Upload Customer Lists to Facebook Custom Audiences in 2021

Written by: ROIhacks.com
Last updated:

Besides using the Facebook Pixel to create Custom Audiences, creating Facebook Custom Audiences from your Customer lists might be the most effective way to retarget your email subscribers or previous buyers or make powerful Lookalike Audiences from them to find new cold audiences that are likely to convert.

In this tutorial, we are going to show you step by step:

  • How can you upload customer lists to Facebook and make custom audiences out of them?
  • What kind of customer data can be uploaded to Facebook?
  • What is the average match rate of customer lists uploaded to Facebook?
  • Custom Audience examples of uploaded Customer Lists and how you can leverage these audiences?
  • Next steps after the Custom Audience from the customer lists have been created

At the end of this guide, we will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to uploading customer lists to Facebook.

How to upload a customer list to Facebook?

First, we will quickly summarize the general process of uploading a customer list to Facebook, then where further explanation is necessary we will go in-depth after the description of the general process:

  1. Go to Facebook Audience Manager of the Ad Account you want to upload the customer list
  2. In the upper right corner, click on Create Audience then Custom Audience

Create Custom Audience Button in Business Manager

3. A window will pop up, where you need to choose the source of the Customer List. Click on Customer list

Create a Custom Audince - Customer List source type

4. In this new window, you will be able to read information on what file format you are able upload the customer list, what columns you can include. You can also download a list template, read more on formatting guideline or choose to import from Mailchimp if you happen to use that email service. Anyway, you can click on the Next button

5. In the next window, you have to choose ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question of whether customer value is included in your list, then click on Next

6. You will be taken to the window where you can finally upload your list. You can choose between uploading a file or copy and paste one from a table. We would suggest you to use the upload method as then you can easily check back the lists you have uploaded later

Create a Facebook Custom Audience from a Customer List

7. In the next step, you have to add a descriptive name to the Customer list and you can also add a description optionally. When you are done, click on ‘Next’

8. In this step, you can review how successful you were in uploading the data in the right format. Facebook will show you which columns were mapped and are ready to upload (indicated with a green checkmark) and which columns you have to fix (yellow warning icon)

Mapped Customer Identifiers Facebook Customer List Upload

8. If you are happy with the mapped columns, you can go on and click ‘Upload and Create’ button

9. Facebook will start to upload the Customer List and hash it at the same time. Depending on the size of your list it can take a couple of seconds to minutes. Once the customer list is uploaded, Facebook once again needs a little time to match the customers, but you can start making a retargeting campaign or make a Facebook LAA out of your uploaded customer list.

You can also check out this video tutorial on uploading a customer list to Facebook:

Identifiers that can be uploaded to Facebook Customer Lists

You can upload the following customer data also called identifiers that Facebook will use to match the customer values:

  • Email (Up to 3 columns can be added, use the column name ‘email)’
  • Phone number
  • Mobile advertiser ID
  • Facebook App User ID
  • Facebook Page User ID
  • First name
  • Last name

Additional data that can be added to improve the effectiveness of the matching algorithm:

  • City
  • State
  • Country
  • Date of Birth
  • Age
  • Zip code
  • Gender

When uploading your customer data table, keep in mind that the list has to be either in .csv or in .txt file format so Facebook can use it to match your customers.

Besides the file format, pay close attention to the formatting of the data types and to using the right column names. You can check out the formatting requirements here.

Uploaded Customer Identifiers hashed

You don’t have to worry about GDPR or user privacy issues when you upload customer data to Facebook. When you upload the customer data to Facebook, it uses a cryptographic security method known as hashing. 

By hashing, Facebook turns the identifiers you have uploaded into a randomized code that cannot be reversed by Facebook. (Facebook knows a lot more about your customer anyway.)

Customer Value Column

As we have shown above, you have the option to include a column where you include the customer lifetime value (LTV) of each customer. 

If you are selling products or services so you can calculate the LTV, it is definitely worth adding as a column even if you cannot add the exact value to any rows. 

This will allow you to create a value-based LLA later that is a better quality Lookalike Audience as it also considers the value of customers when the matching algorithm identifies the most similar users to your custom source audience.

Facebook Customer List Match rate

One of the big questions most people have when they upload a customer or email list to Facebook is what percentage of people can Facebook match from the uploaded list to their user list.

Unfortunately, there is no standard answer to this important question. Your match rate will depend on two things generally:

  1. How likely is that your average customer is on Facebook or Instagram. Certain demographics like middle aged people are more likely to be on Facebook, on the other hand, very young people (generation Z), or older brother (the Baby Boomer generation) tend to use Facebook less often. And of course, it also depends on the country your target customers are situated on.
  2. Secondly, it will depend on the quality and quantity of data you have about your customers. We have some tips on how you can make sure to maximize the match rate of your customer lists in the next paragraph.

Improve your Facebook customer list match rate 

There are a couple of things you can do to improve your match rate:

  • Facebook recommends adding as many data types as you can to improve the match rate of your customer list
  • You can include multiple columns for certain identifiers, so there is a higher chance that Facebook will identify your customers. For example, for phone numbers and email addresses you can include up to three columns
  • Make sure your formatting is right and formatting mistakes don’t ruin your match rate
  • Include country codes to phone numbers and countries as well, even if all of your customers are in the same country as Facebook matches the customers using a global database.

