How to set up Facebook Custom Audiences

Custom audiences are really where Facebook advertising starts to get interesting. The great thing about custom audiences is they are people that have shown an interest in what you have to say or have connected with your business or brand at some stage or another.

The sweet spot for Facebook advertising is when you can continuously re-target your custom audiences on Facebook, and that’s where you start to see some amazing scale and some results from your Facebook advertising.

Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know how to set them up, so today I’ll show you how easy it is to set up a custom audience and, also, some of the options that you might not know are available.

To get to audiences, you need to come under the Assets menu and then the Audiences option here.


Then, if you select the Custom Audience button, you’ll see a popup and these are the different options that you have.

Customer File

Customer file is where you would have a list of subscribers or email addresses. You can actually include quite a number of pieces of information.

You can select to copy & paste your own file or upload a pre-formatted CSV file or choose the integration with Mailchimp.

What Facebook once you upload this file to Facebook is go through all of the data that you’ve uploaded and then it tells you how many people out of that file it recognises and if they have a Facebook profile.

You can choose the different identifiers that Facebook offers and it will use that combination to match them to a user they recognise. The great thing is that Facebook has opened up all of those different identifiers that you can tick and combine all of these different options to make it more specific, and there’s more chance that Facebook will be able to find them.

It doesn’t actually tell you who they are, and of course, there is an element where they might not be able to find that particular user. For instance, if you’ve got a subscriber list that has a bunch of email addresses in it they might use a different email address for their personal Facebook account than they do for what they use to subscribe to your email list.

The rate of matching users has drastically improved recently. It used to be that you might only be able to identify half of that list, but now it’s getting much more accurate. For instance, the other day for a client, we uploaded just over 2,300 addresses and it recognised 2,100 of them, so that’s a pretty good strike.

Website Traffic

Website custom audiences are driven by your Facebook Pixel, which if you haven’t learned about Facebook Pixel, you need that installed before you create the website custom audiences. I’ve got a full guide on Facebook Pixel you can find more about here.

Now, the next one is website traffic and the options for website traffic are unlimited. You think of the different combinations that you’ve got that you can put in to re-target users that hit specific web pages on your site and send a targeted advertisement to them?


For instance, you can enter that URL of people that have hit a particular blog post and have show an interest in your content. This would be a great opportunity to re-target them with another piece of related content.

You can have different combinations of people who visit specific web pages but not others. For instance, if they got through to your ‘add to cart’ page and they’ve added a product in there, but they didn’t actually convert and go to the ‘confirmation of payment’ page that they would hit after they put in their payment details. Then, you can create an audience out of that, and you can send an advert back to them saying, “Hey, there’s a product in your cart. Come back and complete your purchase.”

This is where you can get really defined in your audience and really targeted with your advertisements to make sure that they’re seeing the right advertisement at the right time based on what web pages they’ve browsed.

The best thing is that when you set up these different campaigns once and re-target to these custom audiences of specific pages, they’re done.

You can select a day range on how recent they have visited that page, up to 180 days.

Let’s take the browser that didn’t complete their purchase, you might only want them to see an ad for the next seven days, because if they’re seeing it for a month after the fact, they’re probably not as likely to come back and actually complete that purchase.

Out of all the custom audiences, I find the website audience most powerful because you know that they’re interested in what you have to say and they have actually gone through and visited your website.

App Activity


The next custom audience is our app activity. If you have a mobile app or a game or a Facebook app you can re-target based on actions they take within that app.

Often people install Facebook Apps to run competitions so you could use this option to re-target people’s actions within the app.

It works very similar to the website traffic custom audience, as well.

Engagement on Facebook

The last one is relatively new and is pretty amazing.

It allows you to re-target people that have actually engaged with different pieces of content.



With video you can make an audience based on people that have watched a certain length of one of your videos on your page or in an advertisement.


So, let’s say you have a video that went a minute (to make it easy for me to do the math) you can make a custom audience of people that have watched at least 50% of your video. Doing that, you would know that people have watched at least 30 seconds of your minute-long video.

When you compare the interest between someone that has watched only three seconds and hasn’t gone through and watched 30 seconds, it’s pretty obvious which one you’re going to send an advertisement to.

Using this tactic you can re-target to people based on their interest level of what you have to say in your video.

Comparing this behaviour to getting them to click is a nice in between to be able to gauge someone’s interest in what you have to say.

Lead Advert


Lead adverts are basically like a little form that pre-populate with a user’s Facebook profile and allow you to collect details directly from Facebook.

See our blog post on Facebook Lead Advertisements here.

You can re-target the people that have performed certain actions within the form. A similar concept to the user that added something to their cart and didn’t purchase (see Website Traffic section) you could send an advertisement to someone that has opened a form up but haven’t input their details.



Canvas is a dynamic type of advertisements that is almost like a mini site that opens within Facebook.

This option allows you to re-target people that may have opened up the Canvas but haven’t actually clicked through on any of the links through to your website.



Then, the last one, which is great for people that have built a big following, is you can re-target people based on engagements that they’ve done with your page

There are different types of engagement:

  • Anyone who has visited your page: They have to visit your actual facebook page itself, not just interact with a post from you business.
  • People who engaged with any post or advert: If you’ve had a really engaging post that’s got a lot of engagements or clicks, you can re-target those people.
  • People who clicked on any call-to-action button: The call-to-action button is on the main part of your Facebook page that sits underneath your cover photo.
  • People that have sent a message to your page: If they’ve actually private messaged you before, then you can create a custom audience from them and drive another advertisement to them.
  • People that have saved your page or any of your posts: If I find links that are useful, I will use a save function on a post, and they’ll come through to my saved items. Then, I can remember to read/watch them afterwards. You can create an audience from them, as well.

These are some really easy ways to re-target people.

Maybe you’ve got a whole heap of likes sitting there but as you know, the organic reach is very small. This is a great way to make sure that the people that have liked your stuff before engaging with your posts.

Yes, you will need to spend a little bit of money on advertising. I’m sorry to say, but Facebook is a pay-to-play platform, so if you’re not happy with that, then that’s just the way it is unfortunately.

The capabilities that they have to get uber targeted to your audience and save money by doing so, outweigh any of your marketing costs.

Lookalike audience


Once you have created a custom audience of any type, Facebook will offer you to create a ‘Lookalike’ audience.

These are created by taking all the data points of each person’s profile in that existing custom audience (we have thousands that Facebook monitor) and create an audience that are likely to perform similar behaviours to them.

The bigger the audience is, the more data Facebook has to make a more defined audience so you can find people that have similar interests, demographics and online behaviours.

They’re country based, so you would set up a percentage based on the overall country’s Facebook user base.

For instance, 1% of the users in Australia is approximately 150,000. This is 1% of the overall 15 Million Facebook users in Australia.

Your turn….How will you or have you used Facebook Custom Audiences? Will they change the way you target people with future advertisements and rather than boosting your ads to a cold audience will you now show them to someone that is interested in what you have to say?

Tell us in the comments!