Most marketers are familiar with look-alike campaigns: rather than simply retargeting visitors to your website, you can build campaigns to reach people who match a similar profile. This lets you reach people who fit the profile of your engaged prospects and customers, hopefully making your advertising spend much more targeted and efficient.

Although the value of look-alike campaigns is obvious, INBOUND 2017 made it clear to me that many B2B marketers have failed to pay sufficient attention to look-alike campaigns. Perhaps this is because straightforward retargeting presents a large audience for most companies. Maybe it’s because of the excitement around CRM retargeting, which is one of the technologies taking account-based marketing (ABM) to a new level. Whatever the reason, INBOUND made me commit to giving look-alike campaigns the attention they deserve.

The first announcement was the integration of support for Facebook look-alike campaigns within HubSpot. Although it grabbed attention, we’ve seen some disappointing results on Facebook. One of the themes of the conference, however, was the move from relying on third party data, such as renting email lists, to the use of first-party data. More importantly, several presenters made it really clear that we’re undervaluing our own data.

By combining our own data with the vast stores of information at Google, for example, you can start doing some very clever things. “Customer Match” lets you use Google Analytics to create an audience profile, and then target similar people with display, search, Gmail or YouTube campaigns.

The real kicker is that this ability to target look-alike audiences transforms the economics of your advertising. For example, there are probably some highly competitive keywords that you have decided simply aren’t worth the money you’d have to bid on AdWords. When you’re focussing on a look-alike group that are much more likely to convert, the economics change and the cost of the keyword suddenly looks much better value.

Look-alike campaigns are just one way that people are reversing the traditional funnel and are using their own data to segment potential customers from a broad audience. This ability to better target advertising to generate awareness offers the prospect of a step-change in the ROI of your marketing budget. We’re certainly spending more and more time on using our own data to better target our advertising, and would love to help you do the same.


Why not take a look at other posts in our INBOUND 2017 Taught me Series?