The 7 Most Profitable Meta Custom Audiences for Events

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As an event director, you know that Facebook and Instagram ads are a powerful tool to promote your event and attract attendees. However, it can be challenging to get the results you want, especially if you’re not using the right targeting strategies.

Have you tried Meta custom audiences but found they didn’t perform as well as you hoped?

We’re here to help! In this article, we’re going to share our top seven custom audiences that have consistently delivered the best return on ad spend for events. By using these strategies, you can optimize your advertising spend and get the most out of your meta advertising campaigns.

But wait, what are Meta custom audiences and why use them?

Within the Meta Ad platform, you can create custom audiences of people that are more likely to attend your event based upon a previous action they took.

For example, say you want to create an audience of people that purchased your event ticket last year but haven’t yet purchased this year. 


You want to build a list of people over time that visited your event website, but haven’t yet bought a ticket. 

With the Meta custom audiences tool you can create these lists in just minutes! (and much more)

Why else should we use them?

Meta custom audiences have proven to vastly improve:

  • Our return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Our ability to reach our warmest leads
  • Our conversion rate

Over the last 6 years, I have managed hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising budgets for various events using the Meta ad platform. Through both my successes and setbacks, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that I believe will be of great value to anyone looking to improve their Meta ads. 

What I’ve identified in this time is a group of custom audiences within Meta that consistently perform, regardless the event type. I now use these as my ‘pillar’ audeinces when managing Meta ads for any event.

I’d like to share those audiences with you today so you can leverage them to grow your event.

*While this list happens to be the most profitable for me and the event partners I represent, it might not be the best for your specific event(s). Create and test these out for yourself before you make large financial investments. It’s important to use your own marketing data in combination with others to ultimately help guide your decisions. 


1. Your Email List of all historical past attendees

Audience Temperature: HOT🔥

What is audience temperature?

It’s and indication as to where the customer is in their buying journey and how likely they are to buy from you at that moment in time. Think of the term hot and cold leads…

A hot lead, or in this case a hot audience would be a group of previous customers that have already shown a high level of interest in your product in the past. They’re aware of what you sell, they already know, like and trust you – therefore they’re more likely to buy from you. In contrast, a cold audience would be a group of people that’ve never heard of your product before.

We want to work with as many warm and hot audiences as we can because they will always prove to be more profitable over cold ones.


What exactly is this audience?

You upload your email list into Meta and Meta will match the people on your list with their facebook account. This will allow you to create an advertising campaign that targets your most engaged and hot leads.


Why is this audience the #1 most profitable?

Your email list is comprised of people that already know, like and trust your brand. They’ve already purchased from you before so as a result, they’re more likely to buy from you again.

This audience will require less marketing attempts to deliver a sale, which makes them the perfect audience to include in nearly all of your campaigns.

Why create this audience if I already have their email address? Wouldn’t I just email them?

Not everyone on your email list is seeing your emails… In fact, hubspot reports that just 24% of sales email are opened. Think about your average open rate and realize that more than half of your list might not be seeing your message.

Additionally, the online marketing institute records that it takes 7 – 10 touch points to get an action or a sale.

This custom audience helps us solve both problems by showing our ad to more of our email list while also increasing the touch points with the customer.

How to create this custom audience:

Go to Audiences in Meta Ads Manager. Then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.

Then select Add customer from your own file or copy and paste data.

In the add customer list section, drag and drop your customer file into the file area and title your audience appropriately (Something like: ‘Email List – 2018 Event’)

Below is an example of the data and column titles that Meta prefers. Once again, just download this file here and replace the data with your own data. 


Growth Tip: 📈

Before you upload your email list, make sure that the .csv or .txt file you upload has the correct data and formatting that Meta requires. You can download a template file from Meta here so that your column titles match what Meta is looking for. The more complete your datafile the better the match rate you’ll receive when you upload your list. 


