Merchant Login

Thanks for signing up!

Bolt Blog

Lookalike Audiences As The Gateway For the Sales Funnel

It seems almost too simple, but that’s why it’s often overlooked. One of the best ways to fill the the top of your sales funnel is to target ads at an audience that resembles your current customer base.

By building ‘lookalike’ or ‘similar’ audiences, you take the guesswork and uncertainty out of targeting. You know that you’re serving ads across multiple channels to customers who share the characteristics, interests, and affinities of your existing customers.

This sort of precise targeting matters all the more in an era of rapidly updating cookie policies, strict privacy settings, and anemic email open rates. Lookalike audiences help your signal cut through the noise, and they have become an essential tool in every digital marketers toolbox.

“iOS14 tracking changes have impacted pixel-based custom audiences, as users who opt out of tracking may not be collected in these audiences, reducing their overall size, potentially by a large amount,” said Ilyssa Bloch, an account director with Gupta Media. “Lookalike audiences are a great way to increase audience size by reaching people with similar attributes to your custom audiences.”

Lookalike audiences are a great way to increase audience size by reaching people with similar attributes to your custom audiences

These security measures impact those already utilizing lookalike audiences—which is why it’s all the more important to optimize how segments are built and the focus paid to first-party data.

tweet by jake the ad nerd

“The focus should shift to building lookalikes with a larger seed audience and with more first party data,” said Connor Yap, an account manager with Metric Theory. “Given the privacy changes across ad platforms and iOS devices, we can expect tracked website audiences to decrease. This is resulting in lookalike lists based off of website custom audiences to underperform due to having smaller and less defined seed audiences. To counteract this we recommend companies shift to using more first-party data in order to keep audience sizes and quality strong.”

We recommend companies shift to using more first-party data in order to keep audience sizes and quality strong

Given all that, what are the best ways to optimize your lookalike audiences? Bloch and Yap offered a few tips:

  1. Build lookalike segments off of your most qualified audiences. For example, instead of building a lookalike of everyone who’s visited your site, better qualify this audience by creating a lookalike based on time spent on site or based on people who have visited certain pages on your site;
  2. The lookalikes you target should align with your campaign goals. For example, if your goal is to drive sales, create a lookalike of people who have previously made purchases on your site;
  3. Make sure your seed audience is large enough and is optimizing for the correct results. One-thousand members is recommended as a minimum seed audience size, but the more the merrier and the better results you’ll likely see. You also want to be sure that this seed audience represents the objective you’re going after. Ideally the more down funnel the audience is the better!
  4. Experiment with different types of source audiences. In addition to pixel-based audiences, you can create lookalikes based on app activity, customer lists and Facebook’s sources, such as Facebook page and Instagram account engagement;
  5. When creating a lookalike list you can target a percentage of the lookalike population. Start with 1% and expand out if you need more audience. Given the nature of lookalike lists the best results are generally seen from that top 1% due to the audience being the “most alike” to the seed audience.

Do you have experience with lookalike audiences or questions on how to use them? Post your thoughts on Twitter and let us know by using #JustOneClick

Want to learn more about first-party data and SSO commerce? Download Bolt’s Identity Powered Commerce report.

Want to watch Bolt in action?

Get a demo