30 Clever Approaches to Facebook Custom Audiences


Are you struggling to find new ways of boosting your business using Facebook Ads? Try using Facebook Custom Audiences.

As marketers, one of the biggest slip-ups you can make is failing to take advantage of Facebook’s multiple audience segmentation options to get closer to your target audience.

I hope you’re not just syncing your emails lists to Facebook and hoping for the best result. It really is essential for any business to target people who are most likely to interact with you the way you want them to. Claim your free spot at our workshop on How to Build and Run $1MM Funnels where we’ll cover a range of topics, including Facebook advertising strategies.

If you’re new to the feature, Custom Audiences is a great targeted advertising tool that gives you the ability to bucket people in lists and target Facebook ads at them, using a list of phone numbers, emails or Facebook IDs. To get started, take a look at a guide provided by AdEspresso on setting up Facebook Ads Custom Audiences.

I have put together a list of useful ideas that can help you make the best of Facebook’s Custom Audiences remarkable feature. Remember not to rush and implement all of them at once. See what suits your business best, start small and advance from there.


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On to our main point, here’s a list of 30 custom audience examples that you can and should apply to your Facebook ad campaigns:


1. All Past Website Visitors

If you had no other option, but to build only one Custom Audience, all of your past website visitors would definitely make the cut.

It is a good starting point, but you don’t really get an idea of what these people expect to find or plan to do on your website.

A great step here would be to retarget all the people who have come across your website in the past with an offer on Facebook that would jog their memory of your brand. Since you are targeting a very mixed group of people, the Facebook offer should be in line with the main offer on your landing or homepage.

For instance, if you go to Plotly’s homepage, you’ll see that their key message is “Visualize Data, Together”. Moreover, it defines Plotly as “the modern platform for agile business intelligence and data science”.


Ploty Facebook Custom Audience

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Notice how they underline, but paraphrase the same message in a Facebook ad, taking the opportunity to re-engage people who were interested in their unique value proposition at some point.

Ploty Facebook Ad

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Very vague audience groups are actually very helpful for running split tests to determine what most of your potential customers are into. Keep in mind that you can’t drift far from your initial UVP.



  • Stay relevant using a short timeframe (up to 2-3 months)
  • Don’t get pushy, don’t ask for anything big, offer value foremost
  • Broadcast the same key message


2. Popular Blog Post Readers/Viewers

Create a Custom Audience whenever a new post is published on a blog and target people who have read or at least viewed it.

You should get into the habit of doing this regularly for all posts, but it’s okay to start with your most engaging ones.

Scoro Facebook Ad Example

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Taking advantage of retargeting to publicize blog posts across Facebook helps in enhancing the CTRs because the target audience already likes the topic.

You can also conduct split tests to see which blog post headline attracts more eyes:

Scoro Facebook Ad Example

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  • Keep engagement high with quality copy
  • Boost posts and create ad campaigns to expand the reach
  • Multiple audiences for various topics


3. Time-on-site Retargeting

Provided that the blog post did its job and got people to read and click through it, bucket people into a new Custom Audience based on the amount of time they spent reading your article.

Once a visitor spends enough time reading your blog, you could think about giving them a little push and asking them to do a bit more and, perhaps, download something for free or purchase a tripwire product.


4. Category Viewers

If your website has various separate categories that your visitors can view, and if you are able to link such categories to the URL, make use of this capability to segment audiences based on the categories they browsed more.

For example, let’s take the FOX NEWS Sports website. They post content on the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and more. Even if the URL structure doesn’t contain certain keywords, each post has a tag within the URL that links the post to a certain category.


Fox News Sport

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5. Basic Retargeting

If you have extra funds, you can separate customers based on the website pages that they visited. However, this works better if your customers can log into your website.

Then you can run a Facebook ad on viewed products or get creative and also target shopping cart abandoners.


6. Landing Page Visitors

PPC ads that attract people to your landing page hit your wallet pretty hard. And if you are not retargeting them with special deals via Facebook ads then you are basically pouring money down the drain.

In 2013, eMarketer reported that almost 60% of online buyers in the United States notice ads for products they were browsing on the Internet.

eMarketer-How Consumers Perceive Remarketing

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Give this a thought: these people have seen your brand before, and they have expressed interest in your product(s) or valuable information. Send them targeted content that is relevant to the offer they initially saw on the landing page.

