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How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences for Social Target Marketing

There is no doubt that digital advertising it is here to stay. And while there are a plethora of options available to businesses, Google and Facebook have undeniably become two ubiquitous players in the digital landscape.



The popularity and prevalence of digital advertising is growing at a rapid pace. Until a few years ago, digital was considered a good complement to other marketing channels such as TV, radio, and print. Now, however, spending on digital ads alone likely will be larger than the amount spent on television advertising in the U.S., according to estimates from eMarketer.

There is no doubt that digital advertising it is here to stay. And while there are a plethora of options available to businesses, Google and Facebook have undeniably become two ubiquitous players in the digital landscape. Marketers from all types of industries, including tire and auto service providers, are finding substantial value with these two providers.


Before we dig into Custom Audiences and targeting, let’s first explore Facebook and why it’s so good for tire and auto service marketing.

Here are some points to consider:

Reach – With 1.5 billion users worldwide, Facebook has more users and offers greater exposure to advertisers than any other single media channel.

Data – Facebook collects volumes of information on user preferences, lifestyle, location and behavior.  This data allows for far more precise targeting than most platforms.

Cost – Facebook advertising costs a fraction of what other channels charge, including print, TV and radio. (Notwithstanding that single factor of cost, we do recommend that advertisers plan for a multi-channel approach instead of relying one any single platform.)


There are a number of ways to target users on Facebook. The one feature that we believe provides the best opportunity for positive ROI to tire and auto businesses is Facebook Custom Audiences.

How Facebook Custom Audiences Works

Facebook Custom Audiences is a method of marketing that leverages a list of individuals with whom a business has an existing relationship. This feature allows the advertiser to create a variety of targeted ad campaigns across Facebook based on their existing contacts. You can then use the information on each of your known prospects to create lookalike audiences – ones that mirror the qualities of people (good and bad) on the original list provided.


Specifically, there are a few different ways to create Custom Audience filters in Facebook:

Customer List – This approach compiles and targets a list of user emails, phone numbers, or Facebook User Ids that a business may have collected from users with whom the business has some sort of an established relationship. This generally is the easiest and fastest way to launch a Custom Audience campaign

Website Custom Audience – This method targets users based on the activity on your website. Facebook allows you to install a pixel (small piece of tracking code or “cookie”) on your site so that  you can target users who visit a certain page on your website. The business can then track various types of activity on your site, including content viewed, keywords searched, when the “add to wish list” button is clicked, when the “add to cart” is clicked, when checkout is initiated, as payment info is added, when purchase is completed, a form is submitted or a registration is completed.


Your business can even get into a more detailed “custom” targeting approach that includes targeting your users by the number of times they visit a page, by date range, total time spent on a page or overall website and type of device they used. The date range can be valuable and help you save money, especially if you know that an average visitor buys a specific service, such as brake replacement, within x number of days after their visit on the web.

Note: This type of targeting is good for up to 180 days from the last visit to your site.

App Activity Audience – If you have a custom app for your shop, this option allows you to target those who may take certain delineated action(s) on your app.


Engagement Custom Audience – This approach targets users who engage with certain ad types or your Facebook page. This could include:

o Video Engagement – Those who engaged or viewed a percentage of a video ad on your website or YouTube;

o Page Engagement Ads – Users who engaged with your content on Facebook. This includes likes, comments, shares, etc.

Facebook takes complex concepts like ad targeting and advanced marketing tactics, and makes them very easy to use. And studies show that Facebook Custom Audiences advertising, including sponsored posts in the newsfeed, can be very effective.

Primary benefits include:

Customer Retention – Facebook Custom Audiences is a great way to reach current customers to remind them that your business is ready to meet their needs. It’s also a great way of providing them with timely reminders for recurrent services. Since customer retention is key to operating a successful shop, my team at Conceptual Minds encourages our clients to leverage this option as part of the overall marketing strategy.


Re-targeting with the Intent to Convert – Data suggests that reaching out to people who may have started the “check out” process on your website, but who did not initially convert, can help provide the needed lift to achieve conversion. In fact, these conversions can be generated at a far lower cost than many other strategies.

5 Ideals for Specific Campaigns

If you have read this far, then I’m sure you are beginning to think about some real-life Custom Audience campaigns that you could implement for your shop. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Cart Abandonment Campaign – Create a campaign for those individuals who reached the cart section of your website but did not complete a tire purchase or scheduling an appointment. We recommend considering special offer for these users.


Reminder Campaigns – Consider uploading a list of customers who you know are coming due for a service like oil change, inspection, etc. and create an ad that serves as a reminder. This ad can even include that tempting special offer.

Look-Alike Advertising – As mentioned earlier, Facebook has the ability to analyze the customer list you provide and find commonalities between these customers from a demographic, and/or behavior perspective. It can also search for users within its own database and match them to core characteristics of your customers. We recommend compiling a list of your best customers so you can enjoy the results of look- alike advertising and get more bang for your buck.


Using a “Customer List” as a Negative – If you would prefer to create awareness for your brand without spending money advertising to existing customers or people who already frequent your shop, you could use custom audiences as a negative and exclude your current customers from your marketing campaign. This type of strategy may be perfect for shops that want to attract new customers with special promotions.

Create Up-sell/Cross-sell Campaigns – This type of campaign works well on current customers or those who have “abandoned carts.”  For example, a simple campaign could be for a seasonal maintenance package. For these campaign, you could target those users who visited the information page on your site but didn’t schedule an appointment.

Simple Steps to Get Started

Now that you have some ideas, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of setting up your campaigns in a few easy steps.

Step 1: Create a list of users with whom your business has some type of existing relationship. This list may include email addresses, phone numbers, app user IDs or mobile user IDs. The list should be in one of two formats – CSV or TXT and should have a minimum of 20 users on the list.


Step 2: Once you’re in your Facebook account, go to Promotions. Click on Ads Manager on the navigation bar. Select Audiences. Next, select Create Custom Audience, then Customer File.

Step 3: You have several options at this point. You can upload a list, copy/paste the info and/or import a list from Mailchimp. Once you choose your preferred option, select the data type and upload the list. Be sure to name it something easy to identify (ex., “Cart_Abandonment_List_Nov_1_2017-Nov_31_2017”).

Step 4: Upon upload, Facebook will filter through users that it can match within its system. On average, Facebook is usually able to match anywhere from 50-70% of the users on your list.

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand that like most marketing initiatives, Facebook campaigns requires regular attention, maintenance and assessment. Testing is vital. And don’t lose sight of the fact that ad content and creative matters a lot! Almost every element of an ad can and should be tested. This includes images, colors, copy, call to action, etc. We recommend monitoring your campaign regularly.


Many of these are steps your business can take care of on its own, and we encourage you to do exactly that. However, if you find yourself needing assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and my team. We’re marketing pros who understand Facebook; we’re intimately familiar with tire and auto service businesses, and we’re happy to help.

Taran Sodhi is the founder and CEO of automotive marketing consulting group, Conceptual Minds. He can be reached at [email protected] or by calling (877) 524-7696.

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