social media how toDo you have an email list?

Are you looking for creative ways to use Facebook ads?

With Facebook custom audiences, you can reach your email subscribers with relevant Facebook ads.

In this article I’ll share five ways to target your email subscribers with Facebook ads.

create facebook ads with email addresses

Discover how to create Facebook ads with emails.

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#1: Serve Ads to All Email Subscribers

Since it requires no email list segmentation, the best way to get started is to target all your email subscribers. Simply upload your entire email list right into Facebook as a custom audience.

The key is to create a unified message across different channels: email to Facebook to website.

Target this audience if you’re looking to reach your entire list to get the news out about a big event or a storewide sale, where the message is the same for everyone. Make sure your Facebook ad has a similar look and message or offer as your emails.

Amazon uses this tactic to remind customers about their Deal of the Day.

amazon facebook ad

Amazon Deal of the Day Facebook ads look similar to the emails they send.

The idea is to share engaging content, so your email audience will help spread your message by interacting with your ads, acting as brand ambassadors.

Since this audience is already familiar with your brand, analyze engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments) to measure the effectiveness of these ads. Their interaction validates how well the ad resonates with them, which results in a higher relevancy score, more social proof and free organic reach.

#2: Target Ad Delivery by Opens and Unopens

To employ these next few tactics, it’s important you are able to segment your email subscriber list into audiences for remarketing.

First, divide your email list into people who have opened your email and those who have not. Then, further segment the open list into those who did and did not take action.

Target Subscribers Who Opened Your Email

Create a Facebook ad that looks similar to the email you sent for those who only read your email. You want to get this audience to take action, so change up the messages with the ad. For instance, if the goal of the email was to get white paper downloads, then offer the same white paper in your Facebook ad, but write a message or ad copy that differs from your email.

If you’re an ecommerce store trying to get your customers to take advantage of a weekly 20%-off deal, show subscribers an ad that highlights the promotion and encourages them to take action.

Sierra Trading Post created a Facebook offer with the same deal as their email.

sierra trading post facebook ad

Sierra Trading Post made the same offer in a Facebook ad as they did via email.

With this custom audience, exclude people who have already purchased or downloaded an offer.

Target Subscribers Who Didn’t Open Your Email

For the subscribers who didn’t even open your email, wait a few days and then target them with a Facebook ad. Since they haven’t read the email, show them the same message. This helps your company stay in front of your audience.

#3: Segment Subscribers by Purchase

If you have an ecommerce website, a great way to increase the lifetime value of a customer is to cross-promote and/or upsell related products.

Amazon does this brilliantly. The website is always showing their shoppers similar products, bundled products or other products previous customers bought. Their goal is to get people to buy more products that are relevant to what they are viewing.

amazon suggested products

Amazon is constantly promoting multiple products to their customers.

Utilize Facebook carousel ads to highlight multiple products that provide additional value for previous customers. Show products that fit with items they’ve already purchased. So if they bought dog treats, then show them dog food or dog toys.

facebook carousel ads example

Use Facebook carousel ads to promote additional products to your customers.

Look for creative ways to divide your audience for the purpose of upselling or cross-promoting other products they would find useful.

Depending on your business goals, consider segmenting your customers by type of products, purchase amount, purchase date and frequency of purchases. Then target a carousel ad to each audience.

#4: Reach Out to Disengaged Audiences

Do you have a list of people who haven’t opened your emails in quite a while? Re-engage your audience with a good Facebook ad.

These people are disengaged for a reason. Perhaps they’re not receiving enough value from your emails, and choose not to open them.

Southwest Airlines used an ad to remind their Denver customers to book a flight.

southwest airlines facebook ad

Southwest used an ad to remind disengaged customers in Denver to book a flight.

Not everyone is going to stay a subscriber forever. However, you can still make an effort to reactivate subscribers and bring them back into your funnel.

Craft an ad with an exclusive deal, promo code, extended trial or free piece of content. Target this email segment every two to three months, depending on your list size. Remember, it’s more efficient and less expensive to keep your customers than it is to find new ones.

#5: Take Advantage of Lookalike Audiences

Maximize the potential of your previous customers by creating lookalike audiences to scale your advertising efforts by finding an audience that’s similar to previous purchasers.

Upload your previous purchasers emails into Facebook to create lists of people who are similar to that audience.

Think of ways to segment your audience, depending on what you want to advertise. It may make sense to segment by age, gender or product type. Then upload your email segments into Facebook as a custom audience.

facebook custom audiences size

Examples of custom audiences.

Based on your new custom audience, make a lookalike audience to target potential new customers. The custom audiences of around 80,000 email subscribers turned into lookalike audiences of more than 2 million.

facebook lookalike audiences size

These lookalike audiences are much larger than the custom audiences they’re created from.

While it is more expensive to find new customers than keep the ones you have, lookalike audiences can help lower that cost. In essence, Facebook helps you qualify potential customers with this functionality.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of ways to use Facebook custom audiences. Target Facebook ads to people who are already familiar with your brand, segment email lists to show highly relevant ads, cross-promote and upsell products to past purchasers, re-engage with audiences and use lookalike audiences to find new customers.

When you reach out to your email segments via Facebook ads, you increase visibility, engagement and the value you bring to your current and potential customers.

What do you think? Have you used Facebook ads in tandem with your email marketing? What tactics have worked best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

how to create facebook ads with emails

Tips for creating Facebook ads with emails.

