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Marketing

TUTORIAL: How to create a Facebook lookalike audience

Unlike interest-based targeting or casting your net nationwide and hoping someone will bite, Facebook lookalike audiences are a great way to be more targeted and reduce your Facebook advertising costs.

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In a previous article, I revealed how I spent as little as $5 a day on Facebook remarketing strategies to bring customers back to my website to complete their purchase they abandoned. In this article, I’m going to go one step deeper into the realms of Facebook advertising and talk about my second great love affair – Facebook lookalike audiences.

Don’t get me wrong I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook as a marketing tool but there is no arguing about the many opportunities that it can bring to your marketing strategy. A leading industry expert, recently told me that within five years we’ll all be spending more on Facebook advertising than we will on Google advertising. That’s an interesting prospect, (one I can’t fully support at this time), but regardless if you run your own small business, (especially an online store), then understanding all of the Facebook advertising options available to you will certainly put you in a good position in which to succeed and stay one step ahead of your competitors.

What are Facebook lookalike audiences?

Facebook lookalike audiences are an advanced targeting option within your advertising account that go beyond the basic demographic and interest targeting functionality. Lookalike audiences allow you to create audiences based on an established source (such as someone who has previously purchased from you or interacted with one of your content). In other words, someone who looks like an audience you already know.

"Facebook Lookalike Audiences allow you to create audiences based on an established source such as someone who has previously purchased from you. "

Why are Facebook lookalike audiences so useful?

If you have a consistent target market or a customer base that share common characteristics being able to target like-minded people who are similar is half the battle won right there. Unlike interest based targeting or casting the net nationwide and hoping someone will bite, lookalike audiences, will markedly improve your Facebook advertising ROI.

  • Essentially what you are doing is raising brand awareness of your product in people who have never heard about you, but share similar traits to those that have purchased from you. They are at the top of your sales funnel ready for warming.

What type of Facebook lookalike audiences can you create?

There are a number of lookalike audiences that you can create.

  • A list of people who are similar to those visit your website
  • A list of people who view a specific web page or take a specific action on your site.
  • A list of people who have engaged with your content on Facebook, (usually your videos).
  • You can even create a lookalike audience based on your Facebook likes.

My person favourite, however, has to be email list lookalike audiences for the simple reason you can, in theory, clone your existing customer list.

What you can do is upload say the past 500, 1000 or even 10,000 of your customers’ email addresses and Facebook rather cleverly will create a targeted audience based on the characteristics of those that you upload. Amazing really. The email addresses have to be registered with Facebook, of course, and you’ll lose some along the way, but in my experience, it’s a very small percentage.

How to do this?

Before you can create an email-based lookalike audience you first need a custom email audience of your customers. It sounds complicated but it’s really easy to do even for the novice Facebook marketer.

  1. Go to the Audiences dashboard within your ad account
  2. Click Create Audience
  3. Select Custom Audience (not lookalike audience just yet) from the drop-down menu.
  4. In the pop-up box, select Customer File.
  5. Next, you have two options. You can upload your data as a file/copy and paste the data, or even import it from MailChimp if you use MailChimp for your email campaigns. Let’s assume that you’re uploading your email list, so click Choose a File or Copy and Paste the Data.
  6. Next, all you need to do is upload your email list as a CSV file. You can upload your own custom list or use the Facebook template. The key here is to include a number of the ‘identifiers’ as the more you use the greater the likelihood of an exact match.
  7. After you map your identifiers, select Upload and Create and there you have it, your custom email audience created successfully.
  8. Under Next Steps, you can now click Create a Lookalike Audience.
  9. In the next pop-up box that opens, you’ll see your custom email audience in the Source field. Select your target country, most likely to be Australia in this instance, and choose the audience size. Audience sizes range from 1% to 10% of the total population in the country you choose. I’d start with a 1% lookalike audience for now.
  10. When done click Create Audience and your lookalike audience will be created.

All that remains is for you to select this audience as the audience you wish to advertise to. You can either do this from the Audiences dashboard or at the audience targeting section when creating an ad in the usual way.

Easy really!

Why do Facebook lookalike audiences work?

They work for me because you’re being more selective in your approach. You’re not targeting the whole of NSW for example, or Australia, or basing your advertising on anyone who has an interest in cats! Whichever lookalike audience you create you are targeting people who are similar to those who have already bought from you or interacted in some way. And so long as your ad copy, imagery and pixel are firing on all cylinders you can effectively make a good return on your investment.

What do you think? Have you had experience of using Facebook lookalike audiences? How did they work for you? 

Matthew White

is director of Ergoflex Australia, an online retailer of premium quality memory foam mattresses. As well as helping Australians get a better night's sleep, Matthew is a marketer, sleep blogger, father of four and home renovator.

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