For example, Intercom has many target groups. They posted an ad to target marketing teams. However, this ad can also be used to re-engaged people who saw a copy on email marketing when they landed on their landing page.

Intercom Facebook Ad Example

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Be more specific with what you offer, since you are targeting people who landed on a specific topic.


  • Present offers specific for the landing page
  • Split test different offers
  • Provide the prospect with the next step
  • Run frequent ads
  • Exclude those who have converted


7. Thank You Page Visitors

 Good manners and a little respect go a long way, so create a Custom Audience and include everyone who completed an action that took them to your Thank You page, be it as a result of a completed opt-in form or a purchase.

Set the duration of this Custom Audience to half a year and use Facebook ads to cross or upsell to such people for greater results.


8. Create a Lookalike Audience of Customers with High CLVs

Don’t underestimate the importance of the customer lifetime value, because it tells you how much to spend on getting new customers, how to sell to your best customers, and how much you can spend on keeping them.

Calculate this by multiplying the average value of a sale by the number of repeat transactions and then multiply that by the number of months/years that the customer has shopped with you.

You can do magic by applying the Pareto Principle – take 20% of your customers with the highest customer lifetime value and bucket them into a new target group. Then create a Lookalike Audience of your best shoppers and your conversion rate will jump.

Facebook reports that an e-commerce travel website got 70% lower CPA thanks to Lookalike Audiences.


9. Facebook Live Video

 People who have watched your Facebook live video can also be segmented into a Custom Audience. You’re in luck especially if you stream videos that get the buzz going.

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Live Video Post

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To set it up, open up your Ads Manager -> Audiences -> Custom Audiences -> Engagement of Facebook -> Video

 You can then target people based on how much (percentage or seconds) of the video they viewed. And don’t take the people who watched a live video for granted – these people are reaching out and are trying to engage.


10. LinkedIn Connections

 Are you old school and tend to do business the old fashioned way via personal meetings and phone calls?

Export the email addresses of your LinkedIn contacts and import them where? That’s right, Facebook Custom Audiences.

Log into your LinkedIn account -> My Network -> Connections -> Gear icon -> Export LinkedIn Connections.

LinkedIn Custom Audience Step 1

LinkedIn Custom Audience Step 2

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The path to exporting LinkedIn Connections in the new UI is a tad different: Settings & Privacy -> Account -> Getting an archive of your data

LinkedIn Custom Audience Step 3

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This will be of use to you if you really are actively publishing content and engaging with others on LinkedIn. Without the emotional relationship, getting your LinkedIn connections to convert will be much more complicated.


11. Friendly Outbound Emails

If your email open and response rates are really low, target prospects who cause such numbers with fun, humorful Facebook ads.

That way you’ll build a more relaxed rapport with your prospects and, perhaps, that’ll encourage them to turn your monolog into a dialogue.

This is sort of a magic sauce, so be ready for a significant spike in dialogues. Play around with content and include different calls to action, if you’re willing to take risks. Heck, why not directly ask your prospects to hit you back with an email?


12. Onboarding Drop-Offs

Target people who decided not to follow through with the onboarding process.

For some reason, they did not make it all the way through the process and stopped after soaking in the first couple of tutorials. Perhaps you just slipped their mind and they need to be reminded about your brand via a Facebook ad.

This can, in fact, be done automatically with the help of trusty tools such as Autopilot and Driftrock, so check them out if this is where you need assistance.

Your two targeting options are:

  • Send out a video with the last tutorial they saw
  • Send out a video that will boost the hype around the next step

Autopilot Facebook Ad Example

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13. Locality-based Custom Audiences

How effective do you think it is to send location-specific copy when targeting prospects from a specific city or area? Well, it can actually 2x your opt-in rate, so you tell me.

You’ll see an upward-and-to-the-right trend if you mention a city in your content, since most people feel they have a strong connection with their city of residence.

Analyze your audience based on the cities they live in and create city-specific Custom Audiences.

UpOut SF Facebook Ad Example

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They example above went viral and even got a mention in Inc. Magazine as it showed off-the-chart engagement levels.


14. Top Referrers

Do you have any customers who are willing to share info on your brand with others?

You could make use of referral links to see which customers like your stuff so much that they are spreading the word.

