Having a CRM database is one of the most important strategies that you as a brand or company can adopt. I’ve written about how important it is before, but given the shifting sands of digital platforms, if you’re not getting your prospects and clients into your own database, you risk staying at the mercy of platforms that will always want to charge you more to reach the fans that you’ve already accumulated.

Even if you were simply signing people up to an email newsletter, that’s a good place to start. You might think that not a lot of people are opening your emails, and you might be right about that depending on how much experience you have with CRM programs and email marketing in general. Email open rates can vary from 40% down to the single digits, so if you spend a large effort in getting people to sign up, to only be able to talk to some of those people, I can understand if you feel that your strategy might not be worth your time.

But a 25% open rate beats a 1 or 2% organic reach on Facebook any day, and email is one of the fundamentals that underpins the digital revolution: everyone has it and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Facebook provides another reason for getting people into your database – and this time it’s actually very positive. In Facebook Business Manager you can upload your database or segments of your database to match to Facebook and Instagram users to create custom audiences that you can choose how to talk to – or not talk to – for your upcoming social campaigns.

Why upload your database to Facebook?

Before I get into the details about how to do it (which is actually not that difficult if you know your way around Business Manager) the really important thing to take away is why should you actually do it, and how it can help you optimize your social media marketing efforts.

Traditional advertising campaigns on Facebook allow you to target based on interests, people who like your page and their friends, age ranges, and geographical zones. Despite all of the flack that Facebook gets for being loose with our data, enabling foreign entities to hijack elections, hiring PR firms to excise their critics, and polarizing communities around the world, it is still an very effective platform for advertising, and their ad revenue just keeps going up accordingly.

For marketers, Facebook’s ad optimization algorithm is very strong. It lets you upload different types of creative asset formats – everything from carrousels to Instagram stories – and then optimizes in real time depending on how well each asset performs against your conversion goals. If no one is clicking on your carrousel and everyone is clicking on your video, Facebook will shift the impressions to the video so you wont waste budget on a lower-performing asset.

Companies that have CRM databases are already leaps and bounds ahead of companies that don’t have these types of programs. A simple database might just have names and email addresses. An advanced database would have things like purchase history (last purchase made, which products, LTV) and product usage behavior (heavy user, lapsed user, gifter, etc) about each person.

Facebook now lets you upload your CRM database and matches it as best as it can against the users of the platform. If you are in a western nation, chances are that anyone who signed up to your CRM program probably has a Facebook or Instagram account.

There are numerous strategies that you can deploy using custom audiences depending on your marketing goals. The list is truly extensive of what you can do but to give you an idea:

  • You could upload your lapsed users (people who haven’t opened one of your emails) enticing them to come back and give your product a try again.
  • You could upload your power users and target them with a special offer just for them on your e-commerce site to further solidify brand loyalty.
  • You could upload your entire database and exclude them from a marketing campaign where you are trying to reach only new customers.
  • You could upload the prospects (people who haven’t bought from you yet) in your database and target them with an enticing offer, without worrying that you’re opening that offer to the general public.
  • You could upload the women/men/seniors/doctors/plumbers in your database and target them with specific types of creative assets.
  • Where it gets really cool is that you can also create look alike audiences based on the characteristics of your existing audience to find new people who would probably be the most responsive to your brand or product!

You get the idea. The huge advantage here is that if you are running acquisition campaigns, you are reducing the risk that you spend money showing people ads that already know about or bought from you. The other advantage is that not everyone opens emails, so targeting messaging to them on Facebook is a better way of making sure that they see your message.

When you use lookalike audiences, you are more selectively enlarging your scope without worrying as much about reaching people that are not as perceptive. Then, over time, as you build up more and more contacts, your social media marketing becomes more and more efficient which should help you bring down costs.

How to upload your custom audience to Facebook

When you are in your Business Manager and click on the Business Manager option in the top left of your screen. At the bottom of the menu you will see “All Tools.” When you put your mouse over it, you will see all of the tools that you can use. Click on Audiences.

all tools facebook business manager

On the next screen, click on Create a Custom Audience.

business manager how to tutorial

Facebook gives you 5 different options for creating a custom audience from different types of data sources. The first one is for uploading the database.

upload audience to synch with facebook

Then you have 3 different options to upload, the first being with a TXT or CSV (Excel) file, directly with MailChimp if you use them, and finally if you have sales data you can go even further with creating lookalikes.

upload excel file to facebook CRM

Then it’s just a matter of naming your audience and selecting how you want to work with it. You can share your audiences with your media agencies as well, and since they don’t have direct access to the contacts themselves, it’s 100% GDPR compliant.

Overall, this marks a big step towards a consolidated 360 digital ecosystem that complements each touch point which should help to lower your acquisition costs and help to be much more efficient with your marketing in general.

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