Facebook Lookalike Audiences: How to Use Them to Scale Your Business

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Facebook Lookalike Audiences are a super powerful tool. Learn how to quickly create and use them to scale your business with our step-by-step guide.

Table of Contents

Imagine being able to clone your best customers… Well, it may sound like science fiction but Facebook offers you a tool that allows you to do something quite similar: Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

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What Are Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

Facebook Lookalike Audiences allow you to reach new people who may be interested in your business because of their similarities to your current best customers. 👯

In order to create a Lookalike Audience, you need to choose a Source Audience first. You can choose from:

Your Website Visitors 💻 (You can narrow it down depending on the actions your visitors took – visited a specific page; completed a purchase, etc.);

A Customer or Newsletter Subscription List 😊 (It can also be a list of people who interacted with your business on an offline channel);

Your App Activity 📱;

Engagement Data (Video, A Lead Form, Facebook or Instagram Page).

Facebook identifies what these people have in common (demographic data or interests). You can then choose the size of your lookalike audience. The smaller the audience, the more it will be similar to your source audience.

You MUST have at least 100 people in your source audience. If you don’t, you won’t be able to create a lookalike audience. The ideal size for a source audience is between 1.000 and 50.000 people.

Why are they so great?

Interests Targeting on Facebook is nice but you have to decide on your own your target’s interests and socio-demographic characteristics. Even if tools like Facebook Audience Insights are really nice to help your build your Buyer Persona, research takes time, and there are still chances that you might be wrong about who your buyer persona really is!

That’s why Facebook Lookalike Audiences are so efficient. They allow you to find what your prospects and/or customers have in common without much work on your end.

Last but not least, these Lookalike Audiences are large. It makes them really appropriate to reach a large number of people.

How to Create Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

You are dying to know how to create a Lookalike Audience, aren’t you? Well, luckily no need to build a cloning machine…

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1 – Log into your Facebook Ads Manager account.

2 – Click on the Top Left Menu, and then, under Assets, click on “Audiences“.

audiences panel

3 – I recommend you to build a Custom Audience first.

If you’ve never created a Custom Audience before, you’ll see this screen:

popup to create a custom audience

If you’ve already created a Custom Audience before, you’ll see this screen:

select custom audience

Either way, select “Create a Custom Audience”.

4 – You’ll be prompted to choose a source audience:

create a custom audience popup

Now let’s see what you need to do next source by source:

If you chose “Website” as a source audience

“Website” is a nice choice if you have already installed the Facebook Pixel and that your website has enough traffic (I’d say more than 500 unique visitors since the installation of your Pixel). You haven’t installed a Facebook Pixel? Well, you’re missing out, so you should definitely install it! 👈

If you chose “Website” as a source audience, you’ll see the pop-up below :

Create a website custom audience panel

What should you do now? 🤔

1 – Choose which visitors you want to include in your audience.

–> If you have a strong content strategy and want to develop your blog’s traffic, I advise you to create a Website Custom Audience based on your frequent blog visitors. So select “People who visited specific web pages” and type “blog” in the “URL contains” field. If you have a large enough audience, you can filter this audience by clicking on “Further refine by” and choose “Frequency greater or equal”. Type 2 or 3 depending on the volume of your traffic.

Pro Tip: You can even choose to input keywords related to specific topics. For example, if you have a blog about Digital Marketing, you could type “Instagram”, “Facebook” or “email”, etc if you have written many articles on these topics. So you’ll be able later on to create ads on these topics.

–> If your business is very new and you don’t have a lot of traffic, choose “All Website Visitors”.

2 – Name your Audience and then hit the “Create Audience” button.

3 – Once this is done, you should see the pop-up below and click on “Create a Lookalike Audience”. If you don’t see it, go back to the Audiences panel and select “Lookalike Audience” in the “Create Audience” dropdown menu.

select Create a lookalike audience

4 – Now, you can select your Lookalike Source. Click on “Other Sources” and choose the Custom Audience you created in the previous step. In my example below, it’s “Blog Visitors 30 Days – Facebook”.

Select your lookalike source

5 – Next, you need to select the location for your audience.

6 – Finally, you need to decide how many lookalike audiences you want to create based on this source audience and what size they’ll have. For example, you can create one audience with a 1% similarity with your source audience and another one with a 5% similarity and have different bidding strategies for each. It will also allow you to see which audience size works better for you. The smaller the audience, the more similar to your source audience.

select audience size

7 – Congrats! 🥳 Your Lookalike Audience is created! Go to How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences in your Targeting? to see what to do next.

If you chose “Customer List”

If you chose “Customer List” as a source audience, you’ll be presented with 3 choices – see screenshot below:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is custom-audience-2-1024x715.png

Important: If your account is new, you won’t be able to choose “Customer list” as a source. You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks.

The first two options require a .csv or .txt file. The first one includes customer lifetime value data and the second one doesn’t. If you own an online store, you can easily export an extra column for the customer lifetime value data and choose this LTV option.

If you have a Mailchimp account, you can use the 3rd option.

1 – If you have selected one of the first two options, you’ll see this pop-up with instructions on how to prepare your customer list:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is custom-audience-3-1024x712.png

2 – You need to prepare your file first. Facebook allows you to download a customer list template if needed. You can include up to 15 identifiers in your file such as Email Address (the only one to be mandatory), Phone number, First name, City, etc. The more information included the more accurate the matching.

Pro-Tip: The quality of this list is very important. The best is to use your customer’s list. If you can, it’s even better to upload a list of your best customers only. If your customer list is too small, don’t worry! I recommend you use your prospects or mailing list. Filter out all the subscribers who never open your emails in order to have a higher quality database.

3 – Upload your file, name your audience and hit the “Next” button.

4 – Choose the email address column for data mapping and click on the “Import and create” button. Facebook will now match your data with its own database.

5 – Once this is done, you can start to create your Lookalike Audience: select “Lookalike Audience” in the “Create Audience” dropdown menu.

6 – Select your Lookalike Source. Click on “Other Sources” and choose the Custom Audience you’ve just created with your Customer List data. Use the same process described in the “Website” example above (Choose location, audience size, a nice name and then click on “Create Audience”).

7 – Yeaah! 🎉 Your Lookalike Audience is created! Go to How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences in your Targeting? to see what to do next.

If you want to use Engagement Data

Engagement Data covers different data sources: Video, Lead Form, Instant Experience, Events, and your Facebook and Instagram Page. Note that these sources can be chosen event if you did not install the Facebook Pixel yet.

In order to create Lookalike Audiences based on these Custom Audiences, you’ll just have to follow the same steps described in “Website” and “Customer List”.

We’ll only review here the specificities of these sources:

Video Engagement

If you’ve already shared video content on Facebook, you can create audiences based on how long they watched your video. If you want to gain more quality viewers for your video, “People who have watched 75% of your video” is a powerful audience. Create a lookalike audience based on it and show this audience your video!

Lead form

If you are using Lead Ads on Facebook, you can create custom audiences based on the actions users take within the form (open, open and submit, open but didn’t submit).

“People who opened and submitted form” can be very powerful as a source for your Lookalike Audience as it’s composed of Leads. You can then show this Lookalike Audience the Lead Ad as it’s likely to respond positively to it.

Facebook Page Engagement

You can create a custom audience based on people’s engagement with your Facebook Page. You can either choose the “Everyone who engaged with your Page” generic option or choose from several other options as you can see below:

The “People who engaged with any post or ad” option is a nice source for your Lookalike Audience if you wish to boost the engagement of your future ads.

Instagram Business profile

If you have a Business Profile on Instagram, you can create a Custom Audience based on people who engaged with your business on Instagram (so who either visited your profile or engaged with your content or ads). You can also choose from several other options – see below:

If you chose “App activity” as a source audience

As for all the other source audiences, you can choose to create an audience based on the behavior of your app users, such as “added to the basket” if it’s a retail app or “level achieved” for a game app.

It’s a nice choice if you wish to gain users for your app.

In order to create Lookalike Audiences based on this Custom Audience, you’ll just have to follow the same steps described in “Website” and “Customer List”.

How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences in your Targeting?

Don’t worry, we’re almost there! 😉

Once your Lookalike Audience created, you’re now able to include it in your ad set’s targeting:

1 – Create an Ad set and go to the “Audience” panel. Choose “Create New Audience” and in “Custom Audiences”, choose “Lookalike Audience”. Select the Lookalike Audience you’ve created.

2 – You can now refine your audience and choose:

– What location you’re willing to target 📍

– Your target’s age 🧒 🧓

– If you wish to choose only one gender. 💁

DO NOT refine your audience by interests or behaviors. Your Lookalike Audience has been already automatically segmented to match your Source Audience.

5 Tips to Make the Most of Facebook Lookalike Audiences

1 – One goal = One source audience 🎯

Different custom audiences match different goals. So choose your source audience wisely!

If your goal is to… then you should choose a Lookalike Audience based on…

Increase online sales –> Your Customer List or your website visitors

Drive awareness of your business –> Your Facebook page or Instagram Business Profile

Gain more viewers for your videos –> Video engagement

2 – Quality matters! 💎

Focus on the quality of your audience rather than its size. You cannot get a good ROI if your source audience’s quality is poor. For example, prefer a list of your 500 best customers rather than a 10.000 mailing list with 60% of people who never open your emails! Also, if you can, avoid broad targetings such as “All website visitors”.

3 – Keep your audience updated 🆕

If you chose your Customer List as a source audience, it won’t be automatically updated. You’ll have to refresh it from time to time. If you chose another source audience, it’ll be automatically up-to-date.

4 – Try a set of Lookalike Audiences 🖐️

Take advantage of the possibility to create several Lookalike Audiences of different sizes based on the same Source Audience. Play with Audience Sizes (with different bidding strategies for each) to see which one works better.

5 – Use Lookalike Audiences as a “Step 2” in your Facebook Ads campaign ✌️

If you wish to launch a new product and want to acquire new customers, I advise you to do the following:

Phase 1: Target your existing customers and fans with a video (it should be inspirational rather than promotional). Also, target new people based on their interests.

Phase 2: Create a Custom Audience based on Phase 1 engagement. It will serve as a source audience to create your Lookalike Audience. Target this Lookalike Audience with the same content as in Phase 1.

Phase 3: Target ALL the viewers with the most engagement with a Carrousel Ad showing your product. It will allow you to push them down the funnel.

Conclusion

That’s all Folks! Lookalike Audiences are super powerful so I hope you’re excited to create your first one. And don’t forget: Test, test, and test again!

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