What is Facebook Custom Audience & Lookalike Audience

Business survives on the idea that there are more similar audience to your exisiting clientele & to whom your presence in the market can make a difference.

Such businesses tend to expand their clients on board by implementing marketing strategies that target the right audience.

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In this process, Facebook is progressively becoming one of the most powerful tools for marketing. Facebook offers two different options to help businesses segregate & target ads - custom audience and lookalike audience. 

It is extremely important to understand these terms separately because when discussed together, these terms tend to create a state of confusion among the people.

(P.S: these terms are undeniably a bit bewildering at first, but if you get the understanding right, you will drive profits to your business.)

What is Custom Audience?

Custom Audience is a targeting method that is used for Facebook Advertising and is very powerful.

Custom Audience basically helps your brand generate enough opportunities to include or exclude customer segments by highly relevant targeting.

This tool helps you to retarget those online customers or your web traffic who seemingly have visited your website or page but haven’t necessarily acted in a way or done what you expected them to do.

For instance, you can target those prospects who put an item or two to their online cart of your store but did not purchase or check out properly.

Facebook Ads helps you target such audience & to to be able to repeat the cycle of targeting users who haven't checked out, create a custom audience targeting and include only those audience.

Your targeting enables your brand to persuade them to make a purchase from your website by offering them special deals and fancy offers on the products that they wish to buy.

Facebook provides you with the platform to create custom audiences based upon the customer list, your web visitors and their engagement.

How To Create Custom Audience?

  • Go to Facebook Ads Manager → Navigate to Audiences
  • Then click on the create audience menu, there appears a drop-down list that from where you can select the custom audience.
  • Now, you’ll see a list of audiences that you can create.

As mentioned above, this custom audience list can be customized on the basis of three different parameters. Let’s learn how this can come into existence with just a few more clicks.

A) Customer List

You can create a custom audience list on the basis of the customers list by uploading this list to the customer file section. 

This is a list of all your customers with Phone number, Email ID, Name etc. 

Facebook matches these contacts with the Facebook users and accordingly, creates a list. 

B) Website Visitors

Facebook provides you with an option to create these lists on the basis of the website traffic.

Here, you can set the rules for how to populate the audiences based on their behaviour on the sites.

For this, select the Website Traffic option in the custom audience option.

From here you can put a certain filtration to what sort of an audience list you want depending on the varied options available. 

C) Facebook Engagement

Here, you can create the list based on the people who have interacted with your page on Facebook or the we can say the posts uploaded on it.

For this, click on the engagement option > then click page > use the refining option as per your need. 

What is Lookalike Audience?

This targeting method helps your brand reach new people who might be interested in your brand or products because they tend to exhibit behavioural patterns similar to your existing customers.

Lookalike audiences are created on top of custom audience, so you need one of the custom audiences as a prerequisite.

In today’s marketing-oriented economy, lookalike audience is used as new tool for digital marketing and is available for use for advertisers inside Facebook.

Marketers scout for seed audiences to create lookalike seeds. 

I know, now you must be wondering…what are these “lookalike seeds”?

So, that set of audience who are used as the basis of observation are often termed as “seed-set” or “lookalike seeds”.

These seeds are further used to analyze a larger, relevant set of audience.

Example is audience that exhibits a behavioral trait - cart abandoners, PDF downloaders, previous purchasers etc.

Now, there are a few points to remember while decising on the seed sets.

  1. Lookalike audiences are used as a basis to anatomize the existing clientele and their user personas in order to jot down the common factors between these existing ones.
  2. This analysis helps reach those potential audience who would have been difficult to identify and to get to the client board otherwise.
  3. In order to be efficient and effective with this hack, the seed sets need to be homogeneous. This can be achieved by identifying the commonalities and the consistent and persistent behaviour patterns of the customers.
  4.  This common seed set analysis has the potential to effectively expand the audience count from different foreign countries and applies to a new distinguished audience set.
  5.  According to Facebook, creating a seed from a set of 1000 to 50,000 can prove to be a great expansion of the audience.
  6. A lookalike set of audience provides you with a powerful channel to indefinitely explore new customers.

How To Create Lookalike Audience?

  • Choose Lookalike Audience from the Create Audience
  • From here, you can choose your source option which is basically your custom audience list that that you had created previously based on your customer list, website traffic and engagement on your Facebook page.

Note: From the country you choose, there has to be a minimum of 100 people in your list. You can add geo-filters & audience size filters which work just fine in creating this list

(P.S: It can take from 6-24 hours to create this lookalike audience list for you. Remain patient for a few hours & let Facebook run it's algorithm (or shall we say magic))

Smart Ways of using Lookalike Audience

1) Segregation

The best way to target your customers and replicate them to your lookalikes is by having a proper and efficient segregation criterion as all the clients you have with you are not equal. It boils down to whom you can bank upon.

Some tend to come back while others are just small timers - Lifetime value (LTV) is what defines their worth to your organization.

You can have certain parameters on which you can go around with your segregation and segmentation process like,

  1. Engagement of your seeds based on the pages viewed, video views, time spent on the site etc.
  2. Lifetime value of customers is based on the actions performed by the customers such as a lead form submission or past purchases 
  3. Highest lifetime transaction value (LTV) with your brand is the best criterion for segregation.

This segregation is important because after all, you want to just emulate your ideal and loyal customers.

These are the audience that you want to replicate in your lookalike audience by taking an extra effort of tailoring the right message to be delivered.

2) A/B Test & Double Down

Remember, you aren’t supposed to put all you have into the advertisements.

The rule of thumb to be followed here is to alter your budget limits slowly depending on what your seeds are reaping out to be.

A/B test your ads, messaging & alter budgets. Give it time & analyze the results.

Once you get closer to better performing message, text & audience, double down on it.

3) Eye-Candies

One thing that needs to have your attention before you put out your business campaigns up there is to accept that Facebook is a visual platform which people usually jump on to when they need a break from their usual.

Your usual won’t be something enticing & you need to get something over the top (at least visually) that breaks your deal to the viewers so that they don’t just scroll it up but take some time to analyse what you have in the stock for them.

(P.S: Soul food and eye candy are equally important.)

4) Tiny Tunnel Targeting

Facebook recommends using the lookalikes for tiny tunnel targets, which basically means to target more on the products than promotional blog post or videos and guides and simultaneously analyse the results.

The best idea here is to start with the recommendations but slowly rely on the experiments and first-hand experience of the learnings. (coz’ who knows what might just work wonders for you)

Here is a simple cheatsheet to understand how to create these custom and lookalike audiences & make ads work for you.




Target by demographics, interest and behaviourCan be created via FB pixels (website tracking code)Find people who share similar characteristics to your existing customer list
Based on data such as relationships, hobbies and interests, etc.Import your own contact list which is similar to Google customer matchGreat option to expand the reach and is based on top of your existing list 

To get a better understanding of your audiences, use Audience Insights.

Audience insights provides a deeper demographic & behavioral understanding of your audience. You can drill down deeper by a variety of options.

Now, that you’ve got a complete gist of how these custom and lookalike audiences work, get your plan ready and just walk-the-talk.

It ain’t a big deal but can definitely make you one

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