The Beginner Guide to Facebook Lookalike Audiences and Campaigns [in 2022]

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Are you taking advantage of Facebook Lookalike Audiences? If you are not, you are missing out as Facebook Lookalike Audiences are one of the most valuable techniques you have in Facebook advertising. 

In this Facebook advertising tutorial, we will share everything you have to know about Facebook Lookalike Audiences such as:

  • What is a Facebook Lookalike Audience?
  • How does Facebook Lookalike Audience work?
  • The minimum size of a source audience you need for a Lookalike Audience
  • Things you have to know about a Facebook Lookalike Audience
  • How to create a Facebook Lookalike Audience?
  • Most effective Facebook Lookalike Audiences, and others you have not used yet but could test them.

At the end of this guide, we will also answer the most frequently asked questions related to Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

If you prefer a video tutorial on Lookalike Audiences, check out this video tutorial:

What is a Facebook Lookalike Audience?

Facebook Lookalike Audience

A Facebook Lookalike Audience is a targeting option on Facebook that leverages the users in your source audience to find the Facebook users that are the most similar to them in their interest, behavior and demographic characteristics.

You can create 1 to 10% Lookalike Audiences which means that Facebook will try to find the top 1-10% of users in a country that is the most similar to your source audience. With the Facebook Marketing API, you can even make Lookalike Audiences from the top 20% of the users.

You can create Lookalike Audiences from your website visitors and based on the user actions on your website (purchase, add to cart, etc.), from the customer lists you have uploaded to Facebook, from your mobile app data, or from a pool of people who engaged with your contents on Facebook or Instagram. 

Why is Facebook Lookalike targeting so powerful?

Facebook Lookalike Audience targeting is so powerful because it leverages the huge database Facebook has built out about Facebook, Instagram and Messenger users. 

Facebook knows a lot about its users, more than people think Facebook knows about them. 

As Facebook is not only using the data they collect on how users use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or Whatsapp (e.g. what ads they click on, what pages they like, what influencers they follow), they also use two other types of data source that makes their database even more powerful.

First, they purchase information about their users from 3rd party sources where they can get access to data that they can’t directly get from Facebook or from the website. (Update: Facebook terminated the usage of 3rd party data sources in 2018, so they don’t work from these sources anymore.)

Last but not least, the most powerful part of Facebook user data collection is done via the Facebook Pixel. With Facebook Pixel, Facebook can collect a lot of data about its users even if they are currently signed into Facebook, and even when they don’t use Facebook or a FB product at all.

As Facebook Pixel is placed in millions of websites, Facebook can always see and collect what websites you visit, what products you purchase, what news sites you read and the list goes on.

Leveraging these types of data sources not only allows advertisers to target Facebook and Instagram users based on interests and behavior data but also allows Facebook to cluster similar users to groups and find users most similar to the one you have in your source audience. This is the advertising technique we call Lookalike Audience targeting.

Source audience types for Lookalike Audiences

Before you would be able to create Lookalike Audiences, you have to have Custom Audiences set up that can be the basis or to use a better term, be the source audience for the LLAs.

If the concept of Custom Audience is not familiar to you, and you have no idea how to create Custom Audiences, make sure to check out some of our guides and tutorials:

Now, we will only share the 4 main types of Custom Audience sources you can use to create Lookalike Audiences. These are:

  • Website Custom Audience from Facebook Pixel Events’ data (ranging from all website visitors to laser targeted people who purchased a type of product in transactions where the order value is higher than 200 USD)
  • Custom Audience created from customer lists you have uploaded (e.g. active customers, email subscribers)
  • Custom Audience created  from you mobile App data (people who logged in, viewed a specific app page, etc.)
  • Engagement Custom Audience: Custom audiences that Facebook automatically creates (like people who viewed your videos, engaged with your Facebook or Instagram page, viewed one of your lead forms, etc.)

If you are interested in specific examples, you should keep reading, as at the end of the article we will also give plenty of very effective Lookalike Audience examples.

