Facebook (Meta) Custom Audiences - Increase Your Conversion Rate

July 21, 2023

For today’s companies, Meta’s platforms offer some incredibly valuable opportunities to connect with more customers and drive greater revenue. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are packed with features that advertisers can harness, and one of the most interesting examples here is that of Custom Audiences.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why Custom Audiences are so useful, if they still work in the wake of new privacy changes from Apple and others, the different ways to use them, and how to get started with your own, how to create custom audience on facebook. We’ll also share some examples of companies who have successfully used Custom Audiences to grow their brands.

Custom Audience Decorative Image

Let’s get started.

What is a Facebook Custom Audience?

So what exactly is a Facebook Custom Audience, and why should you care?

In simple terms, it’s a highly-targeted specific audience segment, created by drawing on the customer data you’ve collected from people who have engaged with your business in some way in the past.

By combining information like previous app activity, interactions with your business, website activity, and purchase history, it’s possible to create a highly defined group of people for future targeting.

The beauty of Custom Audiences is that they focus on people who are already familiar with your brand or people similar to those. This means they already have some awareness of who you are, they’re more likely to be interested in your products, and you already know certain things about them.

This makes your Custom Audience members a much better target for engagement and conversion compared to people who have no idea about your brand. You can create specific marketing campaigns and activities for these people, improving your chances of success.

Why should you use Custom Audiences?

Benefits of using facebook custom audiences

What are the concrete benefits of building these Custom Audiences who have a history with your brand? Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages here.

  • Better targeting and messaging
  • If you already know something about who you’re talking to, targeting and messaging becomes easier. You can target your ads more precisely and ensure your messaging is as relevant as possible to the target audience, driving higher conversion rates.
  • Increased engagement
  • People are more likely to engage with a brand they already know. Custom Audiences can lead to higher engagement — more clicks, likes, and shares — from the people you target.
  • Cost-effective
  • Custom Audiences allow you to be more precise and deliberate in your advertising. This allows you to optimize your ad spend, focusing your precious budget on people who are more likely to convert and improving your ROI.
  • More opportunities for personalization
  • Personalization is much easier when you know something about who you’re talking to. Custom Audiences make it much easier to deliver personalized messaging, offers, and ads to your customers, helping build more solid relationships.

iOS14.5 updates and Custom Audiences

Apple’s iOS14.5 update was a big moment for marketers who rely on user data.

The update turned off the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) by default. In other words, users now have to actively opt into sharing their data with companies, as opposed to this being the default option.

Unfortunately for many advertisers, only about 25% of users have decided to opt in. This makes it much easier to track users across apps and collect data that can be used in marketing — including when it comes to building Custom Audiences.

So what’s the solution? The good news is, things aren’t hopeless, and there are still several options available when it comes to building Custom Audiences. Here are some best practices:

  • Make the most of first-party and zero-party data.
  • The information your prospects share directly with you, with their explicit content, is a powerful resource. Not only is it not affected by the latest iOS update, but first-party and zero-party data is also typically more reliable and accurate than other types of data.
  • Gravitate towards broader audiences.
  • Larger Custom Audiences tend to work better than narrower ones in the post-iOS14.5 world.
  • Rely less on website-based audiences
  • Which are less useful after the iOS update, and focus more on the audiences you build in-app on Facebook and Instagram.
Best Practices to deal with iOS 14.5 update

The digital marketing landscape is changing all the time, and shifts like this one are simply part of what advertisers have to deal with. It’s all about getting creative and working with the tools you have available.

How to create Custom Audiences on Facebook

There are two ways to create Custom Audiences on Facebook. You can choose to do it yourself manually or use Driftrock for an automated option.

Setting up Custom Audiences manually is fairly straightforward within Facebook’s tools like Ads Manager and Business Manager. Here’s how.

How to create Custom Audiences

There are three main types of Custom Audiences, based on where you’ll collect your data. The three options are customer list, website, and app. Here’s how to set up Custom Audiences for each of these three.

The first step for all of these is to open the Facebook Audiences page in Ads Manager and select the option to Create a Custom Audience.

