Custom audiences are one of the many Facebook marketing tools we use to do thoughtful analysis that makes a real impact. The purpose of a custom audience is to target your entire list or specific segments of your list exclusively but the application of custom audiences goes far beyond that.
To create a custom audience, prepare your list (or segment) as a single column .csv and download Facebook’s Power Editor plugin. There are several options for custom audiences: email addresses, phone numbers, user IDs, and app user IDs.
Keep in mind that you can upload different list segments and do all of the below for each segment – the level of granularity is up to you. Uploading your entire list can work in ad targeting and has some practical use with custom audiences but think about trying some segments like:
- Customers who have purchased
- Frequent and reoccurring customers
- Hot leads and report opt-ins
- Webinar attendees
- Conference/speaking engagement attendees
- Customers who came from various traffic sources (SEM, Facebook ads, display ads, YouTube, etc.)
- Unsubscribe list (gray hat)
- SMS text messaging list
- Get creative – there are unlimited possibilities!
Alright, Tom. I’ve got my custom audiences uploaded to Facebook and I’m ready to do this thing, what’s next? Here are some of the more creative ways we use custom audiences internally at BlitzMetrics:
- Analysis against social interests
If you take a look at our documentation on social affinity for ad targeting you can do something very similar with custom audiences. Instead of finding the overlap between your brand and a particular interest you can see how many of the people within your custom audience have certain interests.
- Determining how social your list is
After uploading your custom audience to Facebook, you can find out exactly what percentage of that list is on the social network. This is very useful for determining how social these people are and in some cases can help determine if marketing your brand on social media channels will be effective.
- Demographic breakdown of segments
Did you know you can also do demographic breakdowns of a custom audience the same way you pull ad counts for precise interests? How much of the list is men? Women? What states and regions are they from? This information can eliminate up to 80-90% of wasted ad spend and help create an ad targeting strategy.
Lets say you upload your hot prospect list which only contains leads that have opted-in for a free white paper and clicked one of your ads within the last 30 days (we can accomplish this with InfusionSoft). You might find that 85% of the list is women, over 50% live in California, and 100% of the list is between ages 20 and 35. Knowing this you can target exclusively women that live in California between ages 20-35. This isn’t only useful for Facebook either, but all other channels as well.
- Lookalike audiences
Another feature many marketers ignore on Facebook is lookalike audiences. The way it works is you upload your list and Facebook automatically matches the demographic qualities of your list with other related users.
This helps get your brand in front of new prospects that are similar to your existing audience. There are 2 options for lookalike audiences: reach and similarity. Reach will give you a larger list of people to target but similarity will match the interest and demographic profile of your list as closely as possible, likely creating the greatest efficiency. Both are worth testing!
- Lead nurturing
How well rounded is your lead nurturing program? Sales funnels, especially for high priced or high value items are not 2 steps. You need to provide value up front, then provide more value and thought leadership, then nurture your leads by staying on their radar. I don’t care what business you’re in, nurturing your leads is going to make your marketing more effective.
Then, when the time is right figure out how you can help them and take action. If you’re doing nothing more than sending a “thanks for signing up” email you need to rethink your strategy. Use marketing automation to regularly rotate in fresh prospects once the existing leads are lower in the funnel due to your nurturing efforts.
Did this post give you some ideas? You don’t have to use the tools available “as is” – think of creative uses to maximize your output, make your targeting more effective or more granular, and most importantly drive measurable ROI. If you think of any other uses for custom audiences I didn’t mention let me know in the comments!
The social sphere evolves quickly, especially in the past few years. Fabio Ricotta of mestreSEO interviewed us back in 2010, and some predictions surfaced about where Facebook was heading:
Fabio: Dennis, can you tell our community who you are and some background information about you?
Dennis: Fabio, pleasure to join you. I am formerly of Yahoo and now the co-founder and CEO of BlitzMetrics. We do Facebook advertising for big brands and franchised companies. The beauty of being a speaker on the search engine marketing circuit is that I get to see a lot of interesting places. By the way, I love feijoada and have been to Brazil several times.
Fabio: Why did you pick Facebook? Is there a main reason for your choice? What about the sources that you use to learn more about this page?
Dennis: A lot of it was just luck from being there when the Facebook platform first opened about 6 years ago and to be one of the first developers when F8 (developer platform) opened in June 2007. The ad campaigns were so effective that we just kept growing. Unlike MySpace, people join Facebook because that’s where their friends are. And the people you see everyday are local. Thus, we have believed Facebook to the secret weapon in local advertising, even though most of the advertisers are big brands.
