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Marketing understands prospecting as a method to find and win new customers online. In this context, retargeting is often mentioned. However, the differences are clearly defined: Retargeting is about reaching customers who have already left data such as cookies in the past. Prospecting, on the other hand, refers exclusively to identifying new contacts to expand your customer base and increase sales.

The way prospecting works

As part of targeting in marketing, prospecting concentrates on extracting relevant information about your target group from existing customer data. Age, gender, location, occupation, and personal preferences are common criteria. It is assumed that online users with similar profiles will be likewise interested in the products or services offered. This clearly defined group of potential new customers (called prospects) is then addressed, for example, through customized ads. External service providers are involved in this process when prospects are purchased from advertising marketers or demand-side platforms.

Types of prospects

Prospecting distinguishes three types of customers. Cold prospects are those who do not currently have a purchase intention and might not even know the product or company. In this case, you should try to gain initial attention in order to set your own cookie.

Warm prospects are customers that are already interested in a product and are likely to plan a purchase in the near future. To benefit from these predictable sales, you should focus on providing warm prospects with information to lead them to your company's website. Then, as with cold prospects, retargeting begins.

Finally, hot prospects are sales-ready and want to buy immediately. They can be found online at price comparison portals, for example. With clever marketing and discount campaigns, these customers can be encouraged to purchase from the company that is actively addressing them.

As prospecting classifies your target groups in a qualified way, you have the opportunity to design your marketing campaigns very efficiently and minimize scattering loss.

Prospecting - best practices

Prospecting does not necessarily have the goal of creating immediate sales. The actual focus lies on winning long-term customers. That is why retargeting begins as soon as the first contact is made. In this way, prospecting is made sustainable and justifies costs and efforts.

In order to turn prospects into sales, you can work with price discounts, eye-catching messages, and urgent calls to action. Prospecting provides the marketing data you need to design and deliver campaigns individually for each customer.

In practice, prospecting can be compared to opening a new supermarket, for example. Based on the location, the operator will organize special offers and advertising campaigns aimed at local residents. In locations with many dog owners, for example, dog food might be particularly cheap. Near a school, sandwiches are a good catch. New customers then become returning ones, and sales rise continuously. It is therefore important to note that online prospecting can create its own dynamic in the form of referrals.

Prospecting avoids speculation. Prospects are solicited online based on your own or purchased data and fetched in their respective situations.

A natural connection: prospecting and retargeting

Restricting yourself to hot prospects and considering retargeting as a separate issue would be a mistake. High numbers of sales are the result of combining both methods right from the start. Cold and warm prospects must be accompanied by retargeting in order to initiate sales. Even customers that were already led to purchase through prospecting should be kept close to your brand through retargeting.

This is why using the data gained from prospecting for retargeting is important for your marketing. When are your customers online? On which days do they have an increased willingness to buy? How do they react to different advertising channels? Should you concentrate your marketing on e-mails or rather on customized ads? Experience shows that the better you combine prospecting and retargeting, the more satisfying your sales will be.

The chances of using retargeting as a starting point for prospecting are often underestimated. Receiving a gift for recommending new customers is a well-established strategy in the classic business world with examples such as newspaper subscriptions or insurance contracts. For this reason, you should consider all facets of prospecting in online retargeting campaigns for your marketing.