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How to Unlock the Power of Facebook Lookalike Audiences in 2020

How to Unlock the Power of Facebook Lookalike Audiences in 2020

Home Blog Social Media Facebook How to Unlock the Power of Facebook Lookalike Audiences in 2020

Facebook Ads Manager can be an extremely powerful tool when you have a good understanding of all the customizable options. 

The thing is, when it comes to audience targeting – the platform has a million different options: Saved Audiences, Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences. 

For most Facebook marketers, Lookalike Audiences is a standard and safe choice to test on all ad accounts. After all, they are people who are similar to your existing audience who visit your pages. 

It’s almost a no-brainer to target high-value Lookalike Audiences, like KFC was able to do. As a result, they lowered their Facebook ads cost-per-result by 28%.

No matter the industry, Lookalike Audiences can help all advertisers reach audiences with the highest potential.

Lookalike Audiences are the secret treat of Facebook ads
Lookalike Audiences are the secret treat of Facebook ads

Let’s take a closer look at how Facebook Lookalike Audiences work, how you can set them up, and collect some expert-level ideas for testing out on your own Facebook campaigns.

Table of Contents:

What are Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

Lookalike Audiences – just as their name hints – can help you reach people with similar interests and activity patterns as your existing high-value clients. They “look” like your top customers.

Here’s how Facebook Lookalike Audiences work in practice:

When you create a Lookalike Audience, you select a source audience (a Custom Audience based on your Facebook pixel data, video ad views, fans of your Facebook page, etc.). Facebook identifies the key characteristics of people inside that audience. Up next, the algorithms will find more people similar to your source audience.

For example, if a food delivery app’s users show a strong interest in burgers and other fast food, are aged between 16-40, and live in a metropolis, Facebook can run ads in front of more people with a similar profile. 🍔🍟

Example of a food delivery app’s Facebook ad
Example of a food delivery app’s Facebook ad

Not all Lookalike audiences perform on the same level, however.

The key to successful Lookalike Audiences is finding a good source audience – people who are highly interested in your product or service. We’ll share some ideas for well-performing source audiences later in the article.

To sum up, here are three reasons why you should use Lookalike Audiences in your Facebook ad campaigns:

  • You can find and reach more people who are similar to your high-value customers.
  • You’ll reach people by characteristics defined by Facebook’s algorithms, reaching an audience you wouldn’t have known to target otherwise.
  • Lookalike Audiences usually have a higher interest in your product, leading to higher click-through rates and lower cost-per-click prices.

Sounds like a good deal? Let’s learn how to set them up!

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How to create a Lookalike Audience on Facebook

Setting up ad campaigns that target Lookalike Audiences is a straightforward process. You simply need to:

  • Create a source audience
  • Create a Lookalike Audience based on the source audience
  • Add the audiences to an existing or new ad set
You can create up to 500 Lookalike Audiences
You can create up to 500 Lookalike Audiences from a source audience

To create a Lookalike Audience, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to the Audiences section of Facebook Ads Manager.
  2. Click on “Create Audience.”
  3. Create a Custom Audience based on your existing customers.
  4. Create a Lookalike Audience based on a Custom Audience.

You can also create a Facebook Lookalike Audience based on a specific event and the highest-value purchasers (shown in the screenshot below). For this, you need to have the Facebook Pixel installed and passing event values to Facebook.

Create a value-based Lookalike Audience
Create a value-based Lookalike Audience

You can define the size of your Lookalike Audience during the setup process.

Smaller audiences (1%-3% Lookalike) will match more closely with your source audience. The higher % you use, the higher potential reach your audience will have. However, it will also reduce the level of similarity between the Lookalike Audience and its source audience.

Pro tip: Create multiple Lookalike Audiences: 1%, 3%, 5%, and 10%. Start by adding the 1% Lookalike to your ad campaigns. If you see great results, gradually add the broader audiences (3%, 5%, and 10% Lookalike) to the same ad set’s targeting. Higher % values will broaden your reach.

Once you set up your Lookalike Audiences, remember these suggestions by Facebook

  • It can take 6 to 24 hours for your Facebook Lookalike Audience to be populated. After that, it will refresh every 3 to 7 days, as long as you’re still actively targeting ads to it.
  • You can see Lookalike Audience updates by visiting your Audience Manager page and looking at the date under the “Availability” column.

Here’s one more thing to consider when creating Lookalike Audiences: You can target multiple Lookalike Audiences in the same ad set.

Add Lookalike Audiences to your ad sets
Add Lookalike Audiences to your ad sets

Pro tip: Exclude your used Lookalike audiences from other ad sets targeting people in the same country. Doing so will help you avoid audience overlap and higher ad costs.

To help you get even more out of Facebook ads, here are a few ideas that can help you.