A lot of what you learn is just from experience and working with Facebook directly. Developers.facebook.com and facebook.com ads have good information, but a lot of stuff is just not documented yet.
Fabio: We have a problematic scenario here in Brazil where every company whats to create social profiles as many as they can, telling the community that they are “cool” and “listen” to their clients calling this as “social media”. Do you have any tips to the companies that what to listen their audience and get the most from them? Do you have any sucess case to share with us?
Dennis: Creating a bunch of social profiles on Facebook is about as effective as just creating a bunch of websites or creating a bunch of email addresses. Without traffic, Facebook pages, twitter profiles, wordpress sites, or whatever destinations are useless. This is especially true in Facebook, where the number of connections you have matters—it drives how often you show up in the news feeds of others. The quality of your posts, measured by engagement rate, is also critical, as described by Facebook platform engineering
Here are a few good case studies, covering a range of big brands to small businesses:
Fabio: One of the latest ComScore press releases shows that Orkut still leading the Brazil’s social network market, but it shows that Facebook still growing. Do you think that this is the right moment to focus on Facebook and to build a community on Facebook because there are less competition? If you were working here in Brazil, what would you do?
Dennis: You want to be where your users are—to spend resources in direct proportion to that. If you are targeting just folks in Brazil and want to place more emphasis on Orkut, great. Open Social allows you to build some great apps if you have the expertise. But if you don’t, you might want to use social widgets from Facebook and build some Facebook pages. That’s very easy to do. If you’re targeting a worldwide audience, then consider what the right mix is there, also based on traffic.
Fabio: What you think about this recent partnership between Microsoft and Facebook? Do you think they can beat Google when we talk about social signals to power the organic results? Is there any special value to Facebook when we see a huge company like Microsoft creating a partnership with an young company?
Dennis: I don’t see Google and Facebook as direct competitors. Rather, Google is competing against the yellow pages (which is about direct search intent), while Facebook is competing against the TV set (which is where people go to hang out). Do you see anyone on Facebook searching in the search box for “discount automobile insurance”? Do you see folks on Google looking for what their friends are up to? The bigger picture is that offline media is shifting online, not that online players are fighting one another.
In the case of search, I think that Microsoft is sharp and well-funded. They are not trying to “beat” Google, in my opinion, because they aren’t competing head-on. Microsoft wants to be the “decision engine”, which would imply influencing people based on recommendations and conversion relevant information. Considering that people rely upon friends as a purchase filter, incorporating social results into search makes a lot of sense here. Google has failed here in the past.
Fabio: Some websites are already using terms like “Facebook SEO”, is it soon to talk in this direction? If the answer is “no”, what are the main strategies to work with?
Dennis: It’s true that a well-optimized Facebook page will index well in Google. I wrote an article about that here. Some SEOs are talking about keyword stuffing Facebook pages or injecting keywords into content. That is misguided, as the search analogy doesn’t work in social. Social is about people that are connecting to one another, as opposed to websites that are linking to one another. The dynamic is different. In Facebook, we’re looking for gathering dominant influence, which is independent of page titles, backlinks, keyword density, or whatever else. You need rabid fans who frequently talk about your business—and to gather a LOT of them.
Fabio: Concerning groups and fan pages, Many users and companies have doubts which one to choose. Is there a simple guide to make things easier for them? Do you recommend the use of both in case of a company, for example?
Dennis: Easy. Use pages if you have a business or cause. If you have a person association (a group of buddies with a hobby), use the new groups. If you have or anticipate having more than 250 members, use pages.
Fabio: Do you see any value on Facebook ads? How they can help a company to get more conversions? Are there any good reasons move the money from Google Adwords to Facebook Ads?
Dennis: Facebook ads are great to drive awareness and interest in the AIDA funnel. Done right, it can drive extreme ROI on e-commerce or lead gen sites. People make decisions based on the trust of their friends. If one of your friends is a fan of a particular restaurant, wouldn’t you be more likely to eat there? That’s what Facebook does to help increase your conversions—to expose that endorsement. Advertising is a quick and effective means to do this, if done right.
You should allocate budget based on ROI and we find that Facebook advertising is significantly stronger than general display advertising. If you’re not getting ROI, then you’re doing something drastically wrong.
