A Reflection on Recency Data and Customer Relationships

When was the last time you saw your best friend? When was the last time you saw your closest family member? How about an old classmate? Or a former mentor?

Each of the types of relationships described above are unique. The relationship you have with your best friend is personal, while the relationship with an old colleague is professional. The type of relationship defines the type of interaction you have with each and often the closer you are to a person, the more often you see them.

Three different types of relationships being discussed in the context of recency data

The framework of our personal relationships carries over to the relationships we have with our customers, regardless of the industry. A customer who visits your website everyday, buys from you and often participates on your social media pages is your best friend; whereas, a customer who bought from you once when you first launched but hasn’t come back since is more like an old classmate who you need to catch up with.

The conversation you would have with each type of relationship naturally wouldn’t be the same. The conversation with your best-friend customer would draw from principles of a real life best friendship – from personal communication and inside jokes to loyalty and trust. The conversation with an old classmate would be similar and just like in your actual life, you would want to know more about them and let them know what’s new with you.

Customer Relationships and Recency Data

As marketing professionals, we’re skilled at adapting messaging to our audience and we spend a lot of time gathering and analyzing audience data to know what to say to whom. Recency data is a critical part of that understanding because it allows us to segment audience groups by how recently a person has visited a website or landing page.

Our team at Acquisio recently wrote post on retargeting with recency data:

Arguably, programmatic marketers can’t effectively adapt messaging through different stages of the customer lifecycle without recency data. With an awareness of where potential customers are in the buying cycle using recency data, marketers can create different simultaneous offerings strategically; know exactly what to say to prospects based on when they had their last brand touchpoint; increase their ad message relevancy; attract more clicks and increase the effectiveness of their retargeting campaigns.”

In other words if you think of your customer relationships like friendships and you’re not using recency data, you have no idea when the last interaction with that customer was and no idea what to say. When you don’t know what to say, you will have a conversation with irrelevant messaging and the person you’re talking to may stop listening. What’s worse is that the whole time they remembered the last time they saw you but you can’t remember them. It would be like seeing an old friend that knows everything about you, but you forgot where you know them from…awkward.


On the other hand if you knew that person left your store an hour ago happy, you could ask them to leave a review on your site or like their post on Twitter for example. Similarly if you knew someone on your site abandoned their shopping cart a few days ago, you could offer them a discount. Timing and context is everything in marketing.

How To Distinguish New Customer Friends From Old Ones

It’s a stunning realization to some marketers that recency data even exists because Google doesn’t make this data readily available, for better or for worse, and most demand-side platforms (DSP) don’t include it either. Programmatic marketers need to choose a DSP that has recency data to be able to distinguish new customer friends from old ones and know what conversation to have with each. Make new friends, but keep the old. New friends are silver, old friends are gold.

Contact us for more information on how to use recency data in your retargeting campaigns, so you can be BFFs with all your customers!


Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Anders Wideskott

All screenshots by Beth Thouin. Taken June 2017 from Unsplash.

Image 1: Clem Onojeghuo

Image 2: Jeremy Bishop

Image 3: Farrell Nobel

Image 4: Giphy

Beth Thouin

Beth Thouin

Beth is VP Marketing at Acquisio. With 14 years of marketing experience, in 2011 she started working with startups and tech companies, and never looked back. She consults, mentors and speaks on customer acquisition in the Montreal tech community.

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