How To Beat The Competition Using Facebook Custom Audiences

by Toby

December 1, 2014

facebook custom audiences

There is so much hype this time of year around holiday marketing that it is challenging as a small or medium business to stand out from the giant retailers or larger competitors. Fortune 500 companies dump millions of advertising dollars into traditional media promoting offers, great deals, and deep discounts. You as a small or medium business owner (SMB) don’t have those marketing resources.

Your single best marketing tactic is to sell to your past customers who are most likely to buy from you again.

 How Can You Be Effective Against Larger Competitors?

Sun Tzu said in the Art of War,

An army may be likened to water, for just as flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the lowlands, so an army avoids strength and strikes weakness.

In other words, don’t go head-to-head with the large retailers or your bigger competitors by overspending heavily in print, or other traditional marketing tactics. Instead, ramp up your marketing to the customers that are highly likely to buy from you – your existing customers that have purchased from you before! They know you. You can personalize your messaging. You are a local business they want to do business with.

Years ago, it was extremely difficult as an SMB to easily and cost-effectively reach your existing customers other than through email. That’s where Facebook Custom Audiences step in.

 Facebook Custom Audiences

Facebook allows you to load your customer database into Facebook and match it to Facebook profiles, thus giving you direct access to advertising to your existing customers on Facebook. That’s a fantastic advertising tactic! This is an advantage you have over your competitors – they don’t have your customer database (at least let’s hope they don’t).

I can’t think of many other marketing platforms offered to small or medium business owners where you can have direct access to your customers.

 How do you load your customer database into Facebook?

Facebook provides a tutorial here, but you can load your customers’ email addresses and/or phone numbers straight from your customer database or point-of-sale (POS) directly into Facebook. Facebook will then match that information to profiles giving you a group of your customers you can run ads to.

The match percentage of your customer database to profiles inside Facebook will probably range anywhere from 20% to 80% depending on how diligent you have been at capturing your customers’ phone numbers and email addresses.

The one challenge here is that if you have a small customer database you won’t have a very big list to market to.

 Segment Your Customers For Greater Success

If you have a large enough database you can further segment your custom audience within Facebook using many different targeting variables: sex, age, geographic location, and a whole host of other behavioral and demographic targets.

But don’t forget to segment customers from your POS too. Identify the purchase behaviors of your customers. If you know all the people that bought widget A from you were likely to need widget b then load that as a custom audience and offer that custom audience widget b.

Or if you know all the people that have purchased gift certificates from you in the past, load that as a custom audience and market gift cards again.

 Combine Email Marketing To Improve Response Rates

Since you’ve segmented your customer lists from your database, combine email marketing with your Facebook custom audience ads to improve your response rates. Segmentation is important to success. The more granular you can get with your targeting the more effectively you can customize your ad messaging to a specific audience. But be careful when segmenting to ensure that you have a large enough audience to target.

To conclude, cut back on some of your wasteful traditional media spending and put more of your marketing budget into reaching your current customers during the holidays (or for any season for that matter) – you will have a higher return on advertising spend, better response rates, and greater sales.

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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