The Basics of Facebook Lookalike Audiences (+Pro Tips!)

Oct 20, 2021
Feb 29, 2024
13 mins
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Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Expert tips for nabbing those coveted Facebook lookalike audiences—because who doesn't want more of what’s working? Full details inside.

Ever wish you could clone your most loyal customers? Facebook lookalike audiences can do just that, multiplying your potential reach and boosting your ROI. Keep reading to discover the magic of cloning your top-performing audiences, including prospective buyers who are most likely to convert.

What are lookalike audiences on Facebook?

If you're wondering what a Facebook lookalike audience is, think of it like hosting a delightful dinner party where you've invited all your closest friends. Now, wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could magically multiply your guest list with only people who share similar interests, tastes, and vibes? 

Well, that’s precisely what Facebook lookalike audiences do for your business. Lookalike audiences are your secret sauce for reaching new potential customers. It’s a way to connect with people who are likely to be interested in your business because they resemble your existing customers. 

Here’s how they work:

  1. Seed audience: Also known as a custom audience, this is your starting point. It could be your customer list, website visitors (tracked using the Facebook Pixel), app activity, or people who engaged with your Facebook or Instagram content. Essentially, it’s a group of existing people.
  2. Creating a lookalike audience: Once you have your seed audience, Facebook analyzes their qualities (such as location, interests, age, etc.). Then, it identifies people who are similar to or “look like” your existing prospects. These new audiences are your lookalike audiences.
  3. Endless possibilities: You can create multiple lookalike audiences simultaneously, combining them with other targeting parameters like age, gender, and interests. Whether you want to boost brand awareness or drive online sales, lookalike audiences can help.

What is an example of lookalike targeting?

Let’s say you run an e-commerce store selling organic skincare products. Your custom audience consists of loyal customers who have made purchases. To expand your reach, you create a lookalike audience based on this seed group.

Facebook then identifies people who share similar characteristics. A lookalike audience example would be people who are interested in natural beauty products or have similar demographics. Your ad is delivered to this new audience—people who “look like” your current customers.

What is a 1% lookalike audience?

When creating a lookalike audience, you can choose a percent range (1% to 10%) to determine how closely you want the new audience to match your source audience. The further up the scale you move the slider, the broader the audience and less similar it will be to your seed audience.

The size of the lookalike audience is influenced by both the percentage and the target country. For example, if you select a 1% lookalike audience for a specific country, Facebook will assemble a group that represents the top 1% of the population in that country, based on similarity to your source audience.

What do the lookalike percentage options mean?

  • Smaller percentages: If you opt for a smaller percentage (e.g., 1% or 2%), the resulting lookalike audience will closely resemble your source audience. These are people who mirror your existing customers the most accurately.
  • Larger percentages: On the other hand, larger percentages (e.g., 5% or 10%) create a bigger, broader audience. While this expands your reach, keep in mind that the similarity to your source audience decreases as you increase the percentage. In other words, the people in a 10% lookalike audience will be the least similar to your existing customers than those in a 1% lookalike audience.

How to choose the right lookalike percentage?

Choosing the right lookalike percentage ultimately comes down to balancing similarity with reach. Think of lookalike audiences as dating app matches. Starting with the top 1% is like focusing on the cream of the crop, potentially giving you a potentially smaller but highly compatible group. 

However, it's crucial to consider the size of the Facebook population in your target country. For instance, a 1% lookalike audience in a small country like Mauritius will differ significantly from one in a larger country like the United States. If you're targeting a smaller population, sticking to a 1% lookalike might restrict your advertising potential. 

You will have to increase the lookalike percentage to broaden your reach and ensure your ads are seen by more people.

Conversely, in larger populations like the United States, being more selective and opting for a 1% lookalike can provide both the most similar audience to your source audience and help you reach millions of people.

Now, if you go for the bigger percentiles, you'll cast a wider net, but the audiences might not be as spot-on. It's all about finding that sweet spot between reaching more people and making sure they're still the right fit for your ads. To find this sweet spot, you will need to do some testing!

How to test lookalike audiences?

When it comes to targeting audiences effectively on social media, testing different audience sizes is key. A smart approach is to start with small percentages, and gradually increase to larger ones to gauge results. 

For instance, beginning with ad sets targeting 1%, 2%, and 3% lookalike audiences allows for precise testing of effectiveness. As you meticulously analyze results and gradually fine-tune your strategy, expanding to broader audiences – such as those in the 5-7% range – becomes a strategic consideration if you want to scale. 

By venturing into broader audience segments, you tap into previously untapped pools of potential customers. It’s worth testing to see how much more you can increase the lookalike percentage while still achieving satisfactory results in your campaigns.

As you increase the lookalikes percentage and broaden your reach, keep a keen eye on indicators such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROAS. If these metrics remain satisfactory or improve, it signals that your broader audience is responding positively.

Side note ⚠️ Lookalike audiences are a dynamic feature. As your business grows, customer behavior shifts, or new data becomes available, the lookalike audience adjusts accordingly. Stay on top of Facebook updates and best practices to make the most of them.

Why are lookalike audiences important?

Lookalike audiences have emerged as a crucial weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. Let’s dive into why they matter and how they can help you acquire new customers, even in the post-iOS14 era.

  1. Precision targeting: Lookalike audiences allow you to hyper-target potential customers who closely resemble your existing audience. By leveraging data from your seed audience (such as website visitors, app users, or email subscribers), you can find individuals with similar behaviors, interests, and demographics. This precision ensures that your ads reach the right people.
  2. Expanding reach: While your custom audience (seed audience) might be limited, lookalike audiences open up new horizons. They extend your reach beyond your existing customer base by tapping into a pool of prospects who share common traits with those who already love your brand. It’s casting a wider net without compromising relevance.
  3. Quality over quantity: Unlike broad targeting, lookalike audiences prioritize quality. These are users who exhibit patterns similar to your best-performing customers list. Whether you’re aiming for conversions, engagement, or brand awareness, quality trumps quantity. In the noisy digital space, reaching the right people matters more than sheer numbers.

