Lookalike (LAL) audiences simplify ad targeting on platforms like Facebook by giving you the ability to target a group of people who look like your existing customer base or following.
The algorithms ad platforms use to build lookalike audiences are trained to find common attributes and behaviors in your existing audience. These data points are then used to build a net new audience of people who ‘look’ similar to your original audience.
This is far more accurate and less time-consuming than having a human do the work themselves, and generally leads to an increase in conversions, higher-quality leads, and less ad wastage.
In this article, we’ll share five examples of audience segments that can be synced with your ad platform, and used to target lookalikes.
5 goals-based lookalike audiences worth testing
Lookalike audiences can be used for any campaign type. As long as you are feeding your advertising platform the right first-party data, the algorithm will have everything it needs to build an audience worth targeting.
Finding the right data set requires you to articulate your goal, then identify the filters that will give you a relevant audience segment. When this segment is synced or uploaded to your ad platform, their algorithms will do the work to target lookalikes.
Below, we’ve outlined some examples of custom audiences based on specific campaign goals that can be used as source data for your lookalike campaigns. We’ve also provided examples of how these audiences could be built in Ortto and some tips for messaging.
These should be viewed as a starting point — you’ll be able to layer additional data points according to your business and soon enough you’ll find new opportunities to use lookalikes to grow.
1. Expanding your footprint
If you’re expanding your footprint to a new region, using lookalike targeting can be a great way to build awareness with customers who look similar to your existing top-performing customers but reside in a different country or region.
Your existing audience will need to be large enough (minimum 1,000 people) to support this effort, so play around with filters like MRR or engagement scores to ensure you have a sizable audience the algorithm can work with.
If you don’t already have a segment of your top-performing customers, head over to your Ortto account and select some filters that represent high-performance to your business. This could be:
MRR is above $X
Product engagement score is 4+
Customer for X years
Make sure to select the button to sync this audience with your ad platforms. Once that’s done you’ll find the synced audience in your ad platform, and can then add additional targeting for the relevant geographic region/s.
Tips for creative and messaging: When you’re expanding your footprint, you’ll be reaching a lot of people who have never heard of your brand before. Use your creative and messaging to educate them on who you are, and call out things like free and fast shipping to their region or customer support availability in their timezone to overcome any hesitations.
If you need to translate your advertising copy to another language, bring a translator on board to translate from scratch or check the work of automatic online translations. This will help ensure your message matches your intention.
2. Increasing customer lifetime value
Increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) is top of mind for most marketers, especially in the B2B/SaaS space where the focus on ‘as many leads as possible’ has officially (and finally!) shifted to ‘the best leads possible.’
In this instance, you want to create an audience segment of your high-CLV customers to use as source data for a lookalike campaign. To do this, use filters like:
Total orders are greater than 10
Engagement score is 4 stars or above
Lifetime value is greater than $1,000
Average order is greater than $100
Select to sync this audience, save, and you’ll be ready to use it when building lookalike audiences.
Tips for creative and messaging: High-value customers looking for a long-term solution for their business are less swayed by discount-driven creative and messaging, and more focused on quality, an incredible customer experience, and a strong brand story.
3. Growing your email list
Most brands today have a newsletter or other regular email send-out. Growing this list of subscribers could become a critical part of bringing more leads into the funnel.
Bringing in any old subscriber with tempting offers or sweepstakes may work in the short term, but long term you want to build an audience of people who are actively engaged with your sends. Otherwise, you risk harming your email deliverability or creating a leaky funnel.
Instead, you could use lookalike targeting to reach people who look similar to your existing subscriber base.
In this example, there are two options:
If the subscriber database is on the smaller size, use your entire ‘Newsletter subscribers’ audience segment to target people who are similar to your subscribers.
If your subscriber database is large, create an ‘Engaged newsletter subscriber’ audience by using the filters ‘Subscribed to newsletter’ and ‘Opened newsletter in the last 90 days’ and/or ‘Clicked newsletter in the last 90 days’ to create an audience of engaged subscribers. This will help you narrow in on an audience that is more likely to both subscribe and engage with your emails.
Tips for creative and messaging: Reach out to a few highly engaged subscribers and ask them for a short quote on why they love your newsletter. You can use this social proof to convince more subscribers to sign up.
