What is Facebook Lookalike Audiences

By | 25 April, 2014

Facebook lookalike audiences is a powerful targeting tool that Facebook has provided digital marketers with. There are many ways to target new customers on Facebook and lookalike audiences is one of the most effective ways to do so. It is also relatively under used unless you are an experienced marketer. Lookalike essentially means similar. So a lookalike audience will be extremely similar to what your existing customers are. Without using Facebook lookalike audiences, you have not truly experienced the power of Facebook advertisement and the remarkable ROI it can provide your business with.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

You can create a lookalike audience using the Facebook Power Editor.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences: How it works

The logic behind running a lookalike audience is that it can help you reach new people who would find your business useful. As always, I would prefer to use an example as you can get a better hang of it then.

Suppose, your company sells high-heeled footwear. Initially, you can get customers by simple interest targeting on Facebook, but interest targeting is usually a broad way to reach customers. Its possible that your ad is shown to a lot of women who are not really interested in buying a footwear. This in turn, results in a higher CPA.

Now, don’t you think it would be real cool if someone could just point out a cohort of people on Facebook that are very similar to those of the people who actually purchase on your site? Then you could just run ads on them for lower CPA.

That is exactly what Facebook lookalike audiences does. Depending on whatever email list you upload to the Facebook power editor, you can get a pool of similar audiences. If you had 5000 existing customers on your high-heel footwear company (and you would be having their email IDs), then Facebook can tell you using lookalike audiences almost up to 1 millions users who are very similar in interests, likes and activities to those who have already purchased on your site. This in turn gives you a chance at better conversion rates. Unlike shooting in the dark with generic interests, your ad is now hyper-targeted to people who are similar to those who have already transacted with you.

Your lookalike audience is born from the seed list you provide Facebook with. So if you provide Facebook with a list of transacted users then your lookalike audience will be users who are similar to those who transact at your site. Users will behave a lot like the the email list that you have uploaded.

If you upload a list of email IDs who are table tennis enthusiasts then your resulting lookalike audiences will also exhibit huge affinity towards table tennis. Its actually one of the most powerful target tools that Facebook has offered its advertisers. The other is Website Custom Audiences.

Advantage of Lookalike Audience

Lower CPA is the number one benefit of a lookalike audience. Apart from that, most business operate on new customer CPA. So this means that your Facebook ads need to constantly be converting new people into customers. Lookalike is a great way to acquire new customers using your old customers as the seed. Also, if the lookalike audiences are shown relative ads, these ads I have noticed have a higher CTR.

Lookalike Audiences: Reach & Similarity

Facebook offers two types of lookalike audiences. You can create a lookalike audience for better reach or better similarity.

Lookalike audiences for reach will be a giver pool of audience, almost 7 million users; but they behave lesser like your seed list in other words, they are lesser in similarity to your seed list. Its a classic case where quality is sacrificed for quantity, and personally from my experience of running Facebook ads, lookalike for reach have never really delivered great results.

What does almost invariably work for me is lookalike for similarity, the lookalike audience created is lower than reach, usually just a million. But that pool of 1 million users when targeted with a great ad has always given be an excellent return on investment.

There are many creative ways to make the most of Facebook lookalike audiences, and I have discussed some great lookalike audiences almost all companies should try out. You can create lookalike audiences who purchase on your site, who liked your page, who add to cart but do not purchase, who have called you at customer support – the possibilities are endless. You can try out many different combinations to keep your customer count ticking.

Facebook lookalike audiences vs. Precise Interest targeting

From years of running Facebook ads and industry wide feedback – Lookalike audiences are the hands-down winners. During my early days, almost all of my campaigns in an account would be interest based ads. But now, 70-80% of the ads in my account are lookalike based ads and the remaining are usually precise interest targeted ads. This is simply because Facebook lookalike audiences work like a charm. They give you better CTR, more relevant visitors and in turn lower CPA.

The problem with Precise interest targeting is that its not always precise, a person who likes soccer can also cricket and its possible that they prefer cricket over soccer or vice versa. It is impossible for us to figure out what the user has more affinity towards, hence its better to just allow Facebook do the hard work and target users who it thinks have the highest affinity towards your business’s services or products.

Keep in mind though, when you create an ad that your similar audience will not adhere to the same limitations as your seed audience. For example, if you create a lookalike audience for people who have purchase high-heeled footwear on your website which consists primarily of women, then the audience created for you by Facebook will contain men and women and will not restrict itself geographically. You would need to add these filters to the ad once you select the lookalike audience you want to run an ad on.

So be sure to use lookalike audiences in your Facebook advertisement account. If you haven’t started using it yet, you are leaving money on the table. Learn how to create lookalike audiences using the Facebook Power editor, its a step by step pictorial and textual tutorial I have created for new marketers.

If you have any questions, or have any ideas regarding lookalike audiences, feel free to mention them below in the comment box.