linkedin lookalike audiences

Understanding LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences (2019)

To better understand the concept of LinkedIn Lookalike audiences, it is first important to keep in mind that every business has an ideal customer. According to Smart Insights, generated leads need to meet the following criteria in order to be qualified as potential customers for our business:

  • Need – do they have a need that your product or service is able to fulfill?
  • Interest – are they interested in fulfilling that specific need?
  • Budget – do they have enough money to make the purchase?

And even if your leads meet the above-mentioned criteria, the task of discovering your ideal customer gets even more complicated when you consider other factors such as geographical area, timing, decision making authority, and even professional profile (for certain businesses).

linkedin lookalike audiences

Now, let me ask you this question: if you’ve already painted the picture of your ideal customer and found a couple of leads or prospects that represent it, how awesome would it be to simply replicate the winning formula? If you find a target audience that has the same or similar profile, and meets the same criteria that lead your current customers to buy, you will highly increase your chances of making them convert as well.

LinkedIn Lookalike audiences make exactly that. By combining the traits of your perfect customer with member and company data, you will be able to identify the people who are most likely to buy from you – and target them accordingly. 

Creating LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences

You can create lookalike audiences from a couple of sources: 

  • A list of target accounts or contacts from your CRM – in this case, you provide LinkedIn with a database of emails (or accounts) that you’ve previously collected in your CRM, and it does the matching. If the email that your customer used to register for your website matches exactly the email that he used upon creating his LinkedIn profile, the matching is considered correct, and LinkedIn can now analyze this information to find similar profiles. 
  • Matched Audiences – matched audiences are LinkedIn’s native retargeting audiences. They work the same way as they do in Facebook and Google – by collecting cookies from users coming to your website from LinkedIn (both from ads and organic). Keep in mind that you will need at least 300 users before the platform can do anything with them – and before you can create lookalike audiences, respectively.
  • Any list of contacts that you have (provided that they comply with the GDPR).

Lookalike from CRM

To build a lookalike audience based on the contact list that you’ve extracted from your CRM, just go to your Campaign Manager, select the account name in which you will want to upload your list (in case you have various accounts), and go to Account Assets -> Matched Audiences, in the upper part of the screen:

linkedin matched audiences

In the upper right corner, click on Create Audience -> List Upload. 

From there, just download one of the templates that you wish to use:

Fill in the template with the corresponding email list (or account list) as shown in the template itself, and click on Upload. Keep in mind that it can take up to 24 hours for LinkedIn to process the list before you can actually use it. 

Lookalike from Matched Audiences

To build a lookalike audience based on Matched Audiences, first you will need to have at least one. You can find really helpful additional information about setting up Matched Audiences and how to get the best of them in this article: The 4 Types of LinkedIn Matched Audiences (Explained),
but for now, we can do a quick recap here. 

To build your first Matched Audience, go again to Account Assets -> Matched Audiences, and then click on Create Audience -> Website Audience: 

linkedin matched audiences

Now, give your audience a name and simply add all the URLs that you want to use for retargeting later. Just keep in mind that, depending on the traffic coming to your website from LinkedIn, Matched Audiences might grow in volume really, really slowly – so arm yourself with some patience!

Once you’ve reached more than 300 users, you will be able to create a LinkedIn Lookalike audience from Matched Audiences. To do that, just go to Account Assets -> Matched Audiences, and click on Create Audience -> Lookalike:

linkedin lookalike audiences

Now, you can select any audience that you have already created (either uploaded from CRM or a Matched one), and LinkedIn will create a similar one based on the provided information! 

3. Things to keep in mind with LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences

Now, there are some important things that you need to know before getting started with lookalike audiences. Let’s take a look:

  1. The matching is not always correct – it is important to remember that not all emails that you provide to LinkedIn will actually be matched. Let’s say that your email database consists of 10,000 leads or customers. When you upload this list to LinkedIn, the emails that you provide will be searched among all user profiles within the platform. However, sometimes a user will sign up for your newsletter with one email address, and create his LinkedIn profile with another email address. In this case, since the emails are different, LinkedIn won’t recognize him within their own database, and there will be no matching. Don’t be surprised if your list is suddenly reduced from 10,000 to 3,000 – so the more emails you provide, the better! (just don’t do it illegaly, ok? Always comply with the GDPR!) This way, you will increase the possibility for correct matching. 
  2. Lookalike audiences include only active members – this means that, even if the matching is correct, if the user hasn’t been active on LinkedIn recently, he won’t be included in your lookalike list! LinkedIn does this so that you don’t spend your money on an audience that won’t really be engaged with your content.
  3. Focus on building specific audiences rather than generic ones – let’s say that you are selling both sports shoes and elegant shoes. In this case, and if your database has enough volume, it is better to build one lookalike audience for sports shoes, and another one for elegant shoes. This way, you will make them more precise, and LinkedIn will be able identify the things that sports shoes users have in common in order to find more potential customers with a similar profile. And, if you need both audiences for a Sponsored Content campaign, you can always add all your specific audiences at the same time if necessary!

I hope you enjoyed this article, and don’t hesitate to leave your questions or feedback below! Thanks!

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