2. Your recent website visitors

Audience Temperature: WARM/HOT🔥

Just like the last audience, this audience is comprised of people that have visited your website but haven’t decided to buy from you yet. I suggest when you create this audience you choose to build it upon people that visited your website in the last 100 days.  


Why is this audience so profitable?

1. Lead Temperature: This lead has taken action to go to your website which means they’re already more aware as to who you are, what you sell and what’s in it for them.

If we were to look at the customer journey chart below we would see that at the very top, a customer is simply looking become aware of our solution. As they move down the customer journey they get closer to buying our product.

This audience is past the point of awareness and probably between the engagement and purchase step in their customer journey. This qualifies them as a warmer lead.

2. Retargeting: We can retarget all of the people that came to our website, but didn’t buy from us. (The amount of people that don’t buy might be higher than you think)

According to Wordstream, average conversion rates for websites across all industries is 2.35%. That means 97.65% of our website visitors are not buying a damn thing from us… What a shame!

Instead of kissing that 97% of people goodbye, wouldn’t it be great to continue the conversation with them and ultimately drive them to purchase a ticket?

Well, now we can! This Meta custom audience allows us to build a list of those 97.65% of people that didn’t buy from us and retarget them with ads.

Retargeting is effective. (Even post iOS update)

Retargeted audiences have been shown to be 70% more likely to convert to a sale (according to Ticketfly.) I couldn’t agree more. For our agency, it’s safe to say that retargeting is one of the most profitable online advertising activities we perform.

How to create this custom audience:

  • Go to Audiences in Meta Ads Manager. Then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.
  • Next, select Website Traffic as the audience option.
  • Next, select Website Traffic as the audience option.
  • Make sure under the pixel area you have your correct pixel selected and showing as green, not red.

Select how many days you’d like the audience cover. Lastly, title your audience. I recommend at least 100 days.

3. People who have viewed your checkout page, but didn’t purchase

Audience Temperature: HOT🔥

Meta allows us to create an audience of everyone has gotten to the last page of the buying process ( they’ve added their credit card to the form page) but did not purchase. 

If we visually break this down to a sales funnel, it would look like this:

I call this audience the 1 yard line audience because they are so close getting into the end zone, aka buying a ticket – but for whatever reason they didn’t finish the process. 

Why is it one of the most profitable audiences?

Think about it, your customer walked into the store, grabbed an item of clothing, got to the cash register and pulled out their money… But for some reason they didn’t buy anything.

Maybe they were distracted or perhaps just window shopping. Whatever it may be, we can explicitly say that their actions certainly qualify them as a lead that’s clearly ready to buy. 

Growth Tip: 📈

At first this audience might be so small (500 or less) which might limit how effective your ads will be. Be patient, as this audience will take time to build but will prove to be worth the wait. Over the course of a few months you’ll start to get more and more people that need a little nudge across the 1 yard line, and it won’t take much to get them across. Once you get this audience created, build a Meta Conversions campaign targeting this audience specifically and continue to run it daily. 

How to create this audience:

Take the same steps as the previous audience until the last step. In the last step, include people who ‘initiated checkout’ in the last XYZ days.


4. 10 Second Video Views on your Meta videos

Audience Temperature: WARM

This audience is made up of people that have watched at least 10 seconds of your videos uploaded to your Facebook event page. If you use video on your event Facebook page (and we recommend you do!) then this can be a highly engaged and profitable Meta custom audience for you.

Why is it profitable?

We know people are more engaged with video versus photos on facebook. In fact, report that video receives a whopping 135% greater organic reach over photos.

Therefore, when we post a video we are naturally reaching more customers and ultimately putting our ads in front of more eyeballs. 

Meta gives us the ability to create an audience of people that have watched 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 25%, 50%, 75% or 90% percent of your our facebook videos. 

We’ve tested and found the sweet spot to be the 10 second viewing audience

Create this audience and then begin to upload more videos to Meta. Both your paid advertising videos and your videos uploaded to your facebook page will build this audience up to the point that they become a consistent performer when it comes to targeting.

