How Facebook’s Custom Audience Feature Can Help to Deliver Insanely Targeted Ads

It could be argued that the Holy Grail of paid traffic is delivering the perfectly targeted ad. The ad that goes to the right type of prospect, and the copy of the ad is totally relevant to that prospect. Facebook ads have been friendly to this ideal. Advertisers have been able to target people based on information that Facebook has on those people. Because Facebook is a treasure chest of information, advertisers have been able to use details like age, gender, marital status, various hobbies and interests, where they went to school, where to go to work, etc. Specifically targeting an audience has been notoriously easy on Facebook. And with its relatively new Custom Audience feature, it just got easier.

The Custom Audience feature is relatively new, and it’s very underused. It’s perhaps the best way to deliver targeted ads to specific prospects that you are pursuing.

What is the Custom Audience Feature?

It allows you to upload a list of emails, phone numbers or unique Facebook Id’s and to send targeted ads to that uploaded list. Essentially, you’re segmenting the delivery of your ads to a specific, targeted list that you already own. If, for example, you have a list of 10,000 emails addresses and the people who own these emails have never been converted into a customer, then you can upload this list into Facebook and send ads to them. Do you see its power? You’re sending ads to people who presumably already know you, and have interacted with you, on some level. This allows you to send more relevant and intimate messages, instead of the generic, one-size-fits-all style of copy that average ads elicit.

Even better, Facebook allows you to put a tracking pixel on your website. This means that once someone goes to a webpage that has the tracking pixel on it, they are now “captured”, and once they return to Facebook, your ads will display to that person. So, for instance, if someone you can put a tracking pixel on your checkout page for the people who bounce from it. Facebook will track these people and use their Facebook Ids to create a Custom Audience list.

The Custom Audience Feature allows you to send ads to people who are already familiar with you, or may have forgotten about you, or may be on the fence about your company.

How it works

You upload a CSV file that contains the list of either emails, phone numbers or unique Facebook id’s. Facebook will then match the list with what it has in its database, and it will produce a Custom Audience list of the Facebook profiles that match with the list that you have. If you’re using emails or phone numbers, Facebook won’t be able to match every entry in the list with a Facebook profile. However, if you are using a list of Facebook User Id’s, then Facebook should be able to accurately find profiles for the majority of your list.

Alternatively, as already explained, you can place a tracking pixel on your website, which is basically a unique snippet of code that Facebook gives you.

How to Use it to achieve incredible results

Some of its uses are obvious—upload a list of prospects that know about your brand. This is fine and should be utilized, but it’s not the only way to use the Custom Audience feature. The feature, in and of itself, is robust, and is ripe for a variety of creative uses and applications. Let’s look at a few.

Exclude Specific Users

Use it to exclude specific profiles from seeing your ad. Let’s say, for example, that you’re targeting a wide range of different prospects. In some industries, it’ll be a waste of resources if that ad reaches someone who is already a converted customer. Upload a list of people who already bought from you and select the “exclude this audience” option. This is like the reverse Custom Audience, as it will exclude this group of people from seeing your ads—saving you money and ensuring that your converted customers are not being pestered.

Re-engage website visitors

Thanks to Facebook’s tracking pixel, you can re-target website visitors who bounced from your page. Let’s say that someone bounced on the checkout page, then that person can be added to your Custom Audience on Facebook. You can then deliver a personalized ad that is relevant to that visitor’s past action—bouncing from your checkout page. In addition, you can target people who viewed a specific area on a webpage, or if you’re an Ecommerce site, a specific product. You can then craft a message that is relevant to whatever they viewed on the website.

Boost Upsells

Let’s say that you do want to market to people who you have already converted. In some cases, this can be a goldmine. These people are not only familiar with who you, they have already purchased your product—and are hopefully satisfied with it. These people are perfect for upselling or cross-selling opportunities, seeing that you have already established a transactional relationship with them.

Expand your audience

Conventional wisdom would say that the Custom Audience feature is only a good way to nurture existing leads. That’s not the case. Use your list of contacts to create a new Custom Audience. The Lookalike Audience feature is the result of Facebook’s analysis of your Custom Audience list; it reviews your contacts’ Facebook profiles and will find any associated patterns and similarities. The Lookalike Audience is basically the kin to the original Custom Audience, seeing that they will have the same unifying characteristics. As a basic example, if Facebook finds that many profiles in your Custom Audience like golf, then many profiles in the Lookalike Audience will also have golf as their interest. Using the Lookalike feature, you can generate brand new audience that has striking similarities to your original list.