Characteristics of Facebook LAAs

Facebook Custom Audience minimum size for Lookalike Campaigns

The ideal size for an LLA source audience according to Facebook’s official recommendation ranges from 1000-5000 users, but you can start making Lookalike Audiences from source audiences where the source audience is only over 100 users.

However, the quality of the source audience is in a lot of cases more important than the quantity of the users. A Custom Audience made from purchasers that has 500 users will probably be a better source audience for a Lookalike Audience than a ViewContent Custom Audience that has 10 thousand users.

Values-Based Lookalike Audiences on Facebook

Create new Source for Lookalike Audience

When you are choosing the source audience for the Lookalike Audience, you also have the option to choose value-based source audiences. This means that Facebook will not only use the pool of customers but will also use the customer lifetime value (LTV) of users in their lookalike matching algorithm.

These Value-Based Lookalikes can only be used with Standard Events where a value parameter is also set, or with uploaded customer lists where you can also add the lifetime values of the customers in an additional column.

How to create a Facebook Lookalike Audience?

We have a separate article where we show step by step how to create a Facebook Lookalike Audience from scratch. In this beginner guide about Facebook LAA, we are only going to show you the basic process without any additional details.

Create the Custom Audience from you would like to create a Lookalike Audience

  1. Open Audience Manager from your Business Manager or go to this link
  2. In the upper right corner, click on Custom Audience then on Lookalike Audience

Create Audience - Lookalike Audience

3. In this window you can see that there are three steps to create a Lookalike Audience. First, you have to choose the source audience which Facebook will use to match most similar users to

4. In the next step, choose the country or countries where Facebook should create the Lookalike Audience

Select Audience Location - Facebook Lookalike Audience

5. In the last step, you can define the size of the Lookalike Audience. First, you have to choose how many audiences you want to create at once, then you can use the slider to define the size of each new Lookalike Audience.

Select Audience Size - Facebook Lookalike Audience

Once again, if you need more details on creating Facebook Lookalike Audiences, just click on this link.

Best Source Audience for Lookalike Audiences

The best source audiences for your Facebook Lookalike Audiences will depend on the kind of business you run. Obviously, it will be different for a business that generates leads on its website than an e-commerce store that sells physical products.

Regardless of business type and industry, we have set up this Facebook LAA list, you can try and experiment with the ones that will be the most relevant for your business. Another thing to keep in mind that a 7 days LAA tends to be more effective than 180 days if it also has enough users that allow Facebook to make an LAA from it. (at least 500)

Facebook Lookalike Audiences from Purchasers

Obviously, for e-commerce or similar businesses, the most important conversion is Purchase, so you could make FB Lookalike Audiences from:

  • People who purchased products in the last X days based on Facebook Pixel data (using the Purchase Standard Event)
  • People who purchased something, exported from your backend system (like Shopify, or Woocommerce customer lists) and then uploaded to Facebook
  • People who purchased something in your mobile app

You can segment these audiences sources even more to include only your most valuable customers (this can work well if you have a business that is generating at least tens of thousands of website transactions per month):

  • Purchasers who spent more than X amount
  • Customers who purchased at least 2 times
  • Purchasers who bought a specific type of product

Facebook Lookalike Audiences from Leads

When you advertise for a service-based business then most likely you only collect leads on your website. In this case, the most valuable source audience for your Lookalike Audiences is the Leads you have collected.

Just as with purchaser lists, here you also have multiple sources from which you can make a FB Lookalike Audience:

  • From people who signed up on your website
  • From Facebook Lead forms submitters
  • From Facebook Messenger Subscribers
  • People who didn’t sign up with any of these methods, but contacted you via phone or in the email (using the Contact Standard Event)

Facebook Lookalike Audience from your Active Customers

If you have a SaaS or any kind of membership business, the most valuable customers for you are people who are actively paying and using the products.

In this case, you should just upload the list of your active customers, and update the list once per month so the LAA can also find new people based on the new people from the source audience.