Create a Custom Audience from a customer list

  1. Put together a customer list and save it in a CSV or TXT format
  2. Select “Customer list” as a Custom Audience Source to let Facebook know where your data is coming from
  3. Import your list by uploading the CSV file or TXT file, and give it a name
  4. Review your list to make sure there are no errors, then hit Upload & Create

Create a mobile app Custom Audience

  1. Register your app with Facebook and then set up the SDK to allow you to track your users within the app
  2. Select “App Activity” as your Custom Audience Source
  3. From the Source dropdown, select “App”
  4. In the App Events section, decide how you will qualify people for this Custom Audience. For example, you could target everyone who opened your app, only those who made a purchase, or some other specific app event. 
  5. Give your Custom Audience a name to make it easier to identify and track
  6. Hit Create Audience, and Facebook will do the rest

Create a Custom Audience from website visitors

  1. Install Meta Pixel
  2. Choose “Website” as a Custom Audience Source
  3. Set the rules for your website Custom Audience. This is where you define who you will target, for example, all website visitors, only those who visited specific pages, only those who stayed for a certain length of time, or a range of other options depending on your website traffic.
  4. Give your website Custom Audience a name. This will make it easier to identify and track in the future.
  5. Hit Create Audience, and Facebook will do the rest

The downside to this manual approach is that your Custom Audiences won’t update automatically. This means you’ll need to manually upload new customer data as you acquire it — which becomes extremely time-consuming.

Facebook custom audience - Step 1
Facebook custom audience - Step 2
Facebook custom audience - Step 3

Create a Custom Audience using Driftrock automatically

Working with Driftrock, you can do things differently. Driftrock allows you to connect your Custom Audiences to your CRM and automatically sync customer data to your audiences on an ongoing basis, with no need to do this manually.

Driftrock Audiences is designed to help you manage and convert your leads by continuously syncing customer segments with custom audiences on Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn.

This enables you to target, exclude, and create lookalikes for your marketing campaigns.

The use of automated audiences offers a secure and scalable approach.  It will help you protect privacy and stay compliant by removing records if people unsubscribe from marketing communications.

Ready to set up Driftrock Audiences? Here's how:

  • Sign in or Login to Driftrock
  • Choose 'audiences' (audience nurturing) from the navigation bar on the left.
  • Hit the 'setup new sync' button
  • Fill out the necessary details
Driftrock custom audience sync setup
  • Assign a name to your audience.
  • Select the source (CRM, Database, etc.)
  • Determine the customer segment.
  • Decide the destination for syncing the data (Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google).
  • Set the data syncing frequency (3 hours, daily, or weekly). We suggest a weekly sync for Lookalikes and every 3 hours for exclusions and targeting.
  • Click 'save!'
  • In about 10 minutes or so (depending on the size of your audience), you'll be able to start utilising your audience.

Different ways to use Custom Audiences

Once you’ve set up your Custom Audiences, it’s time to get familiar with the various features and tools inside that you can use to improve your advertising and connect better with your customers.

Let’s take a look at some of the key concepts to understand here.


Retargeting involves using Custom Audiences to target people who have already interacted with your brand with new messaging and ads. Many of these users will be at a stage where they’re considering buying from you but aren’t quite ready to take that next step — here, a retargeting ad can make all the difference. Retargeting also reminds users of who you are and can strengthen their relationship with you. This includes website visitors and engagement audiences. 

Website Visitors

People who visit your website are excellent candidates to be included in a Custom Audience since they likely showed up for a reason and are already aware of who you are. By targeting these people and engaging with them, you may have much more success than if you simply targeted a random selection of people.

Engagement Audiences

Building Custom Audiences based on engagement means targeting people who have interacted with your brand’s content in the past. That means things like your social media posts, ads, and other content you’ve shared on those platforms.

Lookalike Audiences

A lookalike audience is a way of targeting people who share similar characteristics, behaviours, and attributes with your existing customers. This can be extremely useful — for example, if you have a campaign that’s working really well with one existing audience, you can use a lookalike audience to expand the pool of potential targets, knowing that it’s likely to be successful. You can also use a list of your existing customers or qualified leads.

Excluding Audiences

Not all of your Custom Audiences will be made up of people you want to target. An “Excluding Audience” is like the inverse of a normal Custom Audience — it’s composed of people you specifically don’t want to target. You might want to avoid targeting existing customers, unresponsive users, or segments who just won’t respond well to a certain campaign — Excluding Audiences are a great way to do this.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing, similar to retargeting — where you take leads who have previously expressed interest in your brand and guide them gradually through the sales funnel with content and offers you think they’ll like — works extremely well with Custom Audiences.

How to use Facebook Custom Audiences: some ideas

Custom Audiences have a ton of potential when it comes to connecting with your audience and growing your brand. Here are some ideas for how to use Custom Audiences in different ways.

