If you haven’t heard about Facebook Custom Audiences yet, you are missing a good opportunity to maximize the use of this powerful feature of Facebook Ads.

In a nutshell, custom audiences lets advertisers find their existing audiences among people who are already on Facebook using previously acquired information (such as email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, or App user IDs). Basically, you can target your offline list with one of these data sets.


First, you can create an ad that will directly appeal to a specific group or audience. This will increase likelihood that people will engage with the ad because the message is tailored to them. Studies have shown that because of the specific targeting you can do with custom audiences, advertisers on Facebook are seeing as much as 6X increase on their return on ad spend.

While uploading your own email list and targeting ads to those individuals is a great way to target, my all time favorite option that custom audiences lets you create is lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences are people identified by Facebook with similar characteristics to the ones in your custom audiences. As a result this will let you reach a wider audience that will more likely be interested in your business because they have similar profiles to the list of people you already have a relationship with for your business. These lookalike audiences can make it easier to achieve your goals because in most cases Facebook will generate a lookalike audience that is 4-5X your list size.

Important Note: Your list must be at least 2500 to ensure you have “meaningful” list for your ads.

Here is a quick how-to guide to get you started setting up your custom audiences.

Step 1:

Go to power editor – https://www.facebook.com/ads/manage/powereditor/ and choose “Custom Audience”.  Keep in mind that custom and look alike audiences can only be created in power editor.

Facebook custom audiences 1

Step 2:

Choose the type of audience. In this example, we’ll choose “Data File Custom Audience”

Step 3:

Create your audience. Choose “Email” – Make sure you type in a relevant name and description. This will come in handy when you set up another campaign in the future with similar or different audiences. – Upload your data file (make sure its in .csv or txt format) – Check the box that says you Agree to Facebook Terms and Conditions – Then click “Create Audience”

Before you start creating ads, its important to know that it will take about 30 minutes for your custom audience to be ready to use.  I’ve seen it take as long as 24 hours to upload so check back the next day if it’s taking a long time to upload.

Once your audience is ready, you can now create an ad the way you normally would. The Custom Audience feature used to only be available in Power Editor (which can be hard to use) but you can now choose your Custom Audiences in the Ads Manager.

You’ll also want to be aware that not ALL of the email addresses you use to create your Custom Audience are going to be available.  The email address you have has to also be the SAME email address that the person used to set up their Facebook account.   I’ll typically see about a 50% match.  So if you upload 5000 email addresses, approximately 2500 will be available for you to create a Custom Audience for and then advertise to using Facebook ads.