9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Nail Facebook Automotive Marketing with Custom Audiences


Facebook auto marketing is a growing segment of auto dealers’ advertising budgets, and for good reason.

There are 1.49 billion monthly active Facebook users around the world, and the social network offers amazing targeting options to help you find car buyers.

Find Existing Leads on Facebook

You can use demographics, interests, buying behaviors, and other targeting options on Facebook to reach out to people who may or may not know about your dealership.

But if you use a custom audience for your Facebook auto marketing, you can target people who do know about your business. Maybe they bought a car from you or submitted an online form.

What if we told you that you could put a Facebook ad in front of someone who leased a car from you 35 months ago and has one month left on their lease? That's the kind of targeting you can get from building custom audiences.

Example Lists That Can Benefit Your Dealership

The possibilities of custom audiences are nearly endless. Here are a couple of example lists you could use to your advantage in Facebook auto marketing:

  • New car purchasers from 2011: A list of car owners who bought new in 2011 (who might be looking to upgrade to a newer model)
  • Used SUV viewers: A list of leads who have checked out a used SUV on your website within the past two weeks (who are likely in the market for a used SUV)

So instead of targeting your ads to a certain demographic that is interested in your type of product, you’re aiming at specific people who have interacted with your brand.

Ever seen those ads on your news feed from a company that has your email address? That’s not a coincidence.

3 Ways to Create a Custom Audience Using Lists

Here is a quick overview video from Facebook that will help you learn custom audiences. To create one, you can use three types of lists:

  1. Customers: This is the most straightforward method. Upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers to match customers on Facebook.
  2. Website traffic: Make a list of people who have visited your site.
  3. App activity: Create a list of people who have taken a specific action in your app or game.

How to Create a Custom Audience

1. Start with a Customer List

Start with a customer list, especially if you're somewhat new to Facebook auto marketing. You don’t need advanced software or analytics — just contact info. Because our marketing system uses email as a unique identifier, we use email addresses when building custom audiences.


To begin, log into your Facebook Ads Manager (if you don’t know how to build ads, read more about that here). Next, go to “Tools” at the top, then “Audiences.” Find the blue “Create Audience” button, and click the drop-down arrow to select “Custom Audience.”

Things are pretty simple from there. Once you click “Customer List,” you have several options for entering your information. Either upload a .CSV or .TXT file, or use the copy/paste option (or your MailChimp list, if you use that service).

2. Know the Restrictions

Your list will be matched against active Facebook profiles, and you’ll need at least 20 for your list to become a custom audience. Facebook will let you know if your list won’t work.

If you want insights generated from the campaign, your list must contain at least 1,000 active monthly users.

3. Create Your Ad

Now, create your ad as usual (preferably in Power Editor). When you get to the “Targeting” section, simply select your custom audience in the first drop-down by pushing “Browse.”


You’ll have to wait for your audience to get approved before you can select it for your ad. After you select your custom audience, you can choose further targeting if you would like. But using just the custom audience will ensure the ad (hopefully it's a carousel ad) is shown to this most highly targeted group.

Why Use Custom Audiences for Facebook Auto Marketing?

Depending on the size of your audience, you’ll probably see a much higher cost per click (CPC) for your custom audience ad than you would for a regularly targeted ad. But each click is very valuable.

While Facebook’s sophisticated targeting system hits the mark more often than not, there’s still a chance your non-custom audience ads will be shown to people who have absolutely zero interest in your company.

With a custom audience, you know your ad viewers have at least some interest in or connection to your product (unless they accidentally stumbled upon your website or mistakenly provided you with their email address).

Why Not Just Call or Email the Person?

You could simply call or email the customers on your custom audience list (and we strongly suggest maintaining those two types of communication as part of your marketing strategy).

That kind of outreach can be effective, but it can also annoy people. People like getting emails and calls — from their friends. A marketer is often not as welcome.


So why would people respond more favorably to a Facebook ad? Facebook is fun. It’s a place for cat videos and bird planes.

If Facebook users see your ad come through their news feed, they won’t necessarily click on it. Still, it’s probably not going to turn them off. Your ad is just one image of many that your customers will see on Facebook, where they are spending a lot of their time. You know where your customers are, which is half the battle. So why not reach out to them specifically? After all, automotive inbound marketing is about finding where your customers are interacting online and reaching out to them.

Times Have Changed

If you aren’t convinced of the value of custom audiences yet, here’s one more thought that might help.

Think about your circle of friends. Do you interact with them more by email or on Facebook? If you are an active Facebook user (and statistics say that most people are), you probably email a few close friends, but the vast majority of your interaction with people (other than face-to-face) is on Facebook.

You might see someone's status and make a comment, send them a personal message, or “like” their photos. If it weren't for Facebook, there's not a chance you would know that the casual acquaintance you last spoke to in high school 27 years ago has three kids and runs a flower shop. But she is a presence in your life.

Become a presence in the lives of your customers on Facebook.

Get Going!

Ready to supercharge your Facebook ad strategy? In a four-part webinar series, Scott Meyer of 9 Clouds will take a step-by-step approach to building Facebook ads that convert in 9 Clouds Live Season 1.