Facebook’s value as a link between businesses and consumers is increasing. The social media giant unveiled a new option on Sept. 21 that makes it easier than ever for businesses to stay connected with consumers who have a demonstrated interest in their product or service.

The new feature gives businesses the ability to build custom audiences from offline data. Facebook tested the option with select businesses before rolling it out.

Building custom audiences is an effective way to serve ads through Facebook to people whom already know your business. Custom Audiences is not a new feature, but had been limited to consumers who had some sort of online interactions with your brand. Facebook is now connecting the dots between your business’ ads and in-store sales with custom audiences for offline conversions.

Ecommerce sales account for about one-tenth of total retail sales worldwide, meaning there was a huge opportunity to stay connected with your consumers being lost. Facebook’s new feature helps take advantage of that opportunity.

By uploading your data to Facebook through your POS systems, phone records or connecting with Facebook Offline Conversions API, you are able to serve ads to existing customers and/or those who have previously engaged with your Facebook Business page, encouraging a higher engagement rate.

The ability to bridge the gap between digital marketing and brick-and-mortar conversions allows you to re-engage customers who have purchased offline in the past or interacted with the brand over the phone and with ads through the Facebook platform.

You can also get a more accurate ROI because you are able to determine how successful your digital campaign is both on and offline, based on your campaign objective. The ability to create lookalike audiences also allows you to expand your online audience.

In a recent blog post, Joe Lazauskas of The Content Strategist sums up Facebook’s value to marketers this way:

“All of the user data Facebook collects makes it arguably the most powerful ad platform the world has known,” Lazauskas writes. “You can reach granular audiences at scale in a way that’s never been possible before.”

Technological advancement, however, does come with its gray areas. Remember when Target made headlines for sending baby coupons to a pregnant teen before her father knew the news? Facebook says it is mindful that the data you collect can potentially scare off consumers, and is allowing users to “manage the custom audiences and interest groups that influence the ads they see on Facebook” through Ad Preferences.

There may some misses along the way, but the mass release of this new feature is another example of Facebook’s power and is leaving marketers eagerly waiting for what is next.

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