How to Create a Facebook Custom Audience from an Email List

Jan 30, 2019

Advertising on Facebook is one of the most effective ways to find new customers and maintain existing ones. A Custom Audience is essential for any successful Facebook advertising campaign. A Custom Audience is a group of people that will see your ads in their Facebook News Feed. This allows you specify exactly whom you want to target with any Facebook ad campaign helping ensure that only people you want to advertise to click on your ad. Since Facebook charges you by the number of people that click on your ads, you will want to limit the number of people responding to your ads to people who are likely customers.

There are several ways to create Custom Audiences on Facebook, however using an email list to build a Custom Audience is perhaps one of the easiest and most effective. Let’s assume you are looking for new customers. You can acquire an email list of likely customers and then use that list to create a Custom Audience. Those contacts in the email list are the people who will see your ads on Facebook. This document is intend to provide you with step by step instructions on how to create a Custom Audience for acquiring new customers through a Facebook advertising campaign.

1. How many email contacts do I need?

To get started, let’s figure out how many email contacts you need to build your Custom Audience. Facebook recommends at least 1,000 contacts to build a Custom Audience. Although you can add as many contacts to your audience as you want, please note Facebook limits the number of contacts per upload to 10,000. So if you have 30,000 email contacts, you will need to break this down into three files of 10,000 to upload into your Audience.

 Let’s say you need an email list of 1,000 to 10,000 contacts to effectively create a Custom Audience.

2. What information needs to be in the email list?

Facebook requires an email, first name, and last name in order to match the contacts on your email list with Facebook user accounts. Facebook can also build a Custom Audience based on phone number, first name, and last name.

 Don’t use or buy a list that doesn’t have email or phone along with first name and last name for each contact.

3. Where do I get an email list?

There are thousands of list providers and data brokers today. Simply Googling “email list” will return lot’s of companies selling email lists. Most of these are of good quality and its a simply a matter of finding the best price and options. Two things you should know before shopping for an email list: first, they all use a direct sales model meaning your going to have spend time on the phone with a sales person that will follow up with for the next couple of months; second, that salesperson has to get paid, which means you end up paying more. Also, no of these providers and brokers provide any guarantees.

This why we market our email list on Data & Sons. You can shop our lists (and others) on your own. No sales guys means less hassle and we can offer lower prices. If you decide to purchase one of our lists, it’s backed by Data & Sons money back guarantee.

4. Let’s make sure your file is formatted properly

Formatting your email list for Facebook requires two steps.

First, you will need to get your email list formatted for Facebook using column headers they recognize: email, fn, ln, phone, zip, ct, st, country. Remember, you only need email, fn, ln and/or phone, fn, ln. If you have both great, but you must have email OR phone along with separate first (fn) and last (ln) names. Note, if you are using phone numbers, you must include country code (1 for US). Second, you will need to save the file as a csv file. If you are using Excel or Notes, simply go to File -> Save As and select csv as the format.

To summarize, for using an email list to create Facebook Custom Audience you must: use email, fn, and ln as column headers and save the file as a csv

5. How do I upload my properly formatted csv into Facebook?

To create an audience and run an advertising campaign on Facebook, you will need to first create a Facebook Business Account. If you do not have one, please follow these instructions first. Once you have a Facebook Business Account, go to your account home page. At the top left of the page, click on the menu to bring up the options. Under Assets, click Audiences.

You should now be on the Audience page under your Asset Library. Here you will see any audiences that exist in your account. We want to create a new audience. To do so, we just click on the “Create Audience” button. It’s the only blue button on the page.

When you click on the “Create Audience” button, you will see three options. Select the first one: “Custom Audience”

You will now see the “Create a Custom Audience” menu with five choices on it. Select the first one: “Customer File”

On the Create a Custom Audience menu, select the first choice “Add customers from your own file or copy and paste”

You will now see the process for “Create a Custom Audience” from a csv file. In step 1 “Add Customer File” you need to do two things. First, you need to identify the source of the file. There are three options. If you are using an email list that you bought on Data & Sons, select the third option: “From partners”.

Finally, hit the “Upload File” button and select the csv file containing your email list.

Now it’s time to watch Facebook do it’s thing. If you bought an Audience Dynamix email list, Facebook should quickly identify what information is in each column. If for some reason Facebook identified the information incorrectly, just simply identify what information is in the column on the drop down menus on the right.

Once you are happy with how Facebook is reading your information, select the “Upload & Create” button and watch the magic happen. 

Once you select the “Done” button, Facebook will take you back to the Asset Library menu where you can see you new Custom Audience waiting for you. It take Facebook 24 to 48 hours to finalize the list. When your audience is ready, the status will change from “Updating Audience” with a blue dot to “Ready”with a green dot under “Availability”

When your audience is “Ready” you can start sending advertisements to the people in your audience. Your ads will show to only people in the audience and their Facebook friends. If you are interested in reaching more potential customers than the people in your Custom Audience, you can now create a Lookalike Audience. A Lookalike Audience is everyone on Facebook similar to the people in your Custom Audience. This enables you to reach a lot (thousands to millions) of potential customers from a single email list of a few thousand potential customers.

The process for creating a Lookalike Audience is similar to the one we did for a Custom Audience. Just select “Lookalike Audience” instead of “Custom Audience”when you hit the blue “Create Audience” button on the Asset Library page.