Types of Customer Lists You Can Upload to Facebook

We have a separate blog post where we collected over 100 Facebook Customs Audiences you can try, including Custom Audiences created from uploaded customer lists, so here we are going to share the most common useful ones:

Email list/newsletter subscribers uploaded to Facebook

Maybe the most frequent application is to upload your email or your newsletter subscriber list to Facebook and then to retarget them with the same or new offers. 

As email open rates tend to be anything from 10 to 50%, you can increase the number of subscribers who see your offers, or remind people who opened your newsletter that the exclusive coupon available for subscribers only is about to expire.

Facebook Custom Audience from your Customers lists

One of the most effective ways to create Lookalike Audiences is to use the customer list you have exported from your backends system. As it doesn’t have any limits on when the user made the purchase and you can also include a column that has the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer it is a lot of times more useful than using custom audiences made from Purchase Pixel events.

Past customers uploaded to Facebook

Your Purchase Website Custom Audience that is based on Facebook Pixel data can keep customers in the custom audience only up to 180 days that might be not enough for you. If your business is selling less frequently, but it is selling higher ticket products then you should definitely upload a customer list that contains all your previous purchasers.

To create an even better quality custom audience, you can also include the lifetime value of your customers in an additional column.

Churned customers uploaded to Facebook

If you are running a Software as a Service business, or any kind of recurring membership sites, you will have plenty of churned customers, customers who canceled their membership or their subscription simply expired and they didn’t extend it.

If you have the list of these customers, then definitely upload a list of them to Facebook, as you can start running win-back campaigns to make them paying customers again. This can be one of your most profitable retargeting campaign types as these people used to be paying customers so there is a higher chance that they will pay again.

Customers whose subscriptions are about to be expired

Similar to the churned customers, if you have a subscription plan that has a fixed term, and the subscription does not automatically get renewed, you should definitely run a Facebook ad campaign that targets people whose subscription is about to expire.

All you have to do again is to upload a list of these customers and you can then easily target them in your ad set level of a Facebook campaign with a message something like: “Don’t forget to renew your subscription to keep getting your current lower subscription fees.”

Facebook Custom Audience from your Leads lists

If you are running a website where the ultimate conversion is getting leads then instead of purchasers custom audiences, people who became leads or were close to becoming leads will be your most valuable source audiences. Here are some great examples:

Leads you have collected on your website

Just like with the Pixel Custom Audience made from Purchasers, custom audiences created from the Lead, CompleteRegistration or Contact Standard Pixel Events can keep customers in your custom audience up to 180 days. 

However, you don’t have any restrictions on how much you go back with your Leads you have acquired on your website and you uploaded to Facebook.

Customers who called you but didn’t convert

If you have a call center that is getting a ton of calls, it also makes sense to make a list from all of these potential customers as well and upload them to Facebook. This audience can be used for retargeting if you haven’t closed them yet or to make a LAA from them.

Offline conversions uploaded to Facebook

You also have the ability to upload your offline conversions and make retargeting or Lookalike Audiences out of them for running online conversion or in-store visit traffic campaigns. This is a separate topic on its own, you can learn more about it here.

Retargeting and Lookalike Audiences from uploaded Customer Lists

Once you have uploaded your customer list, you have to wait a little bit, as Facebook first hashes the identifiers you have uploaded and then matches the customer rows with its own database. 

Once the custom audience is created, you can start creating retargeting campaigns to convert your audiences that are closest to conversion or make Lookalike Audiences from all of these audiences as we have mentioned above.

Exclude customer and user lists from your Facebook targeting

Another great use of these custom audiences that you have created from customer lists is to use them as audiences you don’t want to target with the exclusion feature.

So let’s say you are running a newsletter subscription campaign, you obviously don’t want the ads to appear for people who are currently subscribed to your newsletter. 

In this case, when you are setting up the new campaign, right after you have added the custom audiences you want to target, you can also exclude the custom audiences you don’t want to reach with this campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions: Custom Audiences from Facebook Customer Lists

How to target an email list or newsletter subscribers on Facebook?

The easiest way to do it is by uploading your email and subscriber list to Facebook, make a Custom Audience from them and then use this Custom Audience in your ad set level targeting when you create your retargeting campaign.

You can even automate this process with Zapier or similar software that would export the list out of your email provider and upload it to Facebook. One of the most popular email software, Mailchimp even provides direct integration with Facebook so you don’t even have to setup the automation to work.

If for some reasons, uploading the list to Facebook method doesn’t work for you or the match rate turns out to be terrible, you can also try to make a Lead or a CompleteRegistration Standard Event.

How to retarget your past or active customers on Facebook?

You can do it in two main ways, you can either use the Facebook Pixel Purchase Event or the uploaded customer list method we have shown in this article. In the latter case, you would have to upload the list of your customers to Facebook, then make a Custom Audience from it and use that Custom Audience in the ad set level of your Facebook ad campaign creation.

How to improve the match rate of the customer lists you uploaded to Facebook?

You can improve the match rate of the customer lists you have uploaded to Facebook by including more columns so Facebook can more likely match the customers. You can also include for example the email or phone column up three times, if you also have access to more than one email address of certain customers. The last thing that will improve your match rate is by double checking if your columns are formatted the right way.

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