Jun 17, 2015

How We Use Facebook Custom Audiences for Our Marketing

Back in 2013, Ben wrote about Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature and how seamlessly it can integrate with MailChimp accounts. A lot has happened since the tool launched—at MailChimp, and probably at your business too. So if you missed the integration when it was new, or if you’re one of the few million new users we’ve added over the last few years, we thought you might like a refresher. Plus, we’ve been using Custom Audiences ourselves, so we’ve got a few lessons learned to share.

Getting started

To set up your own Custom Audience, log in to the Facebook ads manager, scroll down to Audiences, click the green Create Audience button in the top right corner, select Custom Audience, and then choose Customer List. After that, you’ll see this screen:

Custom Audiences Modal

From there, select Import from MailChimp, and then log in to your MailChimp account. We’ll automatically send your MailChimp list over to Facebook, so you don’t have to worry about exporting and re-importing anything.

Wait, but why?

One of the best parts of Facebook Custom Audiences is how well it scales: it’s as good a fit for the average small business with just a few thousand people on their list as it is for a growing mid-size business with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. For that matter, we use it at MailChimp to connect with our 8 million customers.

Shades of "not only am I the president, I’m also a client" aside, the tool has helped us reach our current customers in new places, educate them to become better MailChimp users, and more effectively reach potential users. Here are just a few of the ways we use Custom Audiences:

Turn novices into power users

It can be tough to regularly and efficiently communicate with the 8 million people and businesses who make up our user base. We place a lot of value on the content we create to guide and support our users, but it’s unreasonable to expect every one of them to check our blog or Knowledge Base daily. So we rely heavily on social media to spread the word about new products and other updates.

Our Facebook page helps us turn novice users into power users. By showing ads that encourage people to like our Facebook page to a custom audience of current users who haven’t already done so, we were able to attract new page likes 2-3 times cheaper than if we were targeting folks around keywords like “email marketing” or even “MailChimp.”

Page Like Ad

Encourage first-time senders

You can also use Custom Audiences for more tangible, direct response campaigns. For example, we imported a list of MailChimp users who had set up accounts but had never sent a campaign. Perhaps they got distracted and forgot to finish setting up their account, or maybe they got overwhelmed and gave up—either way, we’d love to have them sending with us. So we set up a series of ads across Facebook targeting these non-senders with a message encouraging them to check out our Getting Started guide. Over the course of one week, 1,500 users clicked on the link to view and download the guide.

Getting Started

Bolster efforts with testing

We also ran a series of Facebook ads promoting our mobile apps, like the Webby-award winning MailChimp Snap. For this campaign, we used Custom Audiences as a test group in an A/B test of sorts. Half of the ads were shown to folks who showed an interest around keywords like “mobile marketing” or “digital marketing,” while the other half were shown to current MailChimp users. The MailChimp user group clicked on the ads almost 3 times more often than the other group, and this use of Custom Audiences helped increase our mobile app adoption rate more effectively than if we’d used general keyword targeting.

Snap Mobile Video

Segment and target for better engagement (and for the sake of humanity)

We’re big fans of segmentation, so we love that Custom Audiences allows you to carry over segments from your MailChimp list to your Facebook ads. (Just a note: The auto-sync between Facebook and MailChimp will only allow you to import entire lists over as a custom audience. But you can easily export a segment from MailChimp and upload it as a custom list to Facebook.) And Custom Audiences has worked just as effectively for us when we target these smaller groups of users. After we announced a new integration with Eventbrite, we turned to Custom Audiences to create ads on Facebook to target all of our current users who had implemented the old integration. It was an easy way to communicate with tens of thousands of users for whom the new integration was relevant, without bugging the rest.

Your turn

Ready to grow your business with help from MailChimp and Facebook Custom Audiences? Get started today.