Fabio: Segmentation is a keyword in Facebook Ads. What are your advices to invest in this area to promote a fan page or a profile in the social network?
Dennis: Make your ads social. In Google PPC, you align keywords with ad copy and landing pages. In Facebook PPC, you align interests with ads with applications. Most of the folks who complain about Facebook ads not working are not creating tight targets, nor are they sending traffic to a Facebook app (they are sending traffic to a website).
Fabio: With Microsoft (Bing), Skype, and other partnerships… What do you expect for Facebook in 2011? Can you imagine some big changes that can affect us?
Dennis: Watch for a stronger rollout of Facebook Places and more tools that enable advertisers to link their ads and pages together. Consider what is available in the Google AdWords Editor and that is my prediction of what will be in the Facebook ad interface, except with some social twists. We also believe that 2011 will be the year of “gamification”, where Farmville-esque dynamics will play into the real world.
Readers, what do you think? Did the predictions come true?
One area I wasn’t expecting to gain much knowledge in from attending Conversion Conference Chicago is Facebook marketing. I’m not talking about more fans or people liking your cat pictures; I’m talking about measurable ROI.
These tips will supercharge your Facebook marketing:
1.) Utilize lookalike audiences to find new prospects
Match your existing customer base (email list) to Facebook and create a lookalike audience. This will build a targetable audience of new prospects based on the demographic data of your existing customers.
Here’s how it works:
- Upload your list as a custom audience using Facebook’s free Power Editor plugin. For B2C expect a 70% match rate if your list is good. 30-40% for B2B.
- Create a lookalike audience via the Audiences tab.
- Facebook will automatically match your existing list with new prospects that have similar interests and demographic qualities such as age, gender, and geographic location. No testing needed, Facebook does the heavy lifting for you.
2.) Layered targeting
The more granular you are with targeting the better the results.
Don’t target by only interests or demographic qualities. Use combos of different demographics, interests, partner categories, connection and other targets. We call this “onion targeting.”
Using onion targeting you can create a few broad ads with larger audiences and dial in your demographic then multiply each audience that works.
Start with an ad that targets a few interests with an audience somewhere around 10,000. This is a good rule of thumb to minimize testing cost while still having enough data to make statistically significant decisions.
If that ad does well, filter it using a different target like age, gender or a broad category. Keep multiplying out combinations using the Power Editor to see what the most effective combo is.
Keep in mind you can be as granular as targeting 35 year-old men that drink energy drinks, drive a Ford pickup truck, and live in Kansas – take advantage of this!
To take it to the next level run unpublished page post ads in the newsfeed that only your targeted audience will see. These are also known as dark posts.
3.) Newsfeed ads are the Future for Facebook
Traditional right hand side (RHS) ads just aren’t effective anymore – 7 small ads crammed on the side all competing for your attention. Running ads in the newsfeed costs around 5X more per impression than RHS ads but you will often see a lower CPC because a 2-3% CTR is achievable.
My favorite part is that this ad unit is so new that banner blindness isn’t a concern and
CTR’s have been phenomenal for well-executed campaigns. Most people don’t even realize these are ads but the ones that do get militant if bombarded; limit your ad frequency to 3 to avoid this.
4.) Use your unsubscribe list as a custom audience
People unsubscribe from your list; reconnect with them on Facebook and get them back into your lead nurturing program.
How to get them back?
Offer a “welcome back” discount or a special piece of content or free consultation. Why might someone unsubscribe from you in the first place? Build your campaign around these reasons.
Really want them back?
Set a retargeting pixel so you can follow them around online – multi-touch conversion at it’s best!
FYI: This is considered “gray hat” because all custom audiences must be opt-ins. So you can’t do things like rent a list or scrape Facebook user ID’s, this probably isn’t enforceable but it is in the Terms of Service.
Tom Lambert is a full-time Internet marketer on a mission for more efficient online marketing and less wasted conversion opportunities. When he’s not busy reading and doing he writes an Internet marketing blog focused on the topics of conversion, optimization, and usability called Conversion Juggernaut.
Some of you may have noticed something new in the smiley box in Facebook chat:
These stickers were first introduced on mobile back in April, but Facebook is testing on desktops with random users. Clicking on the shopping cart icon let’s you browse for more to suit your tastes:
If this is not a sign of the visual web, not sure what is! Looking forward to seeing how this impacts youth audiences, which some claim Facebook is losing a grip on. However, customization is currently slim- There’s a Despicable Me 2 pack, One for Zuckerberg’s dog Beast, with a few others among what’s currently offered.
