Lookalike Prospecting

What are Lookalike models?

Lookalike models are special, custom prospecting lists created from traits and/or behaviors identified within your existing customers. These can encompass purchasing behavior, interests, affinities, and additional predictive traits you wouldn’t initially think of.

What's great about Poplar lookalike models?

In Poplar, we've built a streamlined lookalike model development process that allows you to build a lookalike model within 2-3 business days.

  • On-demand models

  • Minimums start at just 5,000 mailings

  • No requirement to contribute to any data share

By using this feature, you accept the Poplar Terms of Use for Prospecting Data.

Creative Prep

  • Creative files must be uploaded to your campaign beforehand, so they can be selected during the first step of the One Time Send flow.

We highly recommend choosing the 6x11 or the 6x9 Postcard Format for a prospecting campaign. We see the highest performance and best value from using these larger formats over the smaller postcard style.

Customer File Prep

Prep your customer file which should include names and full addresses.

  • You need at least 1,000 customers to build a lookalike model.

  • Format your file according to the template below.

  • Do NOT cull the customer list on your end. Even if you have more than 1,000 customer records, you should upload the ENTIRE file.

Suppressions (optional)

Upload any audiences you want to suppress under the Audiences page. We will send you an email to confirm the upload completion. Make sure you get the email before you proceed to build the model.

Select the audience for suppression in the campaign Suppressions settings.

Zip Codes & States (Optional)

You can also manage which zip codes and states you wish to mail, by visiting the Geolocation page.

Then make sure you turn on the settings in the campaign Suppressions tab.

Final Prep Details

  • Decide how many prospects you want to mail. The minimum is 5,000.

  • Ensure you have enough funds in your credit balance for the mailing. Your estimated cost:

Building Your Model

You generate and build a Lookalike model through the One Time Send workflow, which you can access through the One Time Sends tab in your campaign.

Step 1: Pick your creative

Step 2: Build a Lookalike Audience

Step 3: Upload File & Map Values

Members in the uploaded list will be suppressed from the send. If your list is too large for upload and needs to be downsized, reach out to support@heypoplar.com to ensure all members in your original list will be suppressed.

Step 4: Quantities & Attributes

Specify how many people you want to mail.

A Note on Attributes

We highly suggest avoiding using the attributes unless they are absolutely key to your product or if your product doesn't serve a certain group. For example:

  • You sell only women's clothing

  • You're a real estate firm and you're mainly marketing to homeowners who want to sell

  • You're selling children's toys (and thus want to market only to households with children)


  • The lookalike model automatically reflects the demographic patterns discovered amongst your customers.

  • Letting the model run naturally will allow you to get the highest-ranking names from the largest universe of prospects.

To give a concrete example, let's say, Sally, David, Bob, Linda, and Annie were your top 5 prospects based on their purchasing behavior.

If you deselected "Male", we would remove David and Bob, who were actually ranked 2nd and 3rd in terms of likeliness to convert - and replace them with Amanda and Jane (ranked 6 and 7 in your list).

Step 5 & 6: State & Zip Codes

Though we recommend mailing as broadly as possible, you can specify if you want to reach specific zip codes or states. If you already set your campaign states and zips, you can just use those.

Tip: Keep in mind that you don't want to go too narrow, because there is a risk that you miss out on higher-ranking prospects from areas that aren't top-of-mind.

Step 7: Audience Suppressions

Because this is a prospecting product, your customer file will always be suppressed from results. If you already set audience suppressions under your Campaign settings, you can breeze through this step.

Step 8: Organizational Details

In the modeling process, we also collect some additional details, including a list of 5-10 competitors and your product category. We highly recommend sharing all these details as they help inform the model of the types of purchases it should give more weight.

Step 9: Holdouts

If you have enabled holdouts for this campaign, you can take a holdout of 20% at no additional charge. We highly recommend taking a holdout, because having incremental lift metrics will help you understand the true return on the campaign.

For example, if you wish to mail 10,000 prospects and also use a holdout, we would provide 2,000 extra addresses for your holdout, at no additional charge.

  • 10,000 postcards would be printed and mailed.

  • In Poplar reporting, you would also see incremental lift based on the 2,000 addresses held out.

Step 10: Review & Finalize

Before submitting your order for a lookalike model, you'll be able to review all details and costs. If anything needs to be changed, be sure to go back into the workflow and make the updates.

Step 11: Modeling

Once you hit "Process Mailing", we begin our modeling process, which occurs in the span of 2-3 business days.

  1. Your customers (first-party data) are matched against a co-op database that contains your customers' purchasing behavior from parties other than yourself (third-party data).

  2. The prospects in the database are then scored according to their similarity in purchasing behavior to your customers.

  3. Next, all potential customers that don't comply with your overlays are removed, suppressions are removed, and the top viable prospects are finalized for mailing.

Step 12: Production & Mailing

Once the top prospects are sourced, your mailing automatically goes into printing & production, without further action needed from you.

Production & mailing will occur, just like any other mailing in Poplar where you uploaded a CSV of addresses or emails. These steps follow the normal timelines of First Class or Standard postage depending on your selection.

Common Questions

Can I just test 2,000 mailings instead of 5,000?

We require a minimum of 5,000 mailings to provide a significant result.

Can I upload emails instead of names & addresses?

No, currently you cannot upload customer emails into Poplar for Lookalikes.

Can I build my Lookalike model on a certain segment of my customers? For example, my high-LTV customers?

We suggest that you build your Lookalike on all customers because the more data the model has, the richer it is. In addition, the lookalikes will already consider characteristics suggestive of qualities like high LTV. Also, in order to ensure this is a true prospecting/acquisition campaign, we need your full customer file for a suppression.

If you wished to target a certain group, Pet Owners, for example, and if your existing customer demographic was largely pet owners, pet-owning prospects would likely already be heavily present in the prospect pool. Lookalikes tend to mirror your existing customers.

What creative formats are available?

You can use any of the existing Poplar formats for a Lookalike send.

What creative format should I use?

We generally recommend a 6x9 or 6x11 postcard for prospecting.

How do I suppress the people I mailed in a previous campaign so that they're not in the Lookalike Model?

Usually, you can manage cross-campaign suppressions by adjusting the Minimum Days Between Mailings under Account Settings. However, with Lookalike sends, because your model can take 2-3 days to be built, it is hard to predict exactly how many days to adjust to. Instead, we recommend the following:

  1. Visit the History Tab of the campaign whose recipients you wish to suppress.

  2. Download a CSV of all recipients.

  3. Upload the recipients as an Audience.

  4. Select the audience for suppression for your Lookalike campaign.

What is the cost of building a lookalike model?

The cost of building the model is $0.07 per address (in addition to the print & production costs). The minimum of 5,000 means that all lookalike models start at $350.00, on top of your print & production costs, which depend on your format.

When will I be billed for the lookalike model?

You will be able to review the cost breakdown when you reach the Review & Finalize step.

The cost of the data is deducted from your credit balance when you hit "Process Mailing". This is the amount required to build the audience.

For those who have a credit card on file, if your account's credit balance is insufficient to cover the entire mailing at the time you hit "Process Mailing", the balance will be topped off using the card on file, so that it is sufficient to cover the mailing.

After the model is built, your mailings go into production. At this point in time, we deduct the printing and postage costs from your credit balance. To ensure a smooth flow, we recommend turning on Auto Refill.

Note: If you are A/B testing creatives across multiple formats, the print & production cost at the Review & Finalize step is an estimate based on the highest-priced format in the set.

The final cost of print & production is determined after your lookalike audience is built, based on the quantity of each creative.

You will get an email notification confirming the final cost.

Can I cancel my order?

As in any One Time Send, you have a 30-minute grace period after sending to cancel your order.

After that, Lookalike model orders cannot be canceled in full. Data costs cannot be refunded. However, if you give us enough notice during the data modeling period before your mailings enter production, we may be able to stop printing & production and refund you the costs of print and production.

I don't see the holdout option.

Make sure you have holdouts turned on for your campaign. To do this, go back to the campaign Overview page and click "Edit Campaign" (right-hand column).

Why is my holdout less than 20%?

Though it is rare, there are some instances in which we're not able to source a holdout group that is the full 20% of your mailing group. Some factors that could cause Poplar to be able to source fewer addresses than expected:

  • The chosen overlays are very specific and niche

  • Large overlap of your customers and/or suppression lists with the database, lowering the chance of finding non-overlapping prospects

There are no refunds for holdouts less than the expected amount because holdouts are free of charge.

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