What is prospecting in marketing?

Prospecting (or display prospecting) helps attract new audiences who are likely to convert and become customers.

By targeting digital profiles similar to those of your existing customers, prospecting automates new customer acquisition. Also called look-alike audiences, similar audiences, or audience modeling, prospecting is the first step in a full-funnel marketing strategy.

How does prospecting work?

Prospecting campaigns are powered by large, robust data sets of customer intent. Gathered from online publishers, social media networks, or advertiser sites, these data sets are analyzed by your display advertising company to identify potential customers who are likely to engage with your brand.

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Prospecting in marketing works as a customer-acquisition solution because it eliminates guesswork. Instead of relying on the advertiser to manually set demographic, contextual, or placement targeting, most prospecting solutions use machine learning algorithms to serve ads to probable customers.

Prospecting campaigns can also use behavioral targeting (i.e., targeting based on browsing and shopping actions) to automatically pinpoint the audiences most likely to convert.

Prospecting best practices

Use prospecting along with retargeting for the best results.

Use prospecting along with retargeting for the best results. Together, prospecting and retargeting make up full-funnel marketing, which nurtures the entire customer lifecycle from brand awareness to conversion.

Design eye-catching creatives.

Design eye-catching creatives that feature discounts and strong calls to action in order to engage brand-new prospects.

Ensure your retargeting campaign captures prospecting visitors.

Ensure that your retargeting campaign captures prospecting visitors. Think of it as a relay race: prospecting passes the baton (i.e., high-quality visitors) to retargeting, which closes the deal by bringing those visitors across the finish line to conversion.

How should I measure my prospecting campaigns?

Analyzing the effectiveness of your campaigns should be a structured and ongoing process — you should always be evaluating what’s working and where you can make changes to get better results. Pay attention to these metrics:

  • Impressions - number of times your ads are served to viewers
  • New visitors - number of people who visited your site after clicking on an ad (and who had never visited your site before)
  • Cost per new visitor - how much you spend to bring a new visitor to your site
  • Bounce rate - percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page
  • Daily frequency - number of ads seen per day by reached users
  • Session time - amount of time spent on your site during an initial visit