A new look for lookalikes: Future-proofing your B2B targeting strategy

Audience targeting on LinkedIn is changing.

Marketers will be familiar with its lookalikes audience feature. It allows you to expand your reach by targeting users exhibiting similar attributes and online behaviours to their existing customers or predefined segments – or at least, it did.

LinkedIn has since announced it is sunsetting lookalikes. February 29, 2024 is its discontinuation date. This means no more new lookalike audiences nor will existing audience data refresh, with them becoming static entities.

So why is this happening? And what’s replacing this staple tool? Well, it all has to do with complexity.

Varied buyer groups, a heightened expectation for personalisation, stricter data privacy laws, and shrinking budgets are demanding more powerful, more precise tools.

AI is stepping up to the plate.

Predictive modelling tools are harnessing AI like never before. Meta’s Advantage+ is a shining example, able to readily pinpoint high-intent prospects.

And as such, LinkedIn is following suit.

The company now offers its own AI enabled tool, predictive audiences. This predictive modelling tool analyses user engagements and first-party data to identify high-intent individuals tailored to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Rather than relying solely on similar audiences, it uses AI to predict the LinkedIn members most likely to convert for a brand.

Privacy benefits

The intended benefits are not only enhanced budget efficiency and ROI but also to also align with contemporary privacy standards by reducing reliance on personal data. This method in effect prioritises user behaviour and platform engagement, offering a privacy-conscious alternative to traditional lookalike modelling.

So where do you go from here in this Post-Lookalike world?

  • First, enhance your retargeting focus: Prioritise retargeting strategies in the absence of lookalike audiences, which focuses on audiences already familiar with the brand – potentially leading to higher conversion rates.
  • Emphasise creative engagement: The emphasis on creative content that drives engagement and retention is crucial in a competitive digital ad space. This approach can increase the effectiveness of the ads and improve audience interaction.
  • Educate and nurture: Employ full-funnel strategies to continuously educate and nurture your audience, embracing the 95-5 Rule – where 95% of your target audience is not ready to buy yet but may convert later. By focusing current efforts on the 5% of high-intent leads actively in-market, brands can increase ROI while nurturing the broader pool for future campaigns.

A final note. While LinkedIn may recommend – and it might be tempting to use – Audience Expansion, we advise caution for niche B2B brands. This tool extends your ad reach beyond defined targeting parameters, potentially exposing your ads to prospects that misalign with your ideal customer persona (ICP).

Considering the risk of wasting budget on irrelevant impressions, we advise sticking to tried-and-tested audience segments that drive conversions and align to your ICP. While reaching a wider audience may feel irresistible, the uncertain quality of those additional leads can undermine campaign ROI. For the best results, maintain a well-defined, focused target audience rather than relying on expansions that may miss the mark.

For more specialised guidance on campaign optimisation, creative strategies, or digital strategies tailored to this new landscape, we’re here to help – drop us a line.