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Facebook Custom Audience for Small Biz Owners

I went to a networking meeting a while back and learned about something called FaceBook custom audiences.  It has taken a while to grow the list to a level that I could actually test it, but it has finally happened and now I have some stuff to share with you all about what I have learned.

I hear from people all the time that they are spending x amount of dollars a month on facebook ads and I always wonder if they are using the tools that make facebook ads so great.  I want to help demystify the marketing world in this area so that you, as a small business owner, can feel comfortable doing this on your own.  Or at least talking intelligently to the person you are going to pay to do it for you.  Just spending money on facebook doesn’t make a lot of sense, spending it wisely is great and very fruitful (and not very time consuming) from our experience.

The basic idea behind custom audiences is that you can track or tag people who have been to your website and even specific places on your website so you can market facebook ads to them at a later time.  Have you ever had that item you looked for on amazon follow you to Facebook?  It isn’t magic and it is something you can do for your stuff too.

The best thing about facebook ads is that you can specifically pick who you are going to advertise to and with audience selection know they are somewhat predisposed to want what you have because they have filled out some interest items in their profile.  What makes the custom audience thing even better is that they not only are interested in your industry, they are actually interested enough in you to have visited your webpage.

I don’t know about you, but when I see numbers on our website in the thousands for visitors but I only get a couple form submissions I go crazy.  First of all, if my conversion isn’t great I must need to do something on my site to improve that, but how can I get back in front of all those people that came the first time and didn’t convert to customers or subscribers.  Custom Audience from FaceBook is how.

Recently at the golf course we ran an ad for a promotion we were doing and we used the same ads but served them to two different groups.  Both groups were targeted, but one was just to area golfers and things that golfers tend to like (Rory McIlroy, TaylorMade, The USGA, etc…) and the other was to the people we targeted from using our custom audience pixel from FaceBook.


This is a screen shot of the results we got using the custom audience we created.  Our cost per result (a click to our landing page in this instance) was $0.20 with a click through rate of 3.16%.  We may have only reached 1,800 people, but we got almost 300 results.  One of the things to point out here is the diminishing returns you see on the graph.  The list for this particular item was relatively small and so it didn’t take long for the ad to work its way through everyone on the list have a high frequency.  Once that happens the click through rate will begin to decline because you are beginning to serve the ad to people who have already seen it multiple times.  When you reach this point it is time to give it a break or redesign your ad (really you should be split testing something like this anyway…we’ll talk about that in another post…).


Here are the results from the other audience.  Again, the ads themselves were the same, the only difference was the audience.  The spend was the same because we set that parameter, but the reach was almost 4.5 times as many people, but we only got 83% as many conversions.  You will also notice that the lines are flatter. In other words the results were remaining a bit more consistent or a longer period of time.  The other way to look at that trend is that if we hadn’t run the ads for as long (read: spent as much money) we would get even better results comparatively speaking using the custom audience feature.

So now the real question…how do you do it?  Pretty easy as long as you have control over your website or direct access to the person that does.  At the golf course we have more flexibility because I designed, built and maintain the website using wordpress so we can put the tracking code anywhere and on any page that we want it.  At Elements, we are not so lucky and can only track visits to the site and we are not able to know where they went once they got there.

First off I think it is good to have a general idea of what we are doing in this process.  We are putting a little bit of code on your website that tells Facebook they were there and to add them to your custom audience.

Go to your ads account manager page in facebook.  I use the business.facebook.com interface and select “Tools” in the manage ads section.  From the drop down choose “Audiences”


Under “Create Audience” choose “Custom Audience”.


Choose “Website Traffic” from the list. (Customer List is pretty cool too, you can upload a list of email addresses that you have to facebook and it will match them to facebook users and then you can remarket to them…but that is also a discussion for another day)


At this point you get to choose how in depth you are going to go with your targeting.  For our purposes today and for just starting out we are going to choose just people who have been to our website by selecting “Anyone who visits your website”.  I also like to choose the longest time to keep them on the list, 180 days.  If you are going to be marketing something that is much more time sensitive, or something that only applies to recent visitors then you may want to shorten the time in this section.  For now we are trying to get the biggest and most comprehensive list of people that have spent the time and effort to come to our website.


Once you give it a name you will have your new custom audience.  But we aren’t done yet…


Your audience will now be listed but you need to get the tracking pixel to put on your site.  Check the checkbox next to the name of your new audience and then in the drop down menu for “Actions” choose “View Pixel”.  You will then see something like this…


This is where the little bit of technical stuff comes into play.  You have to paste this code in the <head> of your site.  If you are using wordpress there are plugins you can use.  I use one called “Insert Headers and Footers” by wpbeginner.  It is certainly nothing fancy but for the golf course site it seems to get the job done and hasn’t caused me any problems so far.

If you are not the one managing your site, you will need to email the code you just created to your web designer for him or her to put in the site for you.

Now you wait for the list to populate.  The more people visit your website, the faster the list will grow.

When you run facebook ads now you can use this audience specifically by choosing “Browse” on the “Custom Audiences” field and choosing the audience you created when you are choosing an audience for your ad.


You still need a good offer, ad copy, images, etc. when running an ad, but when you are delivering it to people who have already been to your website at least once in the last 180 days you can dramatically increase your chances for success.

The problem with advertising is that half of the money is wasted…the problem is we don’t know which half!  In the age of digital marketing we have a ton more analytics to help with that question.  Tools like this one make it much easier to make sure we are getting our message in front of the people that want to see it.

We will continue to play with these items for our small businesses and keep you posted on how it goes and what we learn.

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