Should You Exclude Current And Past Customers From Your Facebook and Instagram Ads?

As you likely know, we are right in the middle of the whole black Friday, small business Saturday, cyber Monday sale madness at the moment. 

I talked in last week’s Profitable Play Podcast episodes about sales I recommend business owners take advantage of for themselves and their businesses and also gave some unique ideas for sales that have been successful for my indoor playground in the past. 

But in this article (and in this episode if you prefer to listen!), I want to address something that came up this past weekend as I was chatting with a few Play Maker Society members about their sales.

Naturally, when a business has a big sale– they want to spread the word about it to as many local families as possible. Yes, many indoor playgrounds and similar businesses opt to only send out the deal details to their email lists or some exclusive group that they have (and may even use these sales as a list building activity which I LOVE)– but some want to include as many potential customers as possible, including those brand new to their play cafe businesses.

And when we talk about getting the word out, the conversation often naturally gravitates to paid advertising opportunities. And this conversation in particular was about Facebook and Instagram ads for their indoor playgrounds.

The owner I was speaking to asked me if it would be smart or save her any money if she excluded any current customers from her ads promoting her black friday and small business saturday specials.

Technically speaking, what I mean by excluding customers, is actually uploading a customer list at the ad set level of Facebook/ Meta Ads Manager to say, “OK, when showing this ad, please exclude THESE specific people.” 

And by the way, keep in mind- this is not a perfect practice. If someone purchased an offer with a different email address they use for Facebook or instagram and fits other targeting criteria, or if someone shares an ad– which they can as ads are public posts even when targeted– even those on the excluded list may be able to see the ad. So throughout this episode, remember–  this is NOT a perfect practice but it can save money and headaches when done strategically.

And to be honest, my answer to this question really depends on the situation, and it may surprise you.

The first situation is likely the least common so we will get that out of the way. And that situation is when you are giving a deep discount on something that is only available 1-2 times a year, like a black friday, small business Saturday, or cyber Monday sale. 

Because of these more extreme discounts, I do exclude some current customers if I am able– again, depending on what the offer is.

If my sale is on packs of play passes- I include everyone including those who already have purchased, because they clearly have shown an interest, CAN benefit from more passes, and may even be most likely to buy.

However, if I have a sale on memberships and I am not allowing those already enrolled to take advantage, I do my best to exclude them to avoid any confusion. However, if I am marketing my sales properly, they will likely hear about it anyway. In this scenario, I take extending the offer on a case-by-case basis. I never extend any discounts to previously enrolled members, but I might offer them a bonus that I might be including with my sale as a show of appreciation, only when asked and only if the benefit of keeping this member happy and enrolled outweighs the cost of the bonus to me.

So if I am giving a pretty deep discount, I will do my best to hide the ad from current members or customers who have that offer in that situation.

Now there are a TON of more nuanced situations when it comes to ad targeting and being strategic with your warm vs. cold targeting which I have addressed in previous episodes and detail in depth in my ads course - however, 9 times out of 10 my opinion on this is usually the opposite. I do NOT like to hide ads from my current customers.

So for example, if I’m running an ad promoting my memberships, I do not exclude my current members in the targeting. If I am running a party ad, I do not exclude previous clients in an attempt to save money.

Why? Well, even a booked & busy facility still only has maybe 1,000 current member and party clients at any given time. In my experience, showing your ad to 1,000 extra people will only cost you, on average and depending on your ads objective, $10. And by the way, this is called CPM or cost per 1,000 impressions. 

Because as a refresher, Facebook and Instagram ads charge you based on impressions. Many people incorrectly assume that they charge when someone clicks or engages– because they often report ad results in terms of cost per click, cost per video video, or cost per lead. However, this is just a reporting standard. If 10,000 view your ad and don’t take any action or click or view or fill out your lead form– you’re still getting charged, my friend.

So, if you listen to my podcast you likely already know that I really try to make all of my decisions data driven. And when making a choice like this, I do a cost benefit analysis.

What I have found is that when I INCLUDE current and past clients in my ad targeting– they are not necessarily most likely to purchase or book- (though past party clients DID love to book us again and again)-- but they WERE always the quickest to engage with the ad itself and comment or leave a heart– which not only boosts the ads performance because it signals to facebook or instagram that the content is engaging, it also gives social proof to the ad which may help NEW customers convert more readily. 

Our eyes and brains are so trained to tune out advertising, that this type of social proof can be SO powerful on social media. Because you can’t fake that type of interaction with an ad– unless of course you get your friends or family to comment on it .

 But generally people tend to trust these comments. And if they are scrolling through instagram looking at everyone’s family holiday photos and sees a party venue– and they see a TON of positive comments under the ad like, “we had my daughters party here, it was amazing!” or “they decorated for my sons party and it so far exceeded our expectations”-- that person scrolling is much more likely to become interested and click through to learn more. They are going to be much less wary of the ad if they see real life social profiles commenting, giving that advertiser– in this case YOU– more credibility.

And if you get any negative comments? You can simply hide them – which i recommend doing as I talk about in episode 32 of my Profitable Play Podcast.

But long story short– when you look at the cost benefit analysis– paying an extra $10 or so dollars per 1,000 impressions is SO worth it and WILL very likely give a positive ROI if you get even ONE more booking or purchase as a result of all the likes and comments you will generate on the ad by including past clients and current customers. 

So think about that next time you are setting your ad up– and if you want to dive REALLY deep into facebook and instagram and even google ads-  you can learn everything you need to know about staying booked and busy all while spending LESS time, money, and energy on advertising when you enroll in my Book More Birthdays with ads course today!

I will see you on the inside.



50% Complete

Can I Send You My NEW Free 2023 "What's Working In The Indoor Play Industry" Guide?

I asked 7 Play Cafe Academy and Play Maker Society members what is working RIGHT NOW in their businesses to attract customers and grow sales. I want to send you their answers in my FREE newly updated 2023 "What's Working" Guide!