Facebook Ads: Using Website & Conversion Data to Build Lookalike Custom Audiences to Target Relevant Prospects

Brenda Ton
February 4, 2015

Facebook is one of my favorite channels to advertise on because there are many different levers you can use when it comes to targeting and reaching the right prospects for your business. To imagine that there's 1.35 billion monthly active users that I can target with my ads makes me feel like I have the world at my finger tips.

Most marketers are familiar with Facebook's basic targeting capabilities using interests and demographic data, but what if you could target people who have characteristics that are like the people who visit your website or even better - the people who are likely to make a purchase or fill out a form? Say hello to lookalike audiences, a marketer's new best friend. By building a lookalike audience, you can target and reach some of the most relevant prospects for your business.

In this post, I will quickly walk you through how to build lookalikes based on your website and conversion data, two objectives with minimal risk that has proven success in the campaigns I've run.

Part 1: Basic Setup

1. Go into Facebook's Ad Manager and navigate over to the left side navigation and click on Audiences. If you are completely new at this, Facebook will guide you step-by step.

2. If you haven't yet, there are two pixels you will need to install:

Custom Audience: You need to place a custom audience pixel on all pages of your website. You can go here for more information on where to find the code, if not already presented to you in step one: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ads-for-websites/website-custom-audiences/getting-started#install-the-pixel

Conversion Tracking: You will need to place a pixel where your conversion events are captured. Go to the left side navigation and click on Conversion Tracking, then navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on the green button to Create Pixel.

Part 2: Create Custom Audiences

If you only want to create lookalike audiences based on your conversion tracking pixels, you need to first setup the tracking pixels and skip ahead to: PART 3: CREATE LOOKALIKES USING FACEBOOK CONVERSION DATA & WEBSITE CUSTOM AUDIENCES.

If you want to create lookalike audiences based on your website visitors, you will first need to create custom audiences for all -or specific sections of your website, so please continue reading.

1. To begin, make sure you're in Audiences then navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on the green button to Create Audience > Custom Audience. In the screenshot below, you will see the different option types. I suggest using "People visiting specific web pages but not others" to build out something similar to the following, if you're looking to target and optimize for conversions:


All Visitors Excluding Career Visitors:
The idea here is to grab the people who are visiting your website because they most likely went there because they are interested in your product and to exclude people who are looking for a job.


Conversions (Example: Shopping Cart Confirmation, Registration Completion, Download Confirmation)
You want to create a bucket to capture all the people who have converted on your website. When you create a lookalike audience based on this custom audience, you can find other people who have characteristics that are likely to be interested in your product with a higher probability to convert.

Part 3: Create Lookalikes Using Facebook Conversion Data & Website Custom Audiences

Once you've setup your conversion tracking pixel and completed creating your custom audience segments, you can build a lookalike audience. To do this, navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on green button again to Create Audience > Lookalike Audience. In Source, populate it with one of the segments you created and choose the level of similarity to your source. I typically select the lowest level because it's less risky and most similar to your custom audience. When complete, continue to build out a lookalike for each custom audience or conversion tracking pixel you desire.

Note: If you decide to create both website conversion and conversion tracking pixel lookalikes, you should note that the two may overlap. The difference between the two is using the Facebook conversion pixel as a source will allow you to target the lookalikes of people who converted through your Facebook ads versus targeting lookalikes of everyone who converts on your website no matter what source they come from. To prevent that overlap, you could exclude those who come from Facebook Ads at the custom audience level, if your URL parameters are consistent, to filter it out. Example:


Facebook says "Keep in mind it may take 6 to 24 hours for your Lookalike Audience to be created. After that, it'll refresh every 3 to 7 days as long as you're still actively targeting ads to that audience."

If you're interested in more posts about lookalikes and use Twitter Ads, I did a post on 3 Creative Ways to Use and Target Lookalikes Using Twitter Ads that you may want to check out, too. Happy marketing!

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