Facebook Advertising, Custom Audiences, Split Testing and Remarketing

In the last blog we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook advertising. Facebook has a whole range of sophisticated advertising tools and features, each with advantages and disadvantages. In this blog we will focus on custom audiences, split testing and remarketing.

Facebook Custom or ‘Lookalike’ Audiences

Facebook can help you target potential customers by identifying people who’ve already liked your page and help you reach Facebook users who have similar (lookalike) attributes. What this means, is that you can essentially clone your current audiences and create lookalike audiences. If they are similar, with shared characteristics, they are likely to be interested in you too.

Social media targeting isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have good quality customer data or insight. Even the audience insights you get from your social media analytics can be misleading. They may be too broad, or more importantly, cover people who ‘do’ follow you even though they may not be who you ‘want’ to follow you.

It’s not always easy, because depending on how much you know about your current customers, it can be difficult to know who your target customers are.

Facebook offers you a way around this.

Facebook Remarketing Pixel

If you are using the Facebook remarketing pixel, (see below) you can track people who’ve visited your website and target them with ads. When someone visits your page, Facebook will fire the pixel and gather their user data (from their device) and find them on Facebook. You can serve ‘remarketing’ ads to them or you can create Facebook Custom Audiences based on their shared criteria.

Do you have an email database or mailing lists of lapsed clients or newsletter recipients, who don’t respond any more? Why not import these lists into Facebook and if they can identify them based on their email address, you can target them with ads.

Alternatively, You can create lookalike or Facebook custom audiences based on your imported email database and any shared characteristics with other Facebook users.

With the variety of content you create and share on Facebook, you can show a different side to your brand, products and services that may not come across so well in your email marketing.

Facebook Remarketing

Facebook remarketing is a clever tool that lets you create pixels – strings of code you can embed on key pages on your website.

Depending on the point at which people leave your website (like halfway through making a purchase!) you won’t know who they are. If they haven’t left any contact details it’s hard to reach out to them and find out why they didn’t complete their purchase or conversion goal.  Depending on what you want them to do, (your conversion goal) this could be a registration, download, sign up – whatever your ‘call to action’ invites them to do.

Pixels, or strings of code, are generated by Facebook and are unique to your Facebook account. They can be embedded into the code on your website pages. If someone visits these pages, it triggers the pixel.  Next time they visit Facebook, they will be presented with your advert at the side of their page.

Remarketing ads seems a bit ‘stalker-ish’, but they really work.  People will come back and finish their transaction. Perhaps they had some questions they wanted to ask, or they needed more information.

Your Facebook presence should strive to give them more information.

If you’re a bulk advertiser, if you’re an agency or you’re going to be running a lot of similar adverts and campaigns, you will want to use the Power Editor tool, which is accessible via the Google Chrome browser.

It allows you to make bulk changes to ad sets.

Why is Split Testing Adverts on Facebook important?

Split testing allows you to publish multiple versions of a piece of communication.

You may use it already with your email marketing to test subject lines, images, colours, ‘calls to action’, etc.

Split testing your advert/s will require you to prepare a variety of images and messages. You can have a single image advert, or a carousel advert where people scroll through up to six images.

Facebook will present all the options you’ve set up, then test the response from your target audience.  This helps you to establish which one they like best, quickly and easily. Facebook will then automatically select the best-performing ad and run it in future.

Pros If you work in marketing or the creative industries, you may have a different aesthetic (or taste) to your customers. You may believe that you have found the best ‘version’ of your business or brand. However, you may find that your target market has simpler (or just plain different) tastes. They may even pick the image or copy that you didn’t like.  Huh.

Split testing your ads is a great way of removing ‘us’ from the selection.

Cons You will need to prepare a selection of images, videos or graphics along with a variety of messages to upload before testing. This isn’t ideal if you don’t have much time or if this part of your campaign has been left to the last minute…

Pros and Cons of Facebook Advertising


  • Great targeting, and not just the information people give in their profiles about themselves, but also what’s harvested by all their interactions on Facebook
  • With Facebook Custom Audiences you can re-engage with ‘abandoned cart’ website visitors
  • It’s great for location, demographics, age and gender
  •  Behavioural and interest targeting on Facebook are superb and are an excellent way to help you focus and tighten your targeting
  • There’s a potential audience of 2 billion users
  • It integrates well with other apps and media.

Facebook wants you to spend all your time on their platform, so they work well on mobile devices, laptops and also with things such as Facebook Live. Many people even use it to log into other tools and applications they use.

The more relevant your targeting, the greater the potential conversion rate.


  • It’s increasingly complex, especially when you get into the heavy-duty ad tools
  • It’s time-consuming and you need to have everything ready before you go in to set up ad sets and campaigns
  • Creative images (or photos) must be exactly the right size for that particular ad type (and they are all a bit different!)
  • You can’t have more than 20% copy ratio to your images
  • Facebook has a strangely un-intuitive algorithm to decide if the content of your ad is appropriate
  • Conversion rates are low. On average 0.01% compared to 0.1% on Google Adwords (Digital Marketing Institute)

I’ve uploaded ad sets for clients that were completely harmless but because of the strict parameters the first versions were not approved.

Yet they’re quite happy to serve us ‘unsavoury’ content….

Before you start…

It’s worth reading up on Facebook advertising and getting some expert advice or joining one of our social media workshops. Facebook has excellent ‘how to’ guides on the platform for all levels of user. You can find out more about custom audiences or remarketing pixels for example.

You have to experiment with it for some time before you reap the benefits.

In the next blog we explore Twitter Paid Tools: Twitter Cards, Promoted Tweets and Adverts.

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thought leaders.

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Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash