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Examining the pros and cons of retargeting customers in marketing

Richard Jones Archive

Part of the beauty of having data quality is that you can rely on it again and again. If you have accurate and reliable information about a customer, you can use it to target them with important marketing content not just once, but several times over. Starting with a phone number, email address or other online account information, you can target the same consumer multiple times and work to build a deep customer relationship - this is known in the business as "retargeting."

The more you use your business' data for pursuing the same customers, the more you have to worry about the tricky double-edged sword that retargeting represents. On one hand, delivering the same message twice can have a strong positive effect, reinforcing your brand and reminding people to stay loyal. But if you drive that point home a bit too much, you can start to alienate the same customers you once enticed.

Finding the right balance is a key challenge faced by numerous marketers today.

The benefits of retargeting
According to E-consultancy, the best way to retarget customers these days is to focus on their web browsing habits. If someone goes online to research a given product today, then they look into that same product again tomorrow, it's clear as day - they're interested, and they will likely appreciate being shown a relevant ad. Indeed, research by InSkin Media and RAPP Media shows that 10 percent of consumers in this situation are more likely to buy something after seeing the same ad served repeatedly.

A couple of relevant caveats - first, the ad has to be on a relevant site. If they're researching hotels, they want to see hotel ads in the moment, not 30 minutes later when they've moved on and begun looking at something else. In addition, site quality matters. People are 37 percent more likely to respond to ads if they're featured on a trusted website.

The drawbacks also persist
While all of this buzz about retargeting sounds great, there are a few negative points about the practice to keep in mind.

  • Seeing an ad too much can lead to overkill - 55 percent of consumers say multiple viewings can potentially turn them off. Five viewings is when an ad becomes "annoying," on average. Ten or more can make a consumer "angry."
  • Timing is important. If you show someone an ad after they're already done researching the topic, they're 15 percent more likely to be discouraged than encouraged.
  • Also, the site must be relevant. An ad served on an unrelated site is 11 percent more discouraging than encouraging for a customer to buy a product.

High-quality customer data can lead to meaningful relationships - but like in any human interaction, it's important not to try too hard. Finding the right amount of engagement is a delicate process.

Data quality - a silent star
Obviously, if your business is going to engage regularly in targeting and retargeting customers, you're going to need comprehensive, accurate data about those customers. If you want to serve people ads on websites that are relevant to them, you need to know what those sites are. To deliver that content on "trusted" sites, you need to have a good idea of what "trust" means to them.

This requires collecting and managing data in a way that's reliable and fair to the consumer. E-consultancy also noted that 23 percent of consumers are unaware that advertisers collect personal information used to serve them ads. Advertising works best when consumers don't even know it's working. So, in retargeting, it's best to look out for both data quality and data discretion so as to keep potential customers on your good side.