two women dressed in identical outfits
PHOTO: Chan

Ever get a feeling of deja-vu when comparing digital ad features in different social media channels? You’ve likely been experiencing that for a few years now. 

All of the major players in digital ads offer similar selection features. But one feature and platform may be a very compelling choice for 2020.

Getting Started With LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences

LinkedIn introduced its own variation of Lookalike Audiences in March 2019. The segmentation feature is meant to show ads to people who are similar to any given page audience. Facebook was the first to offer the feature back in 2013, but given its 600 million professional users, LinkedIn may be better poised than Facebook to attract business interest and success.

LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences in its ad manager

To create a lookalike audience, you begin by signing into your ad account in the LinkedIn Campaign Manager. Once logged into your account, you would select the Account Assets dropdown on the top of your campaign account page. Select "Matched Audiences" in the dropdown and the Matched Audience page will appear. You can then select the settings for the Lookalike Audience (LinkedIn provides an overview on its help page).  

Benefits of a Lookalike Audience Approach for B2B Marketers

Lookalike audiences simplify some of the effort that goes into identifying and focusing on an intended audience. In general, lookalike audiences work by systematically detecting relevant, similar traits between a profile follower and established audience demographics. The capability makes it possible for marketers to connect to new people who are likely to be interested in your offerings without being invasive.    

You can think of lookalike audiences as a variation of hyperlocal marketing — proximity ad content that provide a person nearby products and services. Marketers see hyperlocal as a way to support Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS) behavior. 

But lookalike ad campaigns include more than location-influenced behavior. They naturally leverage profile interest as guidance, which is where lookalike audiences in LinkedIn hold special appeal. LinkedIn can leverage its profile interest based on job title and position information. This is more acceptable to users when ads appear because the ads may be more relevant to their jobs. The ad message then appears in front of people who are likely the right decision makers. This is a boon to B2B marketers, as the complexity of sales processes evolved from blending digital media with real world resources.

As mentioned before, several platforms have Lookalike Audiences for advertising. Facebook, for example, allows marketers to choose an audience based on information from the Facebook app, the Facebook page for the brand, and the pixel installed on the brand website. Google Ads also offers a lookalike audience feature.

But some key differences separate LinkedIn and the other major digital ad platforms. LinkedIn requires a minimum of 300 members to use the lookalike feature. The three major digital ad providers offer this set up, but each have a variation of the minimum amount set. Google Ads, for example, has a lookalike audience feature, but sets a minimum active visitors or users for its search network at 1,000 within the most recent 30 days.

Lookalike Audiences generally work best when your product or service does not require a lot of customer education to understand the value of that offering, like a fleet vehicle to a business or a new couch to a customer. You should also have a detailed idea of past customers, because they will serve as the basis against which the lookalike audience is being compared. 

Ultimately a lookalike audience can help ensure your marketing is speaking to a potentially interested audience. With LinkedIn, that audience is likely real decision-makers who could ultimately become customers.