Looking back on 2018, one of the more effective audience targets we’ve been able to leverage in our campaigns is Lookalike audiences. If you’re unfamiliar with this targeting strategy, Lookalike audiences provide a way for you to submit a list of users to a platform and have them search for users on their platform who behave similarly; in other words, they “look like” the audience you provided.
These can be based on the options available for targeting or other qualities advertisers are unable to target, so they can be very powerful if your source, or root, audience is strong. You can create a root audience in a number of different ways, which I’ll cover below, but a few common examples are converting user, customer lists, and visitors to your website.
How to Determine a Good Root Audience
The best place to start when choosing root audiences for testing Lookalike audiences is by determining your most valuable users. For B2B clients, generally, the two most valuable types of users are those who completed a conversion action, like filling out a lead form or downloading a whitepaper, and existing customers.
Many platforms will allow you to create a root audience based on those users and then create Lookalike audiences of those lists to help you find and target similar users. If your audience sizes are too small for converting users or existing customers, then you’ll want to consider higher-level audiences and develop an engagement strategy to help nurture those users down your sales funnel. I’ll discuss this more below, but for now, let’s take a look at how to set up root audiences to create your Lookalikes from.
Setting Up Custom Audiences for Lookalikes
There are multiple platforms that offer Lookalike audience targeting but for the sake of this post, I’ll use Facebook as an example. To create your root audiences, you’ll head to the Audiences tab. From there you’ll choose the blue ‘Create audience’ option, then choose Custom Audience:
From there, a box will pop up with a number of choices. These include options for our two strategies mentioned above: Customer Upload, where you can upload a list of existing customers, or Website traffic where you can define converting users by using URL rules:
If you choose the Customer File option, you’ll be lead to the following choices:
Facebook gives you the option to also include LTV which I’d recommend if you can in order to help get the best results from your Lookalike audience.
If you’re creating your audience based on users who converted on your website, then choose the Website Traffic option from above; then, you can specify your cookie window length, put in your thank you page URL identifier and name your audience:
After you create your root audience you can make the Lookalike. In Facebook, you’ll just choose ‘Lookalike Audience’ from the Create Audience button mentioned above:
From there, you’ll choose your root audience, which you just created, your Geo-targeting and your audience size:
Choosing a Lookalike Audience Size
If you have a limited budget and/or stricter CPA goals then I’d recommend sticking with smaller audience sizes in the 1%-3% range. If you have more flexibility with your goals, then you can certainly test varying sizes but I’d recommend breaking them out into their own ad sets so you can easily see performance differences and optimize accordingly. If you want to test multiple audience sizes, you can quickly create up to 6 by clicking on ‘Show Advanced Options’:
Building Audience Lists
If one, or both, of those audiences (converting users and customers) have plenty of volume, you could potentially stop there with your Lookalike audience testing. If not, you’ll want to consider targeting less specific lists to help efficiently expand your reach, nurture those users down the funnel and ultimately build your most valuable converting user base.
For instance, if you drive a decent amount of traffic to your site, you could create a Lookalike audience from just your website visitors instead of only those who converted.
Another higher-level option is to use Engagement audiences as your root audience. Facebook has a lot of engagement options to choose from:
Within these engagement audiences, you can narrow down further. For example, with Video views you can choose an option as broad as those who viewed at least 3 seconds of your video up to those who have watched 95% of your video. Within the Facebook Page option, you can choose all page visitors or focus on only those who saved your page or any post.
Developing Your Engagement Funnel Strategy
If you have large enough audiences to leverage Lookalikes of your converting users or your customer list, those users are likely similar enough to your existing customers that your call-to-action can be the one you use for people who are low in your funnel, such as getting a free demo of your product.
If you’re taking a higher-level approach, to ultimately help drive more customers, then you’ll need to create an engagement strategy where your conversion action lines up with where users likely are in your sales funnel. Let’s take a look at a couple example strategies.
Example Strategy 1
Let’s say you drive a good amount of traffic to your site but struggle to convert those users. Here’s an example of what your funnel strategy could look like with your conversion action lining up with where these users likely are in your sales funnel:
- Create a root audience of users who visited your pricing or plans page, but didn’t convert on your site, and create a corresponding Lookalike audience.
- Target that Lookalike audience with a Lead Gen form campaign, where users can signup for an upcoming webinar.
- Set up a Retargeting campaign for users who signed up for the webinar with copy that speaks to requesting a demo of your product.
- You could also Retarget users who didn’t sign up for the webinar, in a separate campaign or ad set, with ads that also contain a Request Demo CTA, or you could take a softer approach and send them to your pricing or plans page, then Retarget those non-converting users with Request Demo ads.
Example Strategy 2
Another strategy you can take is around your different Content offerings. Let’s say you have a great company blog and you offer both gated and ungated content. You could:
- Create a root audience of users who visited your company blog and create a corresponding Lookalike audience.
- Target that Lookalike audience with different pieces of gated content, broken out into separate campaigns or ad sets so you can easily see performance differences.
- Set up a Retargeting campaign for users who downloaded the gated content with copy that speaks to requesting a demo of your product.
- You could also Retarget users who didn’t download the gated content, in a separate campaign or ad set, with ads that also contain a Request Demo CTA, or you could take a softer approach and send them to your pricing or plans page, then Retarget those non-converting users with Request Demo ads.
The key to creating an impactful funnel strategy is to evaluate the offerings you have available and work to leverage the best ones with a targeted approach. And, as always with any new strategy, don’t be afraid to test multiple strategies to find the ones that work best for your company.
As your customer list grows, eventually you’ll be able to add a Lookalike audience based on those customers.
Ultimately, there are lots of ways to drive more customers with Lookalike audiences. If you don’t have a large existing customer base, don’t despair — you can still test Lookalike audiences effectively with a targeted approach. As we’ve discussed here, there are other ways you can leverage great platform features like Lookalike audiences to create strategies that will help you drive more customers.
What about you? What Lookalike audience strategies have you found success with lately? Let us know in the comments below!