How to create this audience:

  • Go to Audiences in Meta Ads Manager. Then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu. 
  • Then select Engagement as the audience option
  • Then select Video as the next option
  • Lastly, choose which videos you want to be a part of this audience along with the duration of time. Name your audience and you’re all set! 


5. People engaged with your Facebook or Instagram page

Audience Temperature: WARM

This is an audience of people that are highly engaged with your Facebook and or Instagram Page over a period of time. 

Why is it profitable?

As you actively promote your Facebook content with updates and event information, you can target potential new customers that are showing a high interest in your content on your Facebook page.

How to create this audience:

  • Go to Audiences in Facebook Ads Manager. Then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu. 
  • Select Engagement
  • Select Facebook Page
  • Select your Facebook page and how many days you’d like track for.


6. Lookalike audience created from your email list

Audience Temperature: COLD

But first, what is a Facebook lookalike audience?

A Facebook lookalike audience contains potential customers that share the same interests and characteristics of your ideal target customer.

You’re able to take your most profitable audience (say your email list) and then create a lookalike audience based off that list.

Facebook will find thousands of potential customers that fit your customer profile and add them to a list for you. 

This specific lookalike audience I’m referring to in our list is built with people that resemble the same interests and characteristics of the people that are on your email list.

Why is it profitable?

1. Matching Interests:

If your email list is your most profitable audience, creating a email list lookalike audience ensures that your new lookalike audience will best resemble your target customer. A more relevant audience of people equals higher return on ad spend. Cha – ching!

2. Size:

When you create a lookalike audience you’ll notice that Facebook can create audiences anywhere from a few thousands to up to millions of people. This provides you a new opportunity to connect your event with a massive group of people.

3. Retargeting opportunity:

Since Lookalike audiences can range in the millions, even if you don’t get a conversion on the first campaign you’re now able to retarget all of those people and continue to nurture them down your sales funnel.

Growth Tip: 📈

Start by creating lookalike audiences based off your most profitable audiences first. If your top three performing audiences are your email list, your website traffic and Facebook page engagement, then create 3 lookalike audiences based off those three before you move on to create more. 

How to create this audience:

  • Go to Audiences in Facebook Ads Manager. Then click Create Audience and select Lookalike Audience from the drop-down menu.
  • Under source, add the audience that you’d like to create a lookalike audience from. Then select the audience location and size. We recommend starting with 1% and moving from there.


7. Custom Interest Based Audience

Audience Temperature: COLDish

This is a custom interest based audience based off interests that represent your attendee profile. In this case we’re creating an interest based audience with the below parameters that match our example Marathon. 

Detailed targeting interests: Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, Running, Hoka

Age: 18-65

Gender: All

Location: United States: Anaheim (+50 mi), Laguna Hills (+50 mi), Los Angeles (+50 mi) California

Placements: Advantage Plus

How to create this audience? 

This type of audience is actually created during the ad creation process. You’ll setup an ad set, and then plug in your interest targeting from above. Once you have your audience setup, scroll to the bottom and you’ll be able to save this audience for future use. 


Growth Tip: Audience Exclusions 📈

When creating Meta ad campaigns with these audiences, you’ll want to make sure your ads don’t get shown to people that have already purchased a ticket this year. You can do this by first creating a custom audience of people that have already registered for your event this year. Then, when creating a campaign, exclude that audience from seeing that campaign. This will ensure that your current years registrants don’t see your ads for an event they’re already registered for.



There you have it! Those are our top 7 most profitable facebook custom audiences for events. 

Remember, it’s never too late to get started with creating Meta custom audiences. 

Focus on creating one audience at a time and use this list as a guide. Start at the top of the list and move your way down until you’ve covered all the most profitable audiences first. 

Is there a custom Facebook audience not listed here that you’ve found to be very profitable? What challenges are you facing with Facebook custom audiences?

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