months after the person’s trial period ended. Offer another free trial period or reactivate passive freemium users.

How to create a Facebook Custom Audience of free trial and freemium users:

The easiest way to create an audience of free trial users is by using a specific thank you page link.
Set up a dedicated thank you page shown after a free trial signup. Next, go to Facebook Audience Manager and create a new Custom Audience based on your website traffic.
Depending on the length of your free trial period, set the date range to X+1 days: 15 days for a 2-week trial, 31 days for a 30-day trial, etc.

Free trial custom audience

Insert your post-conversion landing page link

You’ll want to stop showing the ads to people who sign up for a paying version of your product.
Create another Custom Audience of people that have set up a payment profile. Set up in-app tracking and use the “Add payment info” parameter to track conversions from free trial to paying user. Read Facebook’s Pixel guide for further guidance.
Best practices for retargeting to free trial and freemium users:

  • Use retargeting to communicate your product’s benefits to trial users
  • Offer helpful content, e.g. guides
  • Share case studies and overcome possible objections
  • Exclude people who have set up a payment profile


7. Target Facebook Lookalike Audiences to reach brand new prospects

We all wish that we could clone our best customers, resulting in a doubling of sales margins.
Luckily, we’re not living in a Westworld-like utopia yet, and there’s only one copy of each of us.
But Facebook Lookalike Audiences can get you pretty close to cloning your favorite customers. These audiences consist of people with similar interests and activity patterns as your existing customers or website visitors.
Lookalike audience targeting is based on the idea that people who are most similar to your existing users are also the most likely to convert.
According to Facebook, an online travel site saw 70% lower cost per action when using Lookalike Audiences.
Create a Custom Audience of the past website converters to reach more potential customers with Facebook campaigns.
Remember that Lookalike Audiences include people who have never heard of you (so it’s not exactly retargeting). Test offers with various threat levels to find what works best.
Asking people to sign up for a product they’ve never seen or heard of before is a rushed tactic that rarely works. Warm up your Lookalike Audiences by giving them engaging and useful content, and only then follow up with more straightforward offers, such as a free trial.
For example, this Facebook ad by Clanbeat introduces people to the world of motivating employees.
After a Lookalike Audience member clicks on the ad, they could create a Custom Audience of article readers, and move them to the next Facebook retargeting phase where they promote their eBook or something else that shows a higher level of engagement and conversion intent from the visitor.

Clanbeat ad

Emojis are everything!?

If you plan to create a multi-step marketing funnel, make sure your audience sizes are big enough for each step of your conversion funnel.

How to create a Facebook Lookalike Audience similar to existing customers:

First, you need to create a Custom Audience of your existing customers of website converters.
Go to Facebook Audience Manager, and create a Custom Audience based on website traffic, targeting people who landed on your thank you page.

Create a lookalike audience

Before Lookalike Audience, you’ll need a Custom Audience

Next, create a Lookalike Audience based on the Custom Audience you just created.
The scale of 1-10 shows the percentage of the targeted country’s Facebook users that most resemble your Custom Audience.
Lookalike audience

Here’s what it looks like

If your Lookalike Audience is too large (hundreds of thousands of people), narrow it with interest-based targeting when setting up an ad campaign. Or simply set the campaign’s goal to “Conversions” so that Facebook can do the optimization for you.
Best practices for using Facebook lookalike audiences:

  • Create a Lookalike Audience that resembles your paying customers
  • Remember that these people have never heard of your product
  • Test offers with various threat levels
  • Create a multi-step marketing funnel


8. Retarget everyone who engaged with your content on Facebook

If you regularly share branded content and videos on Facebook, you get tons of engagement in the form of views, likes and shares.
Usually, marketers have no idea what to do with these engagement metrics.
To help you get more out of the post engagement on the social platform, Facebook added the option to target anyone who engaged with your content on Facebook.
For example, you can remarket to people who have watched at least 25% of the video you posted on Facebook. Or target people who opened your Canvas ad.
Notice that it says “videos” instead of “video”, meaning that you can select multiple videos at once.

custom audience of vide viewers

Test various options to see what works best

For example, you could match retargeting ads with inspiring video content, just like Nike’s done it.
Nike ad 1

Step one: inspire people ?

Nike ad 2

Step two: remind them of your awesome products ?

According to Think Marketing, Facebook also released a new tool that lets you retarget people who have engaged with your Facebook page.
This feature is not yet rolled out for all accounts, but here’s a glimpse of what you could do:

  • Target everyone who visited your Page or engaged with your Page’s content or ads on Facebook or Messenger
  • Target everyone who visited your Page
  • Target people who engaged with your Page post or ad. This includes reactions (Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry), shares, comments, link clicks or carousel swipes.
  • Target people who clicked any call-to-action button (e.g. “Contact Us” or “Shop Now”.)
  • Target people who sent a message to your Page
  • Target people who saved your Page or any post

These additional retargeting options let you reach people who engaged with your Facebook page, meaning that they’re already familiar with your brand (and maybe even products).

How to create a Custom Audience based on engagement on Facebook:

Go to Facebook Audience Manager and create a Custom Audience. Next, select “Engagement on Facebook” and choose which type of engagement you’d like to measure.

Facebook Create A Custom Audience Page

The “Page” option will be rolled out 100% in upcoming weeks

Depending on your choice, you can create retargeting audiences of people who have engaged with your Facebook videos, canvas, lead ads, or your brand’s Facebook page.
Best practices for retargeting to Engagement Custom Audiences:

  • Attract people’s attention with interesting visual content
  • Target people who have viewed your videos up to a certain point
  • Keep the topics of your videos and retargeting ads aligned
  • Target people who have engaged with your Page post or ad

Alright, it’s time to wrap up this Facebook Custom Audiences guide. I hope you’ll leave with new must-try ideas for retargeting campaigns.
If you feel like we missed something, let us know, and we’ll do our best to improve the guide.
Oh, and if you want to learn about other types of retargeting campaigns, then read our guide here.

Klientboost Blog Author Karola Karlson

Karola Karlson

Founder @ Aggregate blog

We help our clients make more money


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