Have you tried advertising to a custom audience on Facebook yet? If you’re familiar with Facebook Business Pages, you’re familiar with the tempting blue BOOST button at the bottom of every post you make. This is no accident. Facebook has made it ever­-so­-simple to hit that button and ever­-so­-easily reach more people, and, ahem, ever­-so­-easily blow through a bunch of money while you’re at it.

More often than not, users who blindly boost posts eventually realize they can’t track ROI and they aren’t sure what they’re even measuring.

The real magic in Facebook ads happens in the Ads Manager, a place I’ve come to realize most of my fellow business owners have yet to visit, regardless of all the money they’re sending out to Facebook via the boost button.

In the ads manager, you can do amazing niche targeting. I’m going to take one small slice of the targeting available and highlight the options of a Custom Audience.

Using custom audiences will likely increase your click-through rate, lower your cost per conversion, and increase engagement.

Where are Custom Audiences found?

In your ads manager, navigate to the menu of options at the top of the page and you’ll see a drop down menu.

Choose CUSTOM.


Email List

Have an email database of customers? Upload them to Facebook and the program will try to find matches to its users. This is a great way to reach people who haven’t been in touch in a long time, or to remind current customers of new products or services.

Have a list of leads? Remember, if they opted in, you’re good to go with emailing them. If they didn’t, you can be fined up to $16,000 per email if you spam them. If you have a list of email leads who never opted in, try running some Facebook ads to them instead.

It’s not going to be perfect, and it’s not going to find everyone. Sometimes it only finds a fraction of your database in fact, but it’s a highly effective group nonetheless.

Website Visitors

When you run ads to your website, you’re beginning the process of making a sale. Marketing and sales are not the same things, and cold leads often need to see your name at least 7 times before taking action.

So, let’s say you run an ad. You get 1,200 clicks to the website, and next month you start all over again. Chances are you’ll never reach that same person again (unless you have a giant corporate-sized budget). So you’re not really maximizing your ad’s potential at this point.

Make sure you’ve added the Facebook pixel to your website. So every time someone clicks from Facebook to your site, Facebook can add them to a custom audience of website visitors and you can re­target those who have already expressed interest and are warming up to you.

You can choose the window of time too, such as 30-day visitors, or 180-day visitors, or any in between. Depending on how quickly someone is going to need your services or move on to someone else’s, this is a nice feature. For example, engaged or pregnant customers are only going to be looking for so long before the window of opportunity has passed.

App Activity

I don’t use this one. However, if you have an app that you promote via Facebook, you can create a custom audience of people based on the actions they take within your app. I think it is pretty stellar, because think about how many people download an app and then abandon it.


This one is brand new. So while my experience using it is zero, I can imagine it will be effective. This custom audience allows you to create a list of people who are engaging with your content. These are kind of like your VIPs if you will. We all have them, those loyal “likers” you can always count on!

It is yet to be determined what this group will be good for exactly. My instincts tell me it could be best when you want to use “engagement” as the measure of success for your ad. (For example, asking a question of your audience, taking a poll, looking for shares, and so forth.) Sometimes those loyal likers are just that, likers of everything, but may not convert.

However, since they are so fond of you already, they may be strong converters. Only time will tell. And as is often the case with Facebook ads, every business will probably have a different experience.


Ok, so this one is not really a custom audience per se, but it’s worth bringing up. When you click CREATE AUDIENCE you’ll see Lookalike listed right under the option to create a custom group. This technique scours Facebook users and tries to find those who most closely resemble your current followers.

“Audience size ranges from 1% to 10% of the total population in the country you choose, with 1% being those who most closely match your source.”

I always leave it at the 1% it defaults to because it’s usually about 1­2 million people and that is a large audience to test. I’d rather have 1 million closely matching people than 10 million so-so matches.

Check the Click-Through Rates

As with any successful Facebook ad, get ready to roll up your sleeves and pay attention to the results on a daily basis. Don’t just set up the ad and let it run without carefully monitoring its performance. You should know within a day or two if it’s a dismal failure, or on its way to success.

If the CTR (click-through rate) is less than 1% I’d turn it off immediately and change the photo/message/targeting. If it’s 1­2% it’s ok. For certain less sexy industries, 1% is average. If it’s 3­5%, it’s what I see on average for a good performing ad industry-wide. And if it’s over 6%, you’re doing something right! CTR is just one tiny part of measuring the success of an ad of course, but it’s a quick and easy one to look for when you want to save money and make sure your ads are on the right path.

If you’re measuring for Conversion, you’ll want to look for the high-converting groups and hopefully those that convert at lowest cost. You can dig into age, gender, device, and other things to see where your cheapest converting ads are.

Tracy Petrucci is an online marketing educator focused on social media, Facebook ads, and email marketing. She teaches at Mira Costa College, across various adult school programs in San Diego, and speaks as a Constant Contact Local Expert. Tracy also runs a small boutique agency for marketing management and consultation.

Tracy Petrucci Marketing helps businesses grow through the use of social media, Facebook advertising, and email marketing.

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