By the team you reach the end of a trade show appearance, you and your fellow exhibitors will hopefully have gathered a plethora of leads for your organization in the form of business cards or electronically exchanged contact information. Now that the show is over, what should you do with all those email addresses? Filing them away in a digital rolodex means they could be easily forgotten, and simply adding those leads to an email newsletter may or may not result in an increase in subscribers.
Whatever type of conversion you’re ultimately looking to increase, Facebook ads offer a unique opportunity for putting those email addresses to work. With custom audience ads on Facebook, your organization can deliver targeted ads to people you’ve already met at a trade show, keeping your brand top of mind long after those leads have returned to their everyday lives. Custom audiences are easy to set up, and they’re a proven way to drive conversions and keep those new customers coming back for more. Follow our step-by-step guide below to get your brand in front of your most valuable leads.
1. Log into your Facebook Ads Manager account
If your organization doesn’t already have an account, it’s easy to get started. You’ll need a credit card in order to pay for boosted content and display ads.
2. Choose “Audiences” (under All Tools > Assets) from the hamburger menu at the top left of your screen
3. Click the blue Create Audience button and choose “Custom Audience”
Odds are, you’ll want to use the Customer File option for creating your custom audience. This will allow you to upload lead data from MailChimp or a saved spreadsheet. The new Engagement on Facebook option may also be a good choice for your custom audience, especially if your organization already has a good amount of active Facebook fans.
4. Import your leads’ data from MailChimp or a saved file
Saved file data must be in either .csv or .txt format. If you choose this option, be sure to read the recommended best practices for preparing your data so that the software can match your information to the proper data fields. You don’t need to include every bit of information about each lead, but make sure each entry at least includes a first and last name and an email address.
Please note: In order for Facebook to display your custom audience ad to your leads, the email addresses you enter must match the email addresses attached to those individuals’ Facebook accounts. Many people use a personal email to log in to Facebook, whereas the email address on their business card is more like to be a corporate one. If you plan to use leads’ information for Facebook targeting, consider asking those you meet at trade shows for a personal email address in addition to their work email.
5. Name your custom audience
Choose a name that will help you differentiate between this audience and other groups you may be targeting with Facebook ads. You might consider using the name and date of the trade show where you gathered these leads.
6. Return to Ads Manager by choosing “Ads Manager” (under All Tools > Create & Manage) from the hamburger menu at the top left of your screen
7. Click the “+ Create Campaign” button below your recent spending data
Choose your ad objective based on the type of conversion you want to target. The objectives options on Facebook have recently changed, but you can still choose whether you’d like to drive traffic to a website, generate Facebook Likes, encourage website conversions, etc. Think about the objective that this particular audience of leads is most likely to help you achieve.
8. Name Ad Set and choose Traffic, Placement, Budget, Schedule options as normal
The rest of your ad will be set up just like any other ad on Facebook. The only difference here is the way you’ll instruct Facebook how to find the right people to target.
9. In the Audiences section, click inside the “Custom Audiences” field and select the new audience you just created
Pay attention to the Audience Definition scale at the right of the screen once you’ve selected your custom audience. If your audience appears to be too specific, you may want to A) wait to create this ad until you’ve generated more leads or B) add to your audience by identifying additional demographics for Facebook to target—interests, locations, job titles, etc.
10. After adjusting the Ad Set to your liking, click “Continue” and choose ad creative on the following screen
Make sure your images and text are designed to speak to this particular audience (individuals who have seen your brand before and have already made contact with someone at your organization). Your image(s) and text must adhere to Facebook’s standard ad rules in order to be accepted.
11. Monitor your ad(s) and tweak as needed
Keep a close eye on your CTR (click-through rate) and the other metrics Facebook provides, as well as your website’s Google Analytics account, if the goal of your ad was to send traffic to your site or increase site-based conversions. Analytics will tell you just how much traffic has come in from Facebook and how much of that traffic has resulted in sales. You might also consider A/B testing two or more ads with slightly different creative, then increasing the budget or schedule for the ones that perform best.
The Facebook custom audience terms allow for email addresses that you’ve acquired on your own to be used in any type of ad you like. As long as you aren’t selling your email lists to other organizations for advertising purposes, or buying email lists from someone else for use in your own ads, targeting those who have freely given you their contact information is perfectly legal and above board. Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to get your custom audience ads going as soon as possible after your trade show has ended, when your brand is still fresh in your leads’ minds and they’re most likely to recall your interaction. There’s no better time than when you’re fresh off a show to get started!