When you are trying to acquire new customers you may have different segments of the population you want to attract and convince to be your customers. You may separate them by their gender, ages, where they live, what they do, or simply people at different stages in their life. You know what message and value proposition is more likely to resonate with each segment. However, there is one segment of the population that won’t resonate with any of them, a group of people you shouldn’t reach  – your own customers.

First of all, it is literally wasting your money, they are already your clients. But the worst part is you are very likely to upset your own clients at the expense of trying to acquire new ones. Take a quick look at RBC’s (Royal Bank of Canada) customer acquisition campaign this summer, they were offering free Apple watches to get customers to switch and bank with them instead of their competitors. I don’t know what the results are, but I am willing to bet they gave away a lot of Apple watches.

Apple Watch acquisition promo

If we look at customer acquisition metrics, this was probably a very successful campaign, but at what cost? Showing current customers an amazing promotion they don’t have access to, because they are already customers is a straight ticket to having angry customers. If they are somewhat analytical, they would realize how much a customer is worth to the bank, and it has to be way over the cost of a brand new Apple watch if they are willing to give them away. This is telling current clients that new customers are more valuable than current ones. It can be especially upsetting to the ones that joined because of the brand (in this case the bank) and not for a promotion. They probably feel like they haven’t received such perks and their loyalty isn’t valued. This is specially a bigger issue on Social Media, where your customers have a voice. A big portion of the engagement RBC has seen on their ads is negative, there are hundreds of comments from current clients complaining and expressing their frustration.

RBC current customer comlpaint

In a traditional medium it would be very hard to be selective enough to prevent this from happening, but digitally you can exclude specific groups of people from seeing your ads. Depending on your business this can be extremely simple or be a bit challenging requiring some creative thinking. Here are the two easiest ways to do this for your Facebook Ads.

1. Create an audience with the Facebook pixel

The Facebook pixel can be one of your best friends when segmenting your target. It allows you to create custom audiences (groups of people) who perform specific actions on your site – from going to a specific page, watching a certain video, or clicking a button.

How can this be helpful in this case you may ask? Well, it fully depends on your website. If your customers log in to your website regularly, or if there are certain pages that only your customers get to see, you can then set those as parameters to create an audience. So anyone who does those specific things is qualified as current customers, and gets automatically placed in that audience.

Your website isn’t regularly visited by your customers? Get creative, offer them some sort of promotion or added value that they can only get on the website. You may not get every customer, but you would most likely get your most engaged ones.

2. Create an audience with your Email list

Your second option is probably easier to set up if you have been collecting information from your customers. (If you haven’t collected customer information, right now is the best time to start). Facebook allows you to create a custom audience based on your email list. The more information on your customers you can provide, the more accurate Facebook will find those users, which subsequently will make your audience more accurate.


Once you have created those audiences (By the way, if you can do both it is even better and more accurate), you can use them when defining your targets in your Ad Sets. Whether you want to exclude them from your customer acquisition campaign, or include them in a customer retention or upsell campaign is up to you.

43 thoughts on “Facebook Ads Customer Acquisition Targeting

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