If you don’t have social proof available, focus on what your newsletter subscribers will get from their subscription and be specific. Rather than, ‘trend predictions’ say ‘We accurately predicted 12 of the biggest social media trends in 2023. Don’t miss out on our predictions for 2024.’
4. Moving a specific product
Maybe you’re a DTC food company and you have a product that is nearing its expiration date. Or you’re a SaaS and an ill-timed feature launch didn't attract the attention you expected.
To reach an audience of people who are more likely to take action, create an audience of existing customers who have purchased that product or adopted that feature and use it in a lookalike campaign.
Your filters could look something like this:
Ordered product has occurred where the URL starts with www.example.com/snacky-snack
# total orders is greater than 2
For a SaaS or B2B, it could be:
Feature used has occurred in the last 90 days
Tips for creative and messaging: In the first example, you want to move a product — and fast. Offer a discount and shout about things like free shipping and returns to help nudge this audience to purchase, and focus on what makes this one product superior. Once they convert, then you can do the work of nurturing and retargeting to entice them to buy again.
In the second example, it's all about speaking to the benefits of that specific feature. Identify what your existing customers love about it (get testimonials if you can) and use this as a jumping-off point for your messaging. After all, your lookalikes are likely to be attracted to the same feature benefits.
5. Releasing a new product or feature
Naturally, you will want to advertise your new product to your existing customers using, initially, organic tactics like email and social media announcements and, later, retargeting campaigns.
But your new product release is also an opportunity to reach an entirely new audience. You’ve got something to shout about and you’ve probably invested in some creative to explain the product or feature. It’s the perfect opportunity to get in front of a new audience.
For example, if a SaaS project management tool has just launched a new feature that helps customers find freelance creative talent and they want to use it to attract new customers they could create an audience segment with filters like:
Industry is creative agency or marketing
AND Has viewed page www.example.com/freelance-finder
OR Has participated in beta test
OR Clicked announcement email
Now you have a segment of existing customers who are more likely to be interested in the new offering, and you can use it to target a net new audience set with similar attributes.
Tips for creative and messaging: Unlike your existing audience, your lookalikes will not be familiar with your brand or product, so you will need to add some context about who you are.
A testimonial from a beta tester will go a long way to demonstrate the value of the new feature. The added benefit here is your beta tester will have experience with the rest of your product and can hint at the power of the full suite.
Creating and syncing audience segments for lookalike audiences with Ortto
The first step is to make sure your Meta Business account is integrated with your Ortto account.
Next, create your desired audience by filtering your audience in the People section of the platform, or from the audiences page. Follow the instructions below to create your audience, using the five examples above as inspiration for your filtering:
Use filters to find the segment of people you want to save as an audience. People who meet these criteria now are added immediately, and anyone who matches in the future will also automatically enter.
Click next. Give the audience a name and select an icon, then scroll down and check the boxes to sync the audience with Meta Business.
Click Create to complete the audience setup
Your source audience will need to include at least 100 people from a single country, with a total audience of at least 1,000 being optimal. It can include up to 50,000 people. You can create up to 500 lookalike audiences from a single source audience, so this effort will not be wasted.
The Ortto audience will show with ‘Synced with Ortto audience’ sub-text so you can quickly and easily identify your audience segments in the platform.
Now, you can set up your lookalike audiences by following the instructions below.
Setting up a lookalike audience in Meta Business Suite
Open up Meta Business Suite and follow these steps:
Go to Create Audience and select Lookalike Audience
Select the custom audience you would like to base your lookalike audience on by choosing the synced audience from your Ortto platform
Choose the country or countries you’d like to target
Select your audience size by dragging the lever. A 1% audience size range will target people who are very similar to your lookalike source. As you increase the percentage, you increase the audience size, but the matching details become less precise. Different audiences will have different specificity requirements, it’s all about finding a large enough audience size without going too far from your source data
Click Create Audience and wait for your lookalike audience to be created. This could take up to a day, but it will refresh every 3-7 days if you are continuously running ads targeting your lookalike audience.
The final word
Lookalike audiences take the hassle out of building audiences to target, but feeding the algorithm the right source data is crucial for success. Ensure you've got your data in order, a robust filtering and segmenting solution, and a clear understanding of who you are targeting and why.