How to use Customer Files and Lookalike in Facebook to Target Audiences

How to use Customer Files and Lookalike in Facebook to Target Audiences

Have you heard the glowing reviews on the Facebook Custom Audiences feature and decided to get to work, only to become quickly confused by the entire setup? Or perhaps you got as far as the file upload step but got mixed up as to how to upload a .CSV (Comma Separated Values) file from your Customer Relation Management (CRM) software. No matter where you are in the process of creating your ad audiences, we’re here for you!

Upload Your Customer List to Facebook

First, export all of your customer data as a .CSV or .TXT file (if you’re exporting it as a .CSV, you will want to read a bit further down for formatting guidelines. Next, go to Facebook’s Ads Manager ( and click on the “Business Tools” menu in the top left. Click on “Audiences” (you can find it under “Shortcuts” or further down under the “Advertise” section). Click the blue button labeled “Create a Custom Audience”. Select “Customer List” as your source, and then “Use a File that doesn’t include LTV”. Under “Add your File,” select “Directly from customers”. 

Just a heads-up: the more data points there are to your customer data, the more likely it is that Facebook will match it to a Facebook user. The data facebook accepts are first and last names, email, phone number, zip code, city, state/providence, country, DOB, gender, and age. 

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.CSV-Specific Header Requirements

Uploading a .CSV likely won’t be possible unless you format it correctly. For the most part, this means changing column headers. Here are some examples of typical identifiers vs. the column header titles Facebook wants you to use:

Identifier Type

The column header Facebook wants you to use





Mobile Advertiser ID


Facebook App User ID


Facebook Page User ID


First Name


Last Name








Date of Birth


Year of Birth




Zip/Postal Code





There are other specific requirements for .CSV customer list formatting, which you can find at the Facebook business help center

Upload the .CSV or .TXT file containing the customer data you’ve exported and name your audience something you’ll be able to recognize (you can include the date as well if you want a point of reference on when your list was created). Click “Next,” and map your data to the appropriate Facebook identifier. Finally, click “Upload & Create.” Once you have a Custom Audience in the system, you can choose it when you create a new Campaign.

Create Lookalike Audiences

This is the fun part: once you have a “Custom Audience,” you can use it as the source of a Lookalike Audience. Lookalike audiences are a fantastic tool that allows you to reach more users that have similar behaviors and interests with very little work on your part. It helps you find like-minded people who will be more likely to see the value in what you have to offer. 

Select your audience location and size. You can create several Lookalike Audiences with varying degrees in similarity. It’s nearly impossible to create “too many” custom audiences since you can have up to 500 per ad account, so make as many as you want!

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Bonus Features

This all sounds pretty exciting, right? Well, I have one more piece of information for you that just might put it over the top: automatic Custom Audience updates. See, Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature usually needs to be manually updated any time your customer list grows - not terribly convenient for you. However, Zapier offers a service that enables you to automatically add email addresses to your Custom Audience whenever it’s added to your list. You can add people from email marketing lists, form submissions, support tickets, online sales, and CRM contacts with ease! If you’re interested in such a service, you can find more information here.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? In just a short time you can get started creating your own custom audiences and lookalike audiences on Facebook. Targeted marketing and finding new customers have never been simpler!

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