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Retargeting is the technique of putting ads and messages in front of people who have at some point visited your website. The assumption is that they showed interest once so they are more likely to want to come back and make a purchase.

Now, retargeting has got legs. For a number of years, it has worked successfully for marketers. In principle, it makes perfect sense to spend money on advertising and then increase the likelihood that you’re reaching people who are actually interested by targeting people who have already been to your website. However, this method is not sophisticated enough to survive in the modern world. Customers demand and expect a good service. That ‘good service’ includes relevancy. The ads the consumer sees should be relevant to them.

A basic retargeting campaign could do a lot of damage to a brand. It may pick up the people who it is relevant to but in that giant catchment you will certainly have a lot of people who don’t fit into your buying personas. What you follow up with them with is likely to be irrelevant – if not straight up annoying. Playing ‘the numbers game’ like this and following up with every single person who visited your site is an unsophisticated and frankly risky way to operate. You’re attempting to use a sledgehammer to crack a small nut.

So what’s key to retargeting? The ability to incorporate all the other contextual information you can gather on those individuals. The fact they once visited your website is simply another piece of data to include in the decision-making process. Of course, there are challenges around bringing retargeting into the fold. Challenges that centre around data and how data is processed. This is because in order to make decisions around who to retarget you need to have a central pool of data from which to pull insights. A central view of individuals that include information from multiple sources.

This new joined up approach enables marketers to develop campaigns and programmes based on all the contextual data around each individual. Moving away from decisions based solely on a single interaction (such as visiting a website) and more on all those interactions together.