LAA from people who checked out or added a product to the cart

People who checked out or added products to cart are of course less valuable than people who purchased from your e-commerce or similar type of website. However, when you don’t have enough Purchasers the LAA can be better quality with these less valuable standard events as well.

You can try experimenting with these source audiences and see which FB LAA will bring the best return for you. 

Lookalike Audience from Email Subscribers

When you sell most of the stuff in your email campaigns then it also makes sense to try to use a Lookalike Audience that is based on your email subscriber list:

  • You can either use the Lead or the Complete Registration Standard Event
  • Or simply upload the list of your subscribers to Facebook

Lookalike Audience from visitors by time spent

If you don’t collect leads, or sell products on your website (because for instance, you run a brick and mortar store), you can still segment your website visitors to create a FB Lookalike audience from the most valuable ones. 

As a lot of users usually leave a site immediately you can segment the ones who got really engaged with your content or products by creating a lookalike audiences from people who spent the most time on your website. You can create a Custom Audience from people who spent the top 5-10 or 25% on your website or on specific pages.

Any Facebook Custom Events you think might be a valuable LAA source

One of the other powerful features on Facebook is the ability to create Facebook Custom Events. Every FB advertiser can create Custom Events for user actions that are not covered by the 17 user actions. And then you can also use these Custom Events to create a Custom Audience then use that as a source audience to create Lookalike Audiences.

To make it easier to understand with examples, let’s say you run an affiliate business where you promote high ticket offers. You could create custom events that would track outbound links that take the users to the offer pages you promote. In this case, you could try to make Lookalike Audiences from people who clicked through to these offers.

If you are not familiar with Custom Events at all, you can check out our beginner guide on Facebook Custom Events, which will help you familiarize yourself with it.

Best Lookalike Audiences for Small Companies (startups and dropshippers)

If you have a startup that just started to operate or you started a brand new dropshipping store, so basically your business doesn’t have any history and user data that Facebook could use for sources of the LAAs, you can still use an LAA technique that can get you quick results.

Make Facebook LA audience from Engaged Video Viewers

So if you just starting out and have no idea what interest or behavior targeting option you could use we would recommend you make a couple of video ads that describe your product and service and start running FB ads campaigns with video views campaign objective.

What these campaigns will do, is to get many video views on your video ads at the lowest cost that it is possible in your targeting area. So from a small budget in a short period of time, you will quickly have videos where a significant number of people have watched at least 50% of the videos that can be used as source audience for an LAA.

Then what you can do is make a Custom Audience from people who watched 50% of any of your video ads and make Lookalike Audiences from these source audiences. This time you should start a campaign with a conversion objective and target the Facebook ad set for these video views LAAs.

Other examples of Facebook LAAs

The following examples of Facebook Lookalike Audiences will be less relevant for most businesses, but it can be very powerful for a few businesses. So, here is the list:

  • FB LAA from people purchased products in an app
  • Facebook LAA from users who signed up for a free trial of a paid subscription
  • Facebook LAA from people who subscribed for a membership program (and paid for it)
  • FB LAA from users who found an offline distribution channel (e.g. brick and mortar store), in your app or your website.)

To see other options we might have not mentioned here, you should go and check out our article, where we collected all examples of FB Custom Audiences that you can leverage on Facebook to make retargeting campaigns out of them or use them as a source for your Lookalike Audiences.



Frequently Asked Questions – Facebook Lookalike Audiences

What is the minimum size of the source audience for a Facebook Lookalike Audience?

Facebook requires advertisers to have at least 100 users in the source audience of a country to be able to make a Lookalike Audience from that. However, you should try to have at least 500-1000 users in the source audience so Facebook can create the most valuable Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

How to create Facebook lookalike audiences from Shopify data?

You either have to connect your Shopify store and install the Pixel to your Shopify store, so you can use the Purchase or any kind of Standard event data to create a Custom then a Lookalike Audience from them. The second option is to export them from Shopify, then upload them to Facebook.

Why won’t Facebook let me create a lookalike audience?

You need to have at least 100 users in a source Custom Audience to be able to make a Lookalike Audience from them.


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