There was a time when Facebook pixels were the key to advertising on Facebook. Once you added the pixel to your pages, you’d be able to share information with Facebook about the people visiting your site, then reconnect with them later as a custom retargeting audience.

It’s a system we’ve all grown accustomed to — but things have changed.

Since Apple’s iOS 14.5 release in 2021, Facebook pixels can’t always see who’s visiting your pages anymore. As a result, Facebook can’t build audiences like it used to.

Apple’s changes may mess with Facebook’s tracking and targeting — but if you’re an Ontraport user, you’re ahead of the curve. Between our integrations with Facebook custom audiences and Facebook’s Conversions API, you can retarget for any conversions documented in your account, even if Facebook can’t track them, and even if they didn’t happen online.

For example, you can notify Facebook whenever a sales rep marks a lead as qualified in Ontraport, you make a sale offline, or a customer makes a new subscription payment.

Plus, you can still capture details about your page visitors with Ontraport’s built-in tracking and use that data to retarget them on Facebook — even if you can’t rely on pixels anymore.

You’ll be able to create all kinds of Facebook custom audiences for a precise, personalized retargeting strategy. Here are four audiences you can create to get you started.

Audience 1: Contacts who have opted in to any of your top-funnel channels

The first list you should create is made up of everyone who has opted in to any of your top-of-funnel channels — for example, signing up for your newsletter or opting in for a lead magnet. You can use this “Opt-ins” custom audience to do a few important things:

First, an opt-in audience is great for moving your new leads through the next steps of your funnel. After contacts opt in, nudge them to sign up for a free trial, sample or demo (or whatever your next step is!) with a Facebook ad campaign. Just select your “Opt-ins” custom audience when creating the campaign, and only the people on your list will see these ads encouraging them to take their next step.

Second, you’d be missing out if you didn’t use your opt-ins to create a lookalike audience. This means you’ll use your “Opt-ins” list to find and target more people with similar interests — a strategy that gets you more high-quality leads and, in turn, lowers your cost per conversion.

Finally, you can remove existing leads from your cold advertising efforts so you’re not wasting ad dollars by showing ads to people who’ve already opted in. This is easy to adjust in your targeting options on Facebook. Simply exclude your “Opt-ins” audience from any of your cold advertising campaigns.

To set up your “Opt-ins” audience, you’ll need to create a simple automation in Ontraport like the one below. Then Ontraport will automatically add people to your Facebook custom audience labeled “Opt-ins” when their contact is first added to your account, when they submit a form to share their email for the first time, when they’re tagged as an opt-in, or anything else that may indicate a new contact. If you want to adjust or update these settings over time, you can do it all within this single automation.

Audience 2: Leads who express interest in specific categories

Once you have a custom audience for people who opt in at the top of your funnel, you can segment those new leads into smaller audiences based on the specific content they opted in for.

This makes it easier to move contacts through your funnel in less time, since they’ll get more frequent interaction with your brand and product. It’s also a great way to get more personal in your messaging, since you’ll already know a little bit about each lead based on what made them share their email address with you.

For example, say you’re a marketing consultant who offers two different lead magnets in exchange for new email addresses. Maybe one of them is a guide on how to build a successful membership site, and the other is an ebook about how to analyze marketing campaign data. In this case, you’d create two Facebook custom audiences: one for the leads who opted in for your membership site guide and one for those who opted in for the marketing data ebook. You’d be able to retarget leads in each audience with ads that reflect those interests. This is just one way to do it; don’t be afraid to play around with different segmentation strategies until you find one that clicks.

Just like the “Opt-in” audience, you can set this up with a single automation. Simply add triggers that coincide with your audience’s varying interests, then link them to the appropriate Facebook custom audiences. So for the example above, you’d add one trigger for people who fill out the opt-in form for the membership site guide plus a second trigger for the marketing data ebook. You’d end up with two audiences: one for membership interest and one for marketing data interest.

There’s one important thing to keep in mind for these retargeting messages: your CTA. The whole point of creating this audience is to move new leads into the next step of your funnel, so make sure your CTA is pointing them in the right direction.

For instance, you might offer a free membership strategy session to those who opted in to your membership site guide, while promoting your marketing analytics services to everyone who opted in to the marketing data ebook. You’ll seamlessly guide them one step closer to a purchase — which is where our next audience comes in handy.

