A staple in our arsenal, Facebook Lookalike audiences (LLA) are an excellent opportunity to target highly engaged, high converting users. Lookalike audiences have one of the best click through rates and lowest cost per acquisition rates of all audience types. This is because, through their algorithm, Facebook can identify those users that closely resemble the characteristics and behaviors most like the members of your original or “source” audience including these top lookalike audiences:

  • Website visitors/Website Engagement visitors
  • Website Purchasers
  • Facebook Page Engagement users
  • Custom audiences (i.e. customer email lists)
  • Video view engagement users (choose users who have watched at least 50% of the video)
  • App activity users
  • Users who spend time on a certain page i.e. product page
  • Users who have added a product to their shopping cart
  • Segmented Customer lists
  • Users who have spent x amount of time on your site

I love how Hootsuite describes Lookalike Audiences:

 “Think of it as a sophisticated audience matchmaker for marketers. You tell Facebook what you like in a customer, and Facebook a delivers a new audience segment filled with prospects that meet your criteria.”

How Facebook Lookalike Audiences Work

We’ve all known it for years – Facebook knows everything about you. Feels a little big “Big Brother” to you? Cambridge Analytica, the political research firm accused of accessing Facebook users’ information has bragged that it had up to 5,000 data points on more than 230 million Americans. However way you slice it, Facebook has collected a treasure trove of data. This information is used to identify those Facebook prospects that most closely resemble your core audience allowing you to create precise Lookalike audiences.

Setting Up Your Facebook Pixel

While creating Lookalike audiences is super easy, setting up your Facebook Pixel (code you place on your website that allows you to track conversions from Facebook as well as build targeted audiences) is a bit trickier. If your website does not have partner integration with Facebook, then you will be required to add the pixel code manually to your website or to tag manager.

Facebook has a great resource to walk you through these steps. We also spell it out for you here if you are manually installing the pixel code yourself:

  1. From ads manager, click on Events Manager and choose Pixels
  2. Click on the green Set Up Pixel Button
  3. Choose how you want to install the pixel
  4. If you are manually installing the pixel code yourself, locate the header code for your website: Find the <head> </head> tags in your webpage code, or locate the header template in your CMS or web platform. Learn where to find this template or code in different web management systems.
  5. Copy the entire pixel code and paste it in the website header:Paste the pixel code at the bottom of the header section, just above the </head> tag. Facebook pixel code can be added above or below existing tracking tags (such as Google Analytics) in your site header.
  6. Turn on Automatic Advanced Matching by toggling the button to on.
  7. Send text traffic to your pixel: Check the status of your pixel code by sending test traffic. If your status is shown as Active, your code has been installed correctly. Note that this process may take several minutes.
  8. Click continue where you will be asked to set up Events by clicking on Facebook Event Setup Tool where you can add or edit events automatically.
  9. You will be prompted to enter your website URL

How To Create a Custom Audience

Creating a Facebook Lookalike audience is easy and Facebook has some great resources to help you set these up.

In the following example we’re going to show you how to create a Lookalike audience based off of your customer list. Please note that in order to create a custom audience you need to be an admin of the Page or pixel you’re creating it from.

  1. From Ads Manager, go to Audiences.
  2. Select Create Audience > Custom Audience > Customer list.
  3. Click Add from your own list.
  4. Add your list.
  5. Select the Original Data Source dropdown to specify the original information source, then either upload your list as a file (.txt or .csv) or copy and paste it in the content field. Add a name and description for your audience that is descriptive, then select Next. Note:You can download a data file template that’s set up to help Facebook’s system map your data more easily.
  6. After adding your content, Facebook hashes your data, uploads it and creates your audience for you.
  7. When you’re done creating your Custom Audience click Done to finish.

How to Create A Lookalike Audience

Equally easy to set up are Lookalike Audiences. Here too Facebook provides some great resources. We share the steps with you below:

  1. Go to your Audiences.
  2. Click the Create Audience drop-down and choose Lookalike Audience.
  3. Choose your source. A source can be a Custom Audience not created with your pixel data, your mobile app data or fans of your Page ( in this case it will be the custom audience you created from your email list).
  4. Choose the country/countries where you’d like to find a similar set of people. This adds a geo-filter onto your Lookalike Audience. We suggest testing one country at a time.
  5. Choose your desired audience size with the slider tool. Size is indicated based on a scale from 1-10. Smaller numbers have high “lookalike” value and larger numbers have higher reach. Facebook will provide you with an estimated reach for the size you choose. Facebook has a highly accurate algorithm and can detect the best target audience based on your selection.
  6. Click Create Audience.

A note from Facebook: “It may take 6 to 24 hours for your Lookalike Audience to be created. After that, it’ll refresh every 3 to 7 days as long as you’re still actively targeting ads to it.”

Your Lookalike Audience creation is done. Now go and create your ads.

Tips to Creating High Converting Campaigns Using Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Tip 1: Match the goal of your ad to your Lookalike audience: Hootsuite shares the following:

“…if your goal is to drive awareness of your business, a Lookalike Audience based on your Page Fans may be a good idea. If your goal is to increase online sales, then a Lookalike Audience based on website visitors will be a better choice.”

Tip 2: Update your customer lists at least one per month: If you are using custom audiences based off of customer emails, ensure you that you continually update your email lists.

Tip: 3: Segment your customer lists: If you have a large enough email list, don’t simply upload all your customer emails, segment them by behavior. For example:

  • Use data from the last 60 days
  •  Create a lookalike audience based off of customers who have the highest purchase amount or longest lifetime value.
  • Segment users based on both purchase amount as well as frequency
  • Segment users by type of product purchase

Tip 4: Test audience sizes: The audience size is dependent on the location and radius you want to target. If your location targeting is very small, you want to allow a higher percentage in order to reach a larger audience. The opposite is equally true, if your location targeting is broad, you should use a smaller audience size. In other words a 1% lookalike will be the 1% of Facebook users in that country that most closely match your source audience. Creating a larger audience increases your potential reach, but reduces the level of similarity between the Lookalike Audience and source audience. We recommend a source audience of at least 1000 but preferably 5,000 to 10,000 users strong.

Tip 5: Drill down by adding other demographic targeting features: Once you’ve chosen your Lookalike Audience when creating your ad, drill down by adding other targeting features like interests, deeper geographic targeting, gender or device.

More Facebook Lookalike Audience Resources:

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