Don’t be confused by the word “Store”, either. All of the offerings are currently free, but doesn’t mean that they won’t charge for premium packs in the future. This could be a good chance for aspiring web artists to get their work out there, making a few dollars on the side. Facebook will most likely keep the addition of new packs to big brands and developers, as to keep quality up and inappropriate content out.
Recent pressure from competitor offerings such as Google Hangouts has made Facebook focus more on building interest in their chat to engage their users, offering personality and depth to their online interactions. Let’s hope they’ll expand it with more features to offer even deeper customization for users and developers alike.
Readers, what do you think? Do you think they’ll kill it like they did with the $1 gifts product?
1. The security of the nation’s tacos are at stake…
2. As is our precious mashed potato supply…
3. That we’re all bad drivers…
4. And after we crash, It’s a perfect time for a photo…
5. They shouldn’t bother investigating, we’ll admit to our crimes on our walls…
6. People have some strange dreams…
7. Autocorrect continues to create awkward situations…
8. Our fashion sense is cutting edge…
9. Dennis Yu knows where to get the best chicken wings ever…
10. Before most of us were internet rock stars, we liked to rock out in real life- like Paul Dunay from Maxymiser did in his TERRAPIN days…
11. Or that you should run for the hills, Jason Miller of Marketo is a metal fan.
12. That Heather Dopson of Infusionsoft’s dog is unimpressed by the moon…
13. That Matt Prater, Mari Smith Dennis Yu, Nathan Latka, Heather Dopson and Christina Kehoe need to be watched in some way… They’re definitely up to something!
So watch out, everyone! Your secrets are out! But it’s not like they can just read your wall or blog and figure these things out, anyways…
In the world of big data, vendors think the problem is about storage and processing.
So they write articles like this about the need for
If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Big data means big waste…. unless you have mapped the business goal back to the data elements needed to make a decision.
If you don’t know what problem you’re solving, does it really help you to collecting more data, then collecting it real-time?
The easiest way to spot a looming big data failure is when the IT executive is talking mainly about infrastructure. Cloud-related discussions in the marketing department are usually a dead giveaway.
If you’re a fresh IT or stats grad looking for a job, focus not on data mining techniques, but on your communication skills. Because how you define the problem is more important than how you solve it. Here’s how:
Assuming you have the basics that come with your degree, learning more tools (not even BlitzMetrics) shouldn’t be a priority. Most businesses don’t have viable goals for social media. They may want fans and engagement, but don’t know how to measure the cross-channel impact or ROI.
They need a strategy. And you need to be consultative– to tackle tough questions.
THE RISE OF THE MARKETING ENGINEER
- Your marketing department will just crank out a bunch of blue pens with your logo on them.
- The IT department unionizes who hides behind his ticketing system so he can play video games all day.
- Your SEO and social media consultants repackage PowerPoints sometimes forgetting to replace another client’s name with yours.
And then you have more data, tools, consultants, and cost to manage. But with what business impact made?
NIBBLED TO DEATH BY DUCKS
The analytics team for the longest time has been relegated to corporate report-making monkeys. I know, since I was one of them for a dozen years.
That monthly report soon becomes a weekly report, then a daily report. And soon your time is tied up grabbing a number here or making a chart there.
But to prevent this explosion of report-making nonsense, you have to be strategic. Go beyond the face value of the reporting request. Get to the heart of what your business partner or client is really asking for. Hint: most of the time, they don’t know, so you have to be consultative (have suggested answers in advance).
For example, a request to know how many conversions are coming from social seems innocuous enough. You can look in your Omniture or Google Analytics to see how many referrals from Facebook resulted in a last click conversion.
But what the VP of marketing is really asking is what is the impact of social and what specific actions can we take to optimize for more?
If you give her exactly and literally what she asked for (which you should the first time), then you’ll end up making all variations of reports with different colored pie charts broken out by different products and time periods. There is no escape from the green slime pit.
But provide insight into how many conversions had at least one social touch along the way or how a Facebook impression (even without a click) increased email open/click rates, and you have a more powerful conversation.
All of a sudden, you’re the trusted business advisor making recommendations that help her increase net margins, as opposed to the report maker asking for money to buy the latest whiz-bang tools.
