Are You Cultivating Lookalike Targets

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruAre You Cultivating Lookalike Targets

You may be sitting on a finely tuned, high value prospect database that with care and attention delivers on marketing goals time and again. But rather than rest on your laurels, you could be maximizing its value by utilizing the characteristics of that resource to go after “lookalike” targets.


Look alike targeting allows you to reach people who are similar to your existing clients. By doing so, you can save time, money and increase your ROI.

When Twitter last year introduced lookalike-only targeting, group product manager Kelton Lynn defined it as a powerful new way for you to only target users similar to your tailored audiences[i]. Twitter’s tools allow you to reach new prospects who are most like your existing customers. This is particularly useful for mobile app promotion campaigns to reach users similar to those who have already installed your app.

Twitter has taken it a step further by adding the ability to exclude tailored audiences based on website visitors from campaigns using interest, keyword, TV and other criteria.

Facebook was ahead of Twitter in providing lookalike targeting and provides a step-by-step playbook on creating a campaign using a free Facebook tool[ii]. Among the characteristics that Facebook uses: location; age and gender; specific interests; broad categories; brand connections; and unconnected users.

lookalikeAccording to Facebook, lookalike audiences help you reach people who are similar to your current customers for fan acquisition, site registration, off-Facebook purchases, coupon claims and brand awareness[iii].

The company touts it’s expanded capabilities, which allow users to create lookalikes based on people who visit their websites, use their mobile apps or are connected to their Facebook pages. By using data from Facebook pixels, businesses can reach people who are most similar to people who have made purchases on their website, who like their mobile apps, and who look like their Facebook fans.

One note of caution is that Facebook has strict guidelines on obtaining consents and permissions of the people on the list from which you’re trying to create lookalikes.[iv]

Not to be outdone, Google has it’s own take on lookalike targeting with its “similar audiences” feature. “By adding “similar audiences” to your ad group, you can show your ads to people whose interests are similar to those of your site visitors, which allows you to reach new and qualified potential customers,” the company explains[v]. Creating a similar audiences list “a remarketing list with at least 500 cookies with enough similarity in characteristics and interests to create a corresponding similar audience.”

For the most part, lookalike targeting for those three companies is primarily geared to the B2C marketing community. And, as eConsultancy noted almost as an afterthought, “Building a lookalike audience requires that you upload your most valuable asset (your customer or user list) to a social network.  In return, you may, possibly, reach more like them. Yes, it sounds a bit crazy.  And no, you shouldn’t do such a thing lightly.[vi]

Twitter may have taken the edge off any such fears of exposing a valuable list when earlier this year it introduced “partner audiences[vii]” from third-parties that can be applied to lookalike targeting, giving you the ability to expand the reach of campaigns to people who have interests similar to those in the partner audience rather than your own select list.

Still, in the B2B segment, the social media and search venues may be more useful for building awareness than in targeting prospects. That’s not to say lookalike targeting isn’t viable for B2B (for example, check out Clickable’s discussion on using lookalike capabilities to create an exclusion list in a B2B software company’s Facebook campaign[viii]).

Most B2Bs will be more likely to benefit by adapting lookalike tactics to more directly targeted strategies. Utilizing a detailed set of personas culled from your existing high-value list, you can create a lookalike profile. At SimplyDIRECT we can take your profile list and build lookalike lists, then go beyond and gather intelligence on them with a prospect survey. For more insights into list building and surveying, check out this case study.