Facebook is truly a full funnel platform that not only captures conversions through remarketing, not only drives awareness and traffic through interest based prospecting, but also has the power to create prospecting audiences that drive quality people to your site that are likely to convert.  These powerful prospecting audiences are called lookalikes.

Think of your favorite ice cream.  Perhaps it is a snickers cookie dough unique to a local ice cream shop.  You need to figure out how to get this on the regular, so you go to the grocery store and find a brand that also makes this yummy flavor.  Perfect.  This is basically how a lookalike audience works.  You tell Facebook who your ideal customer is (AKA your favorite ice cream flavor from the shop) based off an email list, past purchasers, website visitors or people who engage with your Facebook page.  Facebook then finds the top 1% of users who are most similar to those people taking those key actions (the grocery store brand of your favorite flavor).  Lookalikes are key to your Facebook strategy and are more likely to convert over a prospecting audience built solely off of interests.

Different flavors of ice cream in an ice cream store

Continuing with the ice cream analogy, imagine if you just went to 711 and found a flavor that was cookie dough with nuts.  You think you’ll like it.  It is pretty similar to snickers. It’s only missing caramel and nougat.  You eat it and it’s off, not the same.  Similar but not as good or ideal as the original flavor you liked so much.  That is the difference between lookalikes and interest based targeting.  Interest based targeting is fine and can be useful, as long as you have lookalikes built into your strategy as well.

As an example, say your client is selling dog toys.  An interest based audience you may build would include people who have an interest in “dogs” and they also have to have a behavior of being an “engaged shopper”.  Makes sense.  The issue here is this audience (considering the default demographics of USA, men and women, 18+ years of age) has 30 million people in it.  It will take Facebook a considerable amount of time to find a pocket of people within this target that are most likely to convert, if they find that pocket at all.  This would be a great audience if your client has a sizeable budget or their goal is to blast awareness and drive traffic to the site.  However, the likelihood of converting is low and this is not the best strategy to get your dog toys sold.

In tandem with this audience and driving top of funnel traffic, create a lookalike audience as well.  Ideally, your Pixel is tracking purchases or your client has an email list of past purchasers.  Create a lookalike off of this group of people.  Facebook will find the 2 million users that are most similar to these past purchasers.  Yes, these people probably share a common interest in dogs, but there is so much more that goes into their behavior and internet patterns that an interest based audience cannot pick up on.  Hence, that is why we use lookalikes and let Facebook’s algorithm take control.  These past purchasers, for example, may also share an overall commonality of being into video games or perhaps they read finance blogs or they are on average women age 20-25.  Lookalikes will consider that inside information the algorithm picks up on as they search for that top 1% of users that are most likely to convert.

A small dog holding a dog toy

Now that you are convinced that it is important to use lookalikes, you can build quality lookalikes from other avenues as well and not just past purchasers.  You can basically build these audiences based off of any remarketing method.  That is why lookalikes are valuable to have within your prospecting game plan.  They consider the attributes of people who already engage with your brand!  There is nothing better than that while trying to drive new people to your site who are quality.  You can build lookalikes off of website visitors, email lists, people who engage with your app, people who walk into your store, people who engage with your video ads, people who engage with your Instagram, people who responded to events on your Facebook page, people who have engaged with an instant experience ad and finally, people who have opened or filled out a lead generation ad.  There are so many options to find quality prospects using this strategy.  In addition, one of my favorite ways to utilize lookalikes for ecommerce clients is to create one based off each step of the purchase funnel.  This can include people who have added products to their cart, initiated checkout or abandoned their cart.  This can only happen through the power of the Pixel, so make sure that is implemented.

Now, let’s take this strategy even further and implement testing within our lookalike audiences.  One way to do this and get even more granular in finding our top quality audience is by adding in time lines.  Do this by testing out a lookalike of website visitors from the past 90 days, past 30 days and past 7 days.  Apply this as well to your Facebook engagement lookalike.  Different products, services or leads can have differing conversion windows.  Maybe your client offers a service that people shop around and do research for before converting.  The 30 or 90 day audience may work better in this case than a quick ecommerce purchase that may do better with the 7 day audience.  Testing is important.  Gather insight and data to figure out the best performing lookalikes for your client.

Now, here is my final word to the wise when it comes to lookalikes.  Please do not edit your gender, age, location or placements!  The lookalike algorithm considers all these factors while it finds that top 1% of users.  Editing these options may actually be detrimental to your lookalike because it is hindering and limiting its machine learning and not allowing it to consider all its options while finding that perfect and most similar ice cream flavor to your favorite.

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