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  • Dina Karam

    Very interesting blog. Thank you for sharing.

  • JD Prater

    Thanks Dina!

  • Interesting ideas. In terms of email, I personally feel that if you’re not reaching those people, if they’re not opening, chances are they’re already gone.

    We rely so much these days on gimmicks. What are they? Free eBooks, consultations, webinars, or other “useless” things that people get and forget.

    Why do you think industry averages for email open rates are an abysmal 3% or so? It’s because most people do not care one iota about the company they gave their email address to.

    I feel that companies that start to think about this will do better. Stop giving stuff away! It just doesn’t work anymore, and I’m not sure it ever did.

  • Albert Bos

    Hello JD, thanks for a good article with speaking examples. Some of my customers will be reluctant to share their customers email-list with Facebook. It is to sensitive or valuable to share in this way. However this method will be profitable for them. I have tot anticipate on safety first. Do you about the safety of this information with Facebook?

  • Megan Kellar

    I’ve never done this before but am def giving it a go! Thanks for the detailed post!

  • tobias

    Hi JD

    how do you make those icons below the FB advert like the word: GET OFFER

    do you have suggestions how to make these cartoonified graphics?

  • Laura Brassington

    I wonder if it is more to do with ad/email ad blindness?

    As you said it appears now a days we have to hand over our email address to get anything and I can’t be the only one who receives hundreds of unwanted emails every day (despite ticking or unticking any box I can possibly see which means they are allowed to contact me again.)

    I go in once a day and bulk delete them all – they don’t get read I don’t have time. I have to wonder how many other people do this?

    Add to that the fact gmail now sections off my emails for me (making it even easier to bulk delete) you have to wonder for how much longer mailing lists are going to have any value at all!

  • Laura, I’m amazed that someone else is able to see what is so obvious. At the same time, people like you and I should be worried – big sites like this don’t want us to realize that email lists are becoming as useless as a-holes on elbows. They are, however, because everyone is doing it.

    But if we took that attitude that they’re worthless, that might very well wipe out a whole financial quarter’s worth of possible blog articles.

    We couldn’t have that.

  • JD Prater

    Thanks Justin! Happy to hear that you’re seeing results.

  • JD Prater

    No problem Megan. It’s great you found some actionable next steps.

  • JD Prater

    Hi Tobias, the Get Offer button that you see is actually the CTA added by Facebook. It’s an objective that you can select when creating Facebook Ads called Offer Claims. For more more information on setting these up, see there website –

  • Greg I have to disagree with “Stop giving stuff away! It just doesn’t work anymore, and I’m not sure it ever did.”

    It works when the offers are tailored to real needs in the marketplace and expectations are clearly set for what the recipients will get.

    Maybe some of the tactics are worn out among marketers, but I don’t see that they are across all industries, not by a long shot.

  • I feel we get such low open and click-through rates exactly because we give things away.

    Industry averages are abysmal. I wish we’d talk about this more.

  • I can’t speak for others, but for me, I’m always seeing 30%+ open and 9%+ Click Rates with what I do and what I’ve done for clients. I think you are right in that they (conversion / results) can be better, but I am not ready to throw email out as the reason.

    As I can only speak for myself, what are you seeing in your business Greg?

  • I get about a 20% open rate and 5% click through usually. I think the conversion, or ultimate sale, is even lower.

    Back in school a 30% would not be something you’d want to take home to mom and dad. It’d be a big red ‘F’ and a visit with the teacher.

    We shouldn’t accept these numbers and the companies that can figure out how to overcome that will dominate their industries.

  • We’ll have to agree to disagree on 30% being good or not in today’s email environment.

    Email has the opportunity to be and is a significant profit source for me and so many other businesses, even at the abysmal rates of 30%+ each email.

    Good chat Greg… Good luck!

  • Very interesting article. I have not used Facebook ads, but thinking of doing that so this is something to remember.

  • JD Prater

    Thanks Catherine! Good luck on your ads!

  • Peter L Masters

    A very useful article, thanks for sharing.

  • Yep, 30% organic reach is outstanding compared to what you get from SM these days

  • Anyone who is getting 3% open rates is either:
    1. Not targeting the right prospects for their email DB.
    2. Not delivering the value proposition they promised those people in return for their emails
    3. Not segmenting their lists correctly
    Or all of the above!
    What alternative marketing channel would you suggest that can be more effective?
    SM where organic reach is effectively zero?
    Banners which no one even looks at (not too mention clicks) and which about half of all Internet users block outright by default?
    TV ads no one watched in the age of Netflix & Hulu?
    Maybe print ads?
    If you know of a more effective way than email to get eyeballs on your content and products, I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

  • Александр Родионов

    1) #3 – it’s not about email marketing. It’s quite another tool 2) The problem is what Facebook do with this list later. My subscribers are my own value. Do u wanna be one of the looklikes ? Do u wanna share with competitors?

  • Joanne Kaminski

    I am curious. If you tell Facebook who you want them to market to with your e-mail list, does it cost the same amount of money for clicks?

  • JD Prater

    Thanks for the feedback. I guess it really is up to you and how you want to use your email lists and Facebook.

  • JD Prater

    Joanne, excellent question. I’ve found that CPCs are really determined by the engagement around an ad. Generally, high engagement equals lower CPCS. That being said, if you’re targeting your email list then you should already have an engaged audience. The next step is getting them to engage. Hope that helps!

  • JD Prater

    Thanks Peter!