What is a Custom Audience in Facebook?

Custom Audience targeting allows you to run remarketing campaigns on Facebook. These are audiences you create either from:

  1. Actions on your site
  2. Custom CSV
  3. TXT files with user information you’ve gathered

Custom Audiences can include users who have visited certain pages on your site, users who have signed up for your newsletter, or customers who have bought your product.

There are also different ways to create a Custom Audience. Facebook gives you a pixel to place onsite, which gathers site actions like abandoned carts or product visits. The information Facebook cannot gather with its pixel, like your email list, can be provided to Facebook through a hashed CSV or TXT file.

Why Re-Market to Your Email List?

Salesforce and Facebook joined forces for a study on serving email openers with Facebook ads. They found that email openers were 22% more likely to purchase when served a Facebook ad. For this reason, try remarketing to your email subscribers and you might uncover a profitable Facebook audience.

How to Build A Custom Audience Based on Your Email List

Step 1: Making Your Customer List

Pro Tip: If you use MailChimp as your Email Service Provider (ESP), directly import your list into Facebook. No need to create a customer list.

Before you can create a Custom Audience you need to make a CSV or TXT file to upload to Facebook. First, export your subscriber list through your ESP or website. Next, tweak your list so it matches with Facebook’s accepted data types. Data types must have specific column headers on your file. These are the accepted data types:

Facebooks Custom Audience Data Types

Facebooks Custom Audience Data Types

The more information you give Facebook the better they can pinpoint the user. Facebook uses your list and checks it against their database of users to find the profiles you want to serve your ads to.

Your file should look something like this once you structure it to fit Facebook’s guidelines:

Facebook Customer File

Important Notes: Since Facebook exists on a global scale, always include the country code as part of your customers’ phone numbers, even if all your data is from the same country. Also, place your customers’ countries in their own column in your file, again even if all of your data is from the same country.

Step 2. Uploading Your List

Once you’re satisfied with your list, navigate to Audiences while in Ads Manager or Business Manager. Audiences are part of the hamburger menu in the top left corner. It will be the last option. Click Create an Audience and in the drop down menu choose Custom Audience. Then choose the first option: Customer File.

navigating-to-facebooks-audiences-tab  facebooks-custom-audience-drop-down  click-customer-file

Now upload your file and use a logical naming convention; one that you will easily recognize. Press next to confirm your data.

Step 3. Editing Your Data Type

You’ll see a list of your data with varying symbols. A green check mark next to your data means that Facebook believes they understand what your data is and doesn’t see any errors. If you see Facebook is misclassifying your data, use the drop down menu next to the check mark to correct it.

A yellow exclamation point signifies there is an error that should be corrected to ensure you are uploading data you want. You can choose to leave data categories out of the upload. Just use the same drop down menu to signify which ones.


Once you believe everything is correct, click upload and create. You have made your first Custom Audience!

Other Uses for Custom Audiences Using Customer Files

There are many ways to re-market to users that, varying based on your business. If you’re an e-commerce site, export a list of your top purchasers and create unique ads just for them. Try offering them a discount.

You can also serve them your newest products, exposing them to your most exclusive items. This can work in reverse also. If you find there are customers that haven’t bought from you in awhile, re-engage them with a remarketing ad.

Once you’re comfortable making Custom Audiences, get creative with your remarketing efforts. Custom Audiences are powerful tools, leading to high conversions. But if you ever need our help, we’re here to make the most of your customer data.

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