SO, ARE YOU A REPORT MONKEY?
If you’re not sure, then watch this:
If that doesn’t make sense, then you probably are. Reading this should help.
So decide what level of the business you’d like to play in. Do you want to make a strategic impact on the business by analyzing data or do you want to be a report monkey? Eventually it will drive you bananas.
Networked Insights saw declining mentions of iPhones by teens as a signal for Apple’s depressed earnings forecast
What women most want is ice cream, while men want cars says social analytics firm NetBase.
Facebook can predict if you’re gay or exactly where you’ll be in one year from now within 50 meters with high accuracy (Hey, do you like Spongebob and work out on Wednesday mornings at the gym)?
Moneyball for social media? Not so fast.
After all, it sounds reasonable:
Grab all the mentions of a company across all social channels, categorize the sentiment using the latest LSA techniques– then correlate to their stock price.
Predict how your posts will do or even suggest content tweaks based on what will happen in the future. React to tomorrow’s news today, proclaims one social startup.
BUT REALITY IS MUCH LESS SEXY
- A liquor company wants to know if they run Facebook ads, what the impact will be on incremental sales.
- An entertainment company with the most popular TV shows wants to measure whether social engagement drives more TV tune-in, which yields more ad dollars.
- A B2B marketing company wants to drive not just leads, but sales-qualified opportunities via Facebook.
Of these three cases, which do you believe has actually measured social ROI with hard dollars?
If you guessed the last one, you’re right. It’s Marketo and they’ve traced revenue all the way back.
But the entertainment company can’t definitively tell yet. Nielsen has a product called Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) that will show unique and total reach across different demos, broken out by digital vs TV. They’ll show efficiency in reaching your target– even performance by Facebook ad campaign (if you spend at least $100k a month).
Their Watch Effect product certainly measures correlations between activity in social and TV, and may start to demonstrate incremental lift within segments that we define.
The CPG company wants to know not just increased awareness of the product (it’s already well-known in the target market), but how much incremental trial comes from stronger promotion on Facebook against the right audiences.
There is the DataLogix and Facebook partnership where point of sale data is tied back to actual Facebook users. Where the audience is big enough, it shows correlation, but not causation.
The new partner category targets allow you to segment your existing audience by loyalty card and other POS/retail data.
BUT HERE’S THE BILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
What’s truly driving incremental sales?
Correlation is not causation:
- We know that a popular TV show will drive more social activity– so these will trend together.
- We know that your existing real-world customers are more likely to become fans– so we can’t say that a fan is worth X% more than non-fans. Yes, you’ll still see a ton of “research” on this.
- And there are still plenty of folks trying to buy fans and grow engagement, often with puzzling results.
But you and I know that if anyone can truly answer this ROI question, they control how all marketing budgets flow. If you can demonstrate clear profits– that you can put in one dollar and get back 20 dollars– who wouldn’t go all-in?
WHAT THE FUTURE REALLY HOLDS
It’s not about predicting the future– that’s a gimmick for news coverage.
It’s about measuring the hidden impact of social on ROI in other channels. Yes, the ROI of social doesn’t happen in social:
- When you build you presence on Facebook or wherever, you have greater awareness, which increase the CTR on your Google ads. The higher CTR, in turn, drives more brand searches (for your name) and increases your account’s Quality Score (influencing what you pay per click). Have you ever thought about what caused people to search for your company name on Google?
- When you run a custom audience on Facebook (uploading your email addresses like so), some people will click on the Facebook message, but more importantly, your email open and click rates will increase for folks who saw your message on Facebook. Do you know how to measure this? It’s easy.
- When you run Facebook ads targeting people by job title or even to get your messages into the newsfeed (60 minute tutorial here), people see it, but might not click on anything. You see a picture of ribeye steak from Texas Roadhouse in your newsfeed on your iphone, then decide to pull into the restaurant as you drive by. No last click, coupon, or trackable link to your sale.
The real meat of social ROI comes from tying together all your data sources and tracking back to revenue events.
So if you can’t measure the ROI, even via indirect lift testing, then it doesn’t exist in our book. But at the same time, you might actually be hitting a home run in social, but don’t notice it, because you’re not measuring the impact in your other channels.
Some stuff just isn’t measurable yet or ever will be (although the NSA may beg to differ), but shouldn’t you at least be collecting unified reports across all your marketing channels to get full credit for your efforts?