By bucketing such customers in a Custom Audience, you will get a group of people who you should cherish more than air.

Facebook ads give you the chance to keep your top referrers happy. Here’s what you can do:

  • Run a Facebook ad that appeals to their sense of importance – tell them how awesome they are and how much you love what they do.
  • Run a Facebook ad with your success story and how your business helps people.
  • If your brand is environmentally safe, run an ad that stresses that fact.


15. Customers with the Largest Number of Tweeps

If only there was a way of sending personalized messages to people whose Twitter profile is typically linked to your brand or has the largest number of followers…

Oh, wait! There is!

Twitter Profiles Emails

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The example above demonstrates how you can use a tool called Audiense to convert emails into Twitter profiles.

Once you figure out which customers are most relevant to you and are most active on Twitter, you will have a dream team of Twitter customers & influencers who are ready to be targeted with Facebook ads.


16. Most Active Mailing List Subs

Another idea is to take advantage of Facebook ads to turn your most active engagers into golden referrers. All you have to do is check to see who has the highest number of emails opens and click-through rates over the last month.

It’s great if you have subscribers who opened all of your most recent emails – start with them. After all, they like your brand and the value that you deliver through content.

If you’re serious about getting these people to become referrers, you should think about rolling out referral or ambassador programs to motivate them to share. Offer them a neat award that they’ll find useful.

Facebook ads let you get around people who do not think they should be engaging with you more and only target the ones who don’t mind the extra efforts.


17. Give Customers Positive Feedback Along Their Journey

 Tell your customers and leads how awesome they are for completing a certain step on your website.

Run a Facebook ad saying “Congrats & Thank You!” for every person who made a purchase or registered for a webinar, for instance.

Motivate your prospects to keep up the good work by offering them exclusive bonuses for referring people.

And don’t you even think about stopping to run such ads!


18. Target Journalists & Bloggers

These guys (and gals) know what they’re talking about.

Journalists and Bloggers


Put together a list of journalists and bloggers who are able to influence a lot of people. Then you have to get a hold of their individual Facebook profiles (URLs). Once that is done, go to findmyfacebookid to process the profile URLs and get Facebook IDs.

The final step is to put the retrieved IDs into a list and your custom audience is ready to be targeted with all sorts of content.

Win over journalists & bloggers with excellent relevant copy and you’ll thank them in the future.


19. Employees of Specific Enterprises



This is a fantastic way of acquiring more business-to-business Leads.

It might be pretty difficult, but you can try to collect Facebook IDs or emails of potential business customers.

Try doing some desk research to see what you can find without leaving the office. The first place to look for such info is usually on a company’s website, but you can also make use of LinkedIn, as was mentioned earlier in the post.

You know the drill: put all this data into a Custom Audience and start running Facebook ads with high-value info to get businesses to arrive on your landing page.

You can even go an extra mile to create Custom Audiences for employees of a specific enterprise.


20. Get Existing Customer To Become Your Facebook Supporters

It is widely popular among small and up-and-coming companies to use Facebook to get more mailing list subscribers, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t go the other way around.

Throw your email subscriber list into a Facebook Custom Audience and start sending targeted content to get people to like your Facebook page and, as a result, see a lot more posts from your company in their newsfeed.

It’s not the most revolutionary thing to do, but it can boost your social media presence.


21. Exclude Current Customers/Subs

Another practical Custom Audience option is exclusion.

When generating new leads, you can simply take your entire mailing list and tick off everyone who is already a paying customer or a newsletter subscriber. Download our free guide with 120 lead generation tips and find out how to bring in up to 97% more leads.

That way only new leads or people who didn’t follow through the first time will see your Facebook ad. Furthermore, you’ll save a fortune since you won’t be targeting people who are already well aware of your brand.


22. Prospects Who Don’t Read Your Emails

Is there anyone on your list who hasn’t read your emails?

Silly question: of course there is!

Break your email subscriber list down into prospects who did and who did not open your emails. Take the latter part and create a Custom Audience.

Now you can run Facebook ads, reminding people of your brand and, maybe, even hinting at those unopened emails.

It is up to you.


23. Namesake Audience

Unfortunately, Facebook has now made it against the rules to send content targeted at people who have the same first name. But you never know if they’ll make an exception.

