With 1.44 billion monthly active users in 2015 and the average time spent on Facebook per day being 50 minutes per user, it’s hardly groundbreaking news that Facebook advertising is now a vital part of any paid social strategy. However, there are advanced techniques which can maximise the effectiveness of Facebook advertising campaigns. Enter Facebook custom audiences and lookalike audiences…

Intrigued? Thought you might be.

Facebook provides advertisers with a huge range of audience targeting options; from basic demographics to interests and behaviours. However, custom audiences are an advanced feature which allows brands to connect with customers they already know.

What are Custom Audiences?

Facebook Custom Audiences allow brand managers to upload a list of customer information (e.g. customer email addresses and phone numbers, subscriber lists, app users or likes from social media pages) which Facebook uses to find lookalike audiences.

This allows advertisers to place their brand in front of customers once again, increasing customer loyalty and value. This is an extremely effective tool for targeting customers who have bought from the brand already, or expressed an interest in the brand before (i.e. signing up to a newsletter or entering a competition).

And if that wasn’t enough, recent Bain & Company research shows that repeat customers are cheaper to acquire and are likely to spend more on their second, third and ongoing visits.

The Next Step – Lookalike Audiences

At this stage, by using a custom audience, advertisers are targeting customers who are familiar to, and more likely to spend more, with the brand.

Chances are, that as a demographic they share a lot of similar characteristics, perhaps they all like certain pages on Facebook or tend to visit particular websites.

By utilising lookalike audiences, Facebook will analyse the Custom Audiences for patterns and identify other users who are similar. Facebook will then place the ads in front of users who closely match current customers.

This is an extremely effective method of reaching new potential customers – who are more likely to convert based on past behaviours.

Benefits of a Lookalike Audience

Aside from the very obvious benefit of placing ads in front of highly-specific profiles, there are some finer details which can further add to what can be gained from using custom audiences.

Additional targeting options allow advertisers to choose in which country to show ads and to tweak the audience size to adjust how wide they want the reach to be. They can decide exactly how targeted they wish their lookalike audience to be; choosing between targeting the top 1% of users with similar characteristics, and the top 10% and anywhere in between. This highly-targeted audience will also be constantly evolving as the list will refresh every week with new potential customers who match with the existing list.

Even without a suitable list, brands can still use lookalike audiences by utilising a conversion tracking pixel on their website. This can even be placed on specific website pages, so advertisers can target audiences based on their interest in particular products.

How to Create a Lookalike Audience

Getting a lookalike audience up and running is very simple, it can be created in either Ads Manager or Power Editor:

  1. In the audience section, click on “Create Audience”
  2. Choose the lookalike audience option
  3. Upload a list, whether it is a list of app users, newsletter sign ups or website visitors
  4. Select a targeted country
  5. Choose which audience size you would like to target
  6. Hit “create audience” and sit back while Facebook creates your highly specific and targeted audience for your ads (note this process can take up to a day).

As you can imagine, Facebook lookalike audiences are a powerful tool when utilised to drive additional revenue; especially during key trading periods such as Christmas (and beyond).

Get in touch if you would like to find out more!

And if you would like to learn more about other aspects of social media marketing, check out Lisa Kelly’s extremely useful blog post outlining which tools marketers can use to get the most out of their Twitter strategies.