How to create Facebook lookalike audiences

  1. Go to the ‘Audiences’ section of your Meta Business Suite.
Meta Business Suite - Audiences
  1. Locate the blue 'Create audience' button at the top left corner and opt for 'Lookalike audience' from the dropdown menu.
Meta Business Suite- Create audience button

Your screen should look like this…

Meta Business Suite - create a lookalike audience
  1. You now need to select your lookalike source. Meta prefers you select a value-based source, but it doesn’t need to be. Meta prefers you select a value-based source, but it doesn’t need to be. ‘Value-based’ sources mean that you're creating a lookalike audience based on conversion events (e.g., those who purchased, signed up, etc.), while ‘Other sources’ means you're going to create the audience based on an existing custom audience (e.g., customer lists, web traffic, etc.)
Meta Business Suite - lookalike source options

This is an example of a selected source. In this case, I've chosen an offline event.

Meta Audiences - Select lookalike source
  1. Next, pinpoint the event with the value you wish to incorporate. By default, ‘Purchase’ is pre-selected (and advised), yet you have the flexibility to opt for another event according to your preference.
Meta Audiences - select an event with value
  1. Now, specify your audience location by entering at least one region or country.
Meta Business Suite - Select audience location
  1. Following that, it's time to determine how many lookalike audiences you wish to generate. While we'll only be creating one, you can generate up to 6 simultaneously if you want to.
Meta Business Suite - select audience size
  1. You'll be prompted to choose the percentage of similarity you wish to employ.
Meta Business Suite - select lookalike percentage
  1. Hit 'Create audience,' and you're good to go!

Madgicx simplifies creating lookalike audiences

If you want to avoid navigating the above complexities of building Meta lookalike audiences, look no further. Madgicx simplifies the process by utilizing AI to find your lookalikes on Facebook. This is how it has refined audience creation:

1. Audience Launcher is quick and precise. You can swiftly launch multiple audiences, tailored to cover every stage of your sales funnel. Choose from a library of 100+ pre-set audiences, meticulously crafted based on the eRFM model (Engagement Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value).

Madgicx Audience Launcher - Audiences

Even your exclusions are pre-built. When you launch an acquisition audience to scale, you can set up default exclusion audiences. From then on, Audience Launcher automatically excludes your warm audiences from any new ad sets you create.

With this feature, you can have peace of mind knowing that your campaign resources are solely focused on acquiring new customers.

Madgicx - Excluding audiences

2. You’ll have a full-funnel strategy in minutes

Launching a full-funnel strategy can be time-consuming. Building and testing all the necessary Facebook audiences could take hours each day. With Madgicx, that changes. It slashes the time needed to create a comprehensive strategy down to just a few minutes.

No more grappling with complex setups or relying on expensive hit-or-miss tactics. Madgicx's Audience Launcher simplifies the process, allowing you to focus on what truly matters.

3. Recommended audiences

Start strong with these Madgicx-recommended audiences. All you need to do is click ‘Launch’ to deploy your ads to them:

  • Top seed audiences to lookalike from: Madgicx blends your best-performing audiences into a single, powerful super lookalike audience. We leverage the success of your existing customer base to find similar, high-potential prospects.
  • Lookalike of Android/IOS customers with high intent: Madgicx targets users who exhibit strong intent. We ensure precision, helping you reach the right people at the right time.

Kicking off an acquisition campaign with Madgicx is super easy. In just a few clicks, your campaign will be up and running. Try it out with the 7-day FREE TRIAL!

Pro tips for Facebook lookalike audience optimization

You don't have to be a Facebook pro to unlock the full potential of your Facebook lookalike audiences. Here are some tips to help you maximize their effectiveness:

✔️ Refresh regularly. Update your seed audience periodically. As your business evolves, so should your lookalike audiences.

✔️Use first-party data — Don’t rely on third-party data to create your source audience. Instead, collate the data you have about your customers and use this to create custom lists.

✔️ Combine with other parameters. Don’t rely solely on lookalike audiences. Layer them with other targeting options like interests, behaviors, or demographics. For example, you can target a lookalike audience of high LTV customers who are also interested in specific topics related to your business.

✔️ Choose high-quality sources. While it might be tempting to include every customer in your source audience, larger isn’t always better. Prioritize quality over quantity. Select seed audiences that closely resemble your ideal customers. Consider using segments like high lifetime value (LTV) customers or those who have recently converted.

✔️ Test and optimize. Test and optimize by creating multiple lookalike audiences with varying degrees of similarity to your source audience. Experiment with different percentages (e.g., 1%, 2%, 5%) to find the sweet spot. Additionally, try combining one ad from 1% to 3% altogether to assess its performance when the three percentages are combined.

✔️ Get creative with your source audience. Consider creating lookalike audiences based on less obvious criteria, such as high-value customers—those who are frequent purchasers or have a high lifetime value. Additionally, you could target people who have visited specific pages on your site. Lastly, don’t overlook those who watched a significant percentage of your videos.

And that's it! Now you know what a lookalike audience is and how to effectively connect with them for your desired reach and outcomes. 

Remember, optimization is an ongoing process. It’s always a good idea to use Madgicx, Meta Business Manager, or any other credible marketing analytics tools to constantly monitor performance, tweak your parameters, and adapt as your business evolves. 

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Oct 20, 2021
Feb 29, 2024
Annette Nyembe

Digital copywriter with a passion for sculpting words that resonate in a digital age.

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