How to go forward with the Custom Audience feature

Facebook has now made it insanely easy for marketers to target prospects based on where they are on the buying cycle, the relationship they have with your brand, a past action or behavior, or the common similarities they have with other members of your list. The targeted ad is what every marketer is pursuing, and it just got more accessible with the Custom Audience feature.

Want more digital strategy advice and insights?

Sign up for our newsletter.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Joseph Riviello

Joseph L. Riviello is the CEO and Founder of Zen Agency. Joe's agency builds websites and web applications that attract, engage, and convert. Joe has over 30 years of experience in entrepreneurship and he is an expert digital marketing strategist who specializes in conversion-centric e-commerce experiences and cutting-edge solutions that maximize growth and profit. Check out Joe featured on:,,,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

More Posts By Joseph Riviello

E-Commerce Experts Thoughts on New Instagram Checkout Feature

By Joseph Riviello

Facebook is at it again, innovating the social media landscape … this time with its uber-popular platform, Instagram. In a March 19th press release, the company unveiled the new Instagram Checkout feature, an e-commerce extension of the app. Since it’s currently in beta with only 25 companies, not much is known about it, and businesses…

Why You Need a WooCommerce Store

By Joseph Riviello

According to a study published by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Department of Commerce, total e-commerce sales in the United States were estimated at $513.6 billion in 2018, a 14.2% increase from 2017. This data has been on an upward trend since 2009. Future projections globally cement e-commerce as the primary shopping method. Now, more than…

4 Tactics Marketing Automation Companies Use to Improve ROI

By Joseph Riviello

The most exciting part of doing business in this day in age is how much technology is available. This elevates the potential of what you can do with your marketing since it opens up a world of opportunities. While technology won’t be the magic button that will fix all of your problems, it helps accelerate…

The 3 Tenets of Lead Generation: How You Can Produce Sales On-Demand

By Joseph Riviello

Sales are the lifeblood of any business. Without a steady stream of sales, you don’t have revenue. And without revenue, you don’t have a thriving business. In today’s post, we’re going to look at the three tenets of lead generation, and how you can use them to exponentially grow your business. Tenet 1: You Must…

Zen Agency is Now a Sharpspring Silver Partner!

By Joseph Riviello

Zen Agency has earned the Sharpspring Silver Partner Certification from Sharpspring, a leading marketing automation platform. Why Does Marketing Automation Matter? The marketing automation tools provided by Zen Agency as a Sharpspring Silver Partner allows you to deliver the right message to the right leads. Track your content, who is seeing it, and craft an…

How to Create a Successful Law Firm Marketing Funnel

By Joseph Riviello

If you were to go back 20 years, you would see that law firm marketing was starkly different than it is today. You would see more billboards, late-night infomercials, neighborhood flyers, and newspaper ads. These days, we have websites, SEO, pay-per-click ads, and social media marketing. The options available to lawyers today give them countless…

What Is Content Marketing? How You Can Get Started Today

By Joseph Riviello

Almost every successful website has one thing in common: Great content. You can have an extremely beautiful website with all the bells and whistles, but if you don’t have content, your web presence is woefully incomplete. You must learn how to start content marketing the proper way. There are no shortcuts: You need good content.…

5 Steps for Creating a Successful Marketing Strategy

By Joseph Riviello

Many businesses jump straight into marketing without a plan. This is a big mistake. Going into battle without a strategy will leave you with a poorly spent marketing budget and lackluster results. Often enough, the difference between companies who dominate the marketplace and companies who fail to get off the ground is simple: A clear,…

The 5 Step Cheat-Sheet for Using Youtube for Your Local Business

By Joseph Riviello

If I were to ask you, “what’s the #1 search engine?”, you would automatically say, “Google”, and you’d be right. But what if I were to ask you to state the #2 search engine? Some would say Bing or Yahoo, but the truth is that Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world.…

Why Call Tracking Is Critical for Local Businesses

By Joseph Riviello

Let’s say you’re a business that’s running different online and marketing channels like SEO, PPC, email marketing and direct mail. You notice a remarkable uptick in sales, but you’re not precisely sure where they are coming from, as you’re using a variety of different marketing methods. If many of your leads contact you via the…