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Build your business with a lookalike audience

In an effort to help business owners make the most of the marketing of antiques businesses, Wayne Jordan explores and evaluates Facebook's new Lookalike Audience feature.

I love Facebook marketing. Compared to the expense and uncertainty of my advertising in the 1980s, Facebook is a dream-come-true. John Wanamaker, the pioneering 19th-century retailer and department store entrepreneur, summed-up my advertising anxiety succinctly: “I know half my advertising works but I don’t know which half.”

Growth Of Promotional Options 

Until recently, retailers had few choices in advertising platforms: print, broadcast, and direct mail (in their various formats). All of those media had a common strategy: saturate a market with an advertiser’s message. Then, hope that interested buyers would see or hear an advertisement and take action. Such shotgun-style advertising was expensive and uncertain. In over 40 years in business, I never knew a media advertising rep that was willing to make any guarantees regarding an ad’s effectiveness. I was always led to “advertise often, and with bigger ads.” Taking my chances that enough buyers would see my ads to make a campaign worthwhile.

That’s not true anymore. These days, antique retailers can create new sales and grow their businesses effectively using Facebook’s Lookalike Audience feature. With Lookalike Audience, you can build a profile of your ideal customers (ones who have bought from you, for example) and Facebook will go out and find prospects who match your profile and create an advertising demographic that you can deliver ads and content to.

Lookalike Audience Provide Valuable Insight

Frankly, some sort of Lookalike Audience tactic is a need for growing a business, whether you use Facebook’s feature or not. To grow, you need a steady supply of new customers (because old customers will drop out, for various reasons). Advertising to the same people repeatedly won’t generate enough new customers to make it worth the expense. Facebook’s “Boost Post” won’t do the job either, because optimization of Boost is for more post engagement, not clicks through to your website. Post engagement is nice, but clicking through to your website takes more curiosity and results in a higher-quality prospect. For details on Boost’s limitations, see the AgoraPulse article “Don’t Touch that Facebook Boost Button”.

Here’s how Lookalike Audience works:

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— You assemble (from your customer email list, phone numbers, addresses, website cookies or Pixel data a seed group of at least 100 members.

• Enter the group as a custom audience in your Facebook Ad Manager. You will be able to “tweak” your parameters as you set the demographics. You can optimize as you see fit (to promote different products, for example) or create multiple audiences.

— When you’re done, the Facebook algorithm goes to work, finding additional members who “look like” the members in the group you submitted. Set up correctly, these will be new prospects, not ones who already know your business. Be sure to make the members of the seed group as “alike” as possible, or your targeting will be skewed.

Details Are In the Demographics

• Once created, the list becomes an advertising audience specific to your business; it will appear as a demographic choice whenever you set up an ad campaign.

— The persons in your group and the algorithm used to acquire them are proprietary; Facebook keeps that information confidential. The list is yours to advertise to, though.

So once you have a Lookalike list, what do you do with them? I find it interesting that Facebook refers to your original customer data as a “seed” group. Like seeds in a garden, your Lookalike group must be nurtured in order to grow your business. New prospects will have to learn to know, like, and trust your business before they will buy from you; so, pace your page content accordingly. Achieving this is a three-step process that can be viewed as a traditional sales funnel: prospects go in the top, and sales come out the bottom. Lookalike audiences are an ideal way to target new, cold audiences at the top of your sales funnel.

Explore To Find What Works

Initially, run ads (using Ad Manager, so you can reach your new group) and content designed to

Business of Antiques

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create an awareness of your store and drive traffic to your website. Prospects need to learn that your store or your town is a fun place to shop and worth a trip. Blog posts, links to interesting articles, and infographics are all appropriate content at this level. The goal here is to have prospects know who you are and welcome your content posts.

The next phase is to reach out to those who have engaged with your page by offering more in-depth content in the form of instructional videos or in-depth articles about a particular collectible or class of collectibles. You want them to see you as an expert in your field so they will begin to trust you.

Finally, emphasize specific items in your inventory via videos. A short video is more likely to be viewed than an album of photos, and you don’t want to clog a viewer’s newsfeed with a lot of individual photos; they will “unfollow” you in a heartbeat if you do that. Videos, however, have a high engagement rate and are very easy and inexpensive to make. Using a video service like, choose a video template, upload 6-10 still photos, and save them as a video. Animation is built into the service. With a little practice, you can assemble a video of your photos in about 15 minutes, at a cost of a few dollars (depending on how many videos you make). Another useful content idea at this level is to feature posts that include customer testimonials

Potential Tactic To Try

How will Lookalike Audience improve your ad performance? Facebook conducted a study  this year (2017) which compared the campaign results from 64 auto dealers. The results?

“Our top finding is that auto advertisers should use CRM (customer relationship management) data and website converters (like Facebook Pixel) to build a high-quality seed audience and then use lookalike audiences to find more people like them to balance scale and quality.”

Auto dealers who developed a quality Lookalike Audience found that they reached more qualified prospects at a lower cost. Building such a demographic requires good records and a lot of thought, but it is certainly worth an antique dealer’s time and effort.

I’ll bet John Wannamaker would have used this tactic in a heartbeat. 

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