It should come as no surprise that digital marketing is ever-changing. In times like these, when social media reigns supreme and trends are rapidly evolving, it makes sense that good marketers constantly seek ways to evolve in terms of tools, techniques, and strategy. Although digital marketing trends rarely remain stagnant, there is one particular tool that continues to be popular across industries: the lookalike audience.
Whether you’re brand new to marketing or have been in the game for years, there are plenty of options for you to explore around lookalikes. New marketers may be wondering what a lookalike audience is and how it can help them reach a previously untapped audience; seasoned pros might feel like they’ve exhausted their options and need a new way to move the needle with their lookalikes.
Luckily, today’s ad platforms have made it easier than ever to mimic audiences and target them efficiently and effectively. And there are even more solutions, like predictive audiences built with enhanced first-party data and AI, that can take campaigns to a whole new level. Let's dive into the world of Facebook lookalikes in particular, since Facebook remains one of the most commonly used platforms in the digital advertising space.
We'll start with the basics—if this is old news to you, feel free to scroll down for more sophisticated tactics beyond traditional lookalikes.
Lookalike audiences allow Facebook marketers to target users that have similar interests to those of their current customer base. If you’ve had significant success advertising to a core group of current customers on Facebook’s ad platform, you may now be eager to find more users that share demographics or behaviors with those found in this core group. This is where lookalike audiences come in.
There are a variety of components you can use to build a lookalike audience, from similar demographics—such as age, location, and interests—to certain psychographics that influence buyer attitude. Lookalikes based on these criteria can prove extremely valuable when it comes to an ad campaign’s success because you already have a good sense of what's most likely to appeal to these potential new customers.
Creating a lookalike audience is a fairly simple process so long as you have access to the right tools. A Facebook ads account and administrator permissions, for example, are necessary to get started. You will also need to determine whether you need to install a Facebook pixel on your website. The pixel is a simple way to identify audiences that are interested enough in your product or service to visit your site.
To set up a lookalike audience on Facebook, follow these steps:
- Head to your Facebook Ads account and click on Audiences
- Find the Create Audience dropdown menu and select Lookalike Audience
- Select a seed list of users, such as a Custom Audience built from 1,000 of your best customers
- Select the country or countries you’d like to target
- Choose the size of your audience
- Select Create Audience
There are several benefits associated with implementing lookalike audiences in your digital marketing campaigns, which is why this remains such a popular method for reaching new audiences on Facebook and other platforms as well.
Optimized campaigns call for analytics and tracking. Lookalike audiences on Facebook make this process quite easy. With lookalike audiences, you can monitor progress and cost, evaluate the road to conversion, and adjust your campaign as needed.
One of the most frustrating parts about advertising is not really knowing whether your investment will pay off. Sending advertisements to the wrong audience costs time, money, and frustration. Creating lookalike audiences is one way to increase the likelihood that real prospects will see your ad, all without wasting resources on users who may have very little interest in your product or service.
Keep in mind that lookalike audiences are particularly useful if you are already working with a strong customer base, since you can upload a list of customers that you know are valuable in order for Facebook to surface more people like them.
Lookalike audiences allow for impressive customizations that make targeting audiences more efficient than ever. This is because customizations allow you to adjust everything from goals to budget and even the percent of the population that you target with your lookalike. On that latter point, our recommendation is to keep the percentage low. This allows Facebook’s algorithm to hone in on a narrow group of people that most closely resemble your seed audience, which can produce higher cost-person-conversion and clickthrough rates.
To take it a step further, you might even consider using a lookalike audience builder to gain access to additional customizations beyond that of the Facebook platform. At Faraday, those customizations include enhancing your first-party data with responsibly sourced consumer data to help you more effectively understand and segment your audience, as well as building custom lookalike audiences that can be used beyond Facebook.
Relevant, effective ads cost less than those that don’t connect with your audience, but you don’t want to spend time and resources on creating lookalikes just because you can. Incorporating lookalike audiences into your ad campaign must be strategic to elevate your product or service.
To that effect, you'll still need to hone your copy, creative, and CTA to determine what resonates most with your audience. Since lookalike audiences are generally used to expand your brand reach and identify potential new customers, they work best for top-of-funnel campaigns. Consider A/B testing your ads to better understand this new audience and keep moving them through the buyer's journey.
There’s no denying that lookalike audiences are a powerful tool for brands. However, there are a few key caveats marketers should be aware of, and additional solutions that may work even better depending on your circumstances.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that Facebook is able to build powerful lookalikes because it identifies patterns in user data that it collects from third-party cookies. With cookies due to be phased out over the next few years, Facebook’s lookalike capabilities are likely to grow far more limited.
Additionally, Facebook’s lookalike audiences work only on the Facebook platform, making it difficult for marketers to craft strategic campaigns that target an audience across channels. Given that the average buyer’s journey contains multiple touch points, that’s a significant hurdle to overcome in an increasingly noisy digital world where marketers are competing for limited ad slots.
Luckily, there are other options for teams that need a more sophisticated means of orchestrating the buyer’s journey. Predictive audiences are a particularly promising method, leveraging responsibly sourced consumer data and machine learning algorithms to craft highly accurate lookalikes that can be used across channels.
Whether you’re just starting to experiment with lookalike audiences or are ready to expand into predictive solutions, nothing beats diving in and testing out your audience options.
For Facebook’s lookalike audiences, you may want to test different segments as seed audiences for your lookalikes to determine which list works best.