Granulate your email list into smaller lists of people with the same popular first name. Why bother with a name that is unique to your list?

As a result, you’ll be able to send highly-personalized messages to your subs, and, I imagine, it’s hard to resist the temptation of clicking something that’s calling you out by name.

You can even have a link in the Facebook ad that will redirect people to a landing page that greets visitors by their first name.


24. Purchase an Email List

Email List

This can get you in trouble in 2017 and, might I add that it is totally not cool to target people if they did not give you permission to do so beforehand.

People will not know how they are targeted and why they are seeing a certain add, but as long as the ads are highly-relevant and add value, you might be in the clear.

It is risky but could yield great results.


25. Past Donors

This is not typical for e-commerce and SaaS companies, but NGOs and certain other organizations can set up Facebook ads to target people who were kind enough to donate in the past.

Send ads that will inspire them to make a second or third donation.

In addition, you can seed out the most generous donors and target them with ads that are designed to encourage them to donate.


26. New/Past Converters

Adobe’s research claims that over 40% of revenue is generated by returning customers in the United States, with the average revenue of such customers being almost 500% more than regular shoppers.

Custom Audience Returning Purchasers

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What to do with new/past converters?

  • Cross-sell and upsell. Say you bought a nice set of coffee cups. It would make sense to upsell a kettle to you, right?

Amazon Facebook Ad Example

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  • Educate your audience. Selling an un-user friendly product or want to teach your audience a few useful tricks? Use Facebook Custom Audiences to promote 101 guides. Below Litmus offers a product guide that instructs new users on how to go about.

Litmus Facebook Ad Example

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  • Upsell, cross-sell & educate customers via Facebook ads
  • Promote related products after a purchase
  • Offer 2-for-1 deals and other discounts


27. Newsletter Subs

This is what the usual picture is: you have active and inactive subscribers, and, of course, you hope that you have a lot more active than inactive ones.

In any case, MailChimp has got some good news for us: out of 60 million online purchases and 40 million emails from retailers, 1 inactive sub is roughly worth a third of an active sub.

And, moreover, your inactive subs are still 26% more likely to make a return purchase that people who aren’t aware of your brand.

Readers are not constant values and their mindsets change. Maybe your most inactive sub finally found the time to open your first email and was blown away, or maybe your top engager got bored and stopped reading your newsletter.

Facebook Custom Audiences can help you renew your relationship with your subs.

Don’t even talk about buying or selling anything in your newsletter. Constantly add value and maybe, just maybe, you’ll win their love back.

SumoMe Facebook Ad Example

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Additionally, target not only your newsletter subs, but also people who don’t open your emails. They are more likely to re-engage after reading an interesting post or eBook.


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28. Free Trial & Freemium Users

 Totango reported that around 17% of free trial users will lay their money down for the actual full-fledged product.

SaaS Conversions-Totango Research

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Do not throw away the opportunity to retarget people who have used your free trial. Unlike other website visitors, they are way more likely to become paying customers.


  • Tell free trial users what makes your product so great via Facebook retargeting
  • Promote useful content, like guides, eBooks.
  • Case studies and social proof


29. Everyone Who Engaged with Your Content on Facebook

Think Marketing’s study claims that Facebook dropped a new tool, enabling you to retarget people who have interacted with your Facebook page.

It will give you the opportunity to:

  • Target anyone who came to your Page or made use of its content or ads on Messenger or Facebook
  • Target people who performed an action on your Page ad or post (reactions, shares, comments, swipes, clicks)
  • Anyone who clicked a CTA
  • Anyone who wrote a message to our Page, save your Page or a post

Keep in mind that these people are already aware of your brand and product and use your Facebook page a communication platform.


30. Offline Conversions

Segment people who actually visited your store or reached out to customer support, and, you guessed it, target them with Facebook ads.

You are welcome to create up to 20 Offline Conversion Custom Audiences.



Judging from the 30 Custom Audiences with managed to cover in this post, the number of possible targeting, personalization and content options are almost incalculable.

Leverage your current mailing list with segmented Custom Audiences, people! Don’t make the mistake of putting all your efforts into building up a huge vague list.


You make the call what is easier for you: get new customers or get the best out of the ones you already have.


I hope you found something that you are already thinking about trying out. Let us know what helped you or what ideas you have for Facebook Custom Audiences.

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