How to use Custom & Lookalike Audiences to increase the ROI of your Facebook campaigns

  • 2
  • September 2, 2013
Laura Crimmons

Laura Crimmons

Communications Director

The introduction of Custom and Lookalike Audiences has transformed Facebook advertising dramatically, it is now easier than ever for marketers to find their customers on Facebook, transform their customers into fans and also find more potential customers in a targeted way.

There is a big difference between fans and customers; just because someone is a fan on Facebook doesn’t mean they have ever made a purchase from you nor that they ever will and equally, just because someone has made a purchase doesn’t mean they have also taken the step to like you on Facebook. So although you have always been able to target your own fans with your Facebook adverts this doesn’t necessarily mean that your actual customers were seeing them, whereas with Custom Audiences you can ensure that it is your actual customers seeing the adverts (if you want them to).

Lookalike Audiences have been proven to increase the ROI on Facebook advertising, back when they were rolled out Facebook told us that an online travel site saw 70% lower CPA, with an online shopping site seeing a 56% lower CPA and 94% lower costs per checkout.

This post highlights some of the uses I’ve found for Custom and Lookalike Audiences beyond the obvious just connecting with your customers and how to use these to increase the ROI of your Facebook advertising.

The steps below outline how to set up a Custom Audience; first though, you will need to have installed Facebook Power editor which you can find in Adverts Manager as below:

Facebook Adverts Manager

Once installed you will be greeted with this screen, in order to start creating Custom and Lookalike Audiences you need to click ‘Audiences’ on the left hand side.

Power Editor

Then select ‘Create Audience’ and ‘Custom Audience’ where you can upload your CSV file.

Custom Audience

Once your Custom Audience is processed you can create your Lookalike Audience by selecting the Custom Audience you want to use and clicking ‘Create Similar Audience’.


Target existing customers/ repeat business with Custom Audiences

You may be running a campaign to specifically target existing customers or repeat business, for example a loyalty offer giving them 10% off their next purchase. You could do this for all existing customers or select ones e.g. only those who have made a purchase in the last 30 days from your CRM system.

In order to do this you need to create a CSV file containing all of the email addresses of the customers you wish to include – this literally just needs to be a list of emails without even a header at the top of the column.

Then upload this list to the Audiences section of Facebook Power Editor and give it a name e.g. ‘Existing customers last 30 day purchase’.

After this when you’re building your campaign within Facebook Power Editor you will see the option ‘Custom Audiences’, here you just need to type the name of the list you uploaded so ‘Existing customers last 30 day purchase’ and this means that the campaign will only show to those customers.

Target new customers with Custom and Lookalike Audiences

If you are running a promotion specifically aimed at attracting new customers and you want to make sure this is targeted at people who will be interested you can do this by creating a Lookalike Audience. After you’ve uploaded your Custom Audience list containing all your customers you need to then click on the list and select ‘Create Similar Audience’ which will create your Lookalike Audience for you.

When creating your campaign you then need to enter the name of your Lookalike list in ‘Custom Audiences’, you will then also need to include the name of your original list in ‘Excluded Audiences’ and this will do exactly what it says and exclude all of those customers from seeing your advert. This means only new potential customers similar to your existing customers will see your advert.

Reengage app users with Custom Audiences

We all know Facebook apps can be great for increasing engagement, talking about figures etc., but we also know that these only have a certain life span and often fans will only engage with the app once then never return. Using Custom Audiences you can reengage the fans that had used the app by creating an advert in the News Feed especially for them.

To do this you just need to export the list of Facebook IDs or email addresses for those that engaged with the app originally then upload this as a Custom Audience. You can then set up your Facebook advert targeting only those who have previously engaged with the app. This increases ROI of the advertising massively as you already know that the people you’re advertising to are interested in the brand as they have previously engaged with the app. This also improves the ROI of the app as these can be expensive to create however this extends the longevity of it.

Increase app usage with Lookalike Audiences

Using Lookalike Audiences you can also increase app usage for current apps by exporting the details for people that have used the app as above and creating the Custom Audience. You can then use the ‘Create a Similar Audience’ feature to create your Lookalike Audience and then serve an advert for the app to the Lookalike Audience.

Turn data capture into fans with Custom Audiences

Many brands rely heavily on data capture for both repeat business and to turn potential customers into customers – Custom Audiences can help with both of these objectives. You may have a list of newsletter subscribers, competition entrants etc that you want to convert into customers and fans, which you can easily do.

First create your CSV file containing all the email addresses and upload these as a Custom Audience then create your advert as usual selecting the new Custom Audience with a targeted message relating to the source of the data capture.

So there’s a few of my lessons from using Custom and Lookalike Audiences for Facebook advertising, I’d love to hear some of yours in the comments below if you have more to add!

** Please make sure you check Facebook’s Custom Audience Terms before uploading any Custom Audience Lists to ensure your data doesn’t violate the terms