5 Common Mistakes with Facebook Lookalike Audiences

5 Common Mistakes with Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Trapica Content Team

Marketing Guides
6 min read
April 5, 2021

Facebook Lookalike Audiences has become widely used in recent years. It offers a great opportunity to find potential customers with similarities to an existing audience. When used correctly, it’s almost like cloning a loyal customer and getting twice the business. However, we’re still seeing people make simple mistakes while using this tool.

What Are Lookalike Audiences?

Lookalike Audiences will use a source audience (i.e. members of your existing audience) as a base to find people who share common characteristics. These commonalities may take the form of a particular interest, or it could be demographic information. Once a group of similar people is identified, Facebook will deliver an ad to them. In theory, they will have some level of interest in the product/service because of their similarity to your existing audience/customers.

This feature allows you to choose the size of the audience you wish to create. While you may choose to build a large audience, a smaller sized base is more concentrated and will yield the most valuable leads.

How can you succeed with Lookalike Audiences? The accuracy of the source audience is one of the most important factors. While some people will use all of their customers as a starting point, it might be wiser to choose a selection of your most valuable customers. By doing this, your returned audience should look similar to your core customer base.

How Does It Work?

If you’re the admin of your company Facebook page, you can use Lookalike Audiences. To start, go to ‘Audiences’ and select ‘Lookalike Audience’ from the ‘Create Audience’ drop-down menu. There are a number of metrics that will help you decide who to add to your source audience.

Facebook recommends paying attention to the following:

  • Transaction Value
  • Total Order Size
  • Engagement
  • Lifetime Value

Once you identify your source audience, where do you want your new audience to be located? Select a country or even a list of countries for eCommerce services. Then, choose an audience size and ‘Create Audience.’ Depending on the size of the project, the lookalike audience is usually ready within 24 hours. If you’re targeting ads to these prospective customers, the list will continually update every few days.

Are You Ready for Lookalike Audiences?

There’s no formula that will tell you when to start using Lookalike Audiences, so it’s really up to you. Chances are, you’re ready if your have three things:

  • Knowledge of what you’re selling
  • A good list of customers who add value to the business
  • A desire to grow your audience and get more customers (who doesn’t!)

If you haven’t been gathering information from your customers so far, it’s time to start. When Facebook is asked to find a lookalike audience, they will start by matching your customer list to Facebook profiles. The more information you provide, the easier it is for Facebook is to find their social media profile. Make sure to include an address, date of birth, name, email address, gender and contact information.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Five Common Mistakes

Now that you know all about Lookalike Audiences and how to get started, let’s look at five of the most common errors made during the process.

1. Huge Audience Size

For beginners, we highly recommend sticking to a low audience size. Why? At least for the first campaign, you want to find people who have the most similarities with your existing customer base. You want to locate those who have the most value and are most likely to convert. Since you know what worked for your existing customers, you should be able to transform these new leads into customers using the same techniques.

When you push for a huge new audience, some will have great value, but the list will also include people who don’t share quite so many similarities. The smaller the audience size, the more closely people you find will match your initial audience. In Facebook settings, there’s an option that allows you to choose a certain percentage of your target countries. Although we don’t advise going beyond 3%, there’s nothing wrong with trying 1% for your early campaigns. Eventually, you may need to broaden the search to get some new names.

2. Small Recency Window

With retargeting, we can reach out to people who have taken a specific action inside a particular window. For example, many marketers choose to retarget people who have visited their website. Unfortunately, many do everything right but neglect to set their recency window for a long enough period of time. Remember, conversion takes longer with some people than others. If you extend your recency window, you won’t risk alienating those potential customers who need more time to convert.

Some marketers retarget based on people who have seen their ads. This can be a great tactic, but it becomes useless if you only set it to one week. You need to jump on user intent. Many experts suggest setting the time period to 60-90 days. Since your business is unique, play around and see what works for you.

3. Forgetting the Sales Funnel

With every campaign you run, you need to consider which stage of the funnel you want to target. You may have heard it many times before, but we’re saying it again because it’s essential for every marketer and campaign. You could have a list of 1,000 names, but you wouldn’t see results if they were all at different stages of the funnel. How could you possibly target all of them accurately and efficiently? It’s important to match your campaign to the right audience, whether people are on the edge of becoming a customer, or need a branded video to become interested.

4. Not Breaking It Down Far Enough

In some cases, struggling to get more customers is a matter of not getting ‘niche enough’ with the campaigns. For example, let’s say that we’re a company that produces safety products for the home. We pet-proof and baby-proof properties and give owners and parents the peace of mind they need to allow pets and children to explore their homes. We’re retargeting people who have visited the website and can assume they all have safety on their minds, but is this enough?

As a marketer pushing for results, you should look to break the one larger campaign into two smaller (and more effective) campaigns. While one will focus on parents who want to make a home safe for children, the other needs to be directed towards pet owners. The creatives and copy should tug at the heartstrings of those who could benefit from peace of mind.

5. Using the Boost Button

The Boost button has undergone a transformation and recently expanded, but there are costs to this convenience, including:

  • Split testing becomes difficult
  • We lose most ad objectives
  • There’s no control for placement options

For those who are unaware of this feature, marketers can avoid the ad system and still create ad campaigns with a focus on engagement. In addition to the three problems above, we can also add the loss of advanced features to the list.

You might save a few minutes in not having to set up a campaign through the ad system, but it’s not worth the hassle. It’s better to spend a few minutes on building a proper campaign and retain control.


Here are our takeaways:

  • Stick to a low audience size
  • Widen the recency window
  • Remember the stages of the sales funnel
  • Break campaigns down into niches
  • Avoid the Boost button

If you remember this advice when using Lookalike Audiences, you’ll enjoy the benefits of the tool while negating the potential problems that many marketers encounter.

Marketing Guides
6 min read
April 5, 2021