Customer loyalty programs

Create a Custom Audience made up of loyal customers who regularly engage with your business and have used your services for a long time. You can then offer these customers rewards like discounts and early access to new products, helping build stronger connections with your most valuable customers.

Abandoned cart recovery

Using your CRM, identify customers who have abandoned their shopping carts on your website before making a purchase. Then, create a Custom Audience of these users and target them with ads, giving reminders and offering incentives if they return to complete the purchase. This is a great way to drive conversion rates from prospects who are already halfway there.

Competitor targeting

Build Custom Audiences based on the customer bases of your competitors. You can then target these audiences with marketing campaigns highlighting your unique selling points and drawing them to your brand.

Event promotion

If you’re running an event like a conference or webinar, create a Custom Audience composed of people who have previously attended similar events or shown an interest in the topic at hand, then use this to promote your event and drive higher attendance.

Subscription renewal and upselling

Create a Custom Audience made up of people whose subscription or membership is about to expire, then deliver targeted ads to them to encourage them to renew. You can also offer discounts and personalized offers to sweeten the deal or upsell to higher-tier plans.

How to use Facebook Custom Audiences

Custom Audiences case studies 

Now let’s take a look at some examples of companies that saw impressive results when they used Custom Audiences. The great thing here is that Custom Audiences can work well across a wide range of industries and for different types of goals.


The fashion brand ChicMe used Custom Audiences combined with some other Facebook advertising tools to connect with its target audience, driving an 82% lower cost per conversion, a 3.7X higher return on ad spend, 13% higher clickthrough rates, and 14% higher add-to-cart completion.

Custom Audience Example - ChicMe

ChicMe is a fashion e-commerce company, offering clothing, jewellery, shoes, bags, and more to women around the world. Their goal was to improve ad performance and drive more sales in an increasingly challenging data privacy environment.

Previously ChicMe had been using broad audience targeting, which was becoming difficult in the face of new regulations. They created lookalike audiences by drawing on their own first-party data about existing customers and then created a new Facebook Custom audience based on the highest spenders.


Australian streaming service Stan used Custom Audiences as part of a brand awareness campaign focused on Augmented Reality ads on Facebook and Instagram. They saw a 15-point lift in standard ad recall, and 20,000 people launched the Augmented Reality effect, with 44 hours total time spent on the AR.

Custom Audience Example - Stan

Stan offers unlimited access to movies, TV shows, and live sports to Australian viewers, including its own roster of original productions, many of which are critically acclaimed. They wanted to lean into emerging technology to gain new subscribers and retain their current customers

Stan decided to use augmented reality (AR) ads on Facebook and Instagram to promote a new season of Bump (its highly successful show). The Stan team created sophisticated AR ads that would provide users with an immersive and interactive experience focused on Bump.

They showed these ads to a Custom Audience of existing Bump fans on Facebook and Instagram to drive more targeted engagement.

Loop Club and Muir Way

Growth marketing agency Loop Club built a full-funnel acquisition strategy with Meta to promote their Elevation Maps. After their initial success with their acquisition efforts, Loop Club then used Custom Audiences for remarketing. Overall, they made $834,000 in Meta-attributed revenue across the whole campaign, achieved 426% attributed revenue growth year-on-year, and drove $498,000 of attributed revenue in Q4 2020.

Custom Audience Example - Loop Club and Muir Way

Loop Club scaled purpose-driven Shopify e-commerce brands. They worked with mapmaker Muir Way to find a broader audience for Muir Way’s series of Elevation Maps — growing revenue without significantly increasing cost per new customer. Loop Club ran a campaign to find a broader audience for Muir Way’s maps and successfully used Dynamic Ads to prospect and get a solid return on ad spend.

Following their initial success, Loop Club then moved to a remarketing strategy. They built a video ad creative highlighting the Elevation Map products and showed this to Custom Audiences of people that visited the Muir Way website.

Tap into Custom Audiences with Driftrock

Custom Audiences can be an incredibly powerful tool for today’s marketers. By building audiences composed of people you already have some connection with, it’s possible to change the way you build relationships and conduct marketing activities — allowing you to drive more return on investment, build stronger bonds with your customers, and optimize your ad spend.

At Driftrock, we can help you harness the power of Custom Audiences. We offer automated audience sync with Meta’s platforms like Facebook and Instagram, along with LinkedIn and Google, so you can create lookalike, exclusion, and retargeting lists.

We ensure full compliance with GDPR and all other relevant data protection laws, and we can guide you through every step of the process to set up your Custom Audiences safely and effectively.

Get in touch with us or Sign Up today to learn more and get started.