Audience 3: Opportunities who are qualified to buy

So far, you’ve got a general audience for anyone who opted in at the top of your funnel and some specific audiences for those who opted in through certain interests. Now, you can create a Facebook custom audience for prospects further down the funnel: leads who are just about ready to make a purchase (also known as qualified leads or opportunities).

Contacts are ready to join this audience when they’ve shown some kind of serious interest in your product or service. This can come in a few different forms, depending on your business. For SaaS products, you might drop contacts into this audience after they sign up for a demo or free trial. If you’re a consultant, you could add leads after they’ve scheduled a free consultation with you. Even something as simple as visiting your pricing page can indicate that a lead is getting ready to buy.

When people show this kind of serious interest, you won’t want to leave their decision to chance. It’s the perfect time to encourage them toward a purchase — because you know they’re already thinking about it.

So for your “Opportunities” custom audience, you’ll want to really start honing in on the sale. Use CTAs that drive people toward a purchase and make your messaging highly sales-focused. This isn’t the time to beat around the bush; these leads have seen what your business can do, and they’re just a few steps away from buying.

It used to be that you could create these custom audiences just by adding a Facebook pixel to your pricing page or the thank you page for your demo request… and you still can. But because third party cookies are on the way out, Facebook’s losing track of too many people now. Fortunately, Ontraport’s tracking is based on first party cookies, and that means you still know who’s who and can build these audiences using the custom audiences feature.

This is even easier to set up in Ontraport than the first two audiences — you can simply add a few new triggers to the automation you create for Audience 2 above. These triggers will really depend on your business and customers, since there are so many ways to indicate that a lead is ready to buy. You might use page visits, form fill-outs, email clicks or something completely different to add people to this audience.

Audience 4: Active customers

Eventually, some of your leads will make a purchase. Nice! When that happens, add them to a new Facebook custom audience for your existing customers. At the same time, you’ll want to remove these new customers from all your previous custom audiences designed for leads to exclude them from irrelevant marketing.

You’ll be able to use this audience to keep your customers engaged and offer upsells. You can also create a lookalike audience based on this group to find more leads who are similar to your customers and improve the performance of your cold campaigns.

The way you structure these audiences will depend on your business model. Here are some popular examples:

Customer audiences for subscription-based businesses

If you sell a subscription product, such as a digital membership, use automation to keep an up-to-date audience of all your active subscribers. You can use it to show ads encouraging subscription reactivations, subscription level upgrades, or engagement on your membership site.

To create this audience, add a new trigger to the same automation you’ve been using for Audiences 2 and 3. When someone starts paying for a new subscription, they’ll be removed from any previous “Opt-in” or “Opportunities” audiences and added to your “Active Customers” custom audience.

To be sure that the audience stays accurate over time, you’ll also want to add a trigger to remove cancelled subscribers from your “Active Customers” list. (Pro tip: Add those cancelled customers to their own custom audience to occasionally retarget them with a re-engagement campaign).

Customer audiences for ecommerce businesses

If you have an ecommerce business with multiple products or services, try splitting your custom audiences into categories so you can target customers with related products or upsells.

For example, if customers previously bought shoes from you, you might retarget them with ads for similar shoes or shoe polish. To do this, you would set up an element to your post-purchase automation to add contacts who purchased shoes to your “Customer: Shoes” Facebook custom audience.

With these four types of audiences, you can use Facebook custom audiences to earn more leads and sales, retain customers for longer, and even boost your revenue by upselling and cross-selling.

Note for Ontraport users: As of 2021, Facebook changed the way contacts are added to custom audiences. You can no longer add someone to a custom audience unless you made that audience yourself via Ontraport’s Facebook custom audiences feature — so we’ve released a new feature that allows you to do just that. You can find more information about how to set up Facebook custom audiences with Ontraport and details about what changed with the latest Facebook updates here.

About Cassidy Brown

Cassidy first came to Ontraport as a bright-eyed marketing intern — and never left. Since then, she’s earned degrees in Communication and Professional Writing at UCSB and written for a variety of magazines, newspapers and online publications. She was happy to join Ontraport’s Marketing team full-time to follow her passion of supporting small businesses.

When she isn’t in writing mode, you can find Cassidy exploring local trails with her dog, learning Billy Joel songs on the piano or telling people how many pages are left in whatever oversized book she’s reading.