In this post, you will learn all about custom audiences and lookalike audiences and how you can target these two audiences to gain maximum exposure on Facebook. To begin with, let’s define what custom audiences and lookalike audiences mean.
A custom audience in Facebook is composed of a group of people who have interacted with your business either on Facebook, other online platforms and even offline.
Targeting such a group usually results in higher conversions for businesses because these are people who are already familiar with your brand. They’re not total strangers to your business. These people are what we call a ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ audience.
The typical audience you create at the Ad Set level (we’ll refer to this as the default targeting system) can be targeted using their location, age, gender, languages, interests, connections, and more.
While this default targeting system is very comprehensive by itself, the Custom Audience feature allows advertisers to reach people you can’t target with the normal settings you find in the Audience tab in Ads Manager.
Here’s a screenshot of the different types of custom audiences you can target with your Facebook ads:
If you collect email address from your blog subscribers, then you have a mailing list. You can upload your list to Facebook, and it will look for your subscribers’ Facebook accounts. You can also directly import from MailChimp.
If you don’t have a mailing list, but you have a customer file of your subscribers which include any of the following details – email address, phone number, name, date of birth, gender, age, Facebook user ID, city, zip code, and more – then Facebook can also use these to look up your customers’ Facebook accounts and add them to your custom audience.
To create an audience from people who have visited and took specific actions on your website, you need to have the Facebook pixel installed on your site. Installing the pixel isn’t really complicated.
However, to make sure there are no errors, ask assistance from someone who knows how to install the pixel. Also, to get usable data, wait for at least 30 days so that Facebook can get a more accurate read and create a bigger audience size for your custom audience.
If you have an app or game linked to your account, you can create a custom audience of people who have launched, or took specific actions, on your app or game.
You can target people who have interacted with your business in-store, by telephone, or via other offline means.
The engagement option allows you to target people who have engaged with your content on either Instagram or Facebook. This includes people who have watched your videos, opened or completed one of your lead forms, opened your collection or canvas ad and interacted with your events.
In any of the custom audience options above, Facebook guarantees that the process is secure and that your customers’ details will be kept private. This means that you won’t be able to see the individual profiles of your custom audience.
A lookalike audience is an audience that has similar characteristics to another existing audience. Facebook has an active user base of 2 billion people that logs onto the platform each month. Their algorithm is so advanced it can detect and scope out people who are similar to your first group.
It will look for patterns and characteristics that your first group has in common and create a second group of very similar users who most probably have not interacted with your business before.
You can create a lookalike audience based on a customer list, a custom audience, your Facebook conversion pixel, or people who like your page.
For example, if you’ve got a custom audience of 20-25 year-old single females based in the United States who like Pokemon, you can create a lookalike of that audience by targeting the same demographic of women in Australia or the United Kingdom or wherever else you want.
Here’s a screenshot of the information you’d need to create a lookalike audience:
Facebook does the hard work for you. All you have to do is just basically select the audience source, the new location, the number of lookalike audiences you want to create and select the audience size. That’s it – just wait a short while, and you’ll have your lookalike audience in no time at all!
There are quite a number of different strategies you can employ to get more conversions for your business. However, the fastest way you can possibly get more sales and leads is by using a combination of custom and lookalike ludiences.
As we have mentioned earlier in this guide, custom audiences are people who are already familiar with your brand. They may already like and trust you, and thus would be more willing to sign up or buy your products and services.
Here are a few techniques to try and get more conversions for your business:
If your business is new on Facebook and you want to get more social proof by having people who know your business like your Facebook page, you can try setting up a campaign that targets everyone who’s ever done business with you. You can upload your mailing list, subscriber or customer database and Facebook will then match their info with their Facebook profiles.
Once you have your custom audience set up, you can then start an Engagement campaign and have your existing customers like your page. Make sure your advert clearly identifies who you are so that they can recognize you.
It’s important to note here that Page Likes are mainly a vanity metric nowadays. Organic engagement from page fans and followers are shockingly low, however, having a ‘warm’ audience liking your page is beneficial for 2 reasons:
Facebook experts agree that it seems to be a common trend to have lower conversion costs when targeting a page’s fans. Yes, you still need to pay Facebook to reach all your fans but it’s not going to be expensive (results may vary from page to page so please take this advice with caution).
The reason this strategy usually leads to lower conversion costs is because ‘warm’ page fans are more likely to click through or engage with your ads since they already know and trust you.
Once you’ve racked up a nice number of page likes, you can then create a second advert offering them a sweet deal – something like a loyalty discount for returning customers.
People love discounts! If they’ve had a good experience with your business in the past, chances are they’ll be more likely to take you up on your offer.
When you see good results on this initial campaign, you can then create a lookalike audience and target even more people with the same characteristics as your original custom audience!
Take note this strategy is just one of many. You can even forego the Page Likes campaign and just go straight to targeting your custom audience with the loyalty offer. It’s really all up to you – and your budget!
Customer segmentation plays a huge role in this strategy. Simply put, if you sell several products, you’d need to create one list for each product. Yes, it’s going to take a lot of work upfront, however, when it’s time to create those ads, your job will be much easier.
Here’s an example:
Say you are selling ten products (products A to J). For each product you sell, you keep a list of all the customers who bought each product. In a few months, you release an updated product, say version 2.0 of Product A. It’s not an entirely new product, but it has significant upgrades to version 1.0.
If you’re selling version 2.0 at $100, you can set up a Facebook ad campaign targeting those who bought version 1.0 and offer the new version at a huge discount (for example, a 50% discount).
You then set up a separate advert targeting those who did not buy Product A but bought products B to J and offer version 2.0 at the original $100 price (or maybe give them a small discount for being a past customer).
The key takeaway here is that the more specific your audience, the more you can create ads that speak directly to them and address their pain points. Lumping everyone into the same group will not only lead to fewer people engaging with your ad but will also lead to higher conversion costs.
The more targeted your audience, the more engaged they would be, and the lower your conversion costs.
To get even more conversions, create a lookalike audience for each of your custom audiences. This means that if you have 10 Custom Audiences based on each product (Products A to J), then you can create 10 Lookalike Audiences. This strategy is especially useful if your products are geared towards different markets or different industries.
People receive so many emails from marketers and companies all the time. We hear marketers say this popular phrase all the time – the money is in the list. But if people are getting a barrage of emails every single day, chances are your emails (and everyone not on their contact list) goes into the Spam folder or some other folder they will never open.
But with Facebook Ads, you have a new channel to reach them. You can upload your mailing list and create an ad targeted specifically to your subscribers.
Offer them something enticing or maybe just let them know about your new blog post and how it can be of value to them. You just need to be creative to get your brand in front of them so they’ll remember you when they need your products or services.
It’s true that the money is still in the list – you just need to pay Facebook a little bit more so you can reach those who choose to ignore your emails.
We hope by now you can see just how powerful custom audiences and lookalike audiences are. But don’t be trigger happy – don’t think you can use stolen Facebook data and target people who’ve never signed up to your list. If you do this, you can get into a lot of trouble with Facebook, and possibly get your account banned!
Before you create any custom audience, you’d need to make sure of the following:
If you don’t follow these rules, your ad account could get banned. Getting banned is probably one of the worst things that can happen to any business especially if your target audience lives and breathes on Facebook. So make sure you don’t go against the rules when targeting custom audiences! Our next post in this series will look at retarget marketing on Facebook.