5 Facebook Lookalike Audience ideas that bring great results

Facebook Ads Manager is a complex tool. There are tons of different options for creating Custom Audiences – the source audience of your Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

There are many options for creating Custom Audiences

So, where to get started?

Here are 5 Lookalike Audience recipes that have worked really well for the ad account we manage here at LinearDesign.

Let’s learn the best Lookalike Audience recipes

Create a Lookalike Audience of your:

  1. Top-paying customers
  2. Website visitors
  3. Leads
  4. Facebook page fans
  5. Video viewers

1. Create a Lookalike Audience of your top-paying customers

You have two options to create a source audience of your top clients. You can either upload a customer list to Facebook manually or set up the Pixel to pass your online Purchase events and their values automatically.

This small effort is well worth it, as the 1-5% Lookalike Audiences, based on the highest-value customers, usually deliver the best results.

To learn how to set up the Pixel, see this guide by Facebook.

For example, this approach is beneficial for online retail stores or freemium services like Spotify that want to find more users willing to pay for a monthly subscription.

2. Create a Lookalike Audience of your website visitors

You’re probably already using a Custom Audience as part of your Facebook ad strategy for remarketing.

Turn the “Custom Audience of past 90-days” website visitors into a 2% Lookalike Audience to reach people similar to those browsing your landing pages or blog.

Pro tip: You can also create Lookalike Audiences of specific landing pages’ visitors. However, make sure that your source audience is bigger than 1,000 people for the best results.

3. Create a Lookalike Audience of your leads

The term “lead” can mean different things for marketers, depending on their industry and product.

  • A “lead” in SaaS could mean a user that completed a free trial signup.
  • A “lead” in eCommerce can signify shopping cart abandoners
  • A “lead” in the mobile app industry can mean someone who downloaded the app but didn’t make an in-app purchase.

Creating Lookalike Audiences out of your leads is a smart way to expand your source audiences once your #1 Lookalike – based on high-value purchasers – has worn out.

For example, you could create a Lookalike Audience of your online store’s shopping cart abandoners and show them a sales-oriented ad, just like the Asos ad below.

4. Create a Lookalike Audience of your Facebook page fans

Facebook allows advertisers to create Custom Audiences of people who have engaged with their brand’s Facebook page.

You can either target anyone who engaged with your pages content, videos, ads, posts, etc. or select a more granular targeting option from the dropdown menu.

Not only is a Custom Audience of Facebook page fans and engaged users a great retargeting audience, but it can also be a good source for your Lookalike Audiences.

5. Create a Lookalike Audience of video viewers

If you’re using videos as part of your Facebook marketing strategy, these videos probably reach thousands of people, both organically and via paid promotions.

Promoting video content is a clever strategy because Facebook’s algorithms can quickly learn what type of people are the most interested in your videos. The result? – Your videos will reach a massive audience of potential customers.

And you know what else? 

You can create a Custom Audience from specific videos’ viewers and use it as a source for a Facebook Lookalike Audience.

For example, you could promote a simple GIF-style video such as the Starbucks ad below. And later, create a Lookalike Audience of the people who saw this video.

If you have access to longer brand awareness videos, you can also create a Lookalike Audience of people who watched more than 75% of your video – a high-intent target group.

To set up a source audience for video-based Lookalike Audience, create a Facebook Custom Audience of people who watched more than 75% of specific videos.

Extra hack: Combine Lookalike Audiences with other targeting features

In some cases, your country-level Lookalike Audiences can include more than 1,000,000 people. 

If you want to narrow down your targeting (e.g., people in specific cities, in a particular age range, or with special interests), you can add additional layers to your ad set’s targeting.

For example, you could create ad sets with custom ad creatives mentioning the city names to increase your ads’ relevance, just like Lyft has done.

Ready to unlock the power of Lookalike Audiences?

Lookalike Audiences are a powerful tool for improving your Facebook ad campaign results by reaching a highly interested target audience.

Here’s a quick summary of the things to keep in mind when getting started with this power-user feature:

  • The best Lookalike Audiences are usually based on past purchasers and other source audiences that have shown interest in your product.
  • Start with 1-3% Lookalike Audiences and add broader Lookalikes once the first audience shows promising results.
  • Test Lookalike Audiences of high-value purchases, website visitors, video viewers, and people who engaged with your Facebook page.

If you need more information about Facebook ad targeting, here’s a handy guide covering all three Facebook audience types.

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Luke Heinecke

Luke Heinecke is the Founder of Linear, a Utah based PPC agency that’s on a mission to grow companies. With an intense focus on helping clients increase conversion rates, we help companies grow their business and greatly improve their ROI. If you like what you just read, you'll love getting your very own custom proposal.

CEO @Linear