The meteoric rise of Facebook Ads has opened up an ocean of opportunities for using first-party data for finding, engaging and converting new customers as also for increasing the value from existing ones. The hyper-targeting capabilities of the Facebook custom audience product allow Marketers to implement innovative integrations from tools as diverse as email marketing, web analytics, online event management, membership management, e-commerce, CRM and many more.

In this post, we focus our attention on how companies can use email marketing in conjunction with Facebook custom audience to turbo charge their acquisition and retention marketing efforts. We start by laying out some common use cases for integration and then end with a discussion of the key technology considerations for automating these integrations as part of a wider integrated marketing strategy.

Email marketing segments as custom audience

Email marketing tools capture a wealth of first party data that goes far beyond simple tracking of clicks and opens to advanced website behavior information that often spans multiple visits. The sheer volume of data points for which they possess highly granular details makes them an ideal platform for creating segments of users who exhibit certain common characteristics of behavioral, demographic, or attitudinal nature. Most email marketing tools provide capabilities for defining segments/lists that can then be used as an audience for campaigns both within and outside email. By uploading these segments into Facebook (as custom audience), companies can leverage the power of email marketing data to develop campaigns that are both efficient and effective. Some commonly implemented examples include-

Increase trial account conversions

It is a common practice for SaaS companies to provide prospects with free/no-risk trial accounts. Prospects provide their emails during trial sign-up and these are typically added to the marketing automation tool for sending out nurtured campaigns. Uploading a list of such trial signup users into Facebook will allow you to target them with highly relevant ads even without having to wait for them to receive and engage with follow up emails.

Up-sell/Cross-sell products and services

It is common for Marketers to send out emails about new products and services to its existing customers. While flooding inboxes with offers and news about other related products and services may not be an option, Marketers can certainly convey the same message using Facebook Ads which are generally perceived as much less intrusive than email. For example, customers already on an entry-level starter plan can be shown ads for upgrading to higher ones using crisp imagery and messaging in a friendly, non-intrusive manner.

Reduce website cart abandonment

It is common for well-designed websites to start the checkout process by getting users to first specify an email. Sessions that are abandoned midway are typically captured by email marketing tools (typically via website tags) as part of a closed loop marketing process. Segmenting out such users and uploading them as custom audience will allow you to target them with visually appealing and highly targeted messaging in addition to email notifications for completing a purchase.

Target unengaged users

Facebook custom audience can be an incredibly powerful tool for increasing engagement with unengaged users who are known to consistently not open your emails or who show others forms of disassociated behavior. It is fairly straightforward to set up segments for such customers using email metrics alone. Uploading these into Facebook will provide you with an opportunity to use highly targeted ads to increase engagement

Augment reach using lookalike audience

While the use cases outlined above pertain largely to users who are already a prospect or customer (provided their email), Facebook allows you to increase your overall audience pool size by reaching new users that do not have any prior contact history with your brand. This is done using lookalike audience inside Facebook and which can be created in 3 ways-

  1. From existing custom audience
  2. Using Facebook conversion pixel
  3. Audience of any of your existing pages

From an Email marketing perspective, the most relevant is the first method that allows you to upload segments (list of members exhibiting common behavior) into Facebook as custom audience and then to create lookalike audience for these. The rules that define these segments could be pretty much anything that makes sense for your business. For example, consider a financial services company that is already running an email campaign for a list of high net worth individuals(HNIs) with a known interest in trading derivatives. It could upload this list to Facebook and then run ads to reach similar people in order to get them to sign up for trial accounts.

Technology considerations

From a technology perspective, all the use cases outlined above involve uploading segment membership in email tool into Facebook as custom audience. Most email marketing tools provide native capabilities for integrating with Facebook but in almost all cases this comes with some big caveats.

While the initial upload of segment members from email tool into Facebook is automated (or as simple as uploading a CSV export into Facebook), the ongoing synch is almost always missing. For example, as members move in and out of email segments, there is usually no intrinsic mechanism for automatically updating Facebook custom audience. In all likelihood, this will result in skewed results given that the ads performance data will be based on audience membership that is different from the original assumptions.

Facebook custom audience cannot be less than 20 in size. In other words, if you upload 100 members but Facebook could only match 15 of them to its users (based on email id that you provide) then no custom audience will be created. The challenge here is that any automated solution that tries to create ads based on programmatically created audience will fail and additional checks will need to be implemented to issue notifications (and subsequent workflows) in cases where custom audience could not be created

As Ad-Tech specialists, we fully recognize such advanced integration challenges and can help companies set up advanced automation with Facebook custom audience. Our solutions include fully automated base uploads and real-time update of Facebook custom audience from leading email marketing tools including Mailchimp, GetResponse, ConstantContact, Marketo, and Eloqua. These integrations can be hosted in customer environment or on our internal, fully managed hosting platform where customers have the added advantage of visual monitoring capability of various synchs and also real-time notifications for custom audience creation success/failure as reported by Facebook.

Article purpose

A solution overview content piece providing an outline for a hyper-targeted content delivery solution that leverages email marketing data to create custom audience in Facebook.

About the Client

One of the UK’s leading integrated marketing consultancy looking to penetrate the B2C market with hyper-targeted integration solutions designed to turn email subscribers into potential display/re-targeting customers through Facebook campaigns.