Congrats to our EIS Awards Finalists Dr. Scholl’s and Sazerac!

Improve Social Media Ad Performance with Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences area great way to reach new consumers based on your existing customers, specific website events, or email lists. Lookalike audiences enable you to target people who might have an interest in your product or service because they have similar interests, traits, and buyer behaviors as your current customers.

What is a LookalikeAudience?

Lookalike Audiences are created by placing your existing customers into a database that has the characteristics of your target market.

For example, if you operate a content marketing agency, you might take advantage of your current email list and the customer data you have on file with Google Analytics to identify a similar segment of people who are interested in content marketing.

Creating Lookalike Audiences is important because they emulate a proven audience’s behavior or interests without requiring any additional effort from the marketer.

Rather than targeting just your existing customers based on their behaviors, interests, and demographics, Lookalike Audiences give marketers a way to target many more consumers who have similar traits as their customers.

Let’s break it down:

  • The business identifies a list of customers who are already on the platform (e.g., Facebook).
  • The business creates an ad that displays the same characteristics of their current customer base, such as age, gender, or zip code.
  • The ad is then sent to people who match those demographics.

This type of social media advertising is effective because it allows businesses to expand their reach and target new people who may be interested in their products based on the behavior of similar people.

Facebook has an advanced tool for creating ads that allows businesses to designate a customer list and then find other users that are a good match for those customers.

Here’s how it works:

1.   Step 1: Start with your current customer base. If you don’t have a list, just input a few key profiles of the people that are likely your customers (e.g., age, gender, zip code).

2.   Step 2: Lookalike audience is created by filtering users based on what you input. Facebook identifies similar users to your current customers.

3.   Step 3: Ad targeting is based off these lookalike audiences. Your ad is directed into the Facebook feeds of consumers who match the characteristics of your initial customer base.

There are several benefits to lookalike audiences:

  • They are easy to create and can be set up within minutes.
  • They allow businesses to target the right buyer, based on what people who are similar said about their products.
  • They save time by allowing businesses to achieve results without having to spend months or even years searching for a new buyer demographic.

While Lookalike Audiences have a lot of upside. There are some issues to consider. One of the common arguments against lookalike audiences is that they do not provide enough unique information.

Since consumers in the Lookalike Audience have similar traits, interests, and behaviors to those in your customer base, they may not be different enough to drive new purchases.

For example:

Let’s say your company sells athletic shoes. Your key demographic might be the average shoe size in the US. You could create a lookalike audience of 1,000 people with your average shoe size.

This means that if you wanted to target the exact same audience that is already buying your shoes, you would need to get 100 people into those 1,000 lookalikes.

This is obviously not very useful.

However, with a Lookalike Audience, you could target the right buyer demographics (i.e., people who like your product and are in an area where they are likely to purchase). If you targeted these 1,000 people who are like your current customer base, chances are they would get your ad.

Another argument against Lookalike Audiences is that they rely on past data. People on a platform today may not represent the buying behavior of a brand’s past customers. This can be especially true in an environment where there are many brands.

If a company’s customer base is large enough, they may find they need to create a Lookalike Audience of customers who had similar traits, interests, and behaviors as their own main customer base. This can be a problem because most people do not share their buying habits with the brands they purchase from.

However, if more businesses used Lookalike Audiences to create ads targeting customers based on their past customers’ traits, interests, and behaviors – those that shared their habits with the brand – the resulting ads would probably be more effective.

In summary, LookalikeAudiences are great for businesses that have a small customer base, and when things are more in sync with what their customers are buying.

They do not work as well to target new customers and for larger businesses who would need to devote more resources to create these customer lists.

NOTE: When using a LookalikeAudiences tool:

  • If you want to use the US as the example, you must be using a Facebook Page or a Business Page rather than a personal profile.
  • To be most effective, it is recommended that you use these audiences mostly for non-US audiences in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand.
  • It is also recommended that your audience sizes are